Women are special and so are their nutritional needs - and they need to be addressed from the womb to the golden years. Healthy and nutritionally educated women mean healthier homes and families. Our health needs are similar to men, but certain nutrients are more important at different ages of our lifespan. Right from adolescence, when our bodies start maturing, the nutritional needs become more specific. Let's look at the special needs of women in adulthood in Rashtriya Poshan Maah 2022.
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The '20s are when the young lady moves out into the world, starts a career, starts taking health decisions and maybe starts a family. This is the time when there is a slowdown after the puberty growth spurt and eating with the same appetite and making wrong food choices can be detrimental to her health. Some important nutrients that need to be focused on are:
- Folic acid: If you are planning a family, then buffering up with folic acid is crucial. Folates prevent neural tube defects in babies and are an essential factor for RNA and DNA production.
- Calcium: This decade is the best time to consolidate bone mass. Calcium is the main mineral needed, adequate daily intake will help build a solid bone bank.
- Iron: This is a mineral that is needed throughout a woman's life. It is needed to prevent anaemia thereby keeping one energised and healthy.
The '30s are a busy decade. This is the time to consolidate and get ready for the middle ages. During this phase of a woman's life, nutrients and a healthy overall lifestyle are of prime importance.
- Once again, folic acid is needed if you are planning a family.
- Calcium is the most crucial nutrient as the first half of the decade is all you have for bone density building. The second half starts seeing a slowdown in bone-building capacity.
- Strength is also crucial for bone health. So you need to learn and practise strength training regularly.
- Physical activity for at least 3-5 days a week is essential in addition to good sleep.
- Skin starts maturing so Vitamins like C and E and minerals like selenium become important.
- Focus on plant-based food.
- Get your three vegetable and two fruit servings daily. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals that protect and keep you hydrated and healthy.
- Plant proteins are good. Legumes and nuts are protective, with lots of fibre and phytonutrients that will help you later with menopausal symptoms.
- Daily exercise and portion control will keep you fit and help in weight management.
The '50s are when major metabolic changes happen. With the onset of menopause, oestrogen levels decrease, making you vulnerable to non-communicable diseases.
- Weight is a major issue as the metabolism slows down. Compensate with exercise and cutting out on empty sugar and fat calories.
- Fibre helps control cholesterol, control blood sugars and keep the gut in shape. Constipation is a reality.
- Get adequate vegetables and fruits, they also help with skin vitamins like Vit C, and A. Good sources of antioxidants keep the inflammation in control and reduce the intensity of menopause symptoms.
- Eat nuts daily for phytonutrient antioxidants and Vitamin E for skin health.
- Choose healthy fats like olive, rice bran, and peanuts to protect against heart diseases.
- Calcium and Vitamin D become more important for bone mass preservation. Conversion of vitamin D into its active form with sunlight slows down, so add some supplements on doctors' advice.
Golden years are all about maintenance. Rebuilding processes are slow, so adequate nutrition is crucial for maintaining good health.
- Proteins are essential throughout life, but as at this age there is muscle loss, it becomes more important that adequate amounts are consumed. Add protein to every meal.
- There is a tendency to skip meals because of a lack of hunger or laziness to cook. Eat at regular intervals, cook at one time and spread it through the day. Exercise will help with a good appetite
- Taste buds tend to lose their efficacy, do not add more oil or salt but try adding spices to improve food flavours.
- Socialize, and call family and friends over if you do not wish to go out. It helps with keeping happy and not lonely.
This Poshan Maah 2022 is dedicated to the health of women and children, both are interlinked. Health is a continuous effort not a once in a while activity and this is what helps make our lives comfortable so take care and eat well.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.