Last week in my blog, I shared with you how I was on a new journey into getting older. Today’s post is about the nutrition, that we need, no matter what stage you are at. Hope the information below, helps in your own healthy journey.
A healthy diet gives you energy, supports your mood, maintains your weight, and keeps you looking your best. It can also be a huge support through the different stages in life. Healthy food can help reduce PMS, boost fertility, combat stress, make pregnancy and nursing easier, and ease symptoms of menopause. Whatever your age, committing to a healthy diet will help you look and feel your best so that you stay on top of your commitments and enjoy life.
Good nutrition starts with the basics. A well-rounded diet consisting of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean sources of protein. These kinds of foods provide women with plenty of energy, the means for lifelong weight control, and the key ingredients for looking and feeling great at any age.
Focus on whole, plant-based foods.
Fill most of your plate with fruits and leafy green vegetables. Also include a variety of whole grains, beans, and legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find minimally processed or locally grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.
Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. While dairy products are high in calcium, their animal fat and protein can accelerate bone loss. So also consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.
Don’t eat too much protein.
Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but eating too much animal-based protein—such as the levels recommended in many low-carb, high-protein diets—is particularly dangerous for women. Eating lots of protein causes calcium loss. Over time, this could lead to a decrease in bone density and osteoporosis.
Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.
Cut back on alcohol and caffeine.
Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.
Eat to control cravings and boost energy.
Your diet has a major effect on your food cravings, your stress levels, and your energy throughout the day. By making smart food choices and developing healthy eating habits, you’ll find it much easier to stay slim, control cravings, and feel energetic all day long.
Eat breakfast. Get your metabolism going in the morning by eating a healthy breakfast. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it. A solid breakfast provides energy for the day.
Eat regularly. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Support your body’s natural cycle of energy by eating a substantial breakfast, a nutritious lunch, a snack around 2 pm (to compensate for the body’s natural low point that occurs around 3 each afternoon), and a light early dinner.
Cut the junk. The ups and downs that come with eating sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates cause extreme swings in energy level and mood. Cutting out these foods can be tough, but if you can resist for several days, your cravings will subside.
Focus on complex carbohydrates. Foods such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, and bananas boost your “feel-good” serotonin levels without a crash. They also provide plenty of fiber, so you feel full much longer.
Get plenty of good carbohydrates.
You may think that they key to losing weight or avoiding weight gain is cutting out carbohydrates. But carbs, like fats, are a vital part of a healthy diet. They give you the fuel you need to get through your day, fight fatigue, and stay feeling full. The key is to choose the right kinds of carbohydrates.
Complex vs. simple carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates—the “good carbs”—have not been stripped of their fiber and nutrients. Because they’re rich in fiber, they keep you full longer and help with weight control. Good sources of complex carbs include whole grains such as whole grain brown rice, stone ground whole wheat, millet, or quinoa, as well as beans, other legumes, fruit, and vegetables.
Simple carbohydrates—the “bad carbs”—have been stripped of their fiber and many of their nutrients. Simple carbs lead to a dramatic spike in your blood sugar, followed by a rapid crash. These carbs are much less efficient at filling you up and keeping you energized. Simple carbs include white flour, white rice, and sugary foods.
Leave you full and satisfied
Are packed with nutrients
Provide long-lasting energy
Leave you hungry for more
Are mostly empty calories
Provide only short-lived energy
Don’t cut out the fat!
Many women have been led to believe that dietary fat is unhealthy and contributes to weight gain. But fats are a necessary part of a healthy diet. What really matters are the types of fat you eat.
Women need healthy fats in their diet to look and feel great.
Healthy fats boost your brainpower and mood. Fats are essential to healthy brain function. They put you in a good mood and keep you mentally sharp.
Healthy fats promote healthy pregnancies. When you’re pregnant, both you and your growing baby need healthy fat to feel your best. Fat is especially important to your baby’s developing brain and nervous system.
Healthy fats contribute to lifelong beauty. Fats are essential for vibrant, glowing skin, hair, and nails. A lack of healthy fats in your diet can lead to dull, flaky skin, brittle nails, and dry or easily damaged hair.
Healthy fats help control cravings. Because fat is so dense in calories, a little goes a long way in making you feel full. Small amounts of good fats like nuts or seeds make great satisfying snacks.
Fats lower the glycemic index of foods, easing the spike in blood sugar that results from eating carbohydrates.
You need fat in order to absorb certain vitamins. Many important vitamins—including vitamins A, D, E, and K—are fat-soluble, meaning you need fat in your system in order to absorb them.
Choosing healthy fats
Rather than cutting fat out of your diet, make smart choices about the types of fat you eat. Saturated fat and trans fat—the “bad fats”—increase your risk for certain diseases, including heart disease and stroke. But polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats—the “good fats”—actually contribute to your health and vitality, support your mood, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Foods rich in healthy fats include:
olive and canola oil
fish and seafood
Focus on foods for strong bones.
It’s important for women of all ages to eat foods that contribute to strong, healthy bones, as women have a higher risk of osteoporosis than men. Osteoporosis is largely preventable with good nutrition and exercise. After the age of 30, you stop building bone mass, but you can eat to maintain strong bones at any age. The key is to get enough of the nutrients that support bone health.
The role of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D in women’s bone health
Calcium and magnesium, in combination with vitamin D, are vital for women’s bone health. Calcium and magnesium needs are higher for people who eat the standard Western diet (high consumption of sugar, caffeine, meat, and alcohol and a relatively low consumption of leafy greens and whole grains).
Calcium: The recommended daily allowance varies from 400 to 1,200 mg/day. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, oatmeal and other grains, tofu, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, garlic, and sea vegetables. Be smart about taking calcium supplements. Calcium is absorbed slowly and your body cannot take in more than 500 mg at any one time and there’s no benefit to exceeding the recommended daily allowance. In fact, doing so may even harm the heart.
Magnesium: The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 500 to 800 mg/day. Calcium only works when taken in conjunction with magnesium. Good sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables, summer squash, broccoli, halibut, cucumber, green beans, celery, and a variety of seeds, including pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds.
Vitamin D: Aim for between 400 and 1,000 IU (international units) daily. You can get Vitamin D from about half an hour of direct exposure to sunlight, and from foods and supplements. Salmon is an excellent source of vitamin D. Other good sources include shrimp, vitamin-D fortified milk, cod, and eggs.