Senior Nutritionist Carlyne Remedios shares the important nutrients a woman must eat during their life cycle.
1. Teenage Girls:
Teenage girls particularly are exposed to food fads and slimming trends due to which skipping meals specially breakfast is a common practice leading to nutritional deficiencies.
They face the period of growth spurt making the following nutrients vital for them:
Proteins are required for the maintenance of existing lean body mass and the development of additional lean body. Protein rich foods includes eggs, poultry, Meat, Milk & milk products, Soy & Soy products.
Zinc can help treat menstrual problems and alleviate symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Zinc is naturally abundant in red meats, shellfish, and whole grains. Additionally, many breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc. Zinc and iron compete for absorption, so elevated intakes of one can reduce the absorption of the other.
Iron deficiency is common due to menstruation and faulty eating habits. Foods rich in iron include meats and liver.
For vegetarians lima beans, chickpeas, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, iron-fortified cereals, soy products such as tofu, soy nuts, soy milk, and even peanut butter (which contains non-heam form). Vitamin C is required to help the body absorb non-haem iron.
Gain in skeletal weight is most rapid thus, calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous, are needed for building up bones.
Physical activity is also essential, particularly weight-bearing exercise, which provides the stimulus to build and retain bone in the body and also decreases the risk of developing lifestyle related diseases in future.
Life of women in their 20’s & 30’s is very busy due to which food is very much neglected leading to nutritional deficiencies. Vital nutrients for age among these women include.
Iron deficiency of which is common due to menstruation and faulty eating habits. Food rich in iron include meats and liver.
For vegetarians: lima beans, chickpeas, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, iron-fortified cereals, soy products such as tofu, soy nuts, soy milk, and even peanut butter (which contains non-heam form). Vitamin C is required to help the body absorb iron.
For Eg. A squeeze of lime on your spinach will help your body absorb the iron more efficiently
Folic acid is another must-have nutrient during childbearing years. Foods high in folate: Beans, lentils, peas, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and breads and cereals fortified with folic acid.
Phytonutrients present in brightly colored fruits and vegetables are antioxidants that helps to protect against problems like heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Fiber is very crucial in order to prevent dyslipidemia and GI related cancers which is quite likely to occur due to poor food habits and lifestyle. Emphasis should be on a mix of soluble (from fruits, vegetables, barley, and oats), and insoluble (from whole wheat bread and bran).
3. Menopausal women:
A decline in the bone-building estrogen is seen among menopausal women making calcium a vital nutrient. However, for the absorption of this vital nutrient Vitamin D is of utmost importance.
Foods rich in calcium include milk and milk products, kale, broccoli, spinach, beans and soy products such as tofu.
For vitamin D expose your arms and face to the sun for at least 20 minutes a day. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in eggs and oil-rich fish.
Inactivity/ Sedentary lifestyle, smoking and excessive coffee consumption can affect calcium absorption and severely harm the bones, thus should be avoided.
Weight-bearing exercises – such as walking or weight training can strengthen bones and help maintain a healthy body weight.
Phytoestrogens- A diet high in phytoestrogens has been found to reduce many symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes. Good food sources include soy products (tofu, soymilk), chickpeas, flax seeds, lentils, cracked wheat and barley.