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The Foundations of Health

Are the foundations of health holding you back from thriving? Here’s how to implement the foundations of health and nourish your body and mind in order till feel your best all the time.


Are the foundations of health holding you back from thriving?

Welcome to 2021! New year, new you and a new set of (sometimes unrealistic) health expectations and resolutions. Although we strive to be the healthiest versions of ourselves after the holiday period, chances are by February, everything has gone down the drain.

We’re here to remind you that health doesn’t have to be hard, it’s simple if you just keep the basics in mind. It’s about consistently implementing the foundations of health and nourishing your body and mind in order to feel your best all the time. How? It’s easy – que the foundations of health: 

Nutrition

The food you eat can either be your most powerful partner or greatest enemy and at this time of year (where all the days seem to merge into one) it’s easy to overindulge and create unhealthy habits that can be seriously damaging to your health. 

A diet with the right balance of macronutrients, and that is abundant in vitamins and minerals, is essential to help your body function optimally. With so much information available about what we should and shouldn’t be eating, it is more and more evident that there really isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to food.

The main aim when it comes to nutrition is to fuel your body with foods that provide the right balance of nutrients so you can function at your best. Creating healthy balanced meals is simple – start by following this formula. 

  1. Fill ½ your plate with fibre. Fibre helps to regulate appetite, slow digestion and keep you feeling satisfied for longer, as well as supporting healthy digestive function. Sources of fibre include: Crunchy salad vegetables, leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables – aim to include a variety.
  2. Fill ¼ of your plate with protein. Protein provides the primary building blocks in the body and is essential for all bodily functions. Your brain, bones, digestion, immune system, skin and hormones all rely on a constant source of good quality proteins to function. Quality sources of protein include: eggs, fish, red meat, poultry, dairy, legumes, tofu, quinoa, raw nuts/seeds, high-quality protein powder like our Clean Lean Protein.
  3. Fill ¼ of your plate with complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches found in foods. The right carbohydrates supply the body with essential fuel for energy. Steer clear of simple carbohydrates (white bread/pasta/rice, cakes, biscuits, processed foods etc.) as they provide little to no nutritional value and contribute to fatigue and hunger. Instead choose complex carbohydrates – foods that have high dietary fibre promoting satiety, fullness and stabilised blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates include: whole grain products (visible seeds), legumes, brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole-wheat products (breads and pasta), root vegetables. 
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats. Consuming the right fats in appropriate quantities is important for the structure and function of every cell in the body and is essential for energy production, stabilising blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Healthy fats include: Avocado, olive oil, coconut, quality dairy, raw nuts and seeds


How to maximise your nutrient intake: 

  • Follow the above formula to create balanced meals daily
  • Boost your nutrient intake with a daily scoop of Good Green Vitality
  • Always have fresh produce in the fridge 
  • Eat a wide variety of foods daily
  • Avoid highly processed and packaged items 

Water

Water plays a role in almost every process in the body, with our bodies made up of approximately 60% water. Water enables the body to flush out toxins and is important for digestion, brain function, skin health and so much more. 

Water is such a vital element of every biochemical process in the body that dehydration levels as low as 1-3% can have a noticeable impact on body function. 

How to increase your water intake: 

  • When you wake up have a large glass of water
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you 
  • Set reminders or alarms on your phone 
  • Consciously swap soda/sugary drink for water
  • Try herbal teas or add citrus, berries or mint to taste

Movement 

Over the holiday period it’s easy to neglect moving your body or ditch your regular exercise routine but maintaining regular movement and exercise is not only important for your physical health but your mental health too. 

Regular movement helps keep your body functioning and aids the body’s key systems to increase metabolic rate, strengthen muscles, increase energy levels, support mental health, mood, sleep quality and overall cognitive function. 

Getting outside every day will contribute to getting your heart rate up, soaking up Vitamin D and breathing fresh air, as well as releasing endorphins to make you feel happy, healthy and confident. 

