It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. Well, at least when it comes to navigating a healthy existence in the 21st Century. Despite all the convenience and accessibility associated with our inter-connected, digital world, our bodies and minds are under constant siege.
According to the UAE-based naturopathic doctor, who also serves as Elle Macpherson's personal nutritionist and the scientific formulator working with Australian ingestible wellness brand WelleCo, our world is filled with toxins. Avoiding them takes a bit of planning, plenty of intel and of course, arming yourself with the right menu.“For the average woman living in a concrete jungle of the twenty-first century, it's really tricky [to stay perfectly healthy all the time]," says Laubscher. “From the water we drink, the air we breathe, it's amazing the level environmental toxins we face everyday."
“Consumers are becoming more educated, they're like, "Okay, well, of course I want to look good, but if I'm feeling great, then that's going to kind of catapult me to a new level of wellness."
For Laubscher, who believes in a “nutrition in, toxin out" mentality when it comes to health and wellness, the secret is balance. She created WelleCo's super-charged blends (including the cult-favorite the Super Elixir Greens) of whole plants and nutrients to provide women with everything they need to thrive in the face of the constant- and many times secret- attacks on our bodies and minds. “I've made lots of people super healthy, so the body can then help heal itself from sickness," she says. “I look for the ingredients your body needs for optimum health, which is my ethos and how I looked at formulating the products."
The impetus for WelleCo was a personal one, continues Laubscher, adding that the product line of nutrition-packed ingestibles was initially created to address Macpherson's specific health needs.“She walked into my office and said 'I'm gaining weight, I'm craving sugar. I'm very moody," says Laubscher.
Laubscher soon discovered that the gorgeous entrepreneur and mom of two had surprisingly high acid levels. To counteract the negative effects, Laubscher began personally hand-making organic, whole-food supplements that Macpherson began taking daily. Three weeks later, Laubscher says Macpherson walked in the door looking and feeling fabulous with her skin glowing.
“Because I am a scientist, I love to formulate," says Laubscher, adding that WelleCo's Super Elixir Greens addresses all the common concerns of her patients, including Macpherson's: namely low energy, weight gain, hormones, hair skin and nail health, anti-aging, and digestion. “If you had a car, you wouldn't drive it fifty years and not have the engine serviced," she says. “We're way more complex than a Ferrari or a Formula One engine, and we need functional support."
“The body is a fantastic communicator. If we just stop and listen to how we feel and what it's asking for, it's pretty obvious if something is good for us or not."
In order to better understand the toxin attacks the average woman faces on a daily basis, we sat down and chatted with Laubscher, who is currently researching the connection between mind and body health and of course, formulating new nutrition-packed WelleCo products.
Here, 10 simple hacks for an immediately healthier life:
1: Skip Plastic
According to Laubscher, wrapping anything in plastic, especially when heat is involved, can release toxins into what you're eating. This includes cellophane wrap, water bottles that may be left in a car overnight or take-out containers holding warm food. “Plastic is horrible anyway, but once you heat it all the toxins come out," she says.
2: Toss The Microwave
Laubscher is adamant that there is no place for for a microwave in a modern woman's life. “Give away the microwave or just bin it," she says. “It's cancer in a box. Go for good old fashioned cooking."
3: Purify Your Water
Tap water in plastic is full of estrogen, says Laubscher. “In London one glass of water has been through someone seven times," she says, adding that old pipes in the US also deliver contaminated water. “Get a good water filtration system for your home," she says. Laubscher also recommends getting a shower head filter because when you heat chlorine [found in most tap water] you get outsets of gas [similar to formaldehyde]. “You're inhaling not only the toxin of the water but the off-gas," she says. “So unless you want to have a cold shower, get a shower filter to cleanse the water."
“And I always accept that the naughtier you are, the more you need."
