By Erin Stokes, ND of INNATE Response®
Data overload in the information age has caused many patients to feel confused by differing, and sometimes conflicting, sources of health advice. In light of this, health care practitioners are increasingly relied upon to be a trusted resource that can consolidate the abundance of information into actionable recommendations.
Following are three evidence-based suggestions that I regularly share with my female patients to empower them with the facts they need to take charge of their health and wellness:
1. Increasing fruits and vegetables in your daily diet is one of the best changes you can make for supporting prevention of major diseases.
One strong example of this data is a large prospective cohort study that followed 39,876 health professionals for five (5) years, and showed a significant inverse association between fruit and vegetable intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.1 This is particularly important, since heart disease remains the number one cause of death in women in the United States.2 Another study found that consuming whole fruits in greater quantities, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.3 Interestingly, as might be expected, greater consumption of fruit juice was associated with a higher risk, presumably due to the high sugar content. The participants in this second study were predominantly women from the Nurses Health Study and the more recent Nurses Health Study II. These are just two significant examples of the compelling evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of major diseases.
2. Even with the healthiest diet, nutrient deficiencies are prevalent among women in the United States. Individualized, appropriate supplementation is key.
The CDC’s 2nd National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition, published in 2012, demonstrated that only 68% of women were not at risk for deficiency in iron and all 7 vitamins.4 Also of note was that young women (20-39 y) in particular bordered on having iodine insufficiency. Until recently, iodine deficiency was thought to be a thing of the past. This is particularly concerning for women of reproductive age, due to the importance of iodine in brain development, in addition to being a crucial building block of thyroid hormones. We see time and again that widespread nutrient deficiencies exist among both women and men. Both foundational and therapeutic supplements play a key role in maintaining optimal health.
3. Sleep needs to be a priority in your life.
This last tip surprises some of my patients. They have certainly gotten used to being asked about sleep habits, yet are not used to the laser focus I place on it as a vital component of a proactive approach to health. Insomnia has a higher prevalence in women than in men.5 For many women I know, getting the average basal need of 7 or 8 hours per night, is considered a luxury they cannot afford. I emphasize the importance of sleep because I see what a profound effect it has on women’s health. Restful sleep contributes to a positive mood, improves memory and even helps support healthy inflammation levels. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology demonstrated that sleep deprivation resulted in elevated high-sensitivity CRP concentrations. 6
As an integrative practitioner, providing evidence–based foundational solutions empowers our female patients to take charge of their health.

1 Liu S, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: the Women’s Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Oct;72(4):922-8.

2 American Heart Association Statistics.

3 Muraki, I., et al., Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ, 2013. 347: p. f5001.
4 Pfeiffer CM, et al. The CDC’s Second National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition in the U.S. Population is a valuable tool for researchers and policy makers. J Nutr. 2013 Jun;143(6):938S-47S.
5 Roth T. Insomnia: definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequences. J Clin Sleep Med. 2007 Aug 15;3(5 Suppl):S7-10. Review.
6 J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004 Feb 18;43(4):678-83.Effect of sleep loss on C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker of cardiovascular risk.
Meier-Ewert HK1, Ridker PM, Rifai N, Regan MM, Price NJ, Dinges DF, Mullington JM.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.