Your health is a top priority, and good nutrition is just one way you prioritize your health. Eating a balanced diet that meets your nutritional needs is crucial for maintaining physical health and mental well-being and preventing chronic diseases.
It’s not just about good nutrition. Poor dietary choices can even exacerbate gynecologic conditions such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis. Here, Dr. Essam Taymour discusses the importance of nutrition in women's health 一 and what our team at Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group in Long Beach, California, can do to support your overall wellness.
Why is nutrition important for women's health?
The right nutrition helps you maintain a healthy weight, boosts your energy levels, and reduces your risk of certain chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Nutrition is even more important when you realize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and strokes are more prevalent in women than in men.
Both heart disease and strokes can be triggered by poor dietary choices — for example, fatty foods that clog your arteries. These conditions also can be ameliorated by eating a more heart-friendly diet.
Heart health is just part of the equation. A healthy diet helps support reproductive health, prevents bone loss, and reduces your risk of some cancers.
Proper nutrition is crucial for women experiencing gynecologic issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, and menopause. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects many women of reproductive age and can lead to irregular periods, weight gain, and fertility problems. A balanced diet that includes low-glycemic index foods and healthy fats can help manage symptoms of PCOS and improve fertility.
Similarly, infertility is often caused by poor nutrition and lifestyle factors. A diet that’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can improve fertility by supporting egg health and reducing oxidative stress in the body.
During menopause, women experience hormonal changes that can lead to an increased risk of bone loss and heart disease. A diet high in calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the risk of these conditions and improve overall quality of life.
What nutrients are essential for women's health?
Women have unique nutritional needs that differ from men’s, particularly during certain life stages. For example, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding require more nutrients to support their growing baby's needs. Some of the essential nutrients that women need to include in their diet are:
Women require more calcium 一 a mineral that’s vital for bone and teeth health一 than men do in order to maintain healthy bones, particularly during pregnancy and breastfeeding and also later in life. You can find calcium in dark leafy greens, canned salmon (with bones), dairy foods, and fortified products.
Iron, another essential mineral, is necessary for red blood cell production. Because red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of your body, iron is critical, especially during pregnancy when blood volume increases. Women require more iron than men due to menstrual blood loss, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
Folate is a B vitamin that supports healthy fetal development during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or planning to conceive, increase your intake of folate by taking a prenatal vitamin.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s support brain and eye health. They also play a role in reducing your risk of heart disease. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds, avocados, walnuts, and hemp seeds.
This vitamin is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Women require more vitamin D than men to maintain bone health, particularly those who are postmenopausal.
How can women improve their nutrition?
The best way to improve your nutrition is to honestly reflect on your current diet and, if needed, add a greater variety of nutrient-dense foods.
Some tips to improve nutrition include:
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Choosing whole grains and limiting or avoiding refined grains
- Consuming lean protein sources, such as fish and chicken
- Limiting processed and sugary foods
- Staying hydrated
While good nutrition plays a critical role in everyone’s life, it’s important to realize how nutrition can impact your health through the lens of the reproductive phases of your life. Small dietary changes can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being, so even one small change at a time is a big win!
Not sure if you’re on the right track? We’re happy to discuss how nutrition can impact your gynecologic concerns. Give us a call or use our online appointment request tool to schedule your next visit.