How to schedule in daily movement: 

  • Aim to hit 7 000 to 10 000 steps daily through incidental movement 
  • Schedule in exercise and make it a priority 
  • Make it social – enjoy movement with friends and family 
  • Try something new – swimming, dancing, tennis or a yoga class

Click here to read 5 Exercise and Lifestyle Tips to Create a Happier & Healthier You This New Year



Sleep 

Sleep is one of the first sacrifices we make during the holiday season. Ditching a regular sleep routine for late nights, social events and Netflix binges delays the onset of natural drowsiness and gets in the way of quality and quantity of sleep. These activities delay the production of melatonin and disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm (the internal body clock regulating the sleep/wake cycle) and can contribute to anything from weight gain, digestive issues, poor liver function, cardiac problems, congestion and, of course, an ongoing state of fatigue. 

Sleep is classified as one of the foundations of health as without it the body cannot thrive or even perform basic functions like digestion and metabolism of food. It’s a time when your body relaxes and repairs and it’s important to promote quality and quantity sleep year-round. Sacrificing these precious hours and ditching a regular sleep routine can contribute to poor health and long-term illness. 

How to support sleep health: 

  • Prioritise your sleep – aim for 7-8 hours each night 
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine and consistent bedtime 
  • Avoid drinking caffeine after 2pm 
  • Create a healthy sleep environment – quiet, dark and comfortable
  • Avoid screens prior to bed – switch to night mode if needed 
  • Quiet your brain – journal, deep breathing, bedtime meditation 
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid anxiety-driven activities before bedtime e.g., checking work emails or watching the news

Mindfulness

This is the perfect time of year to create some healthy habits around mindfulness that will provide you with the tools and skills for the year ahead. Mindfulness can help with stress management, improve sleep, benefit your relationships and support your physical and mental health. 

A mindfulness practice has been shown to help everyone from children to adults and proves to play an important role in overall health and wellbeing. 

How to be mindful: 

  • Eat mindfully – sit down, chew your food and enjoy every mouthful 
  • Practice self-love and prioritise you
  • Try guided meditations to kickstart a new habit
  • Take deep belly breaths 
  • Actively listen to those around you and be present  
  • Unplug and recharge your batteries 
  • Become intuitive with your body 

January is the time to ditch the resolutions and focus on long term, simple and sustainable changes that support your body. It’s often the foundations of health that will hold you back from reaching your health goals. When these foundations are out of balance, everything is out of whack. Get them right and everything else will follow.

Alex Hamlin

The Power of Kids Good Stuff

How diet and supplementation support hair regrowth in autoimmune hair-loss.


A recent paper has been published in the Cureus Journal of Medicine in which an eight-year-old patient achieved remission of Alopecia areata (AA) through the use of diet and supplementation including Nuzest’s Kids Good Stuff in the regimen. 

What is Alopecia areata (AA)?

AA is a common autoimmune condition targeting the hair follicles causing ‘spot baldness’ (or more extensive) hair loss in individuals. Autoimmune diseases are conditions that trigger the immune system to attack part of your own body; in the case of AA, the hair follicles are targeted, contributing to an individual’s presentation of hair loss. White blood cells attack healthy hair follicle cells, causing them to shrink and fall out. This is often present on the scalp in small patches, however, hair loss can occur over other parts of the body. 

Hair loss is a physical, external sign which may indicate that something is going on within the body. Nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders and pharmaceutical drugs are just a few factors that may contribute to hair loss. 

The Case Study & Case Presentation

A case study by Cliff J. Harvey published in November 2020 reports the treatment of AA through the use of combined diet and supplementation.[1] The patient was an eight-year-old male who presented with AA.

Advice was provided to the patient’s parents to increase zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D-rich foods, to avoid gluten and dairy where possible, and to focus on a whole foods diet reducing intake of processed ‘packaged’ foods.[1]

The supplementation regimen consisted of our Kids Good Stuff multi-nutrient powder which is rich in vitamins A, D3, zinc and secondary antioxidant nutrients; paired with a zinc sulfate supplement and a fish oil with added vitamin D. Lifestyle advice was also given to spend 5-10 min outside daily. 

