After causing a major incident on a highway, Nutritionist Alethea Mills realised mental health was suffering. From living on fast foods and growing up in the ‘white bread brigade’, Alethea realised her physical health demanded a change in order to improve her mental health. Have a laugh and listen to how Alethea made the change to a cleaner lifestyle and is helping others do so too.
Welcome to the dirty world podcast, where we talk about sustainability, health and beauty for busy, busy women. I’m Louisa Hollenberg founder of earth and skin organic spa and beauty shop and author of ‘clean skin in a dirty world’. This podcast comes to you from the clean side of Beauty we will talk about tips and tricks for improving your life and your health without damaging planet earth for the animals to share it with.
Today’s podcast features someone who I’ve known for quite some time. She started out as a client, then became friends and now we work together. Alethea Mills is a degree qualified nutritionist and I had to interview her because whenever we get together we have the most interesting conversations about health and wellness and I thought it would be rude not to share. Alethea is interested in everything nutrition and her backstory has driven her to help others improve their physical and mental health, she is particularly interested in gut health and how women’s bodies function differently to men. Alethea is passionate about living your best life!
What do you do?
I have recently graduated from studying a Bachelor of Health Science nutrition and dietetic medicine. This degree provides me with is an understanding of anatomy and physiology. I studied nutritional biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology and western diagnostics. Essentially when I work with people I review each person holistically. I review their physical, emotional and mental well-being. And map out driving factors for what the current health condition is. From there I provide dietary and lifestyle advice, and also nutritional supplementation if required. Ultimately my goal is to provide people with advice tools and support to live as vibrantly as they can!
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates
How did you become interested in nutrition?
I grew up predominantly in the 80s so was a household where it’s a lot of I call it ‘the white bread brigade’. Parents are working full-time, a lot of packaged and processed food coming out and of course THE MICROWAVE! Not knowing any different I thought my health and nutrition was fine, which I can now see – It wasn’t. And then going into my 20s there was a lot of partying, a lot of alcohol and the lifestyle wasn’t great. I could see how that was affecting the way I was enjoying life and life wasn’t as great as it once was.
I worked in hospitality for 20 years… And with hospitality came a lifestyle where I really was as burning the candle at both ends, and that led to some poor health decisions. I gained a lot of weight over that period and I started having some health issues where I was iron deficient and having some symptoms that come along with that as well. So I was quite fatigued had some dizziness. I went to a GP and I was given an iron transfusion at the time. The symptoms and didn’t really get any better.
I didn’t realise at the time, but it was having anxiety attacks. Which actually lead to an incident on the M1. Going up from the Gold Coast to Brisbane (for those of you who don’t know it’s the highway heading up to Brisbane). My anxiety caused me to have a near accident on the road and to anyone that’s had an anxiety attack you will know, it’s a bit of shaking, you get quite hot, quite sweaty at the time and I actually blacked out for a couple of seconds. Frightened at the time and I went back to the GP and they really weren’t sure what to do for me. I started doing my own research into diet, lifestyle and also the gut microbiome which was very new to me at the time.
I began making a few changes to my lifestyle and noticed that a lot of the symptoms were getting better. From there my passion sprung, I started doing a lot of research into nutrition and nutrition courses when I found ‘Endeavour College’ here on the Gold Coast. I decided to study nutrition one subject at a time, to see if that was for me. And loved it! Five years on and I have completed the degree.
You can find Alethea’s recipes here.
What are some of the upcoming trends we can see in the world of nutrition?
Going back to simplicity and real nutrition. I think people are getting a little over the marketing that’s out there with nutrition. There’s a lot of influences, paid marketing and people without knowledge promoting that they do! I think people want quality advice and education.
We are also hearing more about the Gut microbiome that’s been a big focus for natural medicine for a long time, but it’s really hitting the mainstream hard and the moment. Particularly with some recent studies into sports nutrition and athletes. Nutrigenomics another big one there, that’s looking at nutrition, your genes and disease prevention. Female athletes and sport which is something but it’s really exciting me. Up until the early 70s, there were no studies on women at all, it was all done on men. And I think it was 2012/2013 there was a literature review which found out there is up to 36/37% (don’t quote me on that) were done on women. So we’re getting there but still predominantly in sport science, it’s done on men.
