Women’s Health: Healthy Eating and Lifestyle for Women

ESG Virtual Wellness Series
- Healthy Eating and Lifestyle for Women

Women’s Health (Part : 1 of 3)
- Healthy Eating and Lifestyle for Women

Wed 31 March 2021 | 12pm - 1:30pm ​


Claudia has a degree in Dietetics and she specializes in Clinical Nutrition, Nutrition Support, Gestational Diabetes, Chronic Disease, Cancer Nutrition Therapy, Weight Management, Mediterranean Diet as well as in Nutritional Wellness & Mindful Eating. She is an Accredited Dietitian member of SNDA (Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association) and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Claudia has been practising as a dietitian since 2010 and she spent four years at Raffles Hospital. In 2017-2018 she led a project in a start-up to set up a company that provides meals prescribed to each person’s nutritional requirements.”


Ms Claudia Correia

BSc Dietetics

Clinical Dietician


Claudia Correia is a Clinical Dietitian who has worked with many oncology centers such as Curie Oncology Singapore.

In this event, Claudia presents some of the health challenges women face at each stage of their lives and information on how to prevent and manage them. She discusses two main conditions, premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer as well as weight gain and how women may control the onset of them throughout various stages of their lives.

Claudia focuses on women in their forties and fifties in particular as these are the ages where women are the most susceptible to those health conditions. She also shares some quick tips on how to make certain lifestyle and dietary changes to mitigate weight gain and premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer.


Claudia Correia: Hi, can you guys hear me? Okay, great. Thank you everyone for being here today. And my name is Claudia. And today I’m here to talk to you about healthy eating and lifestyle for women. So for today’s session, I would like to talk with you about some current issues that we women face and what are the risk factors and being one of them putting on weight, we will talk about how to manage this. And also we will go through some very quickly from some women’s health checklists, and then we will look into the poll questions. So now you have access to the poll questions I believe right now. So if you can, then you can start answering them as well. So only two questions as well. And then we will look into the summary of everything that we talked about. Okay. So as women, we go through different life stages and all of them would all have their own set of challenges.

But I think the first one usually starts, the biggest ones are with adulthood when we start working and we leave the umbrella of our parents. And usually with that, we also start eating out more often, probably not with everyone, but for a lot of us. And then with that becomes as well, foods that are convenient, that are tasty, that are cheap and they are easy to access. And this is some of them are fast food. We also get more access to cured meats. And also we all love of bubble teas and shakes, and also things like alcohol starts to be a big part of our life as well. At the same time, we do love hawker foods and we might start eating out more often because we are working and we need to grab something for lunch. And although these foods are very delicious and affordable, they are usually very high in calories.

And also they are cooked with unhealthy ingredients like saturated fats and also making them very high in the saturated fat and sugar and salt and low in fiber and antioxidants. As a consequence, throughout adulthood, we tend to put on weight and this is something that I see quite frequently in my practice. When I see my patients at the age of 40 or 50, they usually tell me, I just put on one kg a year. And then sometimes it’s all that you need. You do the maths after 20, 30 years, how much, how much extra kgs that means and putting on weight is not only an aesthetic problem. It comes with a lot of health challenges with weight gain. We are at an increased risk of cancer, including breast cancer. We are increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even Autoimmune conditions, which we never think of like rheumatoid arthritis. And also we are at higher risk of cognitive decline as well.

Gail factors for weight gain are not only about how much food we eat or which kind of food we eat is also related to how much do we move? And this is something that also my patients have in common. They all say that once they start working, they start becoming more like Ann here in this picture. So we don’t, we barely move throughout the day. We stop doing any kind of activities that we were doing before, because the priorities really work. So all of this will also contribute to your weight gain, but also increase the risk of diseases. And in this case in this graphic specifically, you can see that the cancer is increased by the lack of physical activity as well, but also at stuff like cardiovascular diseases as well. And how to manage weight gain.

This is just some very quick tips. There’s so much that we could talk about, but I guess the first rule is to slow down. We all live in a very hectic pace and we all try to minimize the time that you spend eating, but it’s time for us to slow down, try to spend more time eating and enjoy a bit more and avoiding distractions, avoid skipping the meal, especially breakfast. This is for several reasons, but one of them is that once we skip a meal, once you go to the next meal, it’s very difficult for us to control the calories that we eating and choose healthy foods as well. So if you look back and you think like, oh, it’s actually a good thing that I’m skipping meals, but you think about what you choose afterwards. You might not be actually worth it, get support, get your family, get your, get your pairs at work, to, to be with you in this journey to lose weight and manage to weight, gain eating, going to restaurants that are healthier, getting group, getting walks, getting going for walks at work, and also make sure your two are physically active as well.

