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Nutrition tips for women’s health

Don’t forget to include these foods in your healthy diet.

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South African women today fulfil multiple roles in society as mothers, wives, caregivers, businesswomen, and those with the instinct to nurture, it comes as no surprise that women play a vital role in keeping the communities they live in healthy.

For women to take care of the health and well-being of their families and communities, they need to take good care of their own health first. Here are some nutritional tips for women’s health.

Heart disease

Nutrition Tip: Choose low sodium products to flavour meals such as low sodium vegetable salt, and MSG-free soy sauce as part of your low salt diet.

Foods that support a healthy heart and circulatory system include unprocessed whole foods, such as high fibre muesli and sunflower seeds. Salt-free snacks such as rice cakes and corn cakes are vital to a woman’s diet.

Although heart disease is often considered a health risk for ageing men, associated with a stressful lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, the statistics show us that the death risk in women associated with heart disease is six times higher than breast cancer, which is the most feared disease among women.

In South Africa, women are specifically at risk of heart disease due to the prevalence of genetically inherited high cholesterol.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number 1 killer of women over the age of 25 and stroke is the number 3 killer. Women who often do not regard themselves as at risk of heart disease should seriously start looking at making lifestyle and dietary changes to promote cardiovascular health.

Weight management

Nutrition TipDrink green tea to speed up your metabolism and to lose weight.

Try these dietary flu “shots”, a mixture of immune-boosting ingredients this winter.
Speed up your metabolism and lose weight by drinking green tea.

If you’re trying to speed up your metabolism in order to lose weight, remember to stock up on green tea. Green tea contains antioxidants which help to increase the body’s metabolism. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, a healthy lifestyle is vital. A healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise form the base of a healthy weight management programme. Nutritional supplements can support weight management only as part of a balanced, energy controlled and low kilojoule diet.

Osteoporosis

Nutrition Tip:  If you’re currently taking a calcium supplement, take it at night before you go to sleep to optimise absorption

Calcium is the most important structural mineral in bones, assisting in bone density and decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium rich foods include milk and low fat yoghurt, low fat cheese, almonds, sesame seeds, tinned pilchards, tinned sardines, spinach and broccoli.

Avoid smoking, beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol intake, salty foods and high protein diets, as these may decrease the body’s calcium content and thereby increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Beauty

Nutrition Tip:  Start your day with a cup of rooibos tea.

Rooibos tea antioxidants have been shown to help maintain a youthful skin by helping to prevent premature skin ageing. Beauty can be nurtured from within.

To maintain vibrant skin, beautiful hair and strong nails, you need to include the correct balance of all the essential vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids and antioxidants into your diet.  Berries, nuts, wholegrain cereals, avocado, lentils, beans, fish, poultry, eggs and spinach are a few of the foods that contain key nutrients that support skin health.

Digestive Health

Nutrition tip: Make sure to drink at least six glasses of water per day and increase your intake of dietary fibre from whole-grain cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Ensure that you drink at least six glasses of water per day to avoid constipation. The main cause if constipation is dehydration.

The main cause of constipation is dehydration. Make sure to drink at least 6 glasses of water per day and increase your intake of dietary fibre from whole-grain cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables. Digestive problems range from mild discomfort, such as heartburn, to agonising or painful symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea and spastic colon. Most digestive system complaints can be either prevented or managed with the support of natural products.

Anemia

Nutrition tip: Avoid drinking too much black tea (Ceylon tea), as the tannins found in tea are known to reduce absorption of iron from the foods we eat.

Iron is a vital component found in hemoglobin and a deficiency in iron compromises the red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen. To optimise iron absorption, combine plant foods that are rich in iron, such as spinach, with foods that contain vitamin C, such as lemon, oranges, chillies or peppers. Also, to ensure optimal absorption of iron in a supplement, avoid drinking black tea, as the tannins found in tea are known to reduce iron absorption.

Anemia is a condition which affects the blood which circulates through our bodies and is typically characterized by a decrease in the number of red blood cells, or a decrease in the size of the red blood cells, or a decrease in the hemoglobin content of the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein component in red blood cells which binds to oxygen and therefore carries oxygen through the body via the circulatory system.

Bladder health

Nutrition tip: Drink cranberry juice or take cranberry extract to help prevent bladder infections.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) typically affect the bladder and urinary tracts. UTIs represent the second most common infection in women. 80% of all women experience a UTI at least once, while approximately 20% of all women have a UTI each year.

Drinking cranberry juice, or taking cranberry extract, helps in the prevention of bladder infections by helping to prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the bladder tissues.  That is why cranberry juice is a well-known treatment for bladder infections in traditional medicine.

Andrea Du Plessis
Andrea Du Plessis
Andrea du Plessis is a well-known registered dietician with a passion for healthcare through nutrition, natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle. She regularly presents talks and educational workshops on nutrition throughout the country. Du Plessis is also known as the resident health and nutrition expert on SABC3’s Expresso breakfast TV show.
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