Fresh produce


There are many benefits of blueberries for improving overall health. Of particular interest for our athletes is how blueberries reduce inflammation.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can cause significant discomfort after a race or hard session. This discomfort and heaviness in the muscles are thought to be due to micro tears in muscles and exercise-induced inflammation. Increasing your nutritional intake of anthocyanin flavonoids the antiinflammatory agents found in berries may help to reduce inflammation.

How do you blueberry?

A blueberry smoothie is a convenient post-training choice. In a randomized crossover study, participants were asked to consume either a smoothie with 1.5 cups of frozen blueberries, a banana, and apple juice or a smoothie that substituted berries for dextrose and vitamin C powder to match the calorie and antioxidant content of the blueberry smoothie. The participants consuming the blueberry smoothie demonstrated significantly reduced exercise-induced oxidative stress over the next 24 hours. The consumption of the blueberry smoothie also resulted in a recovery of peak strength far exceeding that of the substitute smoothie. These findings are particularly relevant to athletes in multi-day events and endurance athletes with high mileage over successive days.  Cherries, spinach, ginger, turmeric, oily fish, and watermelon have all been shown to help reduce muscle soreness.

Quercetin is another anti-inflammatory flavonoid found in foods. Capers, dill, broccoli, tomato, asparagus, green capsicum, red onions, apple, and grapes all contain quercetin as highlighted in our previous blog here 

Regular intake of blueberries can also reduce period pain.

Improvements in cognitive function with the consumption of blueberries have also been well documented. The brain-enhancing metabolites of anthocyanins peak in the bloodstream within an hour and are accessed by the body as blueberries are digested by our gut microbiome and colon.

The natural prebiotic and probiotic action of blueberries occurs as the bacteria in the gut breaks down the berries and absorbs the active compounds back into the body.  Blueberry consumption may help our youngsters with brain development and also our mature athletes. The consumption of one cup of blueberries a day has been shown to delay cognitive decline by over two and a half years in middle age and in seniors, reduced artery stiffness, osteoarthritis, and improve immune defense against viral infections. In studies looking at children consuming blueberries, the improvement in cognitive performance was seen within hours of just a single meal with blueberries.  Now that is powerful stuff!

In the southern parts of Australia, fresh blueberries can become expensive and reduced in quality due to storage and seasonality. Frozen berries provide a good alternative. While fresh is typically best, there are exceptions to this rule.

Several studies have found that frozen berries contain the same nutritional elements as fresh berries that have just been harvested. According to studies conducted by John Hopkins University, recently harvested frozen berries maintain their optimal nutrition levels for several months. Freezing berries makes it possible to easily access these superfoods year round.

Otway chemical-free blueberries are a great choice. Their berries are plump, juicy, and always very fresh as they are locally grown, picked daily when in season, and frozen.  Their berries are superb in summer but you will always find a packet in my freezer as a backup supply.

If you find smoothies containing frozen berries too cold in winter, add warm milk or a teaspoon of ground turmeric or ginger to the smoothie. You can always thaw the berries and allow them to come up to room temperature before adding them to your smoothie.   For a creative way to enhance your recovery, check out our Beet berry smoothie bowl.

Sound nutritional advice is key to sports performance. Our holistic female-centric approach gets results! Find out how we can help you here


Connor, A. ,  Luby, J.,  Hancock, J, Berkheimer, S., and Eric J. Hanson, E..  (2002). Changes In Fruit Antioxidant Activity Among Blueberry Cultivars During Cold-Temperature Storage,.  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 50(4), 893-898.

Du, C., Smith, A., Avalos, M., South, S., Crabtree, K., Wang, W., & Juma, S. (2019). Blueberries improve pain, gait performance, and inflammation in individuals with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Nutrients, 11(2), 290.

Hein, S., Whyte, A. R., Wood, E., Rodriguez-Mateos, A., & Williams, C. M. (2019). Systematic review of the effects of blueberry on cognitive performance as we age. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 74(7), 984-995.

Kalt, W., Cassidy, A., Howard, L. R., Krikorian, R., Stull, A. J., Tremblay, F., & Zamora-Ros, R. (2020). Recent research on the health benefits of blueberries and their anthocyanins. Advances in Nutrition, 11(2), 224-236.

Sucharita, G., Revathi, K., Venkatesh, P., Kalarini, D. H., & Prema, R. A Review on Benefits of Blue Berries.

