March 8th is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.”
Being a woman is not easy. Right from birth, every woman has to go through a lot of changes in her life be it physical, hormonal or mental health. For a woman to achieve what she wants and to prove her mettle in what she does is not a cakewalk. There are numerous hurdles she has to face in her everyday life but she only emerges as a winner in every phase of her life. But for a woman to be equal to her counterparts, to achieve her aims and ambitions and come up with flying colours, she has to take care of her health first.
So this women’s day, we request each and every woman to prioritise her health. Here are a few simple tips for every woman to ensure she stays fit and healthy all through her life to excel in whatever she does.
Tips For A Healthy YOU!
Right from eating a diet rich in iron and other essential nutrients to going for a regular health check-up, here is a list of things/tips for every woman to follow without fail for a healthier version of herself.
1. Load Up On Iron
Not many women are aware of the fact that iron-deficiency anaemia is quite common in women, especially during the reproductive years(15–49 years). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), anaemia among women is defined as a haemoglobin concentration of <12 g/dL for non-pregnant women aged 15 years and above, and a haemoglobin concentration of <11 g/dL for pregnant women. A 2018 study estimated low iron consumption among Indian women aged 18 years and above and around 51-83% of pregnant women in India are deprived of recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron. According to the National Institute of Nutrition, the RDA of iron for women above 18 years is 21 mg/day and for pregnant women is 35 mg/day.
To up your intake of iron and prevent iron-deficiency anaemia, it is important to include foods rich in this mineral in the diet. The food sources of iron include grains, cereals, lentils, meat and fish. You can even opt for iron-fortified foods and supplements to meet the requirement.
2. Keep A Tab On Your Weight
Overweight and obesity can put a woman at risk of a wide range of health complications ranging from diabetes and heart disease to infertility. Studies have shown that overweight women are more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are compared to women with a healthy weight. Moreover, obesity also increases the risk of irregular menses, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), infertility and pregnancy-related complications. Hence, it is important to maintain a healthy weight to lower your risk of lifestyle diseases and infertility problems in the future.
Several lifestyle interventions that can help you to control and maintain your weight include walking 6000-10,000 steps a day or 30 – 45 minutes of aerobic exercise such as cycling for 3-5 times a week. Also, eating a healthy and balanced diet such as intake of 50% carbohydrates, 25–30% fat, and 20–25% protein can also help you to maintain a healthy weight. You can even join a dance class or enrol in a swimming class to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise every day as it helps you to break the monotony of sedentary lifestyle and help you shed some weight.
3. Do Breast Self-examination Regularly
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death due to cancer in women. As per the reports of the National Cancer Registry Programme, one in 22 urban women and one in 60 rural women are at risk of developing breast cancer. A breast self-exam is one of the best screening tests every woman can do at home to detect any changes in the breast which helps in early diagnosis of cancer. The test takes only 5 -10 mins and is advised to be done at least once a month by every woman above 15 years of age. Here’s more on how to do a breast self-exam at home and other screening tests for breast cancer.
4. Maintain Vaginal Hygiene And Sanitation
Just like sex and periods, vaginal hygiene is a taboo topic which is not much talked about. But it is important to know about tips and tricks to keep the vagina clean and healthy as it plays a key role in your sexual and reproductive health. These include changing your sanitary pads or napkins every six to eight hours and knowing the right way to use a menstrual cup or tampon. Also, avoid douching or using harsh soaps while washing the vagina to keep it clean as it can change the vaginal pH and increase the risk of infections. Say no to scented feminine hygiene products and use of home remedies to keep the vagina clean. Practice safe sex and clean the vagina after every sexual intercourse without fail.
5. Go For Regular Health Checkups
If you have a family history of cancer, then it is wise to go for a cancer screening test as soon as you hit 25 or as advised by your doctor. Women in her early 30s should consider a thyroid profile test if experiencing any symptoms of thyroid disease. For women who have a family history of diabetes, getting their blood glucose levels checked once every year is not a bad idea. Getting a blood test to know the parameters such as haemoglobin, RBCs, WBCs, cholesterol, etc can go a long way to keep a tab on her overall health. If you are 50, then getting a bone mineral density test to know how healthy your bones and joints are is a good way to know about osteoporosis.
Do not ignore any signs and symptoms such as sudden weight loss or weight gain, excessive hair loss, extreme fatigue, irregular periods, mood swings, feeling low, changes in breast size, pain during sex or frequent infections. This is because all these symptoms could be a sign of an underlying disease that can range from thyroid to infertility to even cancer. So it is important to talk to your doctor about any changes that happen in your physical, emotional or hormonal profile. If you feel shy to go for a physical consultation to a doctor and discuss your problems with your gynaecologist, then you can opt for online consultation.
This women’s day let every woman know that her health is her priority. Share this article with every woman you know be it your sister, friend, colleague, mother or daughter to tell her that YOU care for her. Happy Women’s Day!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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