From hormones and mood to digestion and concerns over aging skin, women’s health has never been simple. Advances in nutraceutical therapy are providing new ways to help relieve many common health concerns. Here is a selection of nutritional solutions you might not have heard about yet.

IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome is more prevalent among women and there’s new hope for this condition. People are reporting success with a novel dietary approach that involves eliminating specific types of dietary fibre called FODMAPs. These types of fibres are found in a wide array of foods and are contribute to gas, bloating and bowel problems in some people. While avoiding FODMAPs is tricky, it can be worth it for IBS sufferers.

A low FODMAP diet also tend to be low in fibre overall. Look for FODMAP friendly fibre supplements made from organic, partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG). This has been shown in clinical trials to help relieve gas and bloating in people with IBS.1

Mood
We now know that many feel-good chemicals, like serotonin, are actually produced more in the intestines than within the brain. There are specific strains of beneficial bacteria newly recognized for their ability to modulate mood through their effect on the gut-brain axis and intestinal microbiome. Some strains of probiotics available on health food store shelves can help calm anxiety, for example.2 With the wide prevalence of anxiety among women, finding novel solutions like probiotics help fit more pieces into the mood puzzle.

PMS
When it comes to low mood associated with PMS, it is surprising how many women are still unaware of the benefits of B vitamins. While most B vitamins have some role to play in mood, vitamin B6 is particularly helpful for mood problems before the period.3

New types of B vitamins offer potentially greater relief by delivering the Bs in a more bioavailable form. Standard B vitamin can be transformed with enzymes in a type of “pre-digestion” that mimics what happens in the body. For PMS related mood problems, look for activated B6 on its own or in a complex of activated B vitamins.

Skin and Joints
There’s a big buzz around collagen supplements lately and for good reason. Collagen is a key structural protein throughout the body. It helps support skin smoothness and maintain hydration in many tissues. Collagen diminishes with age, which an important factor in skin wrinkling and joint stiffness.

Hydrolyzed collagen can be taken in a powder or tablet and helps the body replenish its own collagen, with noticeable, evidence-based results.4

Look for a collagen supplement that contains added tryptophan. This amino acid is important for mood and sleep. It is naturally absent from collagen and taking hydrolyzed collagen over time can deplete this key nutrient, unless it is part of the formula or taken as a separate supplement.

It’s an exciting time for women’s health. By taking advantage of the latest advances in nutraceutical therapy we can all optimize our health and wellbeing naturally.

References:
1 Niv, E., Halak, A., Tiommny, E., et al. (2016). Randomized clinical study: partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) versus placebo in the treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Nutr Metab (Lond), 13, 10.
2 Messaoudi, M., Violle, N., Bisson, JF., et al. (2011). Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers. Gut Microbes, 2(4), 256-261.
3 Wyatt KM, Dimmock PW, Jones PW, Shaughn O’Brien PM. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. BMJ. 1999;318(7195):1375-81.
4 Borumand M, Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles. J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2015;4:47-53

About the Author: Dr. Kate Rhéaume

Dr. Kate Rhéaume

Dr. Kate Rhéaume, ND is the author of the best selling book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How A Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life (HarperCollin).