Exercise & Nutrition
Balanced nutrition and a healthy diet can support your body in many ways. Whether you’re looking to improve your energy and mood, combat stress, or boost fertility, what you fuel your body with can make an impact. To help explain how nutrition can impact your body, we’ve recently interviewed Dr. Jennifer Tinder of Axia Women’s Health OB/GYN of Indiana and gained valuable insight from the conversation. Read on below for tips on how to leverage nutrition to stay healthy and achieve your goals.
Great question, and it’s very important to acknowledge that men and women have differing nutritional needs as a result of differences in their bodies. For example, hormonal changes associated with menstruation, childbearing, and menopause mean that women have a higher risk of anemia, osteoporosis, and various nutritional deficiencies. For this reason, it’s important for women to include foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, and iron in their diet to maintain bone health and prevent anemia. Women also tend to lose more lean muscle mass over time due to age and childbearing. Therefore, a regular exercise regimen that includes weight training and/or high-intensity workouts should be a part of your routine. If you’re not doing this now, it’s never too late to start!
If you’re trying to maintain energy, the most important advice I can give is to never skip a meal. Regularly scheduled eating times can help with energy levels and boost your mood. The average recommended calorie intake is around 2,000 calories per day for women.
Each woman has unique nutritional needs, but in general you need about 1-2g of protein daily for every kilogram you weigh. For a 130-lb. woman (58kg), that means taking in up to 116g of protein daily. Most people do not eat enough food just to maintain their daily nutritional needs. And, while I know it seems counterintuitive, especially if you are trying to lose weight, building muscle is important as it burns fat/calories and helps maintain normal bone health. You cannot build muscle without protein.
Stress and anxiety are also big energy zappers, so to lower stress levels, try walking, listening to music, or talking to friends. It’s also easy to confuse hunger and fatigue with thirst, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
Any woman considering pregnancy should begin taking a prenatal vitamin daily, and should ensure this supplement contains folic acid, which helps prevent fetal brain and spinal cord abnormalities early in pregnancy. Additional supplements might be recommended, depending on your situation, so it’s always wise to consult with your physician.
I also tell women to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. If you have medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or thyroid disease, then it is essential to keep these under control prior to and during pregnancy to have the best outcomes. You can see your doctor regularly to help you with this.
Finally, it’s worth noting that about 40 percent of fertility problems are on the male’s side, so encourage your partner to also avoid alcohol and nicotine, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In short, yes. Because hormones fluctuate around the time of the menstrual cycle, many women experience bloating, cramping, fatigue, and mood swings. Some easy nutritional remedies include:
Of course, be sure to check with your doctor regarding any new supplements before trying them on your own.