Tarazona-Díaz, M. P., Alacid, F., Carrasco, M., Martínez, I., & Aguayo, E. (2013). Watermelon juice: potential functional drink for sore muscle relief in athletes. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 61(31), 7522-7528.

Whyte, A. R., Rahman, S., Bell, L., Edirisinghe, I., Krikorian, R., Williams, C. M., & Burton-Freeman, B. (2021). Improved metabolic function and cognitive performance in middle-aged adults following a single dose of wild blueberry. European Journal of Nutrition, 60(3), 1521-1536.

Benefits of Blueberries for Artery Function.

Lohachoompol, V., Srzednicki, G., & Craske, J. (2004). The change of total anthocyanins in blueberries and their antioxidant effect after drying and freezing. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, 2004(5), 248.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Tart cherries

Tart cherries have been used for decades to treat gout and osteoarthritis, but they also contain phytochemicals which stimulate melatonin, enhance sleep, recovery and sports performance and reduce inflammation.

Tart cherries contain the phytochemicals anthocyanins, flavonoids, flavanols and phenolic acids. Tart Cherries have a higher content of anthocyanins than sweet cherries and contain potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamins A, C, B6, E, and folic acid. Some sources suggest cherries have 19 times as much vitamin A & beta carotene as strawberries and blueberries!!

Evidence supports tart cherries

A 2016 study involving soccer players found tart cherry juice is efficacious in accelerating recovery following prolonged, repeat sprint activity, movement patterns often seen in soccer, AFL and rugby. The study also supports evidence that polyphenol-rich foods such as tart cherry juice are effective in accelerating recovery following various types of strenuous exercise.

A 2010 study involving recreational male and female runners competing in the London marathon, who  supplemented tart cherry juice twice daily for 5 days prior and 2 days after the marathon showed improvements in muscle strength recovery, reduction of inflammatory markers and uric acid. The athlete’s total antioxidant status was 10% greater, while oxidative stress was lower in comparison to placebo.

Studies involving trained cyclists have also shown significant benefits when using Montmorency tart cherry concentrate on reduced oxidative stress, inflammation and muscle damage across 3 days of 109 minutes of road cycling racing when used twice daily for seven consecutive days.  They concluded tart cherry juice has direct application for athletes competing in scenario’s where back-to-back performances are required.

How tart cherries help

Tart cherry juice may reduce pain and accelerate recovery after exercise and decreases blood markers of inflammation/oxidative stress in both strength and endurance exercise.

1. Reduces creatine kinase (CK) a pathology marker for muscle damage and breakdown

2. Reduces inflammation -shown in studies by reductions in interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-8 (IL-8), interleukin-1-beta (IL-1-β) and C-reactive protein (CRP),

3. Reduces oxidative stress- it’s ORAC rating of 12,800 is one of the highest in the world.

4. Increases tryptophan, melatonin levels and improves sleep quality.

How to use Tart Cherry Juice for recovery and sleep

Tart cherry juice is unlikely to have beneficial effects during the adaptation/build stage of training, but when there is competition or intense training or multiday tournaments it may improve recovery.  Examples of such competitions include: a rugby or AFL tournament, a marathon, a multiday cycling event, triathlon or an ultramarathon.

It is unlikely to be beneficial for consistent use where adaptation to the training stimulus is the athletes’ priority.

General recommendations found in the literature suggest having 30ml of tart cherry juice concentrate in 100ml of water twice daily. This equates to 60-90 cherries per serving.

Tart Cherry juice represents a more convenient way to ingest a large quantity of these polyphenolic compounds without associated side effects such as stomach pain or diarrhoea.

Take the 30ml in water first thing in the morning and in the evening. The evening dose is typically suggested one hour before bed to help facilitate quality sleep, which is of course an athlete’s primary innate recovery tool.

This protocol is suggested for 2-3 days post an event or strenuous training session.

We still need further research and larger studies involving athletes to substantiate claims that a preloading phase of 4-5 days prior to competition is required. It is unlikely that the compounds responsible for its benefits stay in your body long enough to accumulate over many days.  Therefore, it remains questionable as to whether the loading phase is really necessary.

What to look out for and where to purchase?

There are many brands of tart cherry juice available online, in health food shops and in supermarkets.

Montmorency and Balaton TC varieties have both been studied; however, most researchers have used Montmorency brands (more predominant and widely available commercially to athletes).

Check the label on the bottle states the juice specifically contains either of these varieties.

The beneficial compounds (anthocyanins) in tart cherries are reduced with heat. Therefore it is important to source tart cherry products that are cold pressed if you wish to maximise the anthocyanin levels and possible benefits. There are a few companies who do this, so check before you purchase.

