Q1: In your opinion and area of expertise what are the top health truths women should know?
JP: Some fats are good for you. The oral contraceptive pill depletes nutrients. Not all health food supplements are of equal quality and women’s unique physiology means they are more likely than men to suffer from nutrient deficiency at some stage in their life.
Q2: What are a few things women going through menopause do/have more or less of?
JP: Every woman’s experience of menopause is different. The process of menopause involves a decline in ovarian function, resulting in a decreased frequency and eventually cessation of ovulation.
The result is that during menopause the body’s levels of oestrogen and progesterone are drastically reduced, which can cause a range of symptoms including:
- sudden irregularity of menstrual flow
- vasomotor flushes (hot flushes)
- irritability/ mood swings
- weight gain
- fluid retention
- vaginal dryness
- loss of libido
- skin and hair changes
- sleep disturbances.
Further, there is an increased risk of osteoporosis as well as an increase in the likelihood of cardiac infarction due to increases of serum cholesterol and triglycerides. These have been deemed serious health risks for women in their post-menopausal years.
Q3: What are some simple things women can do, eat or drink to help manage: stress, sleeplessness, symptoms of PMS?
JP: Stress occurs for many reasons and will present differently for everyone. Research indicates a strong causal relationship between stress, hormones and immunity. Meaning that when we get stressed we are more likely to get sick. Women are also more likely to suffer more with hormonal imbalances when they are stressed and this can exacerbate symptoms of PMS and menopause.
To help manage stress:
Manage your time – much stress is caused by poor time management. Get a diary and plan your week. Include time for yourself. Having a weekly menu plan can help ensure you stick to a healthy eating plan because often when people are stressed their diet is the first thing to suffer which only makes them less able to cope emotionally.
Exercise more – exercising helps release endorphins that make us feel good walking, gardening, yoga are all nice gentle ways of getting your body moving again if it has been a while. Otherwise join an exercise group or club, this can be great for helping keep you motivated. Plus you’ll see the benefits in your waistline.
Meditate – learn to meditate. Simply sitting with your eyes closed and focusing your breath in and out can reduce your immediate stress levels.
Pamper yourself – treat yourself to a massage or have a bath with some stress relieving essential oils.
Eat – plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, lean meat or tofu, deep sea fish and complex carbohydrates.
Drink – avoid tea, coffee, and alcohol. Instead, try some herbal teas specific for reducing stress like chamomile or lemonbalm,
Sleeplessness, also called insomnia, can be incredibly frustrating for sufferers. It can be caused by a number of reasons but it often has a stress component. To help improve sleep:
Have a set bedtime and try to stick to it.
Prepare your body for sleep at least half an hour before you head to bed. Have a warm bath or shower, read a relaxing novel.
Do eat for at least 2 hours before bed.
Do not drink tea or coffee before bed.
Do not have a TV in the bedroom.
Do not watch news/ police shows/ horror movies or any show that may increase anxiety before sleeping.
Drink a cup of chamomile, valerian, or skullcap tea.
PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome is the name given to the group of symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. Symptoms can begin post ovulation and usually become worse just before the period approaches.
Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome can be psychological, behavioural and physical and many women suffer from a combination of these, including;
- Pain before or with the onset of bleeding
- Breast swelling
- Fluid retention
- Weight Gain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Inability to handle stress
- Food cravings
- To help ease symptoms;
Hot water bottles are great for reducing pain when applied to the abdomen or back.
Often pain is dietary related so make sure you eat plenty of essential fatty acids from deep sea fish such as mackeral, salmon or tuna.
Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as they can aggravate pain.
Avoid salt and drink plenty of water to ease bloating.
Lavender essential oil can be used for headaches
Ginger tea is great for reducing pain.
Food cravings can often be overcome with increased dietary chromium or magnesium, these can be found in fresh green leafy vegetables, barley, buckwheat and mushrooms
A qualified naturopath can help you with diet and lifestyle modifications that can help with stress, sleeplessness and symptoms of PMS. They can also provide you with a personally tailored treatment plan for underlying conditions and prescribe herbal and nutritional supplements for symptoms.
Q4: What is your opinion of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet?
JP: I am not a great believer in any one particular diet. Going on a diet suggests that you can come off it. I think women do a lot better exploring their relationship with food, and then make positive lifestyle changes that complement dietary modifications that are specific for their constitution.
Q5: What is the biggest myth/misconception related to food or diet for women? Why?
JP: Skipping meals will lead to weight loss. This simply isn’t true. Skipping meals can slow metabolism and make it harder to loses weight.
Q6: Does food affect different women differently? If so give an example.
JP: Food does affect us all differently. Our differences in metabolism, age, level of physical activity and the type of food eaten will greatly determine how well our bodies breakdown and assimilate food. For example some people seem to be able to eat loads of bread and pasta with seemingly no effect while others will suffer from symptoms like bloating, cramping, bowel problems, or tiredness.
Q7: Is weight loss genetic? Is it easier for some to lose it than others?
JP: I believe there is a genetic component to weight loss. Certainly some women have a genetic disposition towards a leaner shape or taller body. Our metabolic differences are a combination of genetic influence, dietary intake and hormonal balance and these factors can greatly affect a woman’s ability to lose weight.
Q8: Why do most women come and see you?
JP: Most of my clients come to me for general healthcare, diet advice, hormonal imbalances or fertility and pregnancy issues.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues in this article, simply call to make an appointment today