4: Mental Health is Wealth
Key to physical wellbeing is having a clear, calm mind. According to Laubscher, there is scientific proof that by thinking about something stressful, your heart rate and blood pressure go up in tandem with adrenaline and cortisol being released. Why? “Your body is designed for fight or flight," explains Laubscher. “When we get stressed we have a physiological reaction to that stress, and your body doesn't know it's' not survival-based. Your body thinks 'theres a truck coming.'" Additionally, she says that by existing for extended periods of time in a state of heightened stress, one will experience adrenal fatigue, which suppresses your immune system. “Your body shuts down arteries and veins to minimal blood flow to protect itself from bleeding to death [in case of impending danger]," she says, adding that stress can harm reparative sleep cycles. Laubscher advises keeping notebook by the bed, where you list 'things I can change' and 'things I can't.' “The things you can change can become your to-do list, but if you marinate on the things you can't change, it's going to make you sick," she says. “Hand it over to the universe and get busy with what you can do."
“People are becoming a lot more educated as to how to literally eat their cake and have it too. They want to have a glass of wine on the weekend, and still feel amazing. There's a wave towards balance."
5: Unplug at Night
Much like your trusty cell phone, your immune system needs recharging. Laubscher reveals that although you may not realize it, electrical appliances may be preventing this. At bedtime, she advises shutting your WiFi off at the router and turning lamps, clocks, and TVs off at the wall. “Our immune system needs to rest from at least six to eight hours a night," says Laubscher. “I think that is a huge cause of disease these days. It's kind of like always spending on your credit card but never paying the bill."
"If you don't do well with liquids for more than half a day, have half an avocado or lentils. You don't need to be suffering and collapsing in the middle of the office. Just make it work for you."
6: It's OK to be “Naughty"
Because we will, of course, crave a glass of wine or basket of fries from time to time, she says it's important to treat yourself, but responsibly. "If you've been on holiday and had one margarita too many, that's OK," says Laubscher, who advises a bit of detox for every indulgence. “I think cleansing is a really healthy thing to do if you know you had a bit of a toxic time." Rather than stressing about going off your diet or workout plan here or there, she advises getting right back on the ball with intermittent fasting or a juice cleanse, which doesn't necessarily preclude all solid food, and can include immune-system boosting bone broth soups. “I have my super greens, my juices, and I might have some apple, nuts, even sliced avocados if my body is craving more," she says of the days following a holiday. “I love the idea of giving your body time to breathe and time to digest."
“Try to imagine stress is like a beach, the wave is going to come, crap is going to happen, you're going to have ups and downs, but are you going to take the stress and pitch a tent and camp there or do you move on?"
7: Beware The Phone
“Please don't put your mobile phone in your bra, or for men in your pocket, because if you want to have babies it's going to ruin the strength of your boys," says Laubscher matter-of-factly, adding that cell phones in pockets can even lead to possible testicular problems. Same goes for women who hold their phones in their bras. She advises to always make sure you leave the phone off your person.
8: Beware “Cheap Meat"
Organic really is the only way to go when it comes to consuming meat, says Laubscher. Filled with a potential litany of chemicals and estrogen, non-organic meat can mess with a woman's hormonal levels and wreak havoc. “If you go to lunch and there's a choice of chicken or fish, don't ingest the extra estrogen; go for the fish," says Laubscher. “Just be very careful of cheap chicken and cheap turkey or really any cheap meats which aren't organic," she says. “You can be grabbing your chicken salad every day thinking you're being healthy, but really your getting unwanted hormones. And men can lose their testosterone or lose their libido. It's not good for anybody."
9: Vegan Mondays
Laubscher is a proponent of “Vegan Mondays," which she says are a great way to kick off the week after a weekend of indulging. “I love enjoying myself on the weekends," says Laubscher, who-as a mom of three-often has treats like ice cream around the house. “I pay for the weekend with Vegan Monday, which can include green juices, protein shakes, soups and stir-fries. It's a really healthy balance to reset and go on with my life rather than taking a month off and not answering the phone. Fill up the cup, empty the cup. Go on holiday, do a cleanse."
10: Take Your Greens!
To counteract any toxins or heavy metals that may be lurking in the food you eat, Laubscher advises that you consume a glass of WelleCo Super Elixir Alkalizing Greens with anything potentially harmful. Cold-pressed plant-based powders are actually recognized by your body and thus appropriately absorbed. “When you drink the Super Elixir Greens with your meal it will bind to the greens and it'll come out in your stool," says Laubscher. “Happy Days!
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.