As a general rule most juices contain around 25 grams of sugar per 250mls but just remember you should only be having 30mls at a time. Low sugar options are available that contain stevia or vanilla extract but generally speaking the sugar content (3 grams per serve) is not an issue for most athletes.

You can expect to pay around $26-28 Aus for organic start cherry juice (450-950ml). The cheaper juices found in chemists or supermarkets are less likely to be cold-pressed.

We hope this information may inspire you to try something new that you may not have otherwise considered. As with all things, moderation and targeted use is more likely to yield desired benefits than overconsumption.

About the Author: Kate Smyth is a Sports naturopath, nutritionist and female-centric running coach. She is the founder of the Athlete Sanctuary- a holistic healthcare clinic for athletes of all levels and sporting codes. Kate has a thirst for knowledge with two bachelor’s and a master’s degree under her belt. She has been involved in sports for many decades and competed for Australia in the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games marathons with a personal best time of 2 hours 28 minutes. For more information visit www.https://


Bell, P.G.; Walshe, I.H.; Davison, G.W.; Stevenson, E.; Howatson, G. (2014).Montmorency Cherries Reduce the Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Responses to Repeated Days High-Intensity Stochastic Cycling. Nutrients, 6, 829-843.

Bell, P. G., Stevenson, E., Davison, G. W., & Howatson, G. (2016). The effects of montmorency tart cherry concentrate supplementation on recovery following prolonged, intermittent exercise. Nutrients, 8(7), 441.

Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, et al. (2010). Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 20:843–52.

McCormick, R., Peeling, P., Binnie, M., Dawson, B., & Sim, M. (2016). Effect of tart cherry juice on recovery and next day performance in well-trained Water Polo players. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13(1), 41.

Szalóki-Dorkó, L., Végvári, G., Ladányi, M., Ficzek, G., & Stéger-Máté, M. (2015). Degradation of anthocyanin content in sour cherry juice during heat treatment. Food technology and biotechnology, 53(3), 354-360.

Vitale, K. C., Hueglin, S., & Broad, E. (2017). Tart cherry juice in athletes: a literature review and commentary. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 16(4), 230-239.


Some women experience absolutely no symptoms during their transition through menopause but if you are like 80% of women who do, it’s reassuring to know there are treatment options available. Help for menopause is here.

Perimenopause is the stage where most of the symptoms begin and these can persist for over a decade. Menopause officially commences 12 months after your last period. Women can go through menopause anywhere between the ages of 40 and 58 years but the average age is 52 years.   Symptoms can occur due to the falling levels of estrogen and progesterone, which has a multifaceted impact on organs and tissues throughout the body.

Most women identify menopause with hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, poor libido and fatigue. Symptoms usually occur in the perimenopausal phase due to declining progesterone. Oestrogen actually increases to levels 30% higher than before but can go through periods of variations similar to a roller coaster leading to insomnia, depression, poor concentration, irritability, anxiety and poor stress tolerance and lethargy. In the later stages of perimenopause, oestrogen declines which may contribute to other symptoms such as heart palpitations, joint pain, osteoporosis and mental health issues.

One of the associated effects of estrogen decline is an increased risk of osteoporosis.  This is due primarily to the 1-2% loss of bone density per year of menopause, as well as 10 years post-menopause.  Estrogen decline is also associated with elevated cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, hypothyroidism, urinary tract infections and thrush.

Some women have concerns about the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or are unable to use this option due to breast or ovarian cancer risk. Fortunately, there is now a large body of evidence that supports the use of herbal and nutritional medicines during the menopausal transition.


Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring estrogen-like compounds found in plants, fruits, or vegetables and are commonly divided into three main classes: isoflavones, lignans, and coumestans.

Isoflavones are found in the legume family, with high amounts in soybeans and soy products.

Lignans are found in high-fibre foods such as unrefined grains, cereal brans, and beans, with flaxseed being a particularly good dietary source of lignans. A recent systematic review found that women who consumed protein bars containing flaxseed (410 mg of lignan) for  6 weeks reported a 50% decrease in hot flushes. Seed cycling can be helpful for women who want to boost their intake of fatty acids and lignans.

Coumestan-rich foods include alfalfa and clover sprouts, peas, pinto beans, and lima beans.


