Wild Pilates Friends: Jessica Giljam-Brown

Jessica Giljam-Brown is a well-known holistic nutritionist and medical herbalist, author, speaker and the founder of Wellness by Jessica based in Takapuna, Auckland. Focusing on more than just food intake, Jessica helps people find practical solutions to support their health that are maintainable, achievable and most importantly enjoyable. Jessica has a special interest in fertility, women’s health and helping women better understand their bodies.

Laura chats to Jessica about stress, hormone health and Pilates.

Here are a few things you can do to make a massive difference to your hormonal health:

Your sex hormones are a fantastic barometer of how your health is. The things that throws most women’s hormones off is stress. Stress impacts us in a number of ways; less sleep, less time to make and eat nourishing food, and higher stress hormone output which can delay or stop ovulation and alter the delicate ebb and flow of your sex hormones.

  1. Include flax meal each day. Flax seeds contain lignans which are a fibre-like substance found in plants. Lignans have the unique ability to decrease testosterone by boosting the production a chemical in your body called sex hormone binding globulin – which binds to testosterone making it inactive. Flax seeds also support healthy bowel motions, and pooping is how we clear oestrogen, so is essential to great health. Try adding 3 tablespoons of freshly ground flax meal to your smoothies, baking, or porridge each day.
  2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, and trans fats. This may seem a bit extreme, but these are all substances which take away from your health. All of these things need to be detoxified by the liver, and when the liver becomes overloaded it recirculates estrogen and testosterone. The removal of all of these substances at once can be difficult as many people will notice cravings, headaches, and moodiness. However, once these substances have been removed you will notice a lift in the health of your skin, better sleep, more energy and all-around better moods. I suggest trying removing one problematic substance at a time.
  3. Include a source of real food fat with each meal. Your body needs fatty acids to build hormones, repair skin cells, and to reduce inflammation. Be sure to include only real food sources of fat like: avocado, flax seed, chia seed, oily fish, organic butter, nuts, seeds, and cold pressed oils like coconut and olive oil.
  4. Set yourself up with a good sleep routine. Sleep is critical for great hormone health, if you don’t sleep enough your body doesn’t get the rest it needs in order to make and detoxify the hormones it needs to function optimally. Set up a routine and stick to it! Aim to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep, which means getting into bed well before you need to be asleep to reach your goal. We all function so much better on great sleep.  
  5. Load up on your green vegetables, these are the plants which are packed with nutrients needed for great health. Be sure to include Brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts) each day as these are helpful for helping the liver detoxify your hormones more effectively.  
  6. If you are struggling then please ask for help! You don’t need to suffer from unhappy hormones. There is so much that can be done to improve your health and make your cycle so much easier to manage.

Introduce yourself, tell us a little about yourself?

I am a qualified nutritionist and medical herbalist, and have a massive passion for all things food and woman’s health. I split my time between my clinic in Auckland and the Waikato where I moved to last year. 

For those who have not heard about your amazing business, can you explain what you do and how this started?

I support women through tough health challenges and help them use food and natural medicine to get their health on track. I work with women who are trying to conceive both naturally and with assisted reproduction, as well as with conditions like: acne, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, IBS, and mood disorders. I have been working in the natural health world for over 9 years, to begin with alongside other amazing practitioners, and in the last four years under my own brand, Wellness By Jessica.

What are some of the most common ways you help your patients, especially women? 

Get back to basics. Too often I see women over-complicating their health and it can be really hard to maintain, or leads to a situation where it feels too hard to even start making changes because it feels like there is too much to do.

 like to help women get back to a basic real food diet, full of the nutrients they need to support whatever is going on in their health picture at the time. Then I focus on sleep and stress management. Often this involve a discussion around work boundaries and not overdoing it on Netflix and Instagram late at night.

Do you have a favourite piece of advice or quote?  

“It’s what you do everyday that counts, not sometimes.” This is about building goo health habits into your everyday life and not worrying about the one off dinners out or missed workouts.

Now this one is important. What do you enjoy most about Pilates? 

I love that I can do it no matter how my health or energy is like that day. It’s the kind of exercise that you can scale up or down. I really do love reformer pilates though, it’s the first exercise outside of team sport that I have actually really enjoyed.

Pilates is a wonderful way to move your body without elevating cortisol – your main stress hormone. We produce cortisol in times of stress and during high intensity exercise, while we can cope with this sometimes, we can’t operate day in day out with high levels. When life gets stressful it’s important to try to compensate with exercise that isn’t cortisol inducing, like pilates.
When stress hormones run high the body reads that as a sign that it’s not safe to have a baby and therefore will delay or inhibit ovulation – this throws off the delicate balance of your sex hormones.
Check out the Wild Pilates low impact category here 

What are you listening to or reading at the moment? 

I am always listening to health podcasts, usually the FX Medicine Podcast or Natural MD Radio by Aviva Romm are the two I start with. I have been on a bit of a book buy splurge lately so my bedside is overly full right now. The two on the go are The Better Brain by Julia Rucklidge, PhD, from the University of Canterbury and Aviva Romm’s new book, Hormone Intelligence.

Jessica Giljam-Brown, BSc Human Nutrition, PgDip Herbal Medicine

Facebook: wellnessbyjessicaofficial 

Instagram: @wellnessