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Women's Health

Pregnancy, hormone imbalances, menopausal symptoms or urinary problems - whatever the health issue, Woods' products deliver natural solutions that ensure every women's body is well prepared and protected.
  • Eating for a Healthy Gut

    We tend not to think about the health of our gut until it gives us problems and makes us feel unwell or uncomfortable. However, our gut is vital for our general health and we should make caring for it a priority, especially our digestion. Afterall, the main function of digestion is to break down the foods we eat and utilise the nutrients for energy, growth, repair and immunity – all very important factors in our overall health.

    There are a variety of factors that can contribute to poor digestion, from stress to smoking, however today we are going to focus on eating habits for a healthy gut.

    Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and water in conjunction with regular exercise can help to maintain good digestion. Here are some top tips to keep your gut healthy when it comes to your eating habits.

    • Chew your food well
    • Eat slowly with smaller mouthfuls of food
    • Try not to eat in a rush or when stressed
    • Avoid drinking large amounts whilst eating
    • Eat a variety of fresh foods – take advantage of seasonal produce for variety
    • Eat at least 5-6 portions of different fruit and vegetables (approx. 80g of fresh fruit or vegetables is considered a portion)
    • Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol
    • Drink 1 ½ - 2 litres of water per day
    • Eat at least 25g of fiber a day
    • Avoid ready meals and processed foods that contain artificial additives

    With your gut health being responsible for so many key elements of our health, including up to 90% of your immune functions, skin health, weight control and even mood and sleep, it’s no wonder why many scientists refer to the digestive system as ‘the second brain’ due to its overall importance in keeping you healthy and functioning properly.

  • Small Steps to a Healthier You!

    Many of us want to lead healthier lifestyles but juggling family life, work life and other responsibilities often means that our health goals are put on the back burner. Whether you want to eat healthier, get in better shape, have more energy or even sleep better its important to understand that major overhauls are not necessarily required, and small changes can have a big impact.

    As we know, leading a healthier lifestyle can have numerous benefits from reducing risks of disease, slowing down the aging process and giving us more energy to take on the world. Making small changes in our nutrition, activity levels, stress management, sleep and other health behaviours, including looking after our mental health, are all key to achieving our health and wellbeing goals.

    We have put together a list of small steps that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle. Remember, you don’t have to do them all (and certainly not all at once) – decide which ones are most in line with your goals and take it from there. Maybe introduce one a week or even one a month, if that is the time frame you need to keep you on track to make permanent lifelong changes.

    • Identify your main reasons for wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle and remind your self of what they are when you are having a challenging day – it will help keep you focused and motivated.
    • Set smaller goals and celebrate achieving them. Giving yourself small ‘wins’ is a great way for you to track your progress and keep motivated along the journey.
    • Eat regularly as hunger pangs later in the day are likely to lead you to overeating and making poor food choices.
    • Drink! No matter what time of year it is, it is always important to stay hydrated. Replace sugary / fizzy drinks with water (use sugar free cordial if needed).
    • Get plenty of rest. Sleep deprivation has a variety of negative impacts when trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. It can disrupt your eating habits, often leading to poor choices, negatively affects concentration and productivity, reduces our energy levels and even affects our immune function to name a few.
    • Make time for you! Everyone needs their own time to relax and unwind. Try and allow 30-minutes a day just for you time.
    • Make smaller healthy swaps to your diet regime. We aren’t saying deprive yourself of all your favourite things but make small substitutes when you can e.g. bake instead of fry, reduce portion sizes by 10%, try new healthy recipes with in season ingredients.
    • Get moving! You don’t have to set yourself a crazy exercise goals but increase your movement a little by little each day / week. If you only usually do 6,000 steps a day – aim to increase this by 10% over the week.

    As you will see, none of these are ground-breaking or require vast changes to your daily routines, but they are important and can improve your overall health. The key for success is to focus on small, baby steps— it’s all about those little changes you can incorporate in one day, a week or even a month at a time. Not only is this more doable, but it is also more sustainable for long term success and lasting changes for the better.

  • Happy Healthy Heart

    Our heart is the busiest muscle in our body, pumping blood and oxygen to all your other organs none stop, 24-hours a day and we need to look after it. Our lifestyle can have a big impact on our heart health with stress, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes/prediabetes all increasing our chances of developing heart disease and/or triggering a heart attack.

    As previously highlighted, British Heart Foundations statistics showed that there are 7.6 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK and that people with these diseases account for a quarter of all deaths annually. Additionally, the total cost of healthcare treating these diseases is £9 billion.

