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!
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.