Female focused nutrition tips for International women’s day

Many women want to take steps to improve their wellbeing – but the general advice of our male counterparts often neglects female-specific needs! As women, our bodies go through a number of changes and cycles throughout the different phases of life, which requires special nutrition attention. In addition, there is often a great deal of pressure put on the way we look and how we perform. 

This International Women’s Health Day, Clarissa Lenherr is highlighting some KEY nutrition tips specific for women’s health


Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas to help regulate our blood sugar. Its main job is to capture any sugar that enters the body, and then to pass it onto the liver to be stored as energy. 

Our energy levels are controlled by insulin – too much insulin results in imbalanced blood sugar levels, which can lead to weight gain, energy peaks and dips, hormonal unbalances, mood changes and even a condition known as PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome.

And why is this importantly specifically for females? It is suggested that pre-menopausal women are more sensitive to insulin than males and post-menopausal women!

So how can we balance our insulin to support energy, weight, mood and more? 

Balance Your Portion Sizes – The pancreas releases different volumes of insulin depending on the type of food you eat. Eating a large amount of food in one sitting may cause your body to produce extra insulin, which can eventually lead to hyperinsulinemia. Try to control your portions and aim for a plate consisting of ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrates, ½ vegetables and a tablespoon of good fats.

Keep Sugar Minimal – High sugar diets have been associated with insulin resistance and may even promote the development of certain metabolic diseases. (1) Aim to consume natural sources of sugar to get your sugar hit such as fruits, low sugar snacks, dark chocolate (70% plus) liquorice tea and cinnamon and lower sugar options. MEDA HUMANS beverages are all low in sugars and make a great drinks option.

Make Cinnamon Your Best Friend- Cinnamon is a delicious tasting natural spice that is loaded with health-promoting antioxidants. Some studies have discovered that by adding cinnamon to food or drinks, may help to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. (2) 

Exercise – Participating in regular workouts can be impactful for lowering insulin- aerobic exercise, strength training or even a combination of both may help to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. (3)


The gut is your main site for detoxification and is where your bacteria recycle sex hormones, especially estrogen, our major female sex hormone.

Try adapting the following gut-loving tips to upgrade your gut health and overall wellbeing:

  • Increase your intake of prebiotic-rich foods- raw onion, garlic, oats, asparagus, apples and artichokes.
  • Aim to consume probiotic live foods at least 3 times a week- kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso and live yogurt.
  • Aim for 30g of fibre per day – from nuts and seeds, complex carbohydrates, fruits and veg with their skin on
  • Stick to a minimum of 12 hours of overnight fasting- if you finish your last meal at 8.30pm, aim to have your breakfast at 8.30am the next morning.
  • Aim for plant diversity- try to get in 30 different plant foods per week to give your gut a diverse range of nutrients.


When it comes to fat, omega-3 should be high up on your list! Omega-3 is particularly important for women, as it has the potential to protect against certain conditions that affect us ladies such as menstrual pain, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Fat is also one of the most crucial elements for hormonal balance, production and maintenance of proper function. Omega-3 DHA is a critical precursor to a number of hormones and is vital for maintaining a healthy and balanced immune function- 

Some studies have even shown that omega-3 may help to reduce insulin resistance (4).  

Try to get your omega-3 hit in through oily fish – think salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring. Plant based sources include chia, walnuts and flax seeds, but alternatively, opting for a good quality supplement always works well- I like Bare Biology Omega 3 available here.


One of the most abundant minerals in the body, magnesium plays a key role in a number of bodily functions for women:

Pregnancy- Magnesium is key to building and repairing the body’s tissues. A severe magnesium deficiency may even lead to poor foetal growth or preeclampsia. Pregnant women between the ages of 19-30 should supplement with 350mg of magnesium daily. 

Osteoporosis- Some studies have suggested that a magnesium deficiency may be a risk factor for postmenopausal osteoporosis. (5) This is due to a magnesium deficiency having the ability to impact calcium metabolism and the hormones that regulate calcium in the body.

PMS- Numerous studies have found that magnesium may help to improve PMS symptoms, including mood fluctuations (6). Another study found that the use of magnesium can positively impact anxiety and depression symptoms, which are also common symptoms that women experience during PMS (7). Easing headaches and sugar cravings, which are common symptoms for women to experience, have also been seen with an increase in magnesium (8).

Stress- Chronic physical or mental stress depletes the body of magnesium, with low magnesium levels actually intensifying stress. This creates a vicious cycle, as magnesium helps to modulate the activity of the body’s stress response system. Studies have suggested that increasing one’s magnesium intake may help to reduce anxiety, ease stress and minimise one’s response to fear. (9)

Top up your magnesium intake to help relieve the above symptoms by taking an Epsom salt bath a few times a week – plus, who doesn’t love a bath to relax? Try 2-3 cups of salts in the bath and soak for 20mins 2 -4 times a week. 

In addition, try adding these delicious magnesium-rich foods to your diet each day:

  • 70% dark chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Nuts- cashews, almonds and brazil nuts
  • Legumes such as chickpeas and black beans
  • Tofu
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Fatty fish such as salmon 


These can include anything that interferes with the production, release, transport, binding, action or elimination of natural hormones in the body, which are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis. Try to avoid these when possible and opt for natural alternatives.

  • BISPHENOL-A (BPA): water bottles, canned foods, receipts
  • PHTHALATES: plastic food containers, cling film, bags, medical supplies
  • FORMALDEHYDE: found in air fresheners, deodorants, floor polish, upholstery cleaners 
  • ORGANIC SOLVENTS: petroleum-based liquids found in household products, car care, cosmetics
  • PARABENS: shampoos, conditioners, body care items, cosmetics 


  • Drink a minimum of 1.5-2 litres of water daily – invest in a water filter for your mains or a bottle/ jug filter to eliminate any harmful chemicals.
  • Swap plastic bottles and plastic containers for glass only
  • Switch cosmetics and household products to natural alternatives – Method and Ecover are good household brands to opt for and makeup and skincare brands include Green People, Ilia and RMS Beauty 


There are some easy, everyday lifestyle hacks that can help to upgrade your overall health and get you back to feeling your best, inside and out. 

  • Saunas- great for improved blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, stress levels, stiff joint relief and they have also been shown to boost overall mood! (10) Try some time out in the sauna for 20 minutes, 1-3 times a week for maximum benefits. 
  • Exercise- try to sweat at least 3 times a week. Regular exercise can help to boost endorphins, keep your weight in check, prevent bone loss and even improve sleep. 
  • Optimise sleep- Sleep impacts mental and physical health. Getting good, solid sleep can help boost your mind and mood, whilst preventing further health problems. Women are more likely to have insomnia and other sleep problems than men (11), so winding down before bed and making sure your sleep hygiene is in check is key. 
  • Quit smoking- Not only does smoking cause the most lung cancer deaths in both men and women, smoking is also associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer (12), not to mention all the other health implications it may cause. The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner you’ll notice the changes to your body, mind and your health. 


https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26376619/ (1)

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29605574/ (2)

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25882384/ (3)

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3320694/ (4)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775240/ (5)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3208934/ (6)

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17177579/ (7)

Murray MT, Pizzorno J. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing; 1998. (8)

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390811003054?via%3Dihub (9)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/ (10)

Nowakowski, S., Meers, J., Heimbach, E. (2013). Sleep and Women’s Health. Sleep Medicine Research; 4(1): 1–22. (11)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140050/ (12)