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There is more to women health than just weight

How many ladies in the house are comfortable with their body? Hands please, I am counting….

For most women, weight is the dark shadow that hovers around all the time. But there is a lot more to health and happiness than just weight. Studies have shown that while maintaining good weight remarkably improves risk of non-communicable diseases, eating healthy and maintaining the recommended amount of physical activity (150 minutes of moderate exercise/week) also reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases, improves diseases outcomes and quality of life, even if weight loss is not achieved. So don’t be discouraged that your weight is not changing; there is more to your health than just weight.

In your 20s, it’s time to build your bones. This means taking a lot of calcium rich foods (dairy products, bony fish, dark green leafy vegetables, foods fortified with calcium) and exercising: particularly weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercise.  This is also the age within which we start having babies, going on to the 30s. Hence you need to prepare your body. It is important to achieve your ideal weight before conception and ensure you have enough reserves of iron, folic acid, zinc, basically a variety of foods from all food groups. This is also the period with the pressures of lifestyle changes, which will form ground for chronic conditions that will only start exhibiting in your 40s. So in your 40s, eat more fruits and vegetables, and maintain the healthy practices picked in the 30s, while you completely drop the unhealthy ones. Also important is to have regular health risk assessment. Cancer is killing more people because it is detected too late.

Your 50s can be rather dramatic thanks to menopause. A good diet and a healthy lifestyle can help ease these symptoms. It is important to reduce calories, since metabolic changes occurring at this age increase weight gain especially at the midsection, which increases the risk of developing diabetes. So eat more nuts, fruits and vegetables, as they help to balance hormones and alleviate hot flushes; and take more calcium rich foods to prevent osteoporosis.

In your 60s, muscle mass starts to decrease. It is therefore important to have more proteins, alongside physical activity to maintain bone health.

Remember it’s not just what you eat, but how you eat it. Eat with others whenever possible and turn the TV off, eat slowly and chew properly, listen to your body and only give that which it needs.

Most importantly, have a full breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day.

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Christine Nderitu

As a licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. Her area of expertise lies not just in nutrition management but in health education and promotion in HIV/AIDS, Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health as well as Non-Communicable Diseases, which she has engaged in for a decade. She is also a columnist in a leading local Daily. Christine has a keen interest in Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control. She feels that the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour, and humanity. “We have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.”