So sitting more, uh sitting less, moving more and also try to get exercise in every week.

So let’s look into some of the checklists now for things for women in different age groups. Obviously, this is very summarized. We can’t give you everything in such a short period, but I guess when we are in our twenties, what we aim to usually is to be active, we want to perform at school. If you are still at uni or at work, if you’re starting work for some women, this is a chance. It’s the time that we it’s a child bearing age, or some of us will want to have children at this time, but also we should pay attention to one, to prevent health conditions. So some of the nutrients are essential at this point. It’s the folate or folic acid. If you’re talking about supplementations. So this is important for if, if a woman especially plans to have a baby for the good development of the baby as well.

So folate is present in green, leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chickpeas, Guinea beans, peas in four to five cereals. We also need to look into iron and iron is one of those nutrients that most of us is a nutrient that a lot of us are deficient in. So it’s, and we do lose quite a bit of iron every month. So it’s important for us to make sure that we have good sources of iron in our diets as well. And also at this point, this is a time that we actually have the chance to prevent things like osteoporosis. I know we always hear about how important it is for us to manage it in the fifties, but at this point only really managing in our twenties is when we build up the density of the muscle and of the bones. So it’s important for us to have enough calcium and have enough vitamin D to make sure that we are building that bone to prevent any kind of osteoporosis in the future.

And this point also a healthy diet is important. Generally speaking, and having a diet that is have a low glycemic index. So eating fiber usually it’s, it makes the trick and limiting red meats and processed meats and refined carbohydrates. All of this will help us keep up performance at work and also keep a health as well. In terms of health checks at this point is recommended not to (inaudible) touching in discipline more to do pap smear starting at the age of 25 and every three years to do a checkup. At your thirties we, we do want to continue to have a good performance at this point. Probably we already have a family. So you want to juggle between the work and the family balance. It’s again, some people will start having kids at this point and here we want to prevent health conditions and, and especially cancer being one of them and also avoid weight gain because the weight gain can be a bit more accelerated at this point.

And especially with childbearing, it can, a lot of women will put a lot of weight during this phase. Again, the same nutrients that I mentioned before the folate, the iron and the calcium as well for the bone health. And again, making sure that we have all the nutrients and you follow a healthy diet following the, my healthy plate, about half of so a diet that is rich in fiber that is limited in processed meats and limited in saturated fat. And here added omega-3 but actually this is an essential fatty acid. It is good for the brain health and cardiovascular health, but actually should be along for our, all our life cycle. At this point, at thirties is recommended for women to start breast self-examination as well. So in the forties, I didn’t put anything related to nutrition here, mainly because we, I believe between what is the recommendations for 30 years and for the 50th. So here just wanted to, to cover a bit of the importance of, for us to do regular checkups and check for things like blood pressure every year, strain the cholesterol. And though I do see a lot of patients that they start having high cholesterol at the age of 20, or at least it’s the first time to check. So with recommendations is to start at, to make sure it’s 40 to do it every three years and also screen for diabetes. Also, mammography here is recommended to do annually at this point.

So in the fifties, there’s several things that we need to make sure we look for, and this is important. So you want to prevent osteoporosis at least a progression of it. You want to have an active prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, especially with menopause, we are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. And we also want to avoid any cognitive decline, muscle loss, and basically achieve what we call a successful aging. And by successful ageing it means avoiding disease and disability and maintaining high physical and cognitive function. So you can be able to do everything that you want to do actually. So for this one very important thing is for us to avoid muscle loss with something that starts happening at the age of 40. So just for you to have an idea by eighty years old, we lost already. We can, we can lose up to 80% of our muscle and by losing muscle, we also lose a lot of strength, not only physically, but also put in pause the immune system as well.

So it’s important at this point for, for women to make sure I’m women and men in this case, to make sure their protein intake is really bare and things like fish, chicken, eggs, and beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, dairy products. So in making sure that we have this kind of food in our diet, again, calcium and vitamin D continue to be important here because of bone health as well. And I added here mediterranean diets just because we know that it plays a role in cognitive decline and also keeping at a healthy weight. And so it’s something, but it’s the same, same what I mentioned before in terms of the guidelines. So the recommendations at least. Also it’s important to avoid alcohol at this point. I’ll explain a bit why afterwards and to keep hydrated. This is because normally with age, we tend to lose the ability to feel thirst. So we tend to just start drinking less water and you’ll be at risk of dehydration. So making sure that we always drink water as well. So let’s look into poll questions, let’s see our results so far video. So I guess the first question would be if alcohol it’s okay for us to have, just give us a second to see the results.

