In underserved neighborhoods, access to quality healthcare and nutrition can be limited, leading to various health issues for community members. One critical health area that is not discussed enough is menstrual health and its impact on the overall well-being of our daughters; whether a child, mother, aunt, or grandmother we are all somebody’s daughters. Understanding the connection between menstrual health and nutrition will impact any girl or women regardless of their economic status. However, the reason why we are putting a spotlight on menstrual health and nutrition in relation to underserved neighborhoods is because of the prevalent food deserts in these areas. Community members in these areas can easily access liquor stores and overly processed fast foods than a grocery store with fresh, organic food options or even a fast food restaurant with fresh fruit and vegetable options; affordable food options riddled with excess sugar, sodium and chemicals are polluting these neighborhoods. Therefore, how are we setting up the youth and adults within these areas for success if the food being provided to them is contributing to their struggle?
The Impact on Menstrual Health
The lack of access to nutritious food (especially due to living in a food desert) can have a profound impact on one’s menstrual health and overall development. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal imbalances, and increased severity of menstrual symptoms (Foundation for Female Health Awareness). Moreover, inadequate nutrition can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and reproductive health issues (Harvard School of Public Health). By increasing awareness about the importance of nutrition and its impact on menstrual health, community members can make informed choices to improve their overall well-being. This education should cover topics such as the role of a balanced diet, the importance of hydration, and the benefits of specific nutrients.
To educate ourselves better, in FY24, The Neighborhood will be engaging in a research project to better understand the connection between menstrual health and nutrition. To truly understand this connection so we are equipped with the tools needed to advocate for our daughters (and our community overall), we have decided to partner with an organization committed to menstrual health advocacy. Love Your Menses, a Boston-based nonprofit that is committed to providing educational resources and spaces to promote menstrual equity is the organization we are excited to be working with for this research.
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Understanding menstrual health and nutrition is crucial in addressing the health disparities faced by underserved neighborhoods. By promoting education, increasing access to nutritious food, and supporting organizations that prioritize reproductive justice work like Love Your Menses, we can empower individuals to take control of their menstrual health and overall empower communities to take more control of their nutritional wellness. Together, we can work towards creating healthier, more resilient communities where everyone has access to the resources and knowledge needed to lead fulfilling lives.