Key micronutrients including vitamin D, zinc and vitamin A were supplemented through a daily dose of Kids Good Stuff. Per 15g serve the following amount of key micronutrients were provided: 

  • Vitamin A – 400μg RE
  • Zinc – 6mg
  • Vitamin D3 – 10μg

The Results

After following the prescribed dietary and supplement regimen for two months, the patient’s hair was seen to grow back. After five months, it was reported the patient achieved complete remission, with evidence that the patient’s hair had completely recovered. Additional research suggests there is a relationship between the incidence and severity of AA and several micronutrients, including vitamin D, zinc and vitamin A.[2]

Read the full case report here.

The Benefits of Kids Good Stuff

Kids Good Stuff is an all-in-one nutritional support formula providing the right balance of vitamins and minerals to fill nutritional gaps in a child’s diet. It’s true that even as adults, many of us don’t get all the essential micronutrients that we need to thrive from diet alone and without vital nutrients we can’t perform and feel out best – this rings true for kids too! 

Insufficient intakes of nutrients increase rapidly from infancy. For example, from the age of 2-4 to 14-18, around 1/3 of males and over ¼ females don’t consume sufficient vitamin A and for boys and men, zinc insufficiency consistently rises from childhood to over 2/3 of the male population by adulthood.[3] The major reason being, we are not getting everything we need from diet alone as diets high in refined and processed foods are favoured. 

Kids Good Stuff is not a substitute for healthy, balanced meals, but is a daily supplementation to help support the health and growth of our kids. The nutrient rich formula includes microalgae, mushrooms, vegetables and high polyphenol fruit and berry extracts which provides an array of phytonutrients, trace and ultra-trace minerals necessary for proper absorption and utilisation of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in kids. Each ingredient works together in a range of different functions, supporting all 11 systems of the body, including the integumentary system (hair, skin and nails). 

Kids Good Stuff was designed specifically with children’s needs in mind. It’s packed full of vitamins, minerals and other great stuff to set kids up for a good day and to support and nourish their growing bodies.


References:

[1] https://www.cureus.com/articles/42894-combined-diet-and-supplementation-therapy-resolves-alopecia-areata-in-a-paediatric-patient-a-case-study

[2]ABS. Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results‐Foods and Nutrients, 2011‐12. Australian Bureau of Statistics Canberra; 2014.  

[3]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316992207_The_Role_of_Micronutrients_in_Alopecia_Areata_A_Review

Alex Hamlin

Health Around the World: Which Country Has the Healthiest Diet?

The world is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of good nutrition for health. But what country has the healthiest diet? Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist, Rachel Hawkins, compares the dietary guidelines of ten popular countries to determine who will come out on top! Good nutrition is important for all aspects of health. A healthy


The world is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of good nutrition for health. But what country has the healthiest diet? Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist, Rachel Hawkins, compares the dietary guidelines of ten popular countries to determine who will come out on top!

Good nutrition is important for all aspects of health. A healthy diet helps to protect against malnutrition and the risk of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.1 But establishing dietary guidelines is no easy task. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) makes global dietary recommendations, it is up to each country to modify these to make them suitable for their population.

Why? Because people that live in different countries lead different lifestyles that involve different diets; from the food that is accessible, to the way it is prepared, and even the pattern by which it is consumed.

Dietary guidelines of ten countries around the world

We summarise the dietary guidelines of ten countries (including when they were last reviewed) below.

1. Australia

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating uses a plate model to visually represent what proportion of the five food groups should be eaten each day. The food groups included on this plate are grain (cereal) foods; vegetables, legumes and beans; fruits; lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds; and dairy products (mostly reduced fat) and/or dairy alternatives.2,3

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:2,3

  • To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs
  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the aforementioned five food groups every day
  • Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol
  • Replace high fat foods which contain predominately saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods that contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.
  • Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding
  • Care for your food; prepare and store it safely
  • Drink plenty of water

Last reviewed? 2013

2. New Zealand

Interestingly, New Zealand does not have a visual guide to model their current healthy eating guidelines. Instead, their guidelines are only available in written form.4 The New Zealand Heart Foundation adopted the use of The Healthy Heart Visual Food Guide (pictured) in 2013 as a means to represent cardio-protective eating patterns, however this model does not represent New Zealand’s national eating guidelines.5