    There are a variety of supplements that can benefit heart health, especially when used as part of an overall heart-healthy lifestyle mentioned above. These supplements include: -

    Omega-3 fatty acids

    Many studies have shown that people that have a diet rich in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s), have a lower risk of heart disease. EFA’s have been shown to play a part in reducing high cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, stabilizing an irregular heartbeat, and reducing the "stickiness" of blood cells called platelets, which can lead to such complications as blood clots and stroke. Omega-3 fish oil supplements have been shown to increase (good) HDL levels of cholesterol, while reducing plaque build-up in the arteries – helping to reduce the risk of both heart disease and stroke.


    Your body needs magnesium to function properly, yet it is believed that 20% of adults in the UK are magnesium deficient.  Low magnesium levels have been linked to a variety of ailments that have a negative impact on heart health such as high blood pressure, plaque build-up, and high cholesterol. Additionally, a low dose magnesium supplement can lower cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone which plays an important role in helping to control blood sugar levels.

    Coenzyme CoQ10 

    Co-Enzyme Q10 is found naturally in every cell in your body and plays a key role in releasing energy from the food you eat, but as we age our natural production slows down. Found naturally in fatty fish, such as herring and mackerel as well as some vegetables and fruits, supplements are a convenient source of Co-Enzyme Q10 and help to boost natural levels. Research shows that CoQ10 may help to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and help improve blood pressure – all key elements to helping the heart be healthy.

    Folic Acid

    Folic Acid is a synthetic version of folate, also known as Vitamin B9, which naturally occurs in many foods such as green leafy vegetables, beans, and citrus fruits. Folic Acid plays a very important role in making new genetic material for cells (DNA), making it a necessary substance for the growth and development of the human body. It also has a role in forming new red blood cells and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Folic acid and other B vitamin deficiencies can lead to elevated homocysteine levels, which has been highlighted as a potential risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

    As we all know, being physically active, eating nutritious foods, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight are all important components of a heart-healthy lifestyle, but sometimes that’s not always enough and we a need a little extra help in helping our hearts remain healthy.

  • 10 Ways to Beat Bloating

    Bloating is very common and is generally caused by a range of dietary, lifestyle, and health factors. Although it is extremely uncomfortable for anyone that has experienced it, the good news is that it can be prevented and alleviated with relative ease in most cases. Here are our top ten tips to help you prevent and ease bloating.

    1. Try and identify the source of bloating. Do you only get bloated after eating certain foods or is it more on an on-going problem that may need investigation?
    2. Drink lots of water. Water flushes waste out of your system helping bowel movement if you are constipated.
    3. Limit certain foods. Many vegetables and fruits such as sprouts, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, prunes, pears and peaches contain natural sugars that can be challenging for some people to digest.
    4. Eat more fibre. Fibre prevents constipation by adding bulk, which helps everything flow through your intestines more quickly.
    5. Eat with your mouth closed. This helps prevent you swallowing too much air when you eat - one of the biggest causes of bloating.
    6. Take small bites. Take more time over your meals and try to avoid drinking too much while eating.
    7. Increase probiotic intake. This ‘friendly’ bacteria helps to encourage good digestion and regulate bowl movements which can ease bloating. They can be found in certain foods such as yoghurt, kimchi and miso or taken in supplement form.
    8. Try peppermint. Peppermint has a long history as a digestive aid and can help ease discomfort as well as helping to reduce bloating and flatulence.
    9. Exercise! A quick ten-minute walk can relieve bloating and exercise overall helps move the contents of the gut and allows gas to pass through the digestive tract more quickly.
    10. Keep ‘regular’ – many of the tips above are aimed at helping keep your bowel movements regular as constipation is a major cause of bloating as well as other unpleasant side effects.
  • Varicose Veins

    If you have achy, tired legs or swollen ankles these could be an early warning sign of varicose veins, which affect around 1 in 2 adults in the UK. While they aren’t dangerous, they can be uncomfortable for those that suffer with them.

    What are Varicose Veins & Why do we get them?

    They are dilated veins under your skin in your legs and are caused by increased blood pressure in the veins. Our blood moves towards the heart by one-way valves in the veins and when the valves become weakened or damaged, blood can collect in the veins. Pregnancy and being overweight both increase the risk of varicose veins as pressure bears down on the veins in the groin area.

    Are they Harmful?

    While they aren’t deemed dangerous as such, they can cause discomfort and lead to other problems. The pressure in the veins, especially when standing, can lead to pain, swelling, eczema and even ulceration. In some cases, they can cause a clot (thrombosis) to develop causing the vein to become red, hard, and tender - known as “phlebitis”. If they get knocked or injured, they may cause bruising or occasionally bleed.

