Nutrition diet for women
How do nutritional needs and diets change
for women across their lifespan?
The effects of a woman's diet on her children
start long before she becomes pregnant. Stores of fat, protein,
and other nutrients built up over the years are called upon
during pregnancy for fetal nourishment. During adolescence and
early adulthood, women need to increase food rich in calcium to
build peak (maximum) bone mass to reduce the risk of developing
osteoporosis, a progressive loss of bone with aging that causes
bones to be more susceptible to fracture. All women need more
iron than men since younger women lose iron through
menstruation. Caloric intake varies for each person based on
age, gender, and activity level, but for the most part, women
between 23 and 50 should eat about 2,200 calories per day to
maintain their current weight, while older women need fewer
calories. No one should consumer fewer than 1,500 calories, even
in attempts to lose weight, according to the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA). The FDA recommends that everyone maintain
healthy levels of fat and fiber intake through out their adult
What is a healthy diet?
The United States Department of Agriculture
and the Department of Health and Human Services have jointly
issued a complete report on a healthy diet titled
"Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for
Americans" and "Food Guidelines for Americans".
Healthy diets follow the food guide "pyramid," which
recommends 6-11 servings of complex carbohydrates, 2-3 servings
each of fruits and vegetables,1-2 servings each of dairy
products and proteins like meat, tofu, or beans, and sparing use
of added fats and sugars. In addition, the "Five A
Day" Campaign is a national effort to get Americans to eat
at least five servings combined from the fruit and vegetable
groups per day.
Ideal Menu for Vata, Pitta and
What weight is considered obese or
The words obesity and overweight are
generally used interchangeably. However, according to the
Institute of Medicine report, their technical meanings are not
identical. Overweight refers to an excess of body weight that
includes all tissues, such as fat, bone and muscle. Obesity
refers specifically to an excess of body fat. It is possible to
be overweight without being obese, as in the case of a body
builder who has a substantial amount of muscle mass. It is
possible to be obese without being overweight, as in the case of
a very sedentary person who is within the desirable weight range
but who nevertheless has an excess of body fat. However, most
overweight people are also obese and vice versa. Men with more
than 25 percent and women with more than 30 percent body fat are
considered obese. The USFDA has released a chart detailing
recommended weights relative to height; women should be in the
lower end of their appropriate weight range, according to the
Look for Women & Obesity.
How can I determine how much fat is okay
to eat daily and have a healthy diet?
Your personal 'fat allowance' depends on how
many calories you take in each day. Remember, the total fat in
your diet should average no more than 30 percent of your
calories, and saturated fat should be no more than 10 percent.
The total fat and saturated fat grams you should eat depends on
how many calories you consume each day. Check food labels to
find out the number of fat grams (total and saturated) in each
Daily Fat Intake
* Amounts are equal to 30 percent of total
calories (rounded down to the nearest 5); the recommendation is
to eat this much or less.
** Amounts are equal to 9 percent of total
calories; the recommendation is to eat less than 10 percent of
total calories as saturated fat. Each gram of fat is equal to 9
Are dietary supplements such as vitamins
and minerals important in maintaining a healthy diet?
Dietary supplements have been prescribed by
physicians to correct nutrient deficiencies diagnosed. However,
it has not been established that large amounts of vitamins and
minerals as dietary supplements will help prevent or treat
health problems or slow the aging process. Daily multivitamin
tablets may be beneficial to some people, but the value of the
supplement is dependent on many factors, including eating habits
and overall health. While some supplements only contain some of
the identified nutrients important to health, a well-balanced
diet provides all the necessary nutrients. Large amounts of some
supplements may actually upset the natural balance of nutrients
that the body maintains. If you have illnesses such as diabetes,
high blood pressure, or arthritis, you should check with your
doctor before taking any over-the-counter dietary supplements.
Ayurvedic Supplements for natural balance of nutrients:
There are many weight-loss programs; how
do you know which ones are safe and successful?
Almost any of the commercial weight-loss
programs can work, but only if they motivate you sufficiently to
decrease the amount of calories you eat or increase the amount
of calories you burn each day (or both). A responsible and safe
weight-loss program should be able to document for you the five
The diet should be safe, including all of
the recommended daily allowances for vitamins, minerals and
protein and low-calorie, not low in essential foodstuffs;
The program should be directed toward a
slow, steady weight loss unless your doctor feels your
particular health condition would benefit from more rapid
weight loss. Expect to lose only about a pound a week after
the first week or two.
