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Your Diet And PMS
Do a foul mood, weight gain and uncontrollable food cravings sound all too familiar? Your diet could be making your premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms worse. PMS affects up to 30% of women during their childbearing years. For those who struggle to control their symptoms every month, it can be quite a nightmare. PMS symptoms can be varied and may include anxiety, mood swings, depression, tearfulness, irritability, fatigue, breast tenderness, swelling and pain, weight gain, water retention, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, migraine, cramps, backache and cravings for various types of food. These symptoms usually start about 7 to 10 days before the onset of menstruation, increasing in severity as menstruation approaches. Most women experience the worst symptoms during their actual period and, in some cases, afterwards. PMS occurs more commonly in women over the age of 30.
Possible causes of PMS
Research on PMS is still in its early stages, and no single nutritional or hormonal imbalance has been consistently identified as the cause of this syndrome. However, a variety of theories have been proposed. These include:
1. Hormonal Imbalances
Not just imbalances of the female hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen, but also of hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which may be involved with water-retention symptoms.
2. Imbalances in neurotransmitters
For example, an imbalance in serotonin production could cause symptoms such as cravings for sweet foods and depression.
3. FATTY ACID METABOLISM DISORDERS
An imbalance in the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid ratio (due to inadequate or unbalanced intakes) can lead to the production of certain compounds called prostaglandins. These can affect brain and nerve function, and/or cause inflammatory-type reactions.
4. DEFICIENCIES OF NUTRIENTS, SUCH AS VITAMIN B6
This could lead to irritability, fatigue, depression and other symptoms.
Research On PMS and Diet
International research studies have produced the following preliminary results:
In one study, test subjects who took 50mg of vitamin B6 a day reported improvements in depression, irritability and fatigue, but not in other symptoms of PMS.
Studies using essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6 fatty acids have produced positive outcomes in relieving symptoms, particularly breast tenderness, swelling and pain. The use of 1 to 2g of evening primrose oil (gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid) significantly reduced PMS symptoms, particularly painful breasts.
Another study found that women who took up to 1,200mg of calcium on a daily basis reported significantly fewer PMS symptoms than women in the control group.
Some studies indicate that there’s also a link between stress and PMS, i.e. women who struggle to cope with stress often struggle with PMS symptoms, which are often also more severe than in women who are more relaxed.
Solutions to PMS
At this stage, scientists and doctors can only make general recommendations for the control of PMS symptoms. Try some or all of the following steps, eliminating those that don’t produce a beneficial effect after 3 months:
Consult your doctor or gynaecologist to check if you’re suffering from hormone deficiencies. If you lack female hormones (either progesterone or oestrogen, or both), your doctor may prescribe hormone supplements.
Ask your doctor to prescribe a mild diuretic that you can take during the 7-10 days when the symptoms appear. This should help to control swelling and water retention.
Do everything in your power to control stress: do yoga, Pilates or another form of exercise, do a few breathing exercises, meditate, or consider psychotherapy to learn how to manage your stress.
Do regular exercise – not just when the symptoms strike (when you may not feel up to doing exercise anyway).
Get sufficient sleep and, if you suffer from insomnia, try drinking a glass of warm, low-fat milk before you go to bed. Milk is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin production.
Follow a balanced diet that contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, unprocessed cereals and grains, lean meat, fish, low-fat milk and dairy products, and margarine or oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E.
Take B-complex supplements that contain vitamin B6.
Take a calcium supplement if you’re not drinking sufficient low-fat milk or eating other high-calcium foods such as low-fat yoghurt, cottage cheese, and other cheeses.
Reduce your intake of caffeine (coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks containing caffeine) and sweetened cold drinks.
If you suffer from cravings, try to resist them, as eating large amounts of salty or sweet foods will make the symptoms worse. Nibble on healthy snacks such as fruit (fresh and dried, for potassium that controls water retention), wholewheat crackers or bread with cottage cheese (provides B6 and calcium) or fresh vegetables like carrots and celery sticks (also high in potassium), and low-fat milk drinks or yoghurt (for calcium and tryptophan).
