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Women’s Health Week

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

May 12, 2021

Ackerman Cancer Center Celebrates Women’s Health Week

Women have different nutritional needs based on personal characteristics, lifestyle choices and health conditions. This bulletin will discuss the general dietary recommendations for women in different stages of their life, as well as the general dietetic recommendations for cancer prevention of the three most common types of cancer among women in the United States.

The three most common types of cancer among women in the United States are:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
Nutrition for Cancer Prevention

Breast Cancer Prevention: 5 Lifestyle Recommendations

  1. Follow a plant-based diet: Fill half of your plate with non-root vegetables, one quarter with starches or whole grains and one-third with a lean protein (animal or vegetable protein). Limit red meat to less than 12-18 oz. per week.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight: Excess body fat increases the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer.
  3. Be physically active: Aim for 180-300 min of moderate physical activity per week.
  4. Limit alcohol: Any intake of alcohol increases breast cancer risk.
  5. Breastfeeding: It can lower breast cancer risk.

For more information, click here.

Lung Cancer Prevention: 5 Lifestyle Recommendations

  1. Quit smoking: Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer.
  2. 5 a day: Aim for 5 fruit and non-root vegetables per day, especially those rich in vitamin C and carotenoids, including dark green leafy vegetables, green and yellow vegetables and red fruits.
  3. Fruits and vegetables: Aim for non-starchy vegetables and fruits.
  4. No to supplements: Avoid beta-carotene supplements, as they can increase lung cancer risk.
  5. Avoid exposure: Reduce your exposure to air pollutants and other chemicals.

For more information, click here.

Colorectal Cancer Prevention: 6 Lifestyle Recommendations

  1. Healthy weight: Maintain a healthy weight and avoid gaining weight in your adulthood.
  2. Be physically active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity every day or at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
  3. Eat plenty of fiber (25 to 30 grams): Colorectal cancer risk reduces 10% for each 10 grams of fiber you eat.
  4. Limit meats: Limit red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week and avoid all processed meats.
  5. Enjoy plenty of garlic: Garlic reduces colorectal cancer risk.
  6. Limit alcohol: If you don’t drink, don’t start. If you drink, limit alcohol to no more than one alcoholic drink per day.

For more information, click here.


Nutritional Requirements: Different Needs in Different Stages

Pregnancy
Women who are planning to get pregnant, or are already pregnant, should maintain a healthy diet to prevent any nutritional deficiencies for them or their baby. This can help to prevent neural tube defects such as Spina bifida and Anemia, among other conditions. The three nutrients that are important for pregnant women are:

  • Folate or Folic Acid, also known as vitamin B9
  • Iron
  • Calcium

Pregnant women need to be cautious with foods that can pose a risk to their babies. Such foods may include:

  • Fish with high levels of heavy metal (Limit overall fish consumption to no more than 12.5 oz. per week).
    • To learn more about which fish are safe, visit this link.
  • Deli meats, due to risk of food poisoning (Listeria)
  • Liver, due to its excessive amount of vitamin A, which increases the risk of birth defects.
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Shortening and margarine, due to Trans fats, which are linked to reduced birth weight and smaller head circumference.
  • Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs due to the deleterious effects to the baby.

For more information, click here.

Childhood 
Children need a healthy diet to nourish their growing brains and bodies. Although specific needs of each nutrient vary based on the child age and sex, children need the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Visit the websites quoted above to learn more about the daily requirements per age.

  •  According to the AHA, children age 2 -18 should have less than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar a day.
  •  According to the American Heart Association (AHA), children should eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
  • Fat is important, but some fats are better than others. It is recommended to limit one’s intake of solid fats at room temperature, Trans fats (hydrogenated oils), or fats from animal sources such as butter. You can also find these fats in other foods such as cakes, cookies, pizza and fries.

For more information, click here.

Teenagers
Teenage girls need more of these nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Dietary fiber
  • Protein
  • Iron
  • According to the AHA, children age 2 -18 should have less than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar a day.
  • According to the American Heart Association (AHA), teenagers should eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

For more information, click here.

Adulthood
The nutrient vary based on the woman’s age, lifestyle, reproductive age, etc. Below are some of the foods and nutrients that should be part of a balanced meal for women:

  • Iron
  • Folate (and Folic Acid) During the Reproductive Years
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • According to the AHA, women should limit their consumption of added sugar to 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day.
  • According to the AHA, adult women should aim for less than 2,300 mg of salt per day, and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially for those with high blood pressure.

For more information, click here.

Foods, Vitamins and Minerals 

For a list of daily recommendations for vitamins and minerals click here.

For a list of food sources click here.

The recipe of the week comes via the Mediterranean Dish 

Garlic Dijon Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (8 pieces)
  • Salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large pieces

For Garlic Dijon Sauce

  • ⅓ Cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp quality Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp quality honey
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¾ tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Pinch salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Take chicken out of the fridge. Pat dry and season on both sides with salt. Set aside for a few minutes.
  3. Make the honey garlic Dijon sauce.
    (In a large bowl, combine olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, spices, and salt. Mix.)
  4. Add chicken to the honey garlic Dijon sauce. Coat each piece well with the sauce, then transfer chicken to a large lightly-oiled cast iron skillet (or baking sheet). Pour any Dijon sauce left in bowl on top. Add the onions.
  5. Bake in heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken thighs are fully cooked through (internal temperature should register 165 degrees F)
  6. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve hot with rice and salad.

 

References 

  • https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/healthy-eating-for-women
  • https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-much-sugar-is-too-much
  • https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/sugar-recommendation-healthy-kids-and-teens-infographic
  • https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/nutrition-for-growing-bodies
  • https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish
  • https://www.phipps.conservatory.org/assets/images/as_art_image/Calcium-Vegetarian-Nutrition.pdf
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