For women, midlife indicates a phase in their lifespan, starting from early 40s to the mid-60s. This phase brings about significant physiological changes such as reduced bone density, hormonal imbalances due to menopause, decreased metabolism, and potential muscle mass reduction. As the women experience these changes, their nutritional pattern needs to change as well, experts urge. This National Nutrition Week 2023, observed every year between September 1-7, we highlight the need for prioritising nutrition needs in midlife wellness.
Women of all ages must focus on healthy, active lifestyles that involve healthy nutrition and exercising regularly. This becomes even more important in middle age because of the hormonal changes that impact metabolism and the natural loss of muscle mass in the body that occurs with age. “Women in this age group should focus on resistance-based training, such as lifting weights or bodyweight exercises, to promote muscle growth. A leaner body composition leads to a more toned physical appearance and improved ability to do the activities associated with daily living, such as lifting groceries, taking the stairs and other physical tasks,” elucidated Samantha Clayton, vice-president, sports performance and fitness, Herbalife.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of the human body. It is even more essential for women, who require adequate protein consumption to support various physiological processes, such as muscle development, bone health, and hormone regulation.
Prioritising iron-rich foods like spinach, beans, and lentils can address potential risks of anaemia. “At the same time, calcium from dairy or green leafy vegetables can improve bone health during potential osteoporotic phases,” said Dr Ushakiran Sisodia, registered dietician and clinical nutritionist, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai.
According to Dr Sisodia, it’s necessary to incorporate soy and flaxseeds in the diet to prepare for menopausal symptoms.
Healthy ageing for the bones and brain is also supported by regular exercise. “Most importantly, women need to exercise, be it a daily walks or morning yoga sessions. Yoga and meditation can help in improving mental well-being, which is essential in managing mood swings or midlife stress. With balanced nutrition and consistent exercise, women can create a protective lifestyle to manage the possible hurdles of midlife,” said Dr Sisodia.
According to Clayton, women should strive to do 150 minutes of exercise per week, 30 minutes on five days of the week and 2-3 of those days should focus on resistance exercise.
When women exercise and have ample protein in their diet, it can help ensure they burn excess calories while working on their muscle growth. “Protein is the key whether you are trying to gain muscle, lose weight, or improve immunity,” added Clayton.
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