Key Messages from dietary guidelines: 4,6

– Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods everyday including:

  • Plenty of vegetables and fruit
  • Grain foods, mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre
  • Some milk and milk products, mostly ow reduced fat
  • Some legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry and/or red meat with the fat removed

– Choose and/or prepare foods and drinks:

  • With unsaturated fats instead of saturated
  • That are low in salt (sodium)
  • With little to no added sugar
  • That are mostly ‘whole’ and less processed

– Make plain water your first drink of choice

– If you drink alcohol, keep your intake low

– Buy or gather, prepare, cook and store food in ways that keep it safe to eat.

Last reviewed? 2013

Last reviewed? 2013

3. Singapore

Singapore’s My Healthy Plate visually represents the proportion of foods that Singaporean’s should eat at each meal.7 My Healthy Plate is a practical guide for showing people what to eat at each meal and in what amounts in order to adopt and maintain healthy eating habits for life.7,8

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:7,8

  • Achieve and maintain a body weight within the normal range
  • Eat a sufficient amount of grains, especially wholegrains
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables everyday
  • Chose and prepare food with less fat, especially saturated fat
  • Choose and prepare food with less salt and sauces
  • Choose beverages and food with less sugar
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (one standard drink per day for women and two for men)

Last reviewed? 2003

4. United Kingdom

Similar to Australia, the United Kingdom’s Eatwell Guide uses a plate model to visually represent what proportion of the five food groups should be eaten each day. However, unlike Australia, the five food groups they reference are different. The food groups included in the Eatwell Guide are potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates; fruit and vegetables, beans, pulses, fish eggs, meat and other proteins, dairy and dairy alternatives and oils and spreads.9,10

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:9,10

  • Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible.
  • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks); choosing lower fat and lower sugar options.
  • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily).
  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
  • Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day
  • If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts

Last reviewed? 2016

5. United States of America 

The USA use the My Plate model to visually represent what proportion of food should be eaten at each meal.11

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:11,12,13

– Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of all vegetables, legumes and beans
  • Fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy and/or fortified soy
  • A variety of protein foods including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and soy products
  • Oils
  • Limits saturated and trans fats, sugars and sodium

– Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. 

– Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.

– Shift to healthier food and beverages choices. 

– Support healthy eating patterns for all. 

Last reviewed: 2015

6. Canada

Canada’s Food Guide uses a plate model to visually represent what proportion of foods should be eaten each day. Canada’s Food Guide uniquely suggests that healthy eating is more than the foods that you eat but also about where, when, why and how you eat.14

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:14,15

  • Be mindful of your eating habits. Take time to eat and notice when you are hungry and full
  • Cook more often
  • Enjoy your food (culture and food traditions are a part of healthy eating too!)
  • Eat meals with others

Make it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
  • Limit highly processed foods, sodium, sugars and saturated fat
  • Choose foods with healthy fats
  • Make water your drink of choice
  • Use food labels
  • Be aware that food marketing can influence your choices

Last reviewed? 2019

7. China

China’s Food Guide Pagoda embodies the core recommendations of China’s dietary guidelines. It includes five levels, representing the recommended proportion of the different food groups that should be eaten each day.16

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:16,17

  • Eat a variety of foods, with cereals as the staple.
  • Balance eating and exercise to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Consume plenty of vegetables, milk, and soybeans.
  • Consume an appropriate amount of fish, poultry, eggs, and lean meat.
  • Reduce salt and oil, and limit sugar and alcohol.
  • Eliminate waste and develop a new ethos of diet civilization.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Daily physical activity

Last revised? 2016

8. Thailand

Thailand’s Nutrition Flag uses a hanging flag to visually represent the type and amount of each food group that should be eaten each day. The four food groups include rice, rice products, other grains and starchy foods; vegetables and fruits; meat, legumes, eggs and milk; and oil, sugar and salt.18

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:18

  • Eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups and maintain a proper weight.
  • Eat adequate amounts of rice or alternate carbohydrate sources.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits regularly.
  • Eat fish, lean meat, eggs, legumes and pulses regularly.
  • Drink in appropriate quality and quantity for one’s age.
  • Eat a diet containing appropriate amounts of fat.
  • Avoid sweet and salty foods.
  • Eat clean and safe foods.
  • Avoid or reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Last updated? 1998

