Q & A - Health & Wellness with Miranda Partridge
With another year done and dusted, we're now certainly back into the swing of things. However, levelling out from the festive season and readjusting to routine can be difficult, and so it's important to reflect on the affirmations we set ourselves at the beginning of the year.
We decided to catch up with natural medicine practitioner and health guru, Miranda Partridge, for some insight and guidance regarding our health. Diet and lifestyle play a huge role, not only when it comes to your physical health but also have great impact on your mental health and overall well-being. We asked Miranda for some of her best pieces of advice, particularly when it comes to women's health and to spill the beans on some of her favourite spots to eat and socialise in Brisbane.
1. Tell us a little about you and what inspired you to get into nutritional medicine. Was health always a passion of yours?
There was always a part of me that wanted to work in a job where I could help people and create genuine connection with people, and I have always loved food! When I look back on it now, I had a natural aptitude and interest in nutrition, science, psychology and writing - all of which I now use in my job every day. It wasn’t until I was about 21, started working out consistently for the first time ever and reading about food and nutrition in health magazines that I realised that this might be a good career choice for me. The course I enrolled in (BHSc Nutritional Medicine at Endeavour College) ended up being so much more than what I originally thought it would be and has opened my mind to a much more holistic view of science, medicine and the body, mind and spirit. It helped my own health journey so much, and get to spend every day doing what I love most; learning about the human body, helping others in a genuine way, and eating delicious food!
2. If you could give three pieces of advice, when it comes to nutrition and your health, what would they be?
- Learn to trust your gut and listen to your body. We are all different, and not every piece of health advice you hear or read will necessarily apply to you the same as it would another person. By using your intuition to understand your body and your health, you can tune in to what your body needs, which makes saying no to that piece of cake, bag of lollies, or third coffee for the day so much easier.
- Learn to cook. One of the biggest hurdles for a lot of my clients is that they either don’t know how to or don’t even like to cook. It’s often because they’ve failed at it a few times and given up too quickly, which I totally understand. For the most part, I taught myself how to cook, and have been a confident cook for years, but I still have some epic catastrophes in the kitchen, even to this day (I just feed them to my chooks - who think my failures are delicious!). If you’re serious about making a difference to your health (which you totally should be!) buy cookbooks that inspire you and try, try again. Eventually you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and the quality of food you’ll be eating will improve, along with your overall wellbeing.
- Eat whole foods (preferably organic). As soon as you start to process a food (expose it to heat, oxygen and light) it starts to lose its nutrient content. That is, how much vitamins, minerals and phytochemical compounds it contains. This is why buying, growing and cooking with whole foods is so important; not only can you control the nutrient density of your food, you have less reliance on fortified foods and supplements. Unfortunately, much of the food/diet/fitness industries focus way too much on macronutrient ratios (fat, protein and carbohydrate) when these micronutrients are just as essential to our diets, and often left as an afterthought. When someone comes to me and says they need more energy, the micronutrient content of their diet is the first thing I consider, and the first thing that I prescribe supplements for. I don’t think it’s very well understood or even taught, just how important vitamins and minerals are to every process in the body. Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies are incredibly common in Australia, but so easily remedied by something we all know is good for us.
3. What does a typical day look like in the life of Miranda?
Each morning I wake between 5.30 and 6am and take my whippet Ziggy for a walk and to the dog park so he can chase after his frisbee, while I listen to a podcast or some music. When I get home, I check on the chickens and cook myself a good veggie-filled breakfast, usually with eggs. After I’ve gotten ready for the day, I’ll either head to my clinic, start on some work at home or have some Miri-time (this could be Netflix, cooking, reading, a podcast, or even heading to a cafe).
For lunch, I’ll either bring something I’ve packed from home (usually leftovers) or cook at home if I’m there. After lunch I’m either driving to another clinic, doing more work at home or organising the admin for my fiancé’s business.
Evenings are fairly standard; spend time with my fiancé, play with Ziggy, cook dinner or go out for dinner, then, at the moment, we’re usually organising stuff for our wedding and having a cup of tea.
I try to make sure I’m in bed by 9.30-10pm, and turn my phone on aeroplane mode, leaving it on the other side of the room for the night.
4. Do you have some favourite spots in Brisbane to eat, drink or socialise?
Between my fiancé and I, we have a lot of foods that we can’t eat, but we also like to make sure that we are eating incredible tasting food (otherwise, what’s the point, right?) so we have narrowed down a lot of places that meet our needs that our friends love too.
My favourites are:
Taro’s Ramen, Ascot - authentic, traditional and high quality ingredients
Birdsnest, West End - smokey and delicious
Red Lotus Vietnamese Chargrill, Annerley - do a GREAT pho with lots of fresh herbs
Lefkas, West End - BEST Greek in town, hands down
It’s Mirchi – gluten free naan bread. Need I say more?
Phuc Deli Viet, Indooroopilly - my go-to for tasty laksa
Pit Stop Pizza, Camp Hill - amazing vegan and GF pizzas
St Coco’s Cafe, Daisy Hill - great menu and fantastic coffee and iced tea
We also love to drink and socialise at The End and Bosc in West End, Can You Keep a Secret in Woolloongabba, The Mill in the Valley and Bitter Suite in New Farm. Most of them have gluten free beer &/or great gin-based cocktails and a great atmosphere.
5. What are some ways in which women’s health and diet differs from men. Do we have different needs?
I love this question! It really hits the heart of natural medicine; treating each person as an individual. Distinguishing women from men is an incredibly important part; a lot of studies are done on men and the results don’t always correlate when applied to women. We also have completely different hormonal considerations and social aspects that influence the way we think, eat and behave.
The most common health aspects I see in women are:
- Iron, zinc and magnesium deficiencies, often due to high stress. Women have a tendency to put the needs of others before their own. These deficiencies often lead to poor immune function and a reduced ability to deal with stress. If this goes on for too long, stress can affect your sleep, gut function, mental health, complexion, thyroid function (hypothyroidism is most common in women) and lowers testosterone (which lowers your motivation and libido).
- Poor gut function. Again, often due to social pressures, women are often shamed for a normal and crucial bodily function, and as a result I often see women with disordered bowel motions, some of which they have been dealing with for years. Good health starts in the gut, so if you’re having gut issues, you’ll have trouble absorbing nutrients, increase inflammation in your body, disrupt the gut-brain axis (decreasing your ability to deal with stress) and put yourself at a high risk of allergies, cancers (especially within the gut), mental health disorders and autoimmune disorders. Poor gut health can then be passed on to your baby, as they inherit their gut health from their mother.
- Hormone disruption. These days, I find myself testing every female client I come across for a hormonal imbalance - it’s very rare that a woman doesn’t have dysfunctional periods, PMS or other menstrual issues. There are many reasons for this; stress - which lowers testosterone, exposure to plastics - which contain chemicals that mimic and increase oestrogen, and liver dysfunction - often due to consumption of chemicals from skincare, pollution, plastics, pesticides, food additives, alcohol and drugs, like the Pill. While I think it’s great that PMS symptoms are finally being recognised as the debilitating symptoms they can be, we’re doing little to actually treat them; a lot of which can be greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle changes.