What Is The Link Between Nutrition And Women’s Health?
Nutrition is the cornerstone of health. And naturally, women’s nutrition is the driving force that can help women maintain an active, healthy and disease-free life.
The key link between women’s nutrition and health is how nutritional requirements change with each passing decade. As women enter the child-bearing age, their iron requirements increase.
As they get older, bone density decreases and they need to be conscious of their calcium intake. Similarly, women will also notice changes around the time they hit menopause.
Women are also prone to vitamin and mineral deficiencies like iron, calcium and Vitamin D, while consumption of large quantities of caffeine, alcohol and salt can interfere with the absorption and excretion of certain minerals.
Women tend to need fewer calories than men, averaging around 1600-24000 calories per day. This is due to the difference in metabolic rate, muscle mass, body fat and build, as compared to men. However, women who are very physically active will need more calories.
This is why it is important for women to pay attention to what they eat, based on age, height, weight, physical activity levels and existing health conditions, and make nutrition a priority.
Which Is The Best Nutrition Food For Women In Their 30s
“There is no one single food that can provide us everything we need.”
Proper women’s nutrition in the 30s includes a balanced diet that draws from a range of foods, both plant-based and animal-derived.
The aim should be to consume as many nutrient-dense whole foods as possible, while eliminating packaged foods, processed foods, refined sugar, excess sodium, trans fats and unhealthy saturated fats. Here’s a list of things a women’s daily nutritional requirements chart should include.
Proteins, as we know, are the building blocks of life, and an integral component of women’s nutrition. Composed of amino acids, they help build cells, enzymes, antibodies and muscles.
They are an important source of energy. And as women get older and experience bone loss, they need to be careful of their protein intake.
Requirement: Guidelines stipulate that women need between 46-60 g of protein per day, but this will vary based on physical activity levels, muscle mass etc.
Sources: There are plenty of sources of protein. Lean meats like chicken and turkey; fish, eggs etc. Plant-based sources also abound, especially in the Indian context. Choose from paneer, chickpeas, a variety of dals, rajma, etc. Tofu and soybean are also great sources of protein, as well as nuts like almonds and peanuts.
Iron contributes to the normal functioning of red blood cells and production of haemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen to the blood, and is an important mineral for women’s nutrition.
Requirement: The daily recommended dose of iron for women in their 30’s is around 18 milligrams – more than what men require, since women need to make up for the iron they lose during their menstrual period. However, iron levels will vary at different stages, like during pregnancy and menopause.
Sources: Foods that are rich in iron include green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, beans, lentils, red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fish and even some fortified ready-to-eat cereals. Plant-based sources of iron are more easily absorbed and digested.
Folic acid is important for women’s nutrition when they reach conception age, as it plays an important role in reducing birth defects and complications.
Requirements: Non-pregnant women require about 400 mcg (micrograms) per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding will need to take in higher levels of folate, 600 mcg and 500 mcg per day, respectively.
Sources: There are a variety of sources to choose from, including oranges, green leafy vegetables, beans and peas. Fortified foods like cereals and rice are also available.
Calcium is an important part of women’s nutrition. Women lose bone density with age, andcalcium keeps bones strong and helps to reduce the risk for osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become brittle.
Requirement: Recommended intake is about 1000 mg per day.
Sources: Dairy products are the best absorbed sources of calcium. Non-dairy/vegan/plant-based sources of calcium include broccoli, kale and sesame seeds. If you eat seafood, sardines are a good option. Many fruit juices and breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium, too.
Requirements: International guidelines recommend about 600 international units (IU) of Vitamin D per day.
Sources: Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D – around 10 to 30 minutes of midday sun is recommended a couple of times a week. Other good sources of Vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, eggs, and fortified foods like milk, juice, curd etc.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s offer a whole host of benefits and are an integral part of women’s nutrition in their 30’s. Omega 3 fatty acids helps maintain heart rhythm, reduces blood pressure, lowers blood fat levels and even helps to ease menstrual pain.
Requirement: Guidelines advise the consumption of around 1.1 g of Omega-3 fatty acids per day for women.
Sources: The human body cannot produce these essential fats, and they must be obtained from food.
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, anchovies and sardines are good sources, along with nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseeds, as well as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and even some green leafy vegetables.
What Is The Best Supplement For Women’s Health?
This is a common question – what vitamins should women take on a daily basis? What supplements should be taken? These days, women’s nutrition supplements abound – open up your social media pages and you’ll be inundated with all kinds of supplements, in the form of pills, powders and gummies.
But do you really need all of them? Or any of them?
Women in their 30’s have specific needs compared to women in their 20’s, 40’s and 50’s. And these needs will also change depending on any existing health conditions/lifestyle disorders (diabetes, PCOS etc) or whether they are expecting mothers.
While studies have shown that many women are deficient in iron and Vitamin D, and it is advisable to take them in supplement form, there is no single supplement that can be termed as the “best” supplement for women’s nutrition.
Supplementation – if required – should be prescribed by your doctor or nutritionist, ideally, so it’s best to consult a professional before jumping on the bandwagon.
Fitness For Women In Their 30’s
Physical activity is an integral part of women’s nutrition and health. Women’s exercise/physical activity requirements change with age, but some guidelines recommend that women in the age group of 18-64 years get around 150 mins a week (2.5 hours) of moderately intense activity like brisk walking, along with 2 days a week of muscle-strengthening activity.
This leads to loss of muscle strength, which in turn makes the body stiffer and less flexible. It is important, therefore, to add strength training and flexibility exercises to your routine.
Women may also start noticing that weight doesn’t come off as easily as it used to – an indicator of slowing metabolism. You will have to work harder to stay fit, and circuit training works well – a series of back-to-back resistance and cardio exercises.
Pilates helps to tone and make the body leaner, especially after pregnancy. It also helps strengthen the core.
Weight training is also recommended, not just for the sake of building muscle, but to challenge the body’s muscular, skeletal, nervous and hormonal systems.
Women’s Nutrition Plans By Lovneet Batra
At Nutrition By Lovneet, we offer plans by accredited women’s health nutritionist Lovneet Batra (BS & MS Dietetics, University Of Michigan).
Our plans are designed based on your goals and needs, whether it’s weight loss or catering to specific health conditions like PCOS/PCOD, thyroid, diabetes, conception or pre and post natal nutrition.
Our women’s nutrition plans draw on ancient Indian food wisdom and incorporate local Indian superfoods to create menus that are tasty, easy and healthy.
Our USP is that we don’t believe in a one-size-fits all solution to women’s nutrition needs. We look at your age and disposition – we know that a diet plan for a 25-year-old female will differ greatly from that of a pregnant mother who is 35 – so we tailor our plans to suit you based on where you are, and where you need to be.
We separate women’s best nutrition facts from myths, break down the jargon and make your diet accessible.