Take evening primrose oil supplements to increase your omega-6 intake or, better still, take a supplement that contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are increasingly used as therapy for severe PMS. Speak to your doctor about a possible prescription of one of these antidepressants if none of the above steps improve your symptoms.
Superfoods for PMS
In addition to the above tips, you may also like to try the following superfoods to help manage PMS. They contain key nutrients that support women's health, hormonal balance and may help reduce PMS symptoms:
: try our
Banana, Maca and Quinoa porridge recipe
: try our
Banana Split Smoothie recipe
: try our
Berry Breakfast Pudding recipe
. ------ This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. For more information on
women's health issues
, visit www.health365.com.au.
Key Nutrients For Pregnancy
Good nutrition can help ensure your child's development and well-being well before your child is conceived, believe it or not. If you are trying for a baby or are already pregnant, there are a handful of key nutrients for pregnancy to support both your health and the health of your child.
Key Nutrients For Pregnancy
It is important to eat a wide variety of foods during pregnancy, and the amount of food you need to eat will increase. Your baby will be the first one to tell you this - you can expect to have an increase appetite as the pregnancy. Gaining some 'baby weight' (that is, additional body weight,
the weight of the baby) is also normal. You can expect to gain between 11 to 18 kg of baby weight during pregnancy. If you feel like weight gain during your pregnancy has become extreme or is a problem, talk to your doctor... dieting during pregnancy can be harmful to both you and your baby, so a professional's advice is important. For an in-depth look at diet during pregnancy, visit the Victorian Government's Better Health Channel's
on the topic. Let's take a closer look at the key nutrients you should be aware of during pregnancy.
1. Folate / Folic Acid
Folate (also 'folic acid') is one of the B vitamins. It is important during pregnancy as it can help with neural development and protect your unborn child against neural tube defects. 400mcg. a day is the recommended amount.
Brocoli, asparagus, lentils, spinach and citrus fruits are all high in folate / folic acid.
Your iron requirements increase during pregnancy, because your baby is also drawing on your intake of food sources of iron. During pregnancy, your recommended daily intake of iron rises from 18mg a day pre-pregnancy to 27mg a day during pregnancy (source : NRV.gov.au). Iron deficiency is common during pregnancy and iron supplements may be necessary. However, consult a doctor before starting an iron supplement, as too much iron can be harmful to mum and bub. Note: the iron content of some foods is reduced by cooking. Steaming vegetables for the minimum amount of time possible helps it retain it's iron content.
Lean beef, chicken, eggs, berries and lentils are all good sources of dietary iron during pregnancy.
Iodine deficiency is increasing in Australia. In adults, iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid problems. In infants, the effects of iodine deficiency is much more severe, causing moderate to severe developmental problems in unborn children and infants.
Iodine can be found in 'iodised' table salts. Fish is a good food source of iodine, yet eating fish during pregnancy should be approached with caution.
Many fish types contain higher trace levels of heavy metals
like mercury than others. Mercury can be harmful to a baby. Furthermore, eating raw fish or semi-raw fish should be avoided during pregnancy.... cooked fish only. Increase consumption of dairy products, which are typically rich in iodine. Talk to your doctor about whether an iodine supplement is required.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The huge number of benefits from adequate omega-3 consumption are well documented. One type of omega-3 in particular called 'DHA' (docosahexaenoic acid) is important for mental development of unborn babies. Studies show that babies born of mothers who had high blood levels of DHA during birth had accelerated mental development compared to babies born from mothers with low DHA blood levels.
Best food sources of DHA include seafood and marine algae. Vegetable sources of omega-3 such as chia seeds and flaxseeds are often recommended to increase omega-3 intake for pregnant women, but these contain a different type of omega-3 (ALA) that does not appear to have the same link to brain development. An omega-3 DHA supplement may also be a good idea.