    Are there any Treatments?

    There are a variety of things you can do to help reduce the chances of getting varicose veins and help improve your condition if you already have them. These include:-

    • Exercise is important as the natural working of the leg muscles massages veins keeping them working well. While walking, running, cycling and swimming are all beneficial, walking is the simplest to do and really helps improve circulation.
    • Elevate your legs whenever possible. Putting up your feet for 10 minutes several times a day or adding a wedge or pillow under the bottom of the mattress at night can help. While elevation will be beneficial, if you can raise the feet above the level of the heart (chest) this will be particularly beneficial.
    • Avoid crossing your legs or standing around all day. If you do need to stay standing, do discrete exercising rising on to your toes several times to exercise calf muscles and raise your leg when on breaks.
    • If you are overweight, try and reduce your weight to get nearer to your ideal weight range.
    • Support stockings can help to keep legs comfortable and reduce the progression of the problem.
    • Good nutrition will help!  Blood flow can be improved by eating oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines) two or three times per week. Garlic is another potent agent to help improve blood flow - and garlic, onions and ginger also help to break down scar tissue in varicose veins. Drinking enough water is also beneficial – aim for around 1.5 - 2 litres of water daily.

    Can Supplements Help?

    There are several supplements which help to support leg vein health. It is important to take the early warnings of varicose veins seriously and to ward off any future damage as prevention is always better than a cure.

    • Vitamin E has potent blood thinning properties, reducing platelet ‘stickiness’ which helps to keep blood flowing.
    • Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is involved in making cellular energy and has been shown to reduce spider veins.
    • Ginkgo Biloba has been used in Chinese medicine for 3,000 years to improve blood flow to the extremities. Research has shown that Ginkgo reduces blood thickness, is an anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant effects important for blood vessel health.
    • Bilberry contains powerful dark-purple-coloured anthocyanins, a group of flavonoids, which help to strengthen blood vessels and prevent collagen breakdown to improve capillary fragility.
    • Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties help prevent cell damage, helps build collagen and strengthens blood vessels – helping to prevent varicose veins from worsening.
  • Radiance From Within

    As is evident by the number of filters available on most photo apps these days, most people desire radiant, glowing, healthy-looking skin. However, while they may take time and spend a fortune to moisturise and protect their skin externally, not many ensure their diet provides the necessary nutrients needed for healthy skin.

    The skin is the largest organ in the body covering approx. 1.8m2 and has many important functions such as forming a barrier against disease and injury and regulating the body’s temperature.  From a nutritionist’s perspective, the skin is a good indicator of what’s happening within the body with regards to the patient’s nutritional status and its appearance is often used to help identify nutrient deficiencies.  For example, dry skin can indicate a lack of essential fats or pale lifeless skin a lack of B vitamins.

    Your diet or supplement regime can have a major impact on the appearance of your skin. Here are some key elements to consider: -

    Nurture your skin from within

    The membranes of every cell in your body are made up of essential fatty acids (EFAs).  If you have dry or sensitive skin, you are probably deficient in EFAs. EFAs are available in abundance in our diet from vegetable oils, oily fish, nuts and seeds. However, many people don’t get the amounts they need through their diet alone and turn to supplements such as Omega Fish Oils to increase their intake of EFA’s.

     Tackling your lines and wrinkles

    Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water per day will have a significant effect on the way your skin looks and feels.  Water rehydrates the cells in your skin, plumping them up and smoothing out lines and wrinkles. Water also helps flush toxins from the body giving your skin a clearer appearance.

    Sun damage

    Protecting your skin against sun damage is very important. The sun's ultraviolet light can cause major damage to the skin. In addition to sunburn, more long-lasting effects such as reduce elasticity and premature exposure to the sun.  Antioxidants are nature’s answer to reducing the impact of UV exposure on the skin.  Taking antioxidants will not stop you burning but they can help to reduce the damage done by the UV. UV creates free radicals damage within the skin and antioxidants help to reduce their effect within the body.

    Vitamins A, C and E are excellent antioxidants and have long been used topically in face creams but taking these nutrients internally will be more effective in maintaining the long-term health of your skin as internal consumption gets nutrients into every layer of the skin as opposed to only the top few layers.

    Support your skin’s building blocks

    Collagen gives your skin it’s strength and structure and accounts for approximately 70% of its volume. Collagen is one of the most common proteins found in our bodies, as it’s one of the substances that helps to hold our bodies together with it being found in the muscles, bones, skin and tendons. Our bodies can produce collagen naturally, but production reduces as we get older. It’s the decline of Collagen production that causes fine lines and wrinkles and weakens joint cartilage.