9. Spain

Spain’s Food Pyramid visually represent the frequency that different foods should be consumed in the overall diet and is based on a traditional Mediterranean Diet. The Food Pyramid is divided into three levels of consumption: daily at the base (wholegrain cereals and products, fruits, vegetables, olive oil and dairy products), weekly (fish, poultry, pulses, nuts, potatoes, eggs, red meat and meat products) and occasionally on top (sweets, snacks and sweetened beverages). The pyramid also includes recommendations on physical activity.19,20

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:19,20

  • Enjoy a variety of foods. Divide your daily food intake into five or six small meals, for example: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner.
  • Breakfast is an important meal in your diet.
  • Eat plenty of cereals, preferably wholegrain.
  • Try and eat five portions of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Eat milk and dairy products every day.
  • Eat fish two to four times a week.
  • Eat small amounts of fat and high-fat foods.
  • Use good fats, such as unsaturated fatty acids (olive oil), omega-6 (sunflower oil and soya oil) and omega-3 (nuts and soya oil and fatty fish).
  • Prefer carbohydrates and fibre-rich foods.
  • Limit salt intake to less than 5 g per day.
  • Water is the best drink – drink at least 1.5 litres every day.
  • Watch your weight and stay active. Do physical activity regularly

Last reviewed? 2016

10. India

India uses a number of graphical elements to represent the messages of its dietary guidelines, one of them being a Food Pyramid. Similar to Spain, the Food Pyramid is divided into levels that indicate the frequency of food consumption: sufficient quantity at the base (cereals and legumes/beans), liberally (vegetables and fruits), moderately (animal foods and oils) and sparingly at the top (highly processed foods high in sugar and fat).21

Key Messages from dietary guidelines:21

  • Eat a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • Ensure moderate use of edible oils and animal foods and use a minimum of ghee/butter/vanaspati.
  • Minimize the use of processed foods rich in salt, sugar and fats.
  • Adopt the right pre-cooking processes and appropriate cooking methods.
  • Avoid overeating to prevent overweight and obesity.
  • Exercise regularly and be physically active to maintain ideal body weight.
  • Ensure the use of safe and clean foods.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Abstain from drinking alcohol
  • Say no to smoking

Last reviewed? 2011

So, what country has the healthiest diet?

Spain takes the gold medal here! Spain’s dietary guidelines are based on a Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet is one of the world’s most well-researched diets due to the fact that many years ago researchers realised that people who lived in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea (such as Greece, Italy and Spain) were healthier and had a lower risk of lifestyle related diseases compared to those who lived in other countries.22,23

A Mediterranean Diet may have health benefits and reduce risk of developing:22,23

  • Heart disease, including heart attack
  • Type 2 diabetes or its complications
  • Some cancers, including bowel cancer
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Depression or improving its symptoms
  • Cognitive decline, including dementia.

Such health benefits can be attributed to the fact that the foods in this diet are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The diet also places a big focus on how food is eaten – cooked at home, mindfully and ideally shared with friends and family. In addition, the diet is thought to be incredibly sustainable which makes it easier for people to implement lifelong healthy eating habits.

A special mention goes to our friends in Canada for placing such a large emphasis on the where, when, why and how we eat in their newly revised guidelines – they take my second-place medal!

Tips to make your diet healthier (and do like the mediterranean do)!

