What are the three most important health resolutions that every woman (aged between 25 and 45) should make and stick to?

Why is each so important to women’s health?

1. Reduce or eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates from the diet.

Women need to know that sugar and refined carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar quickly (eg white flour etc) are the major culprits behind many women’s health problems and that having low or no fat is not the issue.  There are many women who would think it healthy to buy a low fat fruit yogurt (even organic) when that pot of yogurt could contain eight teaspoons of added sugar.   Women should think about eliminating added sugar and refined carbohydrates for 80% of the time in their diet, there will always be the odd blips like birthdays and weddings but it is what they do everyday that makes the difference.  They must also eat little and often, no longer than three hours without eating.

Why is this resolution so important?

Because many of the symptoms that women come into the clinic concerned about can be caused by this fluctuating blood sugar roller coaster.  Symptoms can include:  irritability, aggressive outbursts, palpitations, lack of sex drive, crying spells, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, insomnia, headaches and muscle cramps. 

2. Eat and supplement more Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are so important for your health and over the last century there has been an 80% decrease in the consumption of these fats.  I have been routinely doing blood tests for Omega 6/Omega 3 essential fatty acids in the clinic and the results have been surprising.  The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 should be approximately 2 to 1.  Some women in the clinic have been as high as 50 to 1, with far too much Omega 6 going in and not enough Omega 3.

Many of the women I see in the clinic have been taking evening primrose oil supplements – an Omega 6 fatty acid – for years and have not been eating enough Omega 3 oils, or taking them in supplement form, to counterbalance this.  Some women are also taking combinations such as Omega 3, 6, and 9 in supplement form, because they have heard that we need a good balance of all the Omega fatty acids.  This is true, but you have to take into account what your own levels may be in the first place.  It is no good adding in more Omega 6 if you have already got enough or in fact too much in your body.

Omega 3 fats are found in flaxseeds (linseeds), pumpkin, soya and walnuts and your body converts them to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexenoic acid) as found naturally in oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna.  So ideally you want to be eating oily fish otherwise take a good Omega 3 fish oil supplement containing about 770mg EPA and 500mg DHA (see NHP’s Omega 3 Plus www.naturalhealthpractice.com).

Why is this resolution so important?

Because there are symptoms associated with not having enough of these Omega 3 fatty acids.  Symptoms that suggest that the body is literally dry out from the inside out and there can be inflammation like joint pains as these Omega 3 essential fats have an anti-inflammatory action.  Symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Dry skin
  • Cracked skin on heels or fingertips
  • Hair falling out
  • Lifeless hair
  • Poor wound healing
  • Dandruff
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Soft or brittle nails
  • Allergies
  • Dry eyes
  • Lack of motivation
  • Aching joints
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis

The other reasons Omega 3 fats are so important is that they help in a number of ways:

* They slow down the rate at which the stomach empties, so making     carbohydrates even more slow-releasing

* They boost metabolism

* They make a person less insulin resistant

* They reduce inflammation

3.  Check your vitamin D level

You do have to be careful of damage to your skin from sun exposure.  But your body manufactures vitamin D through your skin when exposed to the sun.  It can’t do this though if you are covered in sunscreen.   Also most of our cosmetics and moisturisers have in built sun protection factors so even if we think we are exposing our skin to the sunlight we may not be. 

As with anything in nature, you don’t want too much of something but you also don’t want too little. Australia, with all its messages of staying out of the sun and using sunscreen all the time when outside, are now recording vitamin D deficiencies in 1 out of 4 people.  

My recommendation would be to go out in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day (avoiding the hottest part of the day 12-3pm) without sun screen and without make-up or moisturiser as most cosmetics now have in built sun protection factors which will interfere with your body’s production of vitamin D

Why is this resolution so important?

Over the last few years, the knowledge of the benefits of vitamin D in all areas of our health has been enormous including prevention of cancer, especially breast cancer, heart disease, anti-ageing, auto-immune problems, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

But one of the main benefits is that vitamin D can slow down the ageing process. 

One of the theories of ageing relates to DNA structures called telomeres.  These are like the hard ends on shoelaces and are the protective caps at the end of chromosomes.  They get shorter as we get older and the scientists have been trying to find ways of stopping this shortening process.

Scientists have found that those people with higher vitamin D levels have longer telomere length and the researchers were quoted as saying that this  ‘underscores the potentially beneficial effects of this hormone on ageing and age-related diseases’. Vitamin D can help to control inflammation and it is known that inflammation causes the telomeres to shorten so again vitamin D can help slow down the clock.

Vitamin D could be toxic at high levels, so although you want good levels of this vitamin it is important that the level is not too high, that is why testing is so important and you are just taking the right amount for you. If you have difficulty getting a vitamin D blood test locally then do contact The Natural Health Practice on 0845 8800915 or go to www.naturalhealthpractice.com as it can be organised by post.

Article featured in Health & Fitness magazine February 2011