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!
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."