Healthy Food-Nutrition-Woman’s Health Special
It is said that good nutritional needs differ between sexes. Though, the differences are not that huge, there are distinctions between what a woman and a man should eat in order to have an optimal diet. A woman’s reproductive life – encompassing menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and menopause – means that her nutritional needs differ greatly from those of a man. The popularity of crash dieting has meant that nutritional deficiencies are especially common amongst younger women. Good nutrition means eating a wide variety of health foods every day, which isn’t possible on a restrictive diet.
Calcium: All of us need calcium to build maximum bone mass during their early years of life. Calcium is good nutrition and important for women, particularly in lowering the risk of osteoporosis. Low calcium intake is one important factor in the development of osteoporosis a disease in which bone density decreases leads to weak bone and future fractures. Women have a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis. During adolescence and early adulthood, women should include good food sources of calcium in their diets. This is when bone growth is occurring and calcium is being deposited in to the bone. A diet high in calcium and Vitamin D has been proven to lower risk of bone fractures. In addition, calcium also plays a role in regulating blood pressure. How much for women? For women under 50 years old, the recommended amount is 1000 to 1200 milligrams. For women over the 50, the commendation increases to 1200-1500 mg.
Low-fat dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Other good sources of calcium include salmon, certain vegetables (broccoli), legumes (peas and beans), calcium-enriched grain products, lime-processed tortillas, seeds and nuts. If you do not regularly consume adequate food sources of calcium, a calcium supplement can be considered to reach the recommended amount. The current recommendations for women for calcium are for a minimum of 1200 mg per day.
Iron: Women need more iron because they lose an average of 15 to 20 milligrams of iron each month during menstruation. Without enough iron, iron deficiency anemia can develop and cause symptoms that include fatigue and headaches. After menopause, body iron generally increases. Therefore, iron deficiency in women older than 50 years of age may indicate blood loss from another source and should be checked by a physician. For women under 50, the recommended amount is 18 milligrams per day. For post-menopausal women, the amount goes down to eight milligrams.
Animal products, such as meat, fish and poultry are good and important sources of iron. Iron from plant sources are found in peas and beans, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, potatoes, and whole-grain and iron-fortified cereal products. The addition of even relatively small amounts of meat or foods containing vitamin C substantially increases the total amount of iron absorbed from the entire meal.
Protein: Protein provides energy. As a result of the high-protein diet type, many people eat more protein than they require. Excess protein accelerates calcium loss in urine. Therefore, women with a high risk of osteoporosis should be careful not to eat too much protein. The average requirement is calculated based on 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For instance, a 59kg woman would need 47 grams of protein daily. Most foods contain at least some protein. Good sources of protein for vegetarians include nuts and seeds, pulses, Soya products (tofu, soya milk and textured soya protein such as soya mince), cereals (wheat, oats, and rice), free-range eggs and some dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt)
Fiber: Fiber not only prevents constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis, it can also help reduce the risk for some chronic diseases such as colon and breast cancer. In addition, fiber may help lower bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, fiber can help lower blood sugar to help better manage diabetes. How much for women? Women under 50 require 25 grams of fiber, and those over 50 require 21 grams of fiber. That’s equivalent to at least two cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 cups of fruit. Fruits, vegetables, and oats have plenty of soluble fiber. Whole grains, bran, legumes, and many fruits and vegetables are full of insoluble fiber.
A well-balanced diet, comprising of a variety of good nutrition foods, adequately meets women’s needs for vitamins, minerals and energy. For good health, women need to pay special attention to calcium, iron and folate (folic acid) intake. A healthy diet also should
minimize the intake of fat and sugar. Diets high in saturated or trans fat can promote high levels of blood cholesterol and increase risk for heart disease. A diet that includes high sugar provides empty calories, or calories that do not provide any nutritional value and often times replace more nutritious food selections.