With Kate Callaghan, The Holistic Nutritionist
Kate Callaghan, an Australian nutritionist now based in Wanaka NZ, has just released a new book, and holey moley it is a goodie. Kate attended one of our wellness retreats in January 2016, and now we just can't get enough of this amazing wellness pro. Not only is Kate inspiring with her wealth of knowledge around women's health, nutrition and how diet can affect fertility, but she's also managing a hugely successful business with a little baby in tow!
Kate's new book “Holistic Nutrition: Eat Well, Train Smart & Be Kind to Your Body” is an all encompassing health “bible” to help women find hormone balance and optimal health and happiness through simple strategies around food, movement, stress management and self-love.
We chatted to Kate to get highlights from her book plus learn which food women should eat every single day.
How does nutrition affect hormone balance in women?
The foods we eat provide the building blocks of our hormones, especially fats and proteins. Without adequate good quality food, there won’t be enough starting materials to make all of the lovely hormones to make us feel awesome!
Also – the foods we eat can have a powerful influence on our gut bacteria and overall gut health. Optimal gut health is essential for hormone balance so if this system is out of whack, so with your hormones.
Finally – our liver is our main detoxifying organ. One of its roles is to process “used up” hormones and package them up for elimination (via the gut). Your liver needs good quality nutrition all of the time (detoxification is an ongoing process, not just a one-off when you decide to do a “cleanse”) in order for complete and efficient detoxification and hormone metabolism. Avoiding “liver loaders” such as alcohol, unnecessary medications, sugar and excess caffeine, can really help with detoxification and hormone balance.
What is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, and how did you start working in this area?
Hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA), in simple terms, is when your brain stops communicating to your ovaries, which results in a lack of sex hormones being produced. This leads to menstruation and ovulation ceasing. The consequences of this are infertility (which is the obvious one), but also loss of bone density, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, poor immunity, low libido, fatigue, and dull and lifeless skin and hair (among other things).
HA is caused by the following (and it doesn’t have to be all of them):
- Not eating enough for your activity levels
- Exercising too much
- Insufficient body fat levels
- Rapid weight loss
- Excess psychological stress
- The oral contraceptive pill (post-pill amenorrhea)
I chose to write an e-book (and now e-course) on this topic, as it was something I went through myself. I was doing too much exercise, I wasn’t eating enough (despite eating really good quality food), I was letting stress get the better of me, and I didn’t have enough body fat for optimal hormone balance.
All of this contributed to me being infertile. I was told I wouldn’t be able to fall pregnant naturally, which I wasn’t willing to accept, so I sought about healing my fertility with food and lifestyle, and managed to conceive naturally! I have since realised that there are many women, like me, suffering from this condition, with little information around on how to heal from it. I created these resources so these women would be able to have options in the healing process.
Can what you eat help you get pregnant? How?
Yes! There are many things you can eat to change your fertility, here are a few:
1. Eating a lot of really good quality food, to provide your body with adequate nutrients for hormone balance, and to send the signal of “energy abundance” to your brain, so it knows that reproduction is safe and viable (i.e. you’re not in a famine where mum’s or bub’s life could potentially be at risk)
2. Stress management – DAILY – as stress hormones increase, sex hormones decrease, and your brain goes into “fight or flight” mode. For conception, we want abundant sex hormones and we want to be in “rest, digest and reproduce” mode
3. Sex – all the time! I probably don’t need to explain how this helps someone get pregnant….? If there are issues with sperm quality or quantity, have sex every other day, rather than every day.
If you’re having issues falling pregnant, seek out a health practitioner rather than trying to self-diagnose with Dr Google!
What are your 3 must-do's for anyone looking to start their journey towards better health?
- Prioritise sleep and stress management
- Eat good quality food most of the time, but don’t beat yourself up if you have something “not so healthy” on the odd occasion. It’s more about what you do every day, rather than every now and then
Mix up your exercise – rather than pushing yourself with cardio or intense weights sessions every day, mix them up with relaxing and rejuvenating activity such as yoga, walking in nature, tai chi and play! Your body and mind will thank you for it
Why do you think healthy food has started dominating social media in the western world?
Because more people are becoming aware that “food is medicine” – what we eat has a powerful influence over how we look, feel, think and behave. Also – there are so many amazing food bloggers around now, who are making incredible recipes, incorporating healthy food, that taste delicious!
If it was up to you, what's one thing every woman would eat everyday.
Fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, full fat yoghurt, beet kvass – all of these are wonderful for nourishing a healthy digestive system, which has a flow-on effect of improving overall health and wellbeing. All disease begins in the gut, haven’t you heard?
A Bit about Kate
Kate demystifies the science behind female hormones and how they are affected by diet, exercise and stress. She explains why low-carb diets can sometimes hinder, rather than help, most women achieve optimum health, and she offers many alternatives on how to eat and exercise instead.
The book offers solutions to very common problems, such as how to improve fertility, how to lose excess body fat, build muscle, reduce bloating, sleep better, increase energy and not worry all the time about what to eat. Best of all, she outlines ways women can help nourish their bodies to not only look good, but also feel confident and beautiful in their own skin.
You can get Kate's book at: