A Simple Guide to Women’s Health
Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team
Every day you balance work, family, home and errands—but are you making time for your health?
Many women spend so much time acting as a caregiver for others that they fail to recognize the importance of their own health and nutrition. It’s time to step back and make your health a priority.
Here are four areas of nutrition women often miss and ways to incorporate them back onto your plate.
Unlike other carbohydrates such as sugars and starches, fiber cannot be broken down and used for energy in the body. That said, fiber plays a vital role in health. While insoluble fiber promotes gastrointestinal movement to prevent constipation, soluble fiber helps reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL-C), lowering risk for heart disease. Women should aim for 20 to 25 grams fiber per day from foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Over time, your body is subject to natural “wear and tear” from aging, stress and the environment. Antioxidant-acting compounds are unique vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (such as carotenoids and polyphenols) founds in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, tea, coffee, nuts and seeds. Increasing the number of antioxidant-acting compounds in the meals you eat may help prevent, slow and repair damage occurring to body cells that could lead to degenerative changes associated with aging, certain cancers and other diseases.
Old or young, women need adequate calcium. This mineral helps build strong bones and teeth, prevent bone loss during aging and aide in normal muscle, nerve and heart function. Surprisingly, most women fail to meet the recommended 1,000-1,200 milligrams calcium each day. Get yours through cow’s milk-based products, along with calcium-rich non-dairy foods like dark leafy greens and fortified soy foods.
While getting enough protein isn’t typically an issue for women, getting enough lean protein can be. Examples include fish, eggs, white-meat poultry, 93-99% lean ground beef and certain cuts of pork. Non-meat sources of protein are an excellent heart-healthy option and include foods such as soy products, beans and nuts.