Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Healthy Tips for Women

By Chris Jensen, May 4, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Chris Jensen
Are you looking for solid guidelines for staying healthy and happy naturally? Tune in for a few of the basics about nutrition, herbs and lifestyle habits for women. You’ll also hear some specifics on mood, menopause and weight. Dr. Tori Hudson is a naturopathic physician, professor and women’s clinic medical director.

These were Dr. Hudson’s top general suggestions for women to stay healthy:
  • Certain things are more important during certain age groups, and change throughout a woman’s life.
  • Research supports aerobic exercise (as well as some strength training) to benefit our bones, heart, immune, joints, weight management, diabetes, and even reducing risk of breast cancer. (At least 3.5 hours per week.)
  • Research is solid for the benefits of exercise, essential fatty acids both in diet and supplements (nuts and seeds olive oil and fish and fish or seed oil supplements.)
  • We get a lot of bang for our buck with vitamin D. We’re recently understanding much more about value of vitamin D.  The guidelines for daily recommendations may be moving up to 1000 -2000 units / day.
  • She also recommends whole fresh foods, good water and minimizing exposure to environmental toxins.
Beyond a multivitamin each day, women should focus on:
  • Women who are having regular menstrual cycles need to have iron. A multivitamin with iron is recommended. Most women don’t need extra iron, but some do (check with your practitioner.)
    • If you do take an iron supplement, vitamin C from certain plants can increase absorption and make constipation less likely.  After stopping menstruation women don’t need iron.
    • For children and up though teenage age years, calcium is important. This is also the case later in life (70s+.)
    • As mentioned, vitamin D is helpful for all ages.
    • Focus on the fatty acids, especially those in the diet.  Fish oil supplementation is recommended for anyone.
    • So vitamin D, fish oil supplements and probiotics are the expert’s routine thoughts for most people. Then she looks for individual needs for B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, selenium & numerous antioxidants.
What can women do naturally to help with anxiety and depression?
  • It starts with attending to things in our life that could go awry (i.e. how can we stabilize our relationships, our home life, work life, economic life, spiritual life?)  Dr. Hudson said that we can’t talk about taking an herb or vitamin without mentioning those things.
  • But there are some helpful natural compounds for anxiety:
    • A nice gentle one that doesn’t have negative interactions with medications is an amino acid called L-theanine.
    • A nutrient called GABA or an herb called kava are a bit more assertive, for when anxiety is more problematic in one’s life.
    • For depression, many people have heard about St. John’s Wort. It’s still is the #1 most important plant that’s been researched for mild to moderate depression.
    • Tryptophan and SAMe can also improve serotonin levels.
    • Dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine are other brain chemicals that are affected by other nutrients and amino acids. For example, L-tyrosine can improve dopamine levels (which is a mood enhancer.)
    • Vitamin D can also improve dopamine levels.
  • This is why some people who start getting more vitamin D start to feel better and their mood improves.
These days many women are looking to natural medicine for help with typical menopause symptoms.   However, there are so many products and claims out there, it’s hard to know who to trust and which path to choose.
  • There is a lot of research in this area. Dr. Hudson believes that old ideas that have been carried forward should be replaced with new modern botanical research.
  • For example, black cohosh is the #1 most researched plant for menopause symptoms. There have been more than 100 studies over the last 25 years for an array of menopause symptoms including hot flashes.
    • Not all studies show that it’s beneficial and it won’t work in all women with all symptoms, but it’s the most important plant to know about.
  • There’s a special organic maca extract with two quality published studies on menopause symptoms.
  • There are studies on St. John’s Wort for menopause symptoms in particular. For example, a combination of black cohosh and St. John’s Wort was shown to be a little bit better than just black cohosh alone.

 

13 Comments

Comments

Lisa says ...
Don't fail to mention that St. John's Wort can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills!
05/04/2010 1:20:47 PM CDT
Laurie says ...
St. John's Wort also interferes with some hormone replacement therapy - I can't take it.. But what about Magnesium? Isn't that supposed to help with anxiety?
05/07/2010 6:33:03 PM CDT
Zeus says ...
Hi Chris, How about a podcast on Healthy Tips for Men? I love Whole Foods, but your company never does anything for men, just women. I shop regularly at three of your stores in Washington, DC, and I also go to any Whole Foods stores that I can access when I travel. I have been in about 30 across the US and Canada. I've even been in several of the Fresh & Wild stores in London. While I have seen frequent promotions and endcaps promoting women and women's causes (e.g., Your Whole Body department in Georgetown has a "Make Mom Proud Again" ad campaign now), I have yet to see anything for dads, or men in general. Not even for father's day. I don't think that is fair. I'd be quite grateful if you would please do some special podcasts for men. My body has its own unique needs, too. I deal with just as much stress and environmental pressures on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health as any woman. Please don't treat me as a second-class customer. Thank you
05/09/2010 2:38:44 PM CDT
no says ...
From my experience, magnesium does NOT help with anxiety. (If anything, it worsened it for me.) It may work for others, but certainly not for me!
05/09/2010 7:46:50 PM CDT
jensenc says ...
@ Zeus: Thank you so much for your comment. Actually, our entire June Be Good to Your Whole Body theme will focus on Men, with Men's Health. Look for a great and informative booklet in our stores, and check back here for 2 new podcasts. I'll be interested to hear what you think!
05/10/2010 10:35:10 AM CDT
Roz says ...
Amazing...just today doctor put me on 2000 mg of Vitamin D per day...
05/10/2010 2:49:01 PM CDT
Nadine says ...
Thanks for the info on Black Cohosh. I am looking for Info on vitamins and menapause. Whats good whats BAD. Thanks
05/11/2010 6:57:34 PM CDT
RV Brink says ...
I would really like to hear some more about post-menopausal symtoms, particularly 'hot flashes'. So far so good on the mood swings - I think so anyway! - but the flashes are killer, especially in a work/social setting. Tried the Black Cohosh, but seemed to have an adverse reaction; is it possible that it would raise the heart rate, especially if one (me) has AFib? Regarding men's issue, I agree with you. Being a Baby Boomer Female, I do notice a lot of articles with attention to our subset of the population, which is great for me. Sadly for you, most other men do not pay as much attention to their health issues as you. Good for you, and keep the drum banging. We ALL need to be more aware of what keeps us healthy, and happy. Any help would be appreciated...renee
07/14/2010 7:06:20 PM CDT
Elouise Lovelace says ...
I have read about the product "i-cool" for hot flash relief. Do you carry the product?
10/15/2010 8:22:53 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Elouise Not sure about that product and your best bet is to check with your local store directly. http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/ Thanks.
10/18/2010 7:34:19 AM CDT
Letrice says ...
Thank you so much for these natural tips for going through menopause. I do agree with the comment about having more tips for men. Male menopause seems to be a taboo subject matter and I think that men have a harder time making through because of it bring a female issue. I did notice that my husband was going through male menopause and I researched and found some natural remedies that we will be using for him. By the way when I shared the information with him about male menopause; he seemed to be relieved and enlighten. Thanks again.
12/05/2010 10:51:36 PM CST
Judy says ...
Seeing I can't find your actual products on your website, I would like to know if you carry the following: Baby Vitamin D3 in 100 IU tablets? Looking forward to your reply. -Thank you
07/22/2011 12:11:00 PM CDT
Bobby Hawley says ...
@Judy, Our product selection varies from store to store. Please check in with your local store directly. Here is the link to our store finder http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/. Thanks!
08/01/2011 1:53:29 PM CDT