Advancing Women’s Health and Activity: Top Health and Nutrition Trends of 2023

Published on: Aug 3 2023

According to recent research conducted by the KHNI, Women’s Health has emerged as one of the top 10 major health and nutrition trends in 2023.

This highlights the importance of addressing the unique health and nutritional needs of women at various stages of life.  In KHNI’s recent webinar “Innovating for Women’s Health”, Izaskun Monsalve and Monica Maria Olivares explained that with advancements in nutrition research and technology, the possibilities for improving women’s health outcomes are expanding. Moreover, the webinar presented case studies highlighting successful product innovations in the areas of fertility, breast care, and menopause.

While female-specific symptoms and diseases are prevalent, our understanding of the female body lags behind our knowledge of men’s health. As a result, there are significant unmet needs in this space. To bridge this gap, it is crucial to build credible scientific evidence based on female populations and develop products that cater to women’s needs across multiple life stages.

In this segment on women’s health, Dr. Lisa Ryan highlights the significance of focusing on this area, as it has been under-researched for a long time. Women experience various stages throughout their lives, and each stage has different nutritional requirements and considerations. Dr. Ryan begins by discussing adolescence, where a high requirement for calcium is essential as females lay down their bones and risk factors for osteoporosis during this period. Innovations in obtaining calcium, especially for those choosing vegan-based options, could be crucial in the future.

Moving forward, Dr. Ryan mentions the reproductive stage, which places a greater emphasis on iron requirements for women. Pregnancy and lactation further increase nutritional needs. As women progress through life, they enter the perimenopause, menopausal, and post-menopausal periods. These transitions bring about significant changes in nutritional requirements and health considerations. Women also experience different stages of old age, with early and late old age having distinct nutritional needs.

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Dr. Ryan highlights that women were previously viewed as a homogenous group, with limited nutritional targets beyond pregnancy and lactation. However, recent years have witnessed greater attention being given to menopausal requirements, although more research is needed to fully understand the gender differences and their impact on nutritional requirements throughout a woman’s life.

There are several gender-related health differences between men and women. Women have higher rates of osteoporosis and certain diseases, and they tend to have a longer life expectancy. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on women’s health throughout their entire lifecycle. However, the lack of research on women has led to misdiagnosis and misunderstanding of symptoms. For example, heart attacks in women often present with gastrointestinal distress or severe stomach pain, rather than the typical clutching of the heart symptom seen in men. Dr. Ryan emphasizes the importance of increased research in females to address these knowledge gaps.

Dr. Ryan also mentions the implications of women’s health for food and nutrition innovations. Postmenopausal women, for instance, may experience changes in taste perception and suffer from severe dry mouth. Their food preferences may shift, and they may require different supplements or novel botanicals to support these changes. This presents opportunities for food and nutrition innovation specifically tailored to women’s health.

In conclusion, the segment emphasizes the importance of addressing women’s health throughout their lifecycle, acknowledging the distinct nutritional requirements and health considerations they face. The need for further research in females is highlighted, along with the potential for food and nutrition innovations to support women’s health.

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