Babes, the choices you make regarding your health right now, are more important than ever. But between the misleading labels and aisles and aisles of ‘healthy foods’, eating correctly can be very confusing and an even more daunting task for most women.
Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables are the gifts that keeps on giving, Nicole Maider from Eldorado Park believes. She tells Health For Mzansi that pineapples are a personal favourite because the tropical fruit is a natural aphrodisiac and eating them regularly enhances the smell of a woman’s vagina.
“Just eating it regularly gives a fresh pleasant smell to your female parts and it gives intense arousals and heightens orgasms.”
Eat healthy, stay healthy
To stay in good health, it is important that women eat certain foods that prevent future illness, including heart diseases and are beneficial to their sexual reproductive health, says Cape Town health coach Hannah Kaye.
For *somatologist, Koketso Dinoko from the Tlakgameng Village in Ganyesa, North West, healthy iron rich foods are essential, especially when she is on her period. Dinoko suffers from anaemia and *dysmenorrhea – period pains so severe that she is unable to do any normal activities.
“When a woman is pregnant, she is supposed to take her folic acid [a B vitamin] because it supplements the iron in the body. When you are iron deficient, you experience dizzy spells, and sometimes nausea and also headaches.”
Cape Town fitness enthusiast, Asiphe Nombewu, says that all it takes is a little discipline when it comes to what women should eat.
No ‘one size fits all’ diet
While there are no specific foods that can improve women’s health, women can benefit from a healthy diet that boasts a variety of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and protein.
“Evidence continues to grow, demonstrating that lifestyle changes can modulate hormonal function to improve health and lower or even reverse the risk of chronic disease. Every diet can be adapted to a specific health concern, but we know that a diet rich in vegetables and good fats (like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado) is crucial to health maintenance. For some women, it will be essential to follow a lower carbohydrate diet but for other a Mediterranean diet will work well.”
Kaye, is an Integrative nutrition health coach who specialises in hormonal health.
She further warns that a high sugar, fast-food diet is associated with many health concerns, so reducing these is crucial to health.
“This is often referred to as the SAD diet – Standard American Diet. This is a leading cause for insulin resistance (a pre-diabetes state) which is linked to chronic disease development. So, regulating blood sugar is crucial as part of health maintenance.”
Foods for lady issues
For women experiencing menopause and severe menstrual cramps, Kaye recommends a diet low in sugar and salt as these can make things worse
“During the menopausal transition, there is an emergence of various lipid metabolic disorders due to hormonal changes, such as decreased levels of oestrogens and increased levels of circulating androgens. These may lead to the development of metabolic syndromes including cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.”
Some essential vitamins for female reproductive health includes:
- Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D can be considered a hormone as well.
- Omega 3: Fatty acids found in oily fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
- Phytochemicals: Can be found in brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables.
For some women, menstruation is a breeze but for others, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can be a real issue.
“This is a severe form of PMS. For this, a balanced diet is crucial as a high sugar and salt intake can make things worse – and unfortunately, this is exactly the type of foods that women crave at this time of the month. Foods high in magnesium are essential, like green leafy vegetables. The good news is that dark chocolate can be beneficial at this time.”
For women looking to improve their health, Kaye shares the following tip: ‘crowding out’.
“If completely changing your diet and lifestyle seems overwhelming, the key is to make small but meaningful changes. In my coaching practice I use the term “crowding out.”
Three tips for crowding out your diet:
- Keep it, lean, green and mean: Top of the list in terms of health is increasing vegetable intake. “The healthier foods we include in our diet, the less space there is for unhealthy ones,” says Kaye.
- Hydrate babes: Kaye says we should be aiming for six to eight cups per day, which is a lot. “Most of us won’t get there but keeping that number is mind is always a reminder that, that is where our focus should be.”
- EVOO is magic: “There is a plethora of research on the health benefits of olive oil as it contains phytonutrients and works as an anti-inflammatory. Use it in cooking and add to vegetables and salads.”