Simple Tips to Boost Female Wellbeing
Women have unique health issues such as pregnancy and menopause, both of which can impact women’s wellbeing during their lives in different ways. And some of the health issues that affect both men and women can touch women differently. From insomnia and mood swings, to skin issues, heart and bone health.
Here, California Walnuts dietitian shares some top tips to help improve a few important health concerns for women.
- Mood swings
Woman can be prone to experiencing mood swings at different stages in their lives. These can feel unpleasant and have a negative impact on our daily lives. Although we cannot eat our way out of being anxious, stressed or depressed, what we eat can affect our energy, mood and brain function:
- Neurogenesis is the generation of new neurons (nerve cells) which has been linked to mood and cognition. One of the nutrients identified that supports neurogenesis are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which walnuts are a good source of
- Lacking in certain vitamins such as thiamine (vitamin B1), and minerals such as iron, can make you feel tired and lacking in energy. Whilst other vitamins such as folate have been linked with an increased chance of feeling depressed, particularly in older people. Walnuts are a good source of folate, vitamin B6, copper and a source of iron and zinc which contribute to the normal function of the immune system as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.
- Consuming walnuts may be associated with a lower prevalence and frequency of depression symptoms. Researchers using data on 26,656 adult participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES survey) for 2005 through 2014 found that depression scores were 26% lower for walnut consumers and 8% lower for consumers of other nuts, compared to those who did not consume nuts at all.
A lack of sleep can be linked to many health problems. Getting enough sleep is important for everyone, both men and women. Not having enough sleep can affect our hormones including those that signal hunger and satiety – the feeling of being full, which can lead to over eating.
Ensuring we get the right amount of and good quality of sleep depends on a range of factors, but nutrition can play an important part. For example, a deficiency in minerals such as magnesium has been linked to sleep problems
- Eating a large meal close to bed time is not good idea, and neither is going to bed hungry which can wake you up. Eating dinner earlier and then enjoying small tooth-friendly bedtime snacks such as walnuts can help with getting a good night’s rest
- For those working night shifts it’s important to eat healthy snacks that will aid sleep. Walnuts are a portable snack that provides protein and fibre
- Walnuts are also a rich source of magnesium and contain the essential amino acid tryptophan that converts to serotonin, a calming chemical in the brain.
- Skin health
Women’s skin can be affected by a range of factors, from hormones to diet and lifestyle choices. You can feed your skin from the inside as well as care for it on the outside.
- Use sunscreen, avoiding smoking, get enough sleep, and other healthy habits such as staying hydrated will all have a positive effect on the skin
- Eating a varied, balanced diet is key including foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3),
- Fat is also important to skin health, particularly omega-3 fatty acids which can have a positive role in skin health. They can help to regulate the skin’s oil production, improve balanced hydration, subdue breakouts and minimize signs of aging. Omega-3s can also help soften rough, dry skin and have a soothing effect on irritation and dermatitis. Walnuts are the only tree nut to contain a rich source of the plant-based omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), 2.7g/ 30g*. Just one handful of walnuts also offers 4.4g of protein and 1.4g of fibre.
- Walnuts contain a rich source of copper which contributes to normal skin pigmentation. They are also a rich source of biotin and source of zinc which contribute to the maintenance of normal skin.
- Hair health
Like the skin, hair can be affected by a range of factors. It is the second fastest growing cell in your body so needs nourishing to keep it healthy. As we grow older, there is a tendency for our hair fibres to become finer and shorter and we may experience hair loss or greying. It is normal for women to experience changes to their hair post pregnancy and as they enter the menopause. Eating a balance of key nutrients including protein, vitamins and minerals will help to supply hair with all that it needs to remain shiny, lustrous and strong.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats our body cannot make itself, and therefore must be obtained through our diet. Omega-3s are found in the cells that line the scalp and also provide the oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated. Include oily fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, trout and mackerel and plant sources like avocado, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
- Walnuts are a rich source of copper which helps to maintain normal hair and skin pigmentation.
- They are also a source of biotin and zinc which helps maintenance of normal hair.
- Heart health
Heart health is important at every age, but post-menopause women’s risk of cardiovascular disease rises and we should pay particular attention to heart health. Diet can play an important part and post 40 a heart healthy diet is ideal for women to enjoy.
- Limit salt and eat potassium rich foods such plenty of fruit and vegetables, nuts, beans and lentils, oily fish and low-fat dairy to help maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Choose unsaturated fats from plants, nuts and seeds such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados and walnuts. Naturally very low in salt, walnuts are the only tree nut to contain significant amounts of omega-3 ALA (2.7g/30g) which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. California Walnuts have the heart-healthy seal of approval from the heart health charity, Heart UK and EFSA has approved the health claim that a handful of walnuts a day (30g) can have a positive effect on the elasticity of the blood vessels helping to keep the cardiovascular system healthy.
- Eating walnuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat may help improve central blood pressure in those at risk for heart disease, compared to a low saturated fat diet with omega-3 ALA from vegetable oil.
- Bone Density
In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. Bone density is lost during and after the menopause, sending the risk of osteoporosis shooting up.
- It is important to ensure adequate calcium intake from dairy or fortified alternatives, fish with soft edible bones like tinned salmon or sardines, tofu, sesame seeds, broccoli, spinach and dried figs is a part of your daily diet.
- You should also take part in weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. Enjoy healthy snacks such as walnuts to keep your energy up.
 As part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1252;
 Tindall AM, Petersen KS, Skulas-Ray AC, Richter CK, Proctor DN, Kris-Etherton PM. Replacing saturated fat with walnuts or vegetable oils improves central blood pressure and serum lipids in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease: a randomized controlled-feeding trial. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 May 7;8(9):e011512. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.118.011512