If someone is wanting to make a change with their nutrition and they don’t know where to start what would you say would be the first thing that they can change?
Depending on what they are wanting to change about their nutrition this probably isn’t exactly food-related to start with but I think headspace is really important to place to start. We are really hard on ourselves, about what we eat, about our weight, what we look like. So I think headspace definitely, understanding into why we’re trying to make nutrition changes are we just jumping on board a fad diet that we think he’s going to make us look what we feel we should, or is it about health. So my focus and what I always work with my clients is focusing on health and not focusing on weight. But if we’re just about food and the number one thing that you can do instantly is go to fresh, whole foods. And limit the packaged and processed foods and you’re having. Reducing added sugars and I’m not about removing carbohydrates from the diet as such because that’s essential for female hormones. But added sugars, definitely. Probably the two that you can do in just straight up the bat. Without any advice and that will be helpful.
What have you got install for the upcoming yeah Alethea?
As I mentioned before I recently graduated so I’ll be starting to do one-on-one consultations which I am going to be doing at this amazing day spa in Mudgeeraba, called Earth and Skin! – Hehe. I have also just released my website which people will be able to find information, recipes and also be able to book online so that’ll be coming up soon. And not so much work-related but health-related I’m back into trail running and will be signing up for the UTA trail race in the blue mountains for early next year!
What does your morning look like?
My morning routine it’s actually super simple. I always feel like I need to have something fancy in my morning routine. But most mornings I’ll be up at 4:30/5:00 o’clock! I absolutely love being up first thing in the morning. I love being out running before anyone is out, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful.
I don’t usually jump straight out of bed. Usually lay in bed for about 10 minutes and I try to just visualise the day ahead in that time. I find that sets me off to be quite calm and also organised for the day.
So usually go exercise so at the moment I have been going out running or I go to a spin class. Before I do that, cold water on the face and I usually drink 500ml of water, so making sure I’m hydrated before I head out as well. After exercise, just breakfast in the morning that’s usually my time with my partner and my dogs. And in that period up until breakfast no phone. So I won’t be checking social media, emails in my time but I’m not perfect it does sneak in every now and then. But that’s my aim.
What do you do to counteract stress?
I’ve always been the sort of person where I counteracted stress with high intensity, running that’s sort of exercise. But I have this year discovered Yin yoga. I wasn’t really that keen on going but absolutely fell in love with it.
Yin yoga is different from other yogas as you’re not holding strong poses where you’re up in Warrior pose. You’re on a mat, laying down and you’re supported but holding each position for 4/5 minutes.
It’s a great opportunity for your nervous system to just calm. A lot of the time in the world we live in we’re in fight-or-flight. Where our sympathetic nervous system is on Overdrive, all the time. So with Yin Yoga, it’s an hour where the opposite, the parasympathetic system gets to take over. So that’s a great chance for your hormones to produce, your digestion to kick in and for you to feel calm.
It’s incredibly relaxing and I tend to go into quite a meditative state, so once I’ve finished I usually go home straight to bed and they are the best 8/9 hours uninterrupted sleeps’ ever!
I also use Diaphragmatic breathing to counteract stress, really deep belly breathing. I find that if I have a moment of feeling overwhelmed and there are 10000 things going on I’ll use the Diaphragmatic breathing technique. It actually works on what’s known as the vagus nerve and that’s associated with that parasympathetic nervous system, so the rest and digest. So it has actually been shown to calm the central body.
“So many people suffer from anxiety, it can come on for any reason. I think it’s really important to understand your triggers and understand what anxiety looks like for you.” – Louisa.
What beauty product do you always carry in your handbag?
I only carry 3 items in my handbag at the moment; lip balm, water – because actually consider that to be a beauty product and at the moment being in winter, I also carry around a mushroom tincture in my bag as well, they are just really helpful for your immune system.
You can make an appointment to see her or if you are listening from far away you can visit Alethea’s website to read her blogs at www.aletheanutrition.net.au. We will be interviewing Alethea again and delving into female hormones and why women should not train like men in our podcast, so make sure you watch out for that one. Also, head to our blog to find out How a Nutritionist can help you achieve your skin goals!
Images via Unsplash