Diet Healers

Women are more likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies

Women are more likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies than men are, for reasons including women’s reproductive biology, Women have different nutritional requirements throughout their life – especially before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding the baby.

The nutritional status of a fetus depends on the mother’s diet because the fetus receives all of its necessary nutrients from the mother’s blood through the placenta. The nutrients that the mother consumes, such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, are important for the proper growth and development of the fetus. Insufficient intake of certain nutrients can lead to developmental issues, growth restrictions, and an increased risk of various health problems for the fetus.

Expectant mothers need to eat a balanced and nutritious diet that contains whole dals, cereals, millets, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Eggs, chicken, milk and milk products like curd, paneer, nuts and seeds healthy fats should be included in their daily diet. Moreover, a diet which contains all the nutrients in adequate amounts helps to build a healthy placenta, a strong uterus, and a healthy baby and replenishes the mother’s nutritional stores.

You will be surprised to know that maternal obesity and low micronutrient status, in particular, that of vitamin D, folate and B12 during pregnancy affects the baby’s cognitive function, suggesting that maternal nutrition is also important for neurodevelopment and long-term cognitive development of the baby.

The mother’s awareness and education plays an important role in upbringing of her child. This induces better food habits by eating quality food which was nutritious and good for health. The healthy dietary pattern established in childhood keeps various diseases away and this habit builds up throughout adolescence and adulthood. Thus healthy childhood promises healthy adulthood. Literate mothers play an important role in child development and well-being. Studies have shown that the knowledge of mothers regarding vitamins, minerals, the importance of mother’s milk and mothers’ knowledge of nutrition plays a key role in avoiding nutritional deficiencies in her children.

During pregnancy, all women require more nutrients- macro as well as micronutrients (throughout diet and supplements). Pregnant women also require more protein, iron, iodine, vitamin A, folate, and other nutrients When energy and other nutrient intake do not increase as per the requirement, the body’s reserves are used, leaving the pregnant woman suffering from anemia, low bone density, hair fall and fatigue. Inadequate weight gain during pregnancy often results in premature deliveries and low birth weight which increases an infant’s risk of dying.

After childbirth, breastfeeding places high demands on maternal stores of energy, protein, and other nutrients as they come from her diet or body stores. These stores need to be established, conserved and continuously replenished. Virtually all mothers, unless extremely malnourished, can produce adequate amounts of breastmilk. Women who do not get enough energy and nutrients in their diet risk maternal depletion. To prevent this, extra food must be made available to the mother. Breastfeeding also increases the mother’s need for water, so she must drink enough liquids like water, milk, coconut water, juices, etc.

Maternal deficiencies of some micronutrients can affect the quality of breast milk. These deficiencies can be avoided if the mother improves her diet before, during, and between cycles of pregnancy and lactation, or takes supplements. Thus it becomes very important to provide nutritional knowledge to young girls of childbearing age so that they can take care of themselves and their young ones. It is said that educating a girl will help the next four generations. Let’s together take the responsibility to provide better health to mothers and children by adequate guidance and education.

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