So 8% said it is true and 68% said it is false. So actually my recommendation is actually to avoid alcohol. This is because the consumption of alcoholic drinks is a probable cause of premenopausal cancer. This is from the world cancer research fund that give this statement. And also we know that for people in post-menopausal, the consumption of alcohol is a convincing cause of menopausal breast cancer. So it’s something that we should all be aware of. We always hear how alcohol is good for us because it can prevent cardiovascular disease, but cancer works in a different way. And I’m sorry that so many things written down here, but I guess the main point that I wanted to, to give you is that the reason of this is that it may increase inflammation and generate free radicals, the alcohol, and it may facilitate the penetration of carcinogens into cells, and also alcohol is also produced a breast tissue. And that’s why it can start the whole cancer cascade. It increases the level of estrogen as well, which can affect the stability and to transform and promote cancer growth. And there’s also some genetic factors involved as well. Also for heavy drinkers. People might have folate deficiency, and we know that there’s a link between folate, lacking folate, and also some breast cancers as well. So something to keep in mind next time, then let’s look into soy. So women avoid soy.

Give me a second please. So 70% of the people said it was false, 10% it was true. Okay. So, soy it’s a very important food for our health. So it does bring us a lot of health benefits. So it’s a complete protein food, and it gives you a load of nutrients and also gives you essential fatty acids, like omega six, and omega three which is important for our health and also helps with menopause because they alleviate hot flashes and you also improve arterial health. So you’re very good for high blood pressure and it can also increase bone calcium content in post-menopausal women. And when it comes to cancer specifically, we know that women that consume soy might have  decreased risk for those who are already fighting breast cancer, and might have a decreased risk of deaths from all causes of breast cancer at 12 months or after the diagnosis.

So this is quite fantastic news and something to keep in mind. Next time you think about avoiding this, this fantastic food that is available out there, do not have, it’s not recommended to take supplements, just keep it with the normal foods and the quantities that you will have culturally. So two to three servings a day normally, and not go obviously too crazy about it. So keeping all of these studies shows like only for the normal quantities that we would typically have. Okay. So I decided, thank you for answering that to the poll questions. So now I decided just to put together some quick, quick tips for when you go to the supermarket, because when you make the biggest choices of what will happen during the week, I’ve had to choose wisely so you can bring healthy foods at home. So first of all, don’t go to the supermarket hungry.

No one makes good choices with an empty stomach, make a list, prepare in advance and include this list. Fruits, vegetables,whole grains, healthy oils, low fat dairy, make sure you have good vegetarian sources of protein. So you can get extra nutrients from it as well, and stay away from all the processed food aisle and foods and drinks with added sugars and even processed meats. So as a summary today, I guess the main points that I would like to bring home today is that first of all, try to be as physically active as you can, also monitor your weight and avoid that weight gain throughout your lifetime. So remember that even one kg a year will mean that you have 20 kgs or 30 kgs, by the time you reach 50. So it is quite significant. It’s very difficult to lose afterwards, have a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains, avoid alcohol and avoid red meats and processed meats and foods with added sugar. So thank you very much for your attention and for being here today. And I look forward for your questions later on. Thank you.

Key Takeaway

Claudia Correia’s talk notes the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle in order to keep our body healthy to prevent any diseases or conditions, especially premenopausal and post menopausal cancer. While there are many medications or supplements available, Claudia’s recommendations include simple additions to our diet such as drinking soy milk or increasing our consumption of vegetables that include folate. 

There are many benefits of some of these simple changes. Choosing healthier food options, slowing down and being aware of what we eat can prevent weight gain that is extremely common in women. Gaining one kilogram each year is a recurring trend in many of her patients and this presents not just an aesthetic problem, but can lead to many health issues such as an increased risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and even autoimmune conditions. By eating well, we can also avoid muscle loss, something that begins at the age of 40. Including nutrients like calcium and vitamin D can help us to slow down or even avoid losing muscle or straining our immune system. 

Lastly, Claudia places emphasis on soy, a food that provides important proteins and other nutrients our body requires. It can also help alleviate symptoms associated with menopause and improve arterial health to help with high blood pressure. In relation to cancer, soy is known to decrease the risk of relapse, deterioration, and death for women who are already fighting breast cancer.

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