If you plan to lose more than 15-20
pounds, have any health problems, or take medication on a
regular basis, you should be evaluated by your doctor before
beginning a weight-loss program. Your physician should also
be able to advise you on the need for weight loss, the
appropriateness of the program you have in mind, and a
sensible weight loss goal for you.
The program should include plans for
weight maintenance after the loss phase is over. It should
include help in permanently changing your dietary habits and
level of physical activity to alter a lifestyle that may
have contributed to weight gain in the past.
A commercial weight-loss program should
provide a detailed statement of fees and costs of additional
items such as dietary supplements.
Should I take vitamins or other dietary
The Federal Governmentís approach to
dietary intervention, formulated by boards composed of nutrition
scientist, generally does not recommend supplementing the
typical American diet with vitamins or nutrients beyond the
recommended daily allowances (RDAs), nor does it suggest that
some foods never be eaten. In contrast, many alternative dietary
approaches contend that no amount of manipulation of the typical
American diet is enough to promote optimum health or prevent
eventual chronic illness.
These alternative approaches represent a
continuum of philosophies ranging from the concept that
supplementing the typical American diet somewhat beyond the RDAs
is necessary to promote optimum health, to the idea that
supplementation well beyond the RDAs is often required to
reverse the effects of long-term deficiencies. Other approaches
advocate drastic dietary modification, either eliminating or
adding certain types of foods or macronutrients, to treat
specific types of conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular
disease. Finally, there is the view that certain major staples
of typical American diet, such as meat and dairy products, are
basically unhealthy and should be generally avoided.
There is a growing body of data supporting
the notion that the RDAs for minerals, such as calcium and
magnesium, may be too low and that supplementation may be
necessary to prevent the onset of chronic diseases. In addition,
the RDAs for a number of vitamins and micronutrients, such as
vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene, may
not be adequate to prevent chronic illness. For example, recent
studies have found that the RDA for folate may need to be
doubled for women as well as men.
The FDA has said that a well-balanced diet
will usually meet women's allowances for vitamins and minerals.
However, for good health, women need to pay special attention to
two minerals, calcium and iron.
How much calcium do women need?
Both women and men need enough calcium to
build peak (maximum) bone mass during their early years of life.
Low calcium intake appears to be one important factor in the
development of osteoporosis, a disease in which bone density
decreases and leads to weak bones. Women have a greater risk
than men of developing osteoporosis.
Therefore, particularly during adolescence
and early adulthood, women should increase their food sources of
calcium. According to one FDA spokesperson, the most important
time to get a sufficient amount of calcium is while bone growth
and consolidation are occurring, a period that continues until
approximately age 30 to 35. The idea is, if you can build a
maximum peak of calcium deposits early on, this may delay
fractures that occur later in life.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for
calcium for woman 19 to 24 is 1,200 milligrams per day. For
women 25 and older, the allowance drops to 800 milligrams, but
that is still a significant amount, says Stephenson. "The
need for good dietary sources of calcium continues throughout
life," she says.
How do you get enough calcium without too
many calories and fat?
Dairy products are powerhouses of calcium,
but they neednít be high-fat. Use 1 percent or skim milk
instead of whole milk or cream, and choose from lower fat
cheeses, yogurts, frozen yogurts, and ice cream substitutes.
In addition to dairy foods, other good
sources of calcium include salmon, tofu (soybean curd), certain
vegetables (for example, broccoli), legumes (peas and beans),
calcium-enriched grain products, lime-processed tortillas,
seeds, and nuts.
Do I need to take an iron supplement?
For women, the RDA for iron is 15 milligrams
per day, 5 milligrams more than the RDA for men. Women need more
of this mineral 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 pallor, fatigue and headaches.
After menopause, body iron stores generally
begin to increase. Therefore, iron deficiency in women over 50
may indicate blood loss from another source, and should be
checked by a physician.
Animal products--meat, fish and poultry--are
good and important sources of iron. In addition, the type of
iron, known as heme iron, in these foods is well absorbed in the
Dietary iron from plant sources, called non-heme,
are found in peas and beans, spinach and other green leafy
vegetables, potatoes, and whole-grain and iron-fortified cereal
products. Although non-heme iron is not as well absorbed as heme
iron, the amount of non-heme iron absorbed from a meal is
influenced by other constituents in the diet. 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.
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