  • Replace large serves of meat with vegetables in your meals. They should take up at least half your plate!
  • Eat fish (especially oily fish like salmon) twice per week
  • Switch red meats out for white meats
  • Eat more legumes! If having mince, try replacing half the mixture with beans or lentils.
  • Replace canola, sesame, coconut or other vegetable oils with extra virgin olive oil in cooking and dressings.
  • Instead of spreading margarine or butter on bread try avocado
  • Add nuts and seeds to salads and smoothies

A day on a plate

Breakfast

Rolled oats made with your choice of milk, topped with fruit and a handful of chopped nuts and/or seeds. Add a scoop of CLP for a protein boost

Lunch

A roast pumpkin and lentil salad, including roast pumpkin, tomato, dark leafy greens, avocado, brown lentils and a honey mustard dressing made using a combination of extra virgin olive oil, seeded mustard, honey and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Dinner

Homemade pizzas using a wholemeal base topped with vegetables such as onion, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum and olives drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Snacks

  • Fresh fruit
  • Natural or Greek style yogurt
  • Handful of nuts and/or seeds

Rachel Hawkins

Nutrition for women’s health

In the context of women’s health, adequate nutrition plays an important role through the life stages. Throughout the lifetime of a woman, nutritional needs can vary greatly to that of men, particularly during reproductive years where hormonal changes require greater nutrient demands. The female body is biologically developed for reproductive preparedness; from early menstruation, to


In the context of women’s health, adequate nutrition plays an important role through the life stages. Throughout the lifetime of a woman, nutritional needs can vary greatly to that of men, particularly during reproductive years where hormonal changes require greater nutrient demands.

The female body is biologically developed for reproductive preparedness; from early menstruation, to pregnancy and lactation, through to menopause. Regardless, it is important that women are encouraged, supported and motivated to lead healthy lives.

In this article, I aim to systematically summarise the existing evidence, relative to a holistic perspective on women’s health to encourage long term wellness.  

Reproductive & Sexual Health

Nutrition and the female reproductive axis are closely linked. Healthy reproduction and fertility for women not only encompasses stages of physical well-being, but also includes the right to safe, appropriate and accurate information on sexual and reproductive health.

Besides nutrition, a number of factors also contribute to women’s fertility, such as stress, ageing, environmental pollutants, caffeine, alcohol and smoking status[1]

A women’s reproductive life consists of greater nutritional demands during menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. If a woman chooses to conceive, she is more likely to have a healthy child and successful pregnancy, if she is healthy at the time of conception[2],  so here’s how we can work to support that early on.

Nutrition and Menstruation.

During the pre-menstrual phase, energy needs are generally higher[3], hence why some women have cravings in the 2 weeks lead up to her cycle.

The best way to support a healthy menstrual cycle is to ensure adequate nutrition. There are 2 major factors which are vital for healthy menstruation:

Energy Intake

Particularly during adolescence and puberty, a positive energy balance is essential for healthy development, menarche (periods) and regular menstruation[4]. Encouraging an adequate, balanced, whole food diet is the ideal way to support this stage of growth.

Examples of energy-dense, nutrient-dense foods to support healthy development may include nuts and seeds, nut butters, multigrain bread and dairy foods (milk, yoghurt, cheese).

Iron

Iron-deficiency anaemia is an prevalent condition in pre-menopausal, menstruating women across the globe[5], with over 20% of women experiencing this in their reproductive lives![6]

Some common symptoms and clinical presentations of iron deficiency may include: fatigue, irritability, dizziness, headaches and poor concentration[7]. Many conditions can result in these signs and symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor or for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Our best sources of iron come from haem-sources, (i.e. animal sources), as our body absorbs these better. Haem iron foods sources include lean red meats, fish and chicken.

Non-haem iron, (i.e. our plant sources can be found in foods such as fortified cereals, lentils, beans, tofu, broccoli, spinach, and multigrain bread[8].

Hormonal Health

For those that may not be aware, hormones are little messenger chemicals that are produced by our endocrine glands and released into our blood.

Humans have 8 major endocrine glands, and each is responsible for the production of different hormones to play different roles in our body (i.e. thyroid, adrenal, growth, hunger etc).

Us women have 2 main sex hormones called oestrogen and progesterone, and these are produced by our ovaries. These hormones are responsible for the development and functioning of the female reproductive system.

Oestrogen is responsible for the onset of puberty, bone strength, healthy menstruation, pregnancy and cholesterol levels[9], and therefore fluctuate in response to these life stages.

Progesterone is mainly responsible for thickening the uterine lining (endometrium) each month to prepare for and nourish a fertilized egg[10].