Hops (Humulus lupulus) dampens tension and anxiety.  The active ingredient in hops, 8-prenylnaringenin, is a potent phytoestrogen and has been demonstrated to reduce vasomotor symptoms by improving the ability of the blood vessels to expand and contract. Numerous clinical trials have also documented significant reductions in the frequency of hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, heart palpitations and irritability in women who used a hops extract for 6 weeks.

In clinical practice, a combination of herbs is often used to support women during the transition through menopause. Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), which is considered to be a “buried treasure medicine”, is another popular herb for active women suffering from fatigue. Ginseng’s active constituents include saponins, amino acids, vitamins (particularly folic acid and niacin), alkaloids, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids. Ginseng has been widely used in traditional medicine to assist with building resilience to stress and used as an energizer, to increase libido, and testosterone and alleviate menopausal symptoms. Clinical trials have shown ginseng significantly reduced depression and improve perceived well-being, exercise performance and energy in perimenopause.

Another popular herb is chasteberry, or vitex.  This herb has shown positive results in reducing PMS, anxiety, hot flushes and breast tenderness in perimenopausal women.  Vitex is used to support the transition from perimenopause to menopause due to its ability to increase progesterone levels and help maintain a healthy balance between progesterone and estrogen.

For women experiencing persistent hot flushes or night sweats as a result of menopause, Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense) may often be prescribed.  This herb contains high levels of phytoestrogens for improving hormonal balance, as well as helping improve bone density in those at risk of osteoporosis.  Several clinical trials demon straight the isoflavones present in red clover inhibit bone resorption and therefore reduce bone turnover associated with osteoporosis.

Ginkgo Biloba is similar to red clover because of the phytoestrogens it contains and its ability to naturally elevate estrogen levels.  Studies show that Ginkgo Biloba can reduce mood fluctuations associated with both PMS and menopause, as well as improving libido in 84% of trial participants after 4 weeks.

Sage, most commonly prescribed as a tea, has long been used in the management of fevers.  However, there is also evidence to support the use of sage for menopausal hot flushes and night sweats.  A study that assessed the use of fresh sage leaves in food or as tea demonstrated that the intensity and frequency of hot flushes were significantly reduced over a period of 8 weeks with consistent use.

Hormones play an integral role in your health, and changes in hormone balances can be challenging. There are many different ways that nutrition can be used to navigate menopause, without having to experience the numerous, negative side effects of HRT.

As with any element of health, there is never a one-size-fits-all approach and therefore we recommend individualised treatments for menopausal symptoms.

About the Author: Kate Smyth is a Sports naturopath, nutritionist and female-centric running coach. She is the founder of the Athlete Sanctuary- a holistic healthcare clinic for athletes of all levels and sporting codes. Kate has a thirst for knowledge with two bachelor’s and a master’s degree under her belt. She has been involved in sports for many decades and competed for Australia in the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games marathons with a personal best time of 2 hours 28 minutes. For more information visit


Many women suffer from period pain and other PMS symptoms.  But what most women fail to realise is that it is NOT normal to have severe period pain, heavy bleeding, breast tenderness or discharge, debilitating drops in energy or significant mood swings as part of premenstraul symptoms. A healthy balanced woman can observe her period without experiencing symptoms that impact her quality of life and ability to function.  Pain is just one of the many issues women experience around their monthly cycle, however, it tends to be what prevents us from enjoying life the most.

In naturopathic medicine the overuse of NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatories) for menstrual cramping or period pain (dysmenorrhea) is cautioned as it may contribute to the erosion of the gut lining and contribute to a digestive condition called leaky gut where the tight junctions within the gut lumen come apart.

Commonly used NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen may provide temporary relief,  but they may also suppress some of the compounds that look after your gut lining. Once damaged, the tight junctions in your gut start to drift apart creating a “leaky gut”. This then allows toxins and larger particles to enter the bloodstream and trigger an immune response, inflammation and gastrointestinal distress. This may go on to contribute to a whole range of systemic issues such as food intolerances, skin issues and immune dysfunction. The good news is that there are lots of great natural solutions for period pain.

