Facts about Women’s Health and Nutrition

For years, research on women’s health and women’s nutrition was based on the findings done on men. Even though, men’s bodies are much different than women’s. It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s with an act of Congress created the Women’s Health Initiative which was designed as the first major clinical trial to study women.

I am honored to have worked with this study for almost an entire decade of my nutrition career! My role was as a dietitian working with the Women’s Health dietary portion of the study.

Before that time, women were often prescribed hormones being told it would help keep them looking younger, prevent them from feeling depressed and may even that it might help protect them from heart disease. Although, there was not a lot of research to back up those facts.

The Women’s Health Initiative found that prescribing hormone therapy for many of us may provide more risk than benefits although each woman varies on a case by case basis. Here is a little history about hormone therapy and some of the facts.

Life Cycle Nutrition Needs for Women

An entire woman’s life cycle is so unique based on where she is on her hormone journey. Here is a glimpse of where we go:

  1. Young Women Reaching Menarche: This is when a young woman begins her period.
  2. Women in child-bearing years: From pregnancy, non-pregnant, lactating and infertility. There is a lot of ups and downs in these years.
  3. Perimenopause: When women begin preparing for the change of life and they are sort of in-between child-bearing years and the menopause change. This time could start in the middle of the 30’s but more common in 40’s.
  4. Menopause: This is the ceasing of menstruation usually between the age of 45 and 50.
  5. Post-Menopause: This is considered after a woman has not had a period for one full year.

What’s Unique Nutrition Needs Do Women Have?

You might be wondering “what nutrients does a woman need daily”? Women’s daily nutrient needs differ from men and children need in the fact that they have different amounts needed. Here are some specific nutrients that are particularly important for women’s health.

·         Protein Needs for Women:

Men have higher protein needs than most women because they usually have a larger muscle mass. But, these needs vary with individuals.

·         Iron for Women:

Women have a higher need for iron than men during their menstruation years. But the need for it tapers off after menopause.

·         Calcium/Vitamin D Needs for Women:

Women’s need for calcium and vitamin D is higher during pregnancy but it is also higher after menopause because women become more at risk for osteoporosis.

·         B6 and Folate Needs for Women:

B6 is important to have for women during their menses and folate is critical for fetus development when a woman is pregnant.

Besides, different nutrient needs, women’s chronic disease rates differ for them than in men and also have different organs to have diseases. Here are some examples:

Chronic Disease and Women

We often feel invisible but there are certain disease conditions that are particular to us.

·         Heart Disease in Women:

Women have lower rates of heart disease than men until they reach menopause and then their risk begins to equal men’s risk. Women’s symptoms of a heart attack are slightly different than a man’s and they are more subtle. But even though women’s heart attacks are more silent, they are also more deadly.

·         Cancer in Women:

According to the American Cancer Society, the cancers that affect women most often are breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung, cervical, skin, and ovarian cancers. Check out more information on how you can prevent and treatment options and survival for these.

·         Kidney Failure in Women:

Disease of the kidney is slightly higher for women than men, check out more information about these diseases and women at the National Kidney Foundation.

·         Bone Health for Women:

Being a woman makes us more at risk for osteoporosis and breaking a bone, find out more here at 
National Osteoporosis Foundation.

·         Hormone Imbalance Conditions for Women: 

I love this new resource that I found on hormones and health for women, it includes the entire women’s life cycle where there may be health issues based on hormone imbalance. Be sure to scroll all the way down for “view all articles” for the entire life cycle. Check out The Endocrine Society’s Women’s Health and Hormones.

·         Autoimmune Disease and Women:

About 8 % of the population suffers from an autoimmune disease and about 78 % of the people who have these diseases are women, here is a good resource on women and autoimmune disease.

Picture of me taking care of my grandchild
I have to take care of me so I can take care of others!

Women’s Role as the Family Caretaker

Another important health issue that almost every woman faces is the fact that we take on the caretaker role of the family which often includes:

  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Spouse
  • Aging Parents
  • Siblings, other family members and even other people in the community 

Many times, women often have little time to care for themselves so they more easily become ill from the stress and the physical demands of care-giving.

If women don’t take care of themselves, who will take care of the other people if something happens to them?

And who will take care of them when they get sick?

So, you can see, so that we can continue to take care of others we really have the responsibility to take the best care of us also. That way we can continue to do the things we do for everyone else. That means, we need to reach out for help, seek resources available and take time to do it.

Picture of my mom and me
I love being with my mom!

Simple Ideas for Self-Care:

Here are some ideas to help keep you healthy!

  • Eat Well
  • Keep Moving
  • Stress Less and Relax
  • Make and Maintain Healthy Relationships
  • Include Healthy Distractions
  • Practice Meditation and/or Prayer
  • Add Mindfulness to Your Routine
  • Create Happy & Healthy Thoughts

Teaching other women to feel their best is one of my favorite topics. Check out this post I created on self-care along with a “Feel Good Calendar” that I put together! By providing yourself time for a little self-love, this can go a long way to helping others on your list!

All of these things that I am sharing today have been my inspiration to create a new Women’s Nutrition and Wellness Program as complex and unique as you are! Check out the new A Fresh Approach to Women’s Nutrition below:

This is a picture of Womens Nutriton Program
A Fresh Approach to Women’s Nutrition
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A Fresh Approach to Women’s Nutrition

Working with women and learning about all of their needs as well as my own needs to take care of myself has been my inspiration for designing a new personalized program for women’s nutritional health!

This program provides a customized eating plan for women’s health that I think that you will love!

Session One: Replenish Your Body and Soul

  • Identify nutrients & foods that help create and maintain your optimal health as a woman.
  • Create a self-care plan that includes overall well-being. And the steps to implement it.
  • Receive your personalized meal plan with anti-inflammatory foods with Mediterranean Style Meal plan, recipes, and grocery list.

Session Two: Revitalize Your Life with New Habits

  • Examine the role of hydration on youthful skin and overall women’s health.
  • Explore how a positive body image, intuitive eating, and mindfulness affects overall health.
  • Practice including more anti-inflammatory foods to daily routine and existing recipes.
  • Discuss physical activity’s role in slowing the effects of aging.

Session Three: Renew Your Life

  • Discuss how the anti-inflammatory diet and other key nutrients prevent chronic health conditions in women.
  • Develop long-term wellness and support plans to prevent relapse and maintain healthy changes.
  • Discuss tips on healthy dining out while achieving your goals.
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Great Resources for Women’s Nutrition and Health

Here are some other great resources for learning more about women’s health. I hope that they are as helpful to you as they were for me!

Government Website on Women’s Health

Resources for Menopause

Great Powerpoint on Women’s Nutrition and Health

Nutrition During Perimenopause and Menopause

Post Menopause has it’s own challenges, I love these suggestions from John Hopkin’s Medicine as an introduction of some good things that you can do!

Check out one of my blog posts for foods for making women feel more amazing. It also includes some good food for women’s hormone balance too. It provides some ideas for daily nutrition intake for women also.

10 Foods that Make Women Feel More Amazing!

I also have included a blog post of foods that help provide essential nutrition information for women’s health but also suggestions to keep your skin healthy and youthful.

Eating for That Youthful Glow

Are you are inspired to get going to take better care of yourself and want to keep up the momentum?

Get ready to get going with your very own women’s health plan to help you be successful!

I am here to help you facilitate the process, provide information and support you! I am an Asheville Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I would love to help!

Denise Tossing Salad
Denise Barratt with Vine Ripe Nutrition is tossing a salad and creating new menu ideas for your table.
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