Women in their 20’s
As we age our body changes naturally. Many factors like genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and environment affect how people of either gender age, but the rate and way that men and women age is completely different.
Between the ages of 10 and 12 girls usually reach puberty. By the age of 21 she is a young woman who has sailed through adolescence and entered adulthood. It is also commonly considered as the social age for child bearing years.
Establishing healthy habits in your 20s is an essential building block for a healthy life. Big transitions happen during this decade. The body is producing the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and androgen at peak levels, adding both fat and muscle.
Women in this age group may be busy forging their way in the workplace, establishing relationships, raising a young family, studying, travelling or several of these things at once. All of this takes a great deal of energy and attention. A busy lifestyle can sometimes affect health-conscious decisions, and can contribute to the trend of young women becoming heavier and unhealthy. Therefore it is important to make sure you look after your body and your mind.
Being overweight can increase the risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some cancers. Obesity also reduces female fertility and it can affect emotional health and confidence. Being underweight, following diets that eliminate food groups, reducing calorie intake more than what is essential for the body, etc can all lead to negative health repercussions.
Eating the right foods in the right proportion and exercising regularly have never been as important as they are now. It not only helps in feeling better but also helps function better and stay healthier in this crucial stage as well as in the years to come.
Women in their 30’s
During this decade there is gradual bone and muscle loss in women. It can lead to slowing down of metabolism especially in women who do not exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight becomes more challenging post 30. The ability to add bone density slows and eventually stops post mid 30’s. Weak bones can lead to Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis which can increase risk of fractures and breaks in the senior years.
Focussing on exercises that help in building bone density and maintaining good bone health is very important for women. It is a busy decade with work, kids, family and home which can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Letting regular workouts slide can be easy, but women must make nutrition and exercise as much a priority as work, friends, and family. Maintaining an exercise program that includes aerobic activities, like walking, jogging, or biking, also helps to stimulate the slowing metabolisms.
Excessive ultraviolet exposure to the sun causes unstable melanocyte activity, which in turn causes hyperpigmentation in the 30s and onward. Regular use of sunscreen is therefore important from an early age. Fertility in women usually decreases after the age of 35. It may take longer to get pregnant particularly after the age of 35. So for women who are waiting well into their 30s to have children, it becomes more important than ever to be in good health, eat healthy and have early prenatal care to ensure a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.
20 to 40
Hormonal fluctuations and medical conditions arising due to the same are common during these two decades (ages 20 to 40). It can lead to issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid issues arising due to the same. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause due to the drastic changes in hormones within a woman’s body.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): This is common among young women of reproductive age. It is also one of the most common causes of female infertility. It can occur as early as teenage soon after reaching menarche or later in the twenties or thirties.
Common symptoms of PCOS:
- Irregular periods or no periods
- Excessive facial and body hair
- Thinning of hair
- Weight gain
- Skin tags
- Mood swings
Nutritional Guidelines for PCOS:
- Consume wholegrains that are rich in fiber
- Eat a variety of coloured vegetables as they are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Reduce intake of caffeine as high caffeine can worsen the PCOS condition and symptoms.
- Avoid refined and processed foods as they contain unhealthy fats.
- Include regular physical activity in daily routine, with a balance of cardio and resistance training.
- Get sufficient sleep (min 7-8hrs) each day.
- Refrain from smoking and alcohol intake.
Taking good care of oneself through good nutrition and lifestyle habits, will give women the opportunity in these years to extend their life as a ‘young’ woman, age gracefully and improve the likelihood of being an active and vital mid-age and older woman in the years to come.