Ultimately getting your hormones balanced will assist with the symptoms, but while you are doing that here are a few options to make you more comfortable:

  • Athletes who are competing in their premenstrual phase may consider magnesium, zinc and fish oil at therapeutic doses for at least 5 days before their period is anticipated to reduce cramping and lower abdomen and back pain
  • A hot water bottle or heat pack on your abdomen and/ or lower back
  • Herbs such as cramp bark, turmeric and Black Cohosh may reduce PMS symptoms due to their anti-inflammatory actions and calming action on the uterus.
  • Consume more anti-inflammatory foods like cherries, blueberries, avocado and chia seeds. Fish such as salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines, bream, snapper or flathead high in omega-3 fatty acids, are also healthy choices. Consume more calcium-rich beans, almonds, and dark leafy greens. These foods contain compounds that combat inflammation.
  • Reduce coffee, refined foods and high sugar intake, bread, pasta and anything processed high in trans-fatty acids. These foods may contribute to inflammation and encourage period pain and tender breasts.
  • Sipping chamomile tea may inhibit the pain-causing prostaglandins associated with PMS without the side effects on your gut.
  • Seed cycling can help your body maintain a subtle balance and transition throughout your natural cycle.
  • Ginger and cinnamon are our favourite remedies for period pain. Studies demonstrated these two natural wonders provide the equivalent pain relief as ibuprofen when taken at therapeutic doses.
  • Fennel- Fennel extract can assist with severe menstrual cramps.
  • A combination of both 100mg of vitamin B1 and 500mgs of fish oil daily for 2 months has been shown to significantly reduced period pain.
  • Exercising-Most women find that exercising helps relieve menstrual cramps. Some women find yoga and tai chi are gentler forms of exercise that are more comfortable during the premenstrual phase.

As women, we need to consider our periods as the scorecard for our greater health. If you would like to understand how you can balance your hormones through practical nutrition, and natural medicines we welcome the conversation.


About the Author: Kate Smyth is a Sports naturopath, nutritionist and female-centric running coach. She is the founder of the Athlete Sanctuary- a holistic healthcare clinic for athletes of all levels and sporting codes. Kate has a thirst for knowledge with two bachelor’s and a master’s degree under her belt. She has been involved in sports for many decades and competed for Australia in the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games marathons with a personal best time of 2 hours 28 minutes. For more information visit www.https://

contraception options

We aim to equip women with a balanced perspective so they can make an informed choice about contraception options and what they put into their bodies. We in no way suggest women should come off their medications without due consideration. We also don’t shy away from the fact that there is a dark side to artificial hormones. It is important to consider all the pros and cons of any medication.

The most widely used contraceptive medications include the combined oral contraceptive pill (OCP) (containing synthetic estrogens and progesterone) such as Yasmin or Estelle, or injections, patch and vaginal ring. Progestin-only contraception includes the mini-pill (e.g. Noriday 28), implanon (progestogen) and hormonal IUDs (Mirena). Intrauterine devices such as the copper IUD are also a preferred option for some women.

Although contraceptive medications have similar names and molecular structures to female hormones, they have very different functions in the body. Artificial hormones mimic our natural hormone responses by “approximately” fitting into our hormone receptors but provide a different response. For example, progestin used in medications prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, changing cervical mucus making it unfriendly to sperm and by reducing the proliferation of uterine lining to inhibit implantation. Natural progesterone, on the other hand, thickens the uterus lining and helps with the implantation of an embryo. Contraceptives are metabolised differently between individuals due to the type, concentration, duration and timing of medication used. Although generally relied upon as contraceptives, they may also be used to manage issues such as acne, period pain, endometriosis and heavy bleeding.

Albeit highly effective as contraceptives, there is a dark side to long-term use of these pharmaceuticals such as toxicity and nutrient depletion through their impact on gut and vaginal microbiomes, liver function, oxidative stress and chemical accumulation.

Let’s now consider the drawbacks and benefits of contraceptive medication.


  • Up to 99.5% effective as a contraceptive (depending on type)
  • Easy to use (in pill form)
  • May manage symptoms such as period pain, acne, irregular or heavy bleeding
  • Improves predictability and regularity of bleeding
  • May reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anaemia if caused by heavy bleeding, some cancers (colorectal and ovarian) and ectopic pregnancy
  • Prevent bleeding or symptoms on race day or hard training days (if PMS is an issue)
  • Lighten bleeding