    These recommendations may take a few weeks to show and are not instant fixes. However, in time, they will benefit not just your skin but many other parts of the body also. As they say ‘beauty isn’t only skin deep’.

  • Menopause

    Most women will experience menopause between the ages of 45 – 55, with the average age being 51 in the UK. Although this is a natural part of the aging process, many women will unfortunately experience several unpleasant side effects during this time. These can vary from woman to women in both the symptoms experienced and in their severity. Common symptoms include: -

    • Hot flushes
    • Night sweats
    • Sleeping difficulties
    • Challenges with memory & concentration
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Low mood and/or increased anxiety
    • Reduced sex drive

    While HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is still the chosen course of treatment for many women, over the years and increasing number of women now look to alternative, more natural ways to control their symptoms due to the reported adverse effects of HRT such as an increased risk of heart disease, bad headaches, nausea and upset stomachs.

    As the menopause is a natural process, treatments are aimed at reducing the symptoms and therefore the course of action will vary from woman to woman. In addition to having a good diet and exercise regime, here is an overview of some supplements that may help alleviate menopausal symptoms and help with the changes in your body post-menopausal.

    Evening Primrose Oil – Probably the most famous supplement associated with the menopause. This flowering plant is native to central and eastern North America, and its seed oil is frequently used to treat symptoms such as hot flashes and bone density loss.

    Flax Seed – Is a naturally rich source of lignans which, due to their plant compounds that have chemical structures and functions similar to the hormone estrogen. Due to this Flax Seed Oli is sometimes used to alleviate menopause symptoms, including hot flushes and night sweats.

    Calcium - Bone loss can become a serious problem once hormone levels drop after menopause. It's crucial to get enough calcium and not everyone can do this through diet alone, especially as they age.

    Ginseng – One of the world’s oldest and most popular herbal remedies, this supplement is said to have both mood boosting and sleep improving qualities.

  • Could Co Enzyme Q10 boost fertility?

    In September 2011 new research was published by the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation shedding further praise on CoEnzyme Q10 for its part in improving male sub-fertility. This essential, ubiquitous nutrient, also aptly known as ubiquinone, plays a central role in many of the body systems. It is found in the ‘engine room’, the mitochondria, of each cell within our body and is needed to produce a compound called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is the primary source of energy for muscle contraction and protein and is therefore vital for maintaining the healthy muscle contractions of the heart and providing energy for the brain and liver. Another of its key functions is as an antioxidant, repairing the damage in the body caused by oxidative damage. The way in which we live in the 21st century exposes us all to heightened levels of oxidative damage via environmental pollutants, poor diet, smoking, alcohol and toxins from plastics or mobile phones for example.


    So what has all of this got to do with fertility?

    Sperm cells are largely made of protein and depend on CoQ10 for synthesis. Equally, female eggs depend on CoQ10 rich mitochondria almost exclusively for their energy, which becomes reduced as the eggs, and we, age. CoQ10’s potent antioxidant abilities may be able to protect egg and sperm cells from this oxidative and toxic damage. Without sufficient levels of CoEnzymeQ10 available, the quality and quantity of the egg or sperm may be compromised and therefore so is fertility. This cycle is more prevalent in those who are attempting conception at a ‘later’ stage in their fertile life. As our fertility peaks in our early 20’s and the average age for pregnancy in 2011 is 29 years old, many of us are conceiving in the ‘later’ stage of their fertile life. The body’s own production of CoEnzyme Q10 peaks at around the age of 21, therefore in combination with the slow reduction in quality of our eggs or sperm over time, many of us may also be experiencing low levels of CoEnzymeQ10.


    Where’s the evidence?
    Studies show that consuming additional CoQ10 has health benefits, including enhancing fertility in males and possibly, in females. A further study in 2009 demonstrated that improving intake of CoenzymeQ10 can improve both sperm shape, motility and mobility, thereby improving the rate of male fertility. The study examined the effects a 300 mg daily dose of CoQ10 had on men with infertility problems. After six months of CoQ10 supplementation, the researchers concluded that there was significant improvement in both motility and density of sperm cells.
    And what about female fertility? Again in 2009, the Journal of Fertility and Sterility published a study that investigated the role of CoEnzymeQ10, along with other nutrients including selenium, in stimulating mitochondria production and thereby improving subsequent egg quality. The researchers found that CoQ10 supplementation increased the quantity and quality of eggs ovulated in the test group.