Too much, or too little of these hormones, caused by an inadequate diet, stress, or medical conditions (PCOS, endometriosis, obesity) can lead to acute health problems such as acne and constipation[11], or the development of more serious chronic conditions such as infertility, breast cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes[12].

So, what can we do to keep our hormones in balance?

I cannot stress the importance of making balanced lifestyle choices which are appropriate for your personal requirements, not anyone else’s.

  • Choose nutritious fruits, vegetables, dietary fibre, whole grains, dairy, lean meats/fish and legumes.
  • Find ways (or seek help) to reduce stress factors in your life.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 4 standard drinks on one occasion; and aim to increase your number of alcohol-free days.
  • Aim to limit excessive amounts of caffeine (from black/green tea, coffee, energy drinks and soft drinks)

If you suffer from painful, scarring acne, constipation, amenorrhoea (irregular, or no menstrual cycle), or any notable symptoms of possible hormonal imbalance, please consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Ageing & Menopause

Around 80% of women will experience some degree of physiological, psychological (or a combination) of menopausal symptoms[13]. This stage for mid-life women is often characterised by an onset of irregular menstrual cycles, fluctuations in mood, depression, anxiety, hot flushes and poor sleep[14].

Age-related physiological (bodily) changes such as appetite, energy expenditure, body adiposity (fat storage) and sleep patterns, can further add to the changed feelings and symptoms that women may experience during mid, to late life[15].

Let’s acknowledge, firstly, for those that may currently feel this, you are not alone, and us women will experience this at some stage in our lives.

Menopausal, or post-menopausal women should be encouraged to maintain and sustain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Not only does this include the importance of what you are fuelling your body with, but with whom you socialise with, your time outdoors, maintenance of dental hygiene, physical activity, appropriate fluid intake.

Healthy Eating and Lifestyle for Older Women

  • Consume regular meals throughout the day. Keep nutrition exciting by filling your plate with bright coloured fruit and vegetables, different textures, and invite creativity with visual appeal to your plate. Get creative with your meals!
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Dieting for women over 65 years is not recommended. Please consult your doctor, or a dietitian for adequate assistance with weight maintenance.

Mental Health

Many women often neglect that much needed self-care when having to wear many hats during the day. In addition, facing the unique challenge of physical changes during pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause can promote additional stress.

Depression is not only stated as the most prevalent mental health condition among women but is more common among women as compared to men[16].

Anxiety, depression and other somatic (bodily) symptoms related affect 1 in 3 women, globally[17]. There are also certain mental conditions which are unique to women, including perinatal depression, post-natal depression…… Not only is this impacting women of reproductive age, but half of all mental illnesses have been shown to manifest prior to 14 years of age[18].

Modern diets have seen a shift in rates of ill mental health, increased consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, and diminished consumption of fibre[19]. Food thus plays a key role in our mental health. Sustained healthy eating patterns have shown a significant association to lowered risk of depression[20].

In addition, a Mediterranean style diet (i.e. a healthy diet characterised by fresh vegetables, fruit, oily fish, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil), has shown a potential beneficial effect on people with depression and type 2 diabetes[21].

Ultimately, healthy sustainable dietary choices are the best way to support your mental health. Whilst acknowledging the irreplaceable benefits of a whole-food, nutrient dense diet, despite our best efforts, sometimes life gets busy and we need that bit of extra support for our health. Good Green Vitality, made from a spectrum of plant foods, contains 24 vitamins and minerals, probiotics, fibre and herbal blends to fill those nutritional gaps in your day. 

Physical Health & Performance

Engaging in regular physical activity can help to improve both women’s physical and mental health[22]. It is recommended adult women incorporate 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week[23].

When it comes to supporting our extra activity during the day, we want to ensure we are consuming foods that are supporting this. The types of physical activity you undertake will determine how aggressive you need to be with your approach to nutrition. However, as a general guide, there are a few key nutrients of focus.

Carbohydrates

Fuelling our activity with carbohydrates is essential for endurance. Choosing foods such as porridge, sandwich, pasta or cereal, 1-2 hours before a workout will help to sustain energy and endurance levels[24].

Fats

Fat intake slows the digestion of a meal, and thus inhibits absorption[25]. Hence, it may be recommended for some to consume low fat prior to training to allow for maximum carbohydrate absorption.