  • They don’t prevent sexually transmitted diseases like other barrier forms of contraception.
  • Not all women will experience side effects, but some may have weight gain, depression, acne, hair growth, irregular bleeding, nausea, mood swings and headaches. Studies show that women on higher doses of OCP had 50% greater incidence of bloating, breast tenderness and nausea than those on low dose options.
  • May impact on the immune system and alter immune response, triggering autoimmune disorders. Studies show an increased risk of developing Lupus in women who take OCPs.
  • OCP use is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, blood clots, and thromboembolism. OCPs may be potentially contributing to an increased risk of cancer and liver tumours, and reproductive issues including premature menopause and reduced fertility.
  • May alter the intestinal microbiota and vaginal microbiome composition after just 6 months of use. Both IUDs and OCPs may increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas vaginalis and candida albicans infection in sexually active women. Studies suggest OCPs may also contribute to leaky gut through changing tight junction expression in the gut which can contribute to food intolerances and other immune reactions.
  • May indirectly contribute to body toxicity by adversely affecting the capacity of the gut to metabolise and excrete other xenobiotics (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, polychlorobiphenyls, heavy metals, benzene derivatives, dyes, artificial sweeteners) and metabolic by-products.
  • May reduce vital nutrients and contribute to excess accumulation of others. Studies show the OCP reduces zinc, selenium, vitamin E, Co-enzyme Q10 (a cofactor in energy production), B12, phosphorus and magnesium levels but contributes to higher copper and cadmium levels. OCP use may also increase ferritin levels, resulting in enhanced iron absorption, but potentially contributing to iron overload and oxidative damage. The toxic effects of potentially high copper and cadmium in the body deplete antioxidant (glutathione) levels, inhibit antioxidant enzyme activity, and increase the synthesis of harmful free radicals and may damage liver cells.
  • OCP use is also associated with environmental chemical accumulation in the body. An analysis from the Norwegian study of 1090 women over a 5-year period, found higher levels of the harmful chemical PFAF (Perfluorooctanesulfonate) in women who used the OCP for more than 12 months. Elevated PFAF levels have been associated with infertility, preclampsia, cancer and adverse effects on the liver, thyroid organs and endocrine system.
  • High environmental impact from oestrogen contraceptives. Over 700kg/year of synthetic oestrogens derived from contraceptives (OCPs, patches and vaginal rings) are released into the environment and contribute to 16% of the oestrogenic load present in waterways worldwide. Oestrogens and progestin are detrimentally impacting the physiology of fish and other aquatic animals. The impact extends to our water and soils.
  • Although the OCP is widely prescribed to prevent further bone fractures or as a protective measure, however the long-term effect of oral contraceptive use on risk of fracture remains unclear. A 2014 study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, involving high school athletes concluded there was no difference in the frequency of musculoskeletal injury between athletes who used the OCP users and non-users. Another 2015 study reported there was no difference in fracture risk for women aged 38-49 years of age between OCP users and non-users. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health suggested contraception injections such as DMPA have been shown to be associated with low bone mass and osteoporosis in women.

Minimise the downside to contraception 

  • If you choose to take the OCP or other contraceptive, read up on possible side effects and talk to your prescribing G.P about other options if you experience side effects.
  • Ensure your diet is high in nutrients that help with drug and hormone metabolism and detoxification such as the cruciferous family of vegetables ( broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, arugula, daikon, bok choy, horseradish, Chinese cabbage, Romanesco broccoli, kohlrabi, radish, turnip, wasabi, turnips and watercress). These vegetables are rich in indole-3-carbinol and glucaric acid which assists with oestrogen detoxification and healthy hormone metabolism. Glucaric acid is also found in many fruits and vegetables with the highest concentrations also in oranges, apples and grapefruit.
  • Speak to your naturopath about your current mineral status. Minerals tests can detect issues in nutrients such as copper, zinc, selenium and other nutrients affected by OCP use.
  • Improve your antioxidant status to counteract any side effects of OCP use by including brightly coloured fruits and vegetables in your diet daily.
  • Speak to a natural awareness fertility (FABM) educator who can explain other contraception options and methods of predicting or calculating the fertile phase of a woman’s cycle. Natural family planning is estimated to be around 85% effective when performed correctly.
  • Speak to your partner about other methods of contraception.
  • Reduce your overall toxin and chemical load by using organic skin and personal hair products and opting for non-toxic household chemicals.
  • Consider natural options (such as herbal medicines, nutritional medications and dietary intervention) for hormone balancing if you are using the OCP for symptom management. Consider natural options to manage PMS.

For further information on the suitability of these options for your particular situation, contact us for an individual assessment.

About the Author: Kate Smyth is a Sports naturopath, nutritionist and female-centric running coach. She is the founder of the Athlete Sanctuary- a holistic healthcare clinic for athletes of all levels and sporting codes. Kate has a thirst for knowledge with two bachelor’s and a master’s degree under her belt. She has been involved in sports for many decades and competed for Australia in the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games marathons with a personal best time of 2 hours 28 minutes. For more information visit www.https://