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A to Z of women's health

Monday March 5, 2018

 

 

International Women’s Day takes place on 8th March 2018. Viridian Nutrition puts the spotlight on women’s health.


Anaemia

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world and much more frequently affects women than men.  Iron deficiency causes anaemia, symptoms of which include tiredness and lethargy, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and a pale complexion. If you have these you should get a blood test to confirm low iron, then speak to your health food store about a gentle iron capsule, or organic liquid iron tonic.

 

Bone Health 

For women, maintaining optimal bone health throughout life is vital for prevention of problems in older age. Stopping smoking and taking regular exercise is key.  A diet rich in calcium from food or supplements to a total of around 1200 mg daily, along with 800-2000 IU of vitamin D from supplements, and 1 gram per kilogram of body weight of dietary protein are the most important considerations nutritionally.

 

Clear Skin

Food has a profound impact on your skin health, and in addition to the healthy-eating tips in this booklet we recommend a specifically formulated blend of targeted minerals, botanicals and fat-soluble carotenoids in a base of probiotics for clear, fresh-looking skin. Because skin dryness, visual appearance and elasticity can be affected by low intake of omega 3 fatty acids, improve your nutrition by eating oily fish 2-3 times a week, using flaxseed oil in foods or by supplementing with a certified organic, sustainable omega 3 oil.

 

Digestive health

Good health starts from the inside out; if your digestive health is poor your whole body can suffer in a number of alarming ways. More and more we are realising that healthy gut bacteria, means a healthy mind and body.  For many people, a good quality probiotic taken daily can improve their digestive health, and the health of their whole body.

 

Menopause

High up in the Peruvian Andes grows a remarkable super food that is prized for improving energy and vitality, but it is perhaps lesser known outside its native Peru as an important folk remedy for female health.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii), has been used for centuries in the Andes to improve infertility and for female hormonal balance.  Indeed, modern research has found that maca may help to improve energy and mood, decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire.

A number of studies have also found maca to be a safe way to relieve menopausal symptoms and has been shown to reduce hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, improve libido, sexual health, mood and emotional wellbeing.

Most women experienced a reduction of symptoms in two days to 8 weeks with around 3 grams equivalent of maca daily. Choose responsibly sourced, certified organic maca extract, to help both the environmental sustainability and the livelihood of the indigenous farmers of Peru.

 

Multivitamins

A daily multivitamin and mineral is an important insurance policy towards a healthy diet and lifestyle, as it’s increasingly challenging to get all the nutrients you need through food in the modern world. Individual nutritional requirements will vary, so choose one for women, and based on your age.  For more advice about choosing a multivitamin, visit your local specialist health store.

 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

It's estimated that 6-15% of women have polycystic ovaries (PCOS), making it one of the most common hormonal issues in women of reproductive age. PCOS is characterised by excessive levels of testosterone, menstrual irregularities, infertility and metabolic abnormalities such as insulin resistance, amongst many other complex symptoms.  

There are a number of common approaches to managing PCOS and a low glycaemic-load diet and exercise have been shown to help, but better treatments are needed. One such treatment that has been shown to work very well is a combination of the nutrients Myo-Inositol and Folic acid. 

Several clinical studies have found that these nutrients can be very effective for restoring hormonal balance, ovulation, metabolic health and fertility.

The recommended amount is 2 grams of myo-inositol along with 200mcg of folic acid taken twice daily in water or juice for a minimum of three months.

They appear to work by improving hormonal balance, blood sugar metabolism and ovarian function.

 

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Around 25% of women of reproductive age suffer moderate to severe premenstrual syndrome symptoms, which occur 1-2 weeks before menstruation.

The most common symptoms are irritability, anxiety, tension, mood swings, depression, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headache, swelling of extremities and food cravings. Sometimes these symptoms can be severe, in which case chemical drugs may be prescribed but there are natural alternatives that have been shown to be helpful.

Saffron, a highly prized spice from the crocus flower, has long been used to improve mood and wellbeing, and has been shown to reduce symptoms of PMS, especially emotional symptoms, as well as relieving depression and reducing food cravings in a number of clinical studies.

In one study, 15mg of Saffron extract taken twice daily for two cycles significantly reduced symptoms of PMS, especially emotional symptoms. Magnesium and vitamin B6 have also been shown to reduce PMS symptoms including cravings, fluid retention and anxiety in a number of studies. In fact there are at least nine clinical studies showing benefit of vitamin B6 in PMS, and when combined with magnesium it has been shown to be even more effective.

Both magnesium and B6 play an important role in regulating hormones and mood.

 

Thyroid Health

The prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism is 3% to 18% (up to 11 million people), with more women affected than men.  Symptoms of low thyroid include fatigue, weight gain, constipation and sensitivity to cold. If you think your thyroid might be low you should speak to your doctor. One reason for low thyroid is low dietary iodine, which is common in the United Kingdom with up to 50% of women deficient in this important mineral. For some people with low thyroid, taking 150-200mcg of iodine daily can help along with supportive nutrients such as vitamin A, selenium, and zinc.

 

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Cranberries are well known for their tart flavour in sauces and juice, but they also have a long history of use as a natural remedy for urinary tract infections (UTI, also known as acute cystitis or a bladder infection), attracting a great deal of scientific interest for the last 100 years.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 women will have a urinary tract infection during their life, and UTIs have a very high (up to 20%) risk of recurrence. Safe and effective ways to prevent recurring UTIs are therefore very important and this is the main use of cranberry.

The berries are rich in nutrients that prevent infections taking hold, and a review of several studies using juice, powders and capsules demonstrated a significant benefit in those that provide at least 36mg proanthocyanidins daily, so check labels carefully.

Other natural approaches include alkalizing the urine with Potassium Citrate, preventing overgrowth of bad bacteria by taking probiotics and taking D-Mannose, a nutrient that reduces the development of infections.

Try probiotic and cranberry capsules for long-term prevention, and alkalizing powders with D-Mannose for faster relief.

 

The information contained in this blog is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking prescribed medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.

 

The food supplements mentioned in this blog can be found in specialist health food stores. Click here to locate your local specialist health food store.

 
Image reproduced with permission of the artist, Marie Fox.

 

TAGS: Women's Healthwomen's health

 

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