Canada’s women’s health champion
Lorna Vanderhaeghe has spent decades advocating for improved health for women.
Lorna Vanderhaeghe is a natural communicator—health and wellness her natural territory. “I’ve been talking to men and women about their health for 36 years—over the last years especially, about women’s health,” she says.
With degrees in biochemistry and nutrition, she has grown her own natural products company from the ground up and has served as author, editor, speaker and talk show host. A former staffer at the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine at the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation, she has edited several magazines and acted as senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.
Vanderhaeghe’s own health journey began after she stopped breastfeeding her daughter, who then developed eczema. The doctors recommended cortisone cream, which she discovered was unsafe for the long term. At a health food store, she was told her baby may have a deficiency of GLA, what she calls the “forgotten fatty acid.” With supplementation and diet changes her daughter’s problem quickly cleared up. Impressed, she changed course, setting her sights on a career in natural health.
She started her own education company that sold products on the side. She was pushed out by her partner, so she started again, launching Lorna Vanderhaeghe Health Solutions with all female sales reps. In 2014, she sold the company to Jamieson Laboratories. Now she runs the business as a separate division and continues to build the educational platform.
Her many books have covered the immune system, natural treatments, menopause, healthy fats, arthritis and other inflammatory disorders, heart health, weight loss and her specialty—hormones.
Vanderhaeghe’s passion is not just academic. She has long been a role model for women who want to improve their health. She recently lost her mother, who suffered from dementia and is aware that poor diet and lack of exercise are risk factors for the condition.
On the nutrition front, she eats lots of healthy protein, fibre and green vege- tables and avoids processed foods and sugars. As for exercise, she quotes Michelle Obama, who tells people they “just need to move.”
Later in our conversation it comes out she does a lot more than that. She skis and plays tennis. She has a trainer. She works out in a gym her son built in her office. She has weights in her bathroom. In her downtime, she bounces on a rebounder in front of the TV. Add this up, there’s a lot of cardio and a lot of resistance training too. “You gotta be strong,” she says.
Vanderhaeghe recently stopped watching TV news to get away from the influx of negativity. “I want to spread the message that there is a lot of love and goodness out there,” she says. “We need to seek a better way.”
Vanderhaeghe on trends to watch
DH: A lot has changed since you entered the health field. What remains to be done?
LV: There’s still a lot of work to educate our doctors. The Internet has empowered patients who are now reading a lot and requesting tests from their physicians. Women are starting to come into their own power. They can tell they feel terrible and want to feel good again. There’s a shift as women are asking for tests and treatments—becoming active instead of passive. For example, hormones are complicated. It’s not something a doctor can figure out in a seven minute visit.
DH: What is the main challenge with natural products?
LV: Many Canadians don’t know that our natural health products are regulated by the NHP licensing program. Claims must be approved by Health Canada who do tests and re- search with independent labs. Our industry needs to teach consumers that we are regulated like the drug companies. It is a challenge in Canada to think of our food as medicine, especially if it originates at Costco. So much food is adulterated. We are the experiment for GMO. I want food to be labelled so I’ll have a choice.”
DH: What is the link between nutrition and mental health?
LV: There is a lot of Type 2 diabetes and even Type 3, which both affect the brain. Check out the article in New Scientist: “Food for thought: Eat your way to dementia.” It says that a high calorie diet isn’t just bad for your body, it may also trigger Alzheimer’s disease. Some nutrients such as acetyl l-carnitine can help, as can a keto diet, with lots of protein, healthy fibre and green veggies.
There is also an epidemic of anxiety, which leads to insomnia and burnout. Even eight-year olds are having panic attacks. Potential causes include a poor diet and stressed-out parents. Also, there are huge expectations of young people, including social media that is on 24/7. Everything is structured in their lives. We need to help kids chill. Young kids especially need free play.
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Author: David Holt, is associate publisher of OptiMYz Magazine and sometimes editor. A prolific writer with an avid interest in health, yoga and kayaking.