Making a difference starts with you

March 1, 2022

On the 8th March we celebrate International Women’s Day, (don’t worry, there is an International Men’s Day later in the year!) The month of March sees a lot of attention paid to women’s rights, health issues, lifestyle and history. This year the focus is on creating a gender equal world, a world without stereotypes and bias.

If we want to make a difference in our lives and those of others, we need to start with ourselves. If we are not well, happy and secure in ourselves, it is hard to take up a cause and have the energy to support it. Looking after yourself is an important step to take in any campaign. However you identify your gender, you may find that on a nutritional level there are some aspects that do relate more to one gender than another. This nutritional difference should not be seen as divisive, but as a way of making sure we provide our bodies with what is right for us.

When it comes to good health, you can easily get overwhelmed with all the aspects you might need to consider. For many, but often especially women, there is a massive media pressure to look good, be the right dress size, wear the right shoes and always have sparkling clear skin. Real life dictates that it won’t always be like that.

Hormonal changes, stress, pregnancy, heavy periods are just s few of the things that can cause you to feel that you are not performing at your best. Add to that not eating well and getting dehydrated, and it is easy to see why we feel challenged. The good news is that simple nutritional steps can make a significant difference to how we feel.

It’s important to be realistic. There are some things that are never going to change, we are going to age and go through various life changes from puberty to the menopause. So, if we can’t change it, why not accept it and make it the best it can be? There are health issues associated with these stages, but good nutrition and simple exercise can help make it easier to avoid some of them.

It can take time for a new wellness regime to work, don’t give up too quickly. Set yourself a target of three months and then review.

The majority of food supplements are bought by women, but they are not always buying for themselves, they will buy for partners and their children. It can be hard for many to put themselves first or even somewhere on the list. But without them being well, the rest of family often suffer. Have a think about your own circle of friends, is there one that always puts everyone before herself? Maybe give her a gentle reminder that she is a priority too.

Setting daily goals that are achievable can be such a boost to our self-worth. If the target is too big, we will take so long to be able to say it is done, if it is a slightly out of reach but achievable, we can get there and tick it off. The simple joy of being able to say, ‘I’ve reached my goal,’ can be a massive boost in itself.

Set daily goals with the tasks you have to do. It can be useful to break the tasks down and have just two main tasks for a day. Then add to that one task that is non-negotiable, one thing that you must and will do every day. Make it small and you will achieve it, how about making it a simple task of taking supplements, even just one? A great way to start a nutritional regime, one supplement at a time.

Dump all the stuff that is buzzing around your head. Write down your goals and aspirations, your health worries, your creative ideas, the things you’d like to try and anything that pops up. Once you start, you will be amazed at how easy it can be and how liberating it can feel to express all those things. You can then look and decide is there anything there that you can immediately start taking action on, congratulate yourself on any that are positive or just notice that it was something that you had been thinking about and maybe not too aware of.

Look at anything that relates to your health, maybe create a separate list and prioritise. A long term health condition won’t be solved with one bottle of supplements, but issues such as feeling tired or not sleeping can probably start showing a difference within a month if you take the right supplements. B vitamins and Magnesium are just two that help reduce tiredness and fatigue. They often get into the system quite quickly, so if you start with one month’s supply, you often feel an improvement by the end of the bottle. Carry on for two or three months and you can see significant change. Tick! One issue where you have made a positive difference.

Begin with telling yourself you are going to take one supplement every day for a month. You can create a new habit and habits can be hard to break …

Start by telling yourself you are going to take your supplements every day for one month. You will soon find it is a new habit and we all know habits are hard to break …

The B vitamins are also needed for proper functioning of the nervous system, and they support normal psychological function. These nutrients that are also found in whole grains, seeds and nuts and play a big role in your overall wellness. Eat foods rich in B vitamins, adding nutritional yeast to soups and savoury dishes adds flavour and nutrients, plus look for a multi with a good level of B vitamins or take a specific B complex.

Look for a B complex with the nutrients in their active form. They will be better absorbed and utilised by the body. Your body will know what to do with them and they can get to work straight away.

Hormonal imbalance can be the route cause of many female related health issues. Getting the balance right can take some time. If you have major concerns, it is worth seeing your GP or practice nurse to discuss your worries and maybe get a blood test to help see what is going on.

Like the B complex vitamins, magnesium places many roles. Many people find it helps them relax as it plays a role in muscle function as well as psychological function. Taking it in the evening or an hour or so before bed is an ideal time. Many users report that it helps them have a mor rested sleep. That brings it’s own bonus in that you are better equipped to face the day, meaning you have more mental and physical energy to cope with what the day throws at you.

Certain oils are sources of essential fatty acids and these have been shown by research, to help balance hormone function Borage Oil is a source of the essential fatty acid Gamma Linolenic Acid, (GLA.) GLA plays a role in hormone balance and also dry skin conditions. Being more concentrated in GLA than evening primrose oil, you can take fewer capsules. Something that is helpful if you are building a regime of more than one supplement.

A social or business network allows you the chance to support others, at the same time they can support you.

If you experience heavy periods or are pregnant, you might consider an iron supplement. This mineral has a bad reputation due to cheap and hard to absorb forms causing constipation and stomach cramps. Look for an iron supplement that contains vitamin C to aid absorption and has iron in an absorbable form such as ferric pyrophosphate and lactoferrin. It can make a big difference to how your body processes the supplement.

Herbs that can also help include Chasteberry also known as Agnus castus, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha have been used by women to help support hormonal balance. Many find Ashwagandha and Rhodiola support energy levels too thanks to their adaptogenic properties.

If you are approaching the menopause and are looking to help detoxify excess hormones and create a natural balance, look for supplements containing Calcium D-Glucarate and DIM along with Choline which supports liver function. Adding this to a borage oil supplement can make a nice nutritional foundation.  Soy isoflavones provide natural oestrogenic properties, many women find they use them during the menopause as a natural alternative.  It may take some time to find out what works best for you. If you are taking a regime to support hormonal health, give it a good three to six months before you change to something new.

We are going to age, no getting around that. Our cells deteriorate and may not replicate so well, We may notice the skin isn’t as taut or as soft as it once was. Much of this is down to lower levels of hyaluronic acid. This diminishes as we age, and our skin can become less smooth and taught. Hyaluronic acid as a supplement, can help maintain good skin elasticity and texture. When looking for a hyaluronic acid supplement, look for a vegan source one as many are derived from rooster combs!

How is your diet? As the weather improves, the days get a bit longer and the clocks change, it can be a good time to freshen it up. Forget the overload of comfort food from the winter, start thinking fresh, green and crisp! Introduce more salads and fresh fruit, your body will be pleased you did.

Get outside for ten minutes of daylight or a 30 minute brisk walk. Fresh air and daylight can have a massive impact on your mental and physical health, especially if it becomes a new routine.

Investigate mindfulness and giving yourself a few moments head space a day, a quiet moment with a cup of herbal tea in a favourite cup or even one really good cup of coffee. Maybe find a local women’s network whether it be the Women’s Institute or a business network for women, there are many that can add not just a social aspect, but also a supportive network that can inspire you and help problem solve. You might not realise just how supportive your ideas could be to someone else, too.

We might not be able to rid the world of stereotypes and create true gender equality overnight. But by taking simple steps to look after ourselves means we can have the strength and energy to make a difference and be part of the change.

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