Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Did you grow up thinking that calcium was enough to keep your bones healthy? Did your mother warn you not to take pickles out of the jar during your period because they might spoil?
In the course of their reproductive lives, women go through a number of stages. Each of them has significant hormone differences that have a direct impact on their health. It’s no surprise that there’s an endless list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to women’s health, including diet. There are various myths and misconceptions about what women should eat and avoid, ranging from periods through pregnancy to menopause.
Here are the top five oldest — and most beloved – food myths out there about women’s health that need to be busted right now.
Myth #1: To prevent osteoporosis, calcium is all that women need.
While calcium is a vital mineral for bone health, most health professionals believe that your body requires vitamin D to metabolize and utilize calcium. You won’t get the full advantage of a calcium-rich diet if you’re weak in vitamin D. It is also important to remember that while dietary calcium is generally essential and healthy, but more isn’t always better, and too much calcium doesn’t provide additional bone protection. Consult your healthcare provider to identify the appropriate dosage for you.
Myth #2: Women have a lower requirement of calories than men
Basically, everyone’s energy demands change all the time and gender has no bearing on calorie requirements. It is determined by an individual’s body type as well as the quantity of exercise or physical work performed each day. Generally speaking, men require more energy (calories) than women to perform day-to-day functions. This may be attributed to their larger stature and a greater muscle-to-fat mass ratio that necessitates more calories to sustain their metabolic rate. However, this does not take into consideration the unique nutritional requirements of women.
According to Harvard Health, the online resource for Harvard medical school, a person’s calorie requirements are as follows:
- A person who has a sedentary lifestyle requires around 13 calories per pound of body weight.
- For every pound of body weight, a moderately active person requires 16 calories.
- A person who engages in strenuous physical activity requires about 18 calories per pound of their weight.
Myth #3: During pregnancy, women should eat for two
This is arguably one of the most frequent pregnancy food misconceptions. Sure, you want to make sure your baby gets all the nutrients he or she needs, but that doesn’t imply you should eat twice as much food. Doing so will be the most common diet blunder during pregnancy. Many women who do ‘eat for two’ end up gaining a lot of weight. Studies show that it can also make the pregnancy riskier and raise your chances of being overweight after delivery.
During the second and third trimesters, pregnant women may only need to add 300-400 calories a day to their diet while still eating a healthy and balanced diet. This may differ from person to person, so talk to your doctor about it. Reduce your intake of junk food and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. A nutritious diet will ensure that your baby receives all of the minerals and micronutrients he or she requires.
Myth #4: During menstruation, women should avoid cooking
In certain cultures, women are thought to be dirty or unclean during their periods. It is believed that if women cook during their periods it will “rot pickle and poison food’ (fresh or preserved) due to their “uncleanliness.” This is, however, as far from reality as one can go. Menstruation is an essential component of a woman’s reproductive cycle. It has nothing to do with hygiene unless you’re referring to menstruation hygiene, which is critical for women’s health. In terms of food, there is no scientific evidence that a menstrual woman may contaminate food simply by touching it or while it is being prepared.
Myth #5: UTIs can be cured by cranberry juice
Researchers suggest that the minerals in cranberries help prevent infectious germs from attaching to the walls of your urinary system; therefore drinking cranberry juice may lessen your risk of getting a UTI. However, there is no scientific data supporting this belief. Drinking cranberry juice cannot replace a visit to your doctor or proper medication if you already have a UTI. Taking too much cranberry juice in the hopes of curing UTI can lead to complications.
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