Protein

A highly discussed macro when it comes to training and performance. The average person requires between 0.8g/kg – 1.2g/kg body weight[26], meaning if you weigh 80kg, you will require anywhere between 64g and 96g of protein per day.

For active individuals, the upper end of the spectrum is where you most likely will sit. We can best support our muscle synthesis by consuming 4 ‘hits’ of protein each day, with 20-40g per ‘hit’[27].

Meat, poultry, seafood, milk, yoghurt, soybeans, hemp and eggs are all considered ‘high biological value’, meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids (our protein building blocks).

Legumes, grains, cereals, nuts and seeds are considered ‘low biological value’, which means when eaten in isolation, they do not contain all 9 essential amino acids, hence need to be consumed in variety.

For those trying to lower meat consumption, the thought of increasing protein sources may seem daunting. Whilst a food-first approach is always the preferred approach, Nuzest Clean Lean Protein is a plant-based protein, providing a delicious alternative to upping your protein intake.  It provides all 9 essential amino acids, with 20g protein per 25g serve.

So, for all the women, I hope I have provided some food for thought. When it comes to looking after your health, work with professionals who make you feel comfortable, choose foods that make you feel good and live to make yourself happy.

Tahlia Claringbold

5 Exercise and Lifestyle Tips to Create a Happier and Healthier You this New Year

If you are trying to live a happier and healthier life this New Year, it’s not just enough to focus on the foods you eat. Exercise, sleep and social relationships are also important. Small changes to these areas can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Follow these 5 exercise and lifestyle tips to make your


If you are trying to live a happier and healthier life this New Year, it’s not just enough to focus on the foods you eat.

Exercise, sleep and social relationships are also important. Small changes to these areas can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Follow these 5 exercise and lifestyle tips to make your New Year’s wishes come true and be well on your way to becoming a happier and healthier you in 2020!

Read our article 10 Healthy Eating Tips to Get You Back on Track this New Year, Minus the Diet.

1. Be active on most, preferably all, days of the week.

Exercise is incredibly beneficial for our overall health and wellbeing. It promotes good cardiovascular and mental health and can also be used to strengthen and maintain our musculoskeletal system. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that people be active on most, preferably all, days of each week. Aim to complete a mix of cardiovascular and strength-based exercise each week. And remember, any form of exercise is better than none!

2. Learn to love exercise.

Exercise shouldn’t be undertaken as a punishment for your dietary choices or solely for aesthetic purposes. It should be undertaken because you enjoy it and like the way it makes you feel. You shouldn’t pursue yoga if you do not understand The benefits of Mindfulness, because if you do not understand it completely, it would all be for nothing. Improve your relationship with exercise by finding a form of exercise that you love. Consider hiring a physiotherapist if you think you need more help with your workouts and
find out more here about how exercises can help you improve your body. Working out with a friend has also been shown to increase exercise enjoyment and help people stick with it long term.

3. Develop a healthy routine.

Success is determined by the things we do every day. This is particularly true in relation to improving our health, therefore the importance of developing a healthy routine to support lifestyle changes should not be overlooked. Develop a list of practical strategies that you can use to help prioritise your health and fitness. This may include scheduling a time to exercise, meal planning, limiting screen time at night and establishing a nighttime routine to ensure a good night’s sleep. Start using a plant-based protein powder to improve your workouts.

4. Get more sleep.

Because life is so busy, sleep can often be seen as less important than other activities, however it is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Good quality sleep provides our body with a chance to rest, recharge and reset so that we can function at our best. Poor sleep can disrupt appetite hormones, reduce physical and mental performance and increase your risk of weight gain. Everybody thrives on a different amount of sleep; however, 7 hours seems to be the sweet spot for most adults.

5. Prioritise your relationships.

Social relationships are incredibly important for mental health and wellbeing. Having good social connections is associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression and higher self-esteem. Consider the relationships that you currently have, and the type of relationships that you would like to have. Invest time into building a group of people around you that care about you, and who you also care about. Your body and mind will reap the rewards.

Rachel Hawkins