Mothers, are you looking after yourself? Is your health your priority? A mothers nutrition at any given age whether in the 20s, 30s or 50s, her nutrition plays a vital role. A woman's health is unique in many ways and is different from men's health.
A woman's requirement for nutrition changes during pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause and post-menopause phase. Weight gain, hormone imbalance, thyroid imbalance, joint inflammation, PCOD, high cholesterol, sugars, iron deficiency are some common health issues.
Most of these issues are due to lifestyle changes. Lack of movement, stress and lack of time to yourself can cause multiple health issues in the long run.
Mother's in 20s & 30s:
This is a childbearing age for a woman. Hormone balance along with other key vitamins and minerals like iron, vitamin b12, vitamin d, zinc and selenium play a crucial role in health. This is also the age where the metabolic rate is at the maximum, Hence, maintain good muscle strength assists in weight maintenance.
Breastfeeding, post-pregnancy weight gain, hair fall, skin issues, postpartum depression adds to the ongoing nutritional concerns. Flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds play a key role in maintaining hormone balance. Lightweight training, Zumba, moderate exercise, yoga not only helps in increasing metabolic rate but it reduces stress and decreases insulin resistance.
Often, with a busy schedule, whether a mother is a housewife or an office going mother she ends up running low on vitamin d.
- Vitamin D is a powerhouse of nutrient for any mother of any given age.
- There is also a risk of low vitamin B12, Iron, Folate, vitamin c deficiency. Hair fall, brittle nails, fatigue could be symptoms of low levels of these nutrients.
- During the menstruation cycle and post-delivery, iron deficiency can be high.
- Consume nuts and seeds to replenish of your vitamins and mineral stores.
- 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds (these includes flaxseed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, watermelon seeds) every day will work wonders.
- Soak up in the sun for 20 minutes every day in the morning helps in reducing major health complications.
- Mindfulness means the ability of your mind to control your food intake.
- Many of us eat or refrain from eating if we are stressed or anxious.
- Do not underestimate the power of taking a nap in the afternoon and sound sleep of 7-8 hours at night.
Mothers in late 40s to 50s
Research shows that our metabolic rate drops by 5 per cent - 10 per cent every decade of our life. Hence, weight gain is a concern for a woman in the '40s. This is also coupled with pre-menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, sleep issues, mood swings and anxiety. Exercise and vitamin d3, vitamin b12 still play a major role in this age group.
- To avoid hot flushes black cohosh tea has shown some significant health benefits.
- Evening primrose oil has shown to provide aid during menopause. Every woman has to face the challenge of "last period".
- In Ayurvedic medicine benefit from Shatavari, amla has been seen.
- Diet should be predominantly, balanced with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, lentils and fish and low-fat dairy products.
Mothers after 60s
The decline in estrogen levels impacts metabolism negatively. During this time, heart health also becomes important as estrogen plays a significant role in protecting heart health.
- Omega 3 rich foods like fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds should be consumed on a regular basis.
- The decline in estrogen levels also puts a high risk of fractures. Dairy products contain calcium, vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorous are important for bone health.
- Vitamin D levels should be adequate for calcium absorption along with a well-balanced diet.
Disclaimer: If you are breastfeeding or are pregnant or have any health concerns please refer to your local doctor.
(About the author: This is a guest article by Swati Bathwal, an accredited practising Dietitian Nutritionist and Public Health Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, an accredited Anthropometrist and a registered Yoga Teacher.)