    How do we improve our CoEnzymeQ10 levels?
    Rich sources of dietary CoEnzymeQ10 include mainly meat, poultry, and fish. Other relatively rich sources include soybean and canola oils, and nuts. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products are moderate sources of CoEnzymeQ10. However be mindful of the source of these foods as intensive farming (ie non-organic produce) reduces the amount of CoEnzymeq10 within food. Equally, pay attention to your cooking methods; steam your vegetables as approximately 14%-32% of Coenzyme Q10 is lost during frying of vegetables and eggs

    You can also take coEnzymeQ10 in the form of a food supplement. CoQ10 is a fat-soluble nutrient so it should be taken with food that contains some fat in order to be absorbed and used by the body. In addition, smaller, multiple daily doses of CoQ10 are able to maintain more stable levels in the blood compared to larger single doses. Thus, instead of taking 300 mg of CoQ10 as a single daily dose, break it down to three doses of 100 mg.


    J Endocrinol Invest. 2011 Sep;34(8):e224-8. Coenzyme Q10 improves seminal oxidative defense but does not affect on semen parameters in idiopathic oligoasthenoteratozoospermia: A randomized double-blind, placebo controlled trial.

    Nadjarzadeh A, Sadeghi MR, Amirjannati N, Vafa MR, Motevalian SA, Gohari MR, Akhondi MA, Yavari P, Shidfar F.

    J Endocrinol Invest. 2009 Jul;32(7):626-32. .Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility.Balercia G, Mancini A, Paggi F, Tiano L, Pontecorvi A, Boscaro M, Lenzi A, Littarru GP.

  • Anti-Ageing

    Every day our body is experiencing the cycle of natural ‘wear and tear’. Cells and tissue are being broken down and regenerated all the time. Bone is re-absorbed into the body and then renewed, cartilage in joints experiences are worn and then repaired, membranes of nerve and other cells are broken down and replaced. This all happens in fine balance and without us even knowing. Or does it?

    The rate at which this happens however largely depends on two factors: Age and Lifestyle. Given the right nutrition and lifestyle our bodies have amazing natural ability to repair and regenerate.

    For the first 20 years of life the rate at which our body breaks down ‘worn’ tissue and cells is far exceeded by the rate at which it regenerates. Therefore, for most of us, this mechanism is happening whilst we are blissfully unaware and in perfect harmony.

    As we reach 25-50 this fine tuned balance begins to shift slightly. This stage is arguably the most influenced by lifestyle and diet. For those of us with a healthy lifestyle and diet we may remain unaware of the hard work the body undertakes to keep the balance. For those without, the symptoms of this changing balance may begin to show. Wrinkles may begin to develop, joints may begin to ‘twinge’ and energy may be on a slippery slope to nowhere.
    The ‘over 50’ stage of life is a period when wear exceeds repair. Symptoms of degenerative disease appear and we begin to age - sometimes rapidly. It is usually at this stage that we realize the need to take responsibility for our health.
    There is much that we can do to slow this process but the most effective work happens in the preventative stage.
    So what can we do?
    Of course, genetic factors influence longevity and the likelihood of disease, but whatever your genetic inheritance, there is strong evidence that your risk can be cut through a nutritious diet and lifestyle. Adopting a nutritious diet can support blood sugar levels and the body’s defence against the key factors involved in ageing and associated degenerative diseases. These key factors are free radical damage and inflammation.
    Free radical damage
    Free radicals are unstable elements in the body that can be produced through natural metabolic processes, and by stress and pollution. Excess free radicals are damaging to body cells and are thought to be a prime cause of ageing. They can damage artery linings and therefore become a causative factor in heart disease, and are implicated in diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
    These can help protect you against free radical damage. Powerful antioxidants include vitamin E, beta carotene or vitamin A, vitamin C, flavonoids (in fruits and vegetables and green tea extract), lycopene (extracted from tomatoes), lutein, Co-Enzyme Q10, and antioxidant mineral co-factors like selenium, copper, manganese and zinc.
    This key factor is involved in many degenerative conditions including arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and again, in Alzheimer's. Anti-inflammatory nutrients include flavonoids from fruits and vegetables (some of the most potent being the curcuminoids from turmeric, the yellow spice in curry) and Omega 3 oils.
    A nutritious diet which includes health-supporting nutrients as listed above can be defined as the so-called Mediterranean Diet. With olive oil and essential fats from oily fish and seeds as the principal fats, plenty of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain cereals, pulses, limited red meat and two glasses of red wine a day your body will thank you for it.
    If this sounds an unrealistic target for you then do not forget the virtues of food supplements. These can correct the nutrient shortfalls and help the ‘prime’ of your life to be as creak and disease free as possible.

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