Dr Libby Weaver is a hub of knowledge on all things health and wellness.
A Nutritional Biochemist, Author and Speaker, her messages embrace a unique three-pillared approach incorporating nutrition, emotions and the biochemistry of the body.
World Health Day falls on April 7th so who better to speak to than the Gold Coast woman with unrivalled wisdom on healthy living.
It’s World Health Day on April 7th, what is the biggest health problem facing Australians today?
To me wellness means thriving not surviving, yet I have met thousands of Australians who are doing the latter. The pace of our modern lifestyle is unsustainable – people are living in a constant state of stress, demanding more and more of themselves mentally and physically, and over time this compromises their health. Chronic diseases are a huge problem in Australia, and our lifestyle choices – the way we eat, drink, move, think, breathe, believe and/or perceive – play a big role in our risk of developing these.
You’ve lived on the Gold Coast for a while now, how does our health and fitness rate compared to the rest of Australia?
We’re so fortunate to live in such a beautiful environment that encourages movement (who doesn’t love to walk along the beach or in the bush!) and have access to nutritious fresh foods, including outstanding organic markets. With that said, only 1 in 20 Queenslanders eat enough vegies, so amping up your vegetable intake is something virtually everyone would benefit from.
You’re a Nutritional Biochemist, can you explain what that means and how you got to be where you are today?
It’s funny because in a way I don’t feel like I consciously ‘chose’ this career path. I spent 14 years at university and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics with honours, and a PhD in Biochemistry. Using my knowledge about how the human body works, I’ve spent almost two decades in clinical practice, helping people with my three-pillar approach to wellness – the biochemical, the nutritional and the emotional.
I believe my purpose is to help educate people about the importance of taking great care of themselves as I am concerned that far too many people live too short and die too long. Quality of life really matters and I want to wake people up to make changes now rather than waiting for a chronic health condition to necessitate that. I have now published 10 best-selling books, I speak regularly at live events all over the world, and I’ve developed a food-based nutritional supplement range called Bio Blends to support people to enhance their health. I feel very grateful to do what I do.
Why does what we put into our bodies affect our overall health so much?
The way you feed yourself is the most basic form of self care (love) you can show yourself. The nutrients we absorb from our food are essential for the billions of biochemical reactions that are happening in our body every second. There is nothing in the entire world that can replace a highly nourishing diet.
Yet I have met thousands of people who exercise frequently (and with intensity), especially after making poor food choices with the intention of ‘burning off’ the calories they consumed the day before. But the calorie equation we are taught to follow of ‘calories in versus calories burned’ is out-dated and doesn’t adequately take into account all the aspects that can impact on how our body metabolises the fuel we put into it. No amount of exercise can burn off the effects of a poor-quality way of eating.
Why is getting adequate sleep so important to our health?
Restorative sleep is one of the foundations of good health. Adults require 7-9 hours per night and we cannot fight our biology! Sleep affects everything from our mood, to our memory, our immune system, our skin and our hormonal function. When we are exhausted, everything in life feels more difficult. It impacts the foods you choose, whether you get off the couch and go for a walk or not, the jobs that you would apply for, the friends that you make, your self-talk and the way you speak to everyone you love. The ripple effect of lousy sleep and energy can be significant.
Adrenal fatigue is such a common thing these days, how is it best managed?
Stress reduction is absolutely essential, and nothing activates the ‘calm’ arm of our nervous system better than diaphragmatic breathing. It can literally change your life – and I don’t say that lightly. Any breath-focused practice, such as yoga, meditation, tai chi or qigong is fantastic, as is a nutrient-dense real food way of eating. Taking adrenal supporting herbs under the guidance of a herbalist can also be very beneficial.
What don’t women know about hormones?
Hormonal imbalances have become so prevalent that many women have come to accept that their symptoms (such as PMT) are normal. I like to say that these symptoms are common, but they’re not normal. Many women struggling with hormonal issues feel like their body is betraying them, but challenging symptoms are just your body’s way of communicating that something needs to change – such as the way you eat, drink, think, move, believe and/or perceive. Pay attention to your body’s communication – it has the power to change how you experience health and vitality on a daily basis.
Gluten – what is it and should we avoid it?
Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and oats. Some people have no problems consuming gluten, but many others feel better without it. There may be other substances in grains that impact poorly on gut health for some people, too. People with gut-based symptoms may like to trial a gluten-free diet for a period of four weeks to see if their symptoms resolve, however if they continue the diet for a longer period, it’s essential they consult a nutritional professional to ensure they are meeting their nutritional needs.
What advice do you have for someone who might be looking to start a health and fitness regime, but doesn’t know where to start?
I hear so many women say they don’t have time to cook for themselves or don’t have time to add anything additional to their schedule. It is undeniable we have more on our plates and while I appreciate that many of us are juggling many different tasks and roles daily, there is nothing on this Earth that replaces the power of a nourishing way of eating. In my book Women’s Wellness Wisdom, I wrote about taking responsibility for our nourishment and so many women could benefit simply by prioritising their own health and wellbeing. Preparing real food may take more time, but it is time we have to allow for in our day. When we say, “I don’t have time” for something, what we are essentially saying is “that is not a priority for me”. Sometimes changing what we do requires us to firstly explore our values and priorities. The reality is we cannot compromise our nutrition and expect to still have fantastic health.
Your favorite piece of life advice?
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
You’re not a Gold Coast local if you haven’t…
Sat on Burleigh Hill on a Sunday afternoon and soaked up the glorious vista and vibes.
Being a Gold Coaster we have to ask for your favourites…
Restaurant: I travel so much for work that when I am home I love to cook my own meals
Café: Wray’s Organics at Palm Beach
Weekend hangout: At home in my vegie garden
Dr Libby’s signature event, Beautiful You Weekend, is coming to the Gold Coast for the very first time this July. For more information click here.