The Role of Nutrition in Women’s Health: A Guide to Healthy Eating

Men and women have different nutritional needs due to biological differences in their bodies. Hormonal changes related to menstruation, childbearing, and menopause keep women at higher risk of osteoporosis, anaemia, and various nutritional deficiencies. Moreover, in rural areas, women are more likely to experience nutritional inadequacies due to poverty, illiteracy, and low social status. Women’s health can be improved with the consumption of nutrient-dense foods.

Image depicting healthy food choices and supplements for maintaining optimal nutrition

Why is adequate nutrition important for females?

Nutrition in women is critical because inadequate nutrition affects their and their children’s health. The need for macronutrients and micronutrients¬†significantly increases during pregnancy to assist the growth of the fetus and the development of the placenta and maternal tissues.

Furthermore, nutritional demands are also increased during lactation to fulfil the infant’s nutritional needs. Undernourished girls are more likely to become malnourished mothers, and they are more likely to deliver low-weight babies. Children of malnourished mothers are more likely to develop short stature, cognitive deficits, decreased infection resistance, and a greater risk of illness and mortality. Women’s malnutrition may contribute to economic losses for families and communities as it causes a reduction in women’s abilities and has long-term consequences. Addressing this problem brings a variety of positive effects because healthy women perform multiple roles, such as ensuring the nutrition of their family members, having healthy children and generating income.

Nutrition is crucial in women at all stages of their lives

Nutrition plays a vital role in women’s lives and is important at every phase of life. Addressing the requirements of women throughout their lives can enhance women’s nutrition worldwide. Adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to malnutrition because they grow faster. Protein, iron, and other micronutrients are needed to assist the growth process. Numerous nutritional deficiencies in infants and childhood have irreversible consequences; therefore, appropriate measures to promote adequate nutrition should start from infancy.

Healthy eating in women

A healthy diet includes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. It also includes having adequate protein in your diet, which can be found in beans and meat. Also, women must include foods high in vitamins B, D, iron, and calcium to maintain bone health and prevent anaemia.

The food and drink choices we make every day affect our health now and later in life. Healthy food choices can help prevent or manage various health problems affecting women. Healthy eating improves overall health and helps prevent disease. It means picking different types of healthy foods (vegetables, fruits, protein, grains, and dairy), most of the time and in appropriate amounts. Healthy eating also means not eating more foods with added sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats. Healthy eating also means getting adequate nutrients primarily from foods rather than supplements. Some women might require vitamins, minerals, or other supplements at a certain point in their lives, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. But it is always best if women get their essential nutrients from what they eat or drink.

How healthy eating looks like?

When it comes to healthy eating, think of filling your plate with foods belonging to five food groups:

Each meal should include vegetables, fruits, proteins, dairy, and grains. Snacking on fruits and whole grains can also be a good option if you might have missed some essential nutrients at meals. Most do not require complicated calorie-counting programs or special recipes to fulfil basic body requirements.

Here are some simple tips to improve your eating habits:

  1. Vegetables & fruits – Everyone must eat fruits and vegetables every day. Filling about half your plate with colourful vegetables and fruits at meals is best. Most women don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Prefer eating the whole fruit instead of juice and trying different vegetables during the week.
  2. Grains – Eat whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or whole wheat bread, in your diet.
  3. Protein – Try different protein-rich foods such as lean meats, eggs, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, seeds, nuts, and soy products. Most women do not eat protein to meet weekly recommendations of 8 to 10 ounces.
  4. A dairy – A woman should consume three cups of dairy products daily, but most women get only half the amount. If you can’t have milk, try eating low-fat plain yoghurt or low-fat cheese. Dairy products are considered the best food source of calcium. Most girls aged 9 to 18 and women older than 50 require more calcium for good bone health.
  5. Oils – Avoid using oils instead of solid fats like butter, coconut, or margarine while cooking. Many women eat too much solid fat through packaged food like wafers or salad dressings and not enough healthy fats like olive oil or omega-3 fatty acids.

You don’t have to spend much, follow a very strict diet, or eat only specific types of food to eat healthily. Healthy eating is not limited to certain foods or a pattern of eating. It is all about getting adequate nutrients in your diet.

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