1. Take a prenatal vitamin
Any woman who has the possibility of becoming pregnant should take a prenatal vitamin daily. Prenatal vitamins differ from regular vitamins in that they contain more folic acid and iron. Folic acid deficiency in pregnant women has been known to cause spinal cord abnormalities in fetuses. The neural tube, which eventually becomes the spinal cord and brain of baby, closes at just 4 weeks after conception, at a time when many women may not know they are even pregnant! Iron supplementation is important to prevent anemia, as pregnancy causes blood volume to increase around 40%. Of course eating a well balanced diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need, but for many women this is still not enough.
We all know that exercise plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight, however there are even more benefits to exercising that you may not know. One of those added benefits includes helping prevent osteoporosis. Being a desi woman, in itself, is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Being petite and thin framed, a characteristic of many desi females is another risk factor. Other added benefits of exercise include helping ward off depression, anxiety, and stress. Being physically active has also been shown t o boost your immune system- making you less likely to get sick or even develop certain cancers.
3. Find out your family history
You would be surprised how many people don’t know what kind of medical problems run in their families. For many, it is just not something talked about. However, I can’t stress how important it is to discuss and clarify this topic with your parents, siblings, and children most importantly, and even so with grandparents and first degree aunts and uncles. Did anyone get diagnosed with cancer at a young age? What about autoimmune diseases such as thyroid problems? Knowing such information is powerful and can be extremely helpful to your doctor to keep you healthy.
4. Recognize the importance of mental health
In many desi households, mental health is a taboo topic. Depression- which has a higher incidence in women, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are often seen as a weakness that can be controlled. They are not acknowledged as being just like any other ailment. As a result, many do not seek the care that they need and instead live with this pain. Many desi women feel pressure to excel in all aspects of life, leading to undue expectations. It is important to recognize that mental health is a key factor in physical health, and we need to work to rid this cultural stigmatization. If you think you or someone you know is suffering from depression or other mental disorders, please talk to your physician.