Your doctor should become like your best friend during pregnancy. Whilst you will receive advice from nearly everyone you know, the best person to turn to for advise on nutrition and/or supplements during pregnancy is your doctor. ----- This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. For more information on
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Lift Heavy To Get Lean
Many women (and men) exercise to lose weight and get toned. After many weeks and months of working out with light weights and high repetitions, they have enjoyed limited results and get disheartened. The solution may be to lift heavier weights and do fewer repetitions.
Heavy Weights Don't Cause Bulking
For many women we talk to about our range of sports supplements, such advice sets off alarm bells. They are concerned that if they lift heavy weights and use protein powders they will bulk up, get square shoulders and start to look like body builders. The reality is that numerous reps of lighter weights that many women do to 'tone' is more likely to give you that body builder physique than lifting heavier weights at smaller repetitions.
Protein Powder Doesn't Cause Bulking
Other women's fears of protein powders making them bulk up are also unfounded. Protein powders are an excellent way to retain a trim figure, increase energy and do not necessarily lead to 'explosive muscle growth' (contrary to what some of the advertisements in some magazines might promise). Unless you take supplements and eat a diet specifically designed specifically to help you bulk up, 95% of women will not bulk up, tending to build curves in the 'right' places instead.
What the professionals say
Registered sports scientist Habib Noorbhai says this lingering myth over women bulking up from weight training is a very common misconception. “Strength training has a variety of benefits for women, one of which is preventing the earlier onset of bone and joint-related diseases such as
and fibromyalgia. “Performing low to moderate intensity weight training will ensure increase in strength gains, assist in the loss of body fat and assist with activities of daily living.” He adds that “vigorous intensity weight training can initially lead to a minimal gain in lean muscle, but generally low to moderate intensity weight training combined with cardio, and following a healthy eating plan is the secret to getting toned and losing body fat”. We have to agree. We are lucky enough to have an in-house gym at Nature's Way HQ. Many of us have recently started to focus less on the treadmill and bicep curls and more on lifting heavy. We use whole-body exercises like squats, dead lifts and power cleans in conjunction with circuit training and clean diet. We have certainly not noticed any bulking, are happy with improvements in strength and body shape and can also report a reduction in body fat.
So where do you start?
There is an inherent risk in starting to lift heavier weights. Unless you are already experienced at weight training, we strongly recommend enlisting the services of a personal trainer or - ideally - a strength coach who can teach you proper form to avoid injury. Once you have learned the basics of safe lifting, you can start to increase the load and train with a friend or alone, however that initial expert guidance to help you refine your form and build a baseline of strength is highly recommended to help avoid serious injury..
5 Benefits of CoQ10
CoQ10 (co-enzyme Q10) is a substance found in our body that is critical in energy production and there is a mounting body of evidence to show that it is important for a number of other things, including maintaining a healthy heart. CoQ10 is found naturally in our body, but our body's ability to synthesize CoQ10 declines with age. Further, some blood pressure and cholesterol medications can reduce your body's CoQ10 levels. Therefore, as you age, actively trying to top up your CoQ10 levels may support better heart health.
5 Benefits of CoQ10
1. CoQ10 might help prevent heart failure
Early evidence suggests that low CoQ10 levels are associated with increased risk fo heart failure.
2. CoQ10 might help prevent high blood pressure
Preliminary studies suggest increasing CoQ10 levels may help manage high blood pressure. Further studies are required.
3. CoQ10 might help migraine sufferers
A 2005 study suggests that participants taking 100mg of CoQ10 three times daily significantly reduced migraine frequency when compared to the control group who took a placebo. More research is required to replicate the findings.
4. CoQ10 helps energy production
CoQ10 plays an important role in a process known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) synthesis. ATP is one of the most critical substances in cellular energy production. People with low CoQ10 levels may experience fatigue, and increasing CoQ10 levels has - over time - been shown to increase energy production and reduce fatigue in these same people.
5. CoQ10 might help exercise performance.
Although further research is required, a small handful of preliminary studies suggest there may be a link between CoQ10 and strength and endurance among athletes.
Benefits of Maca for Women
With all of the buzz around (and misuse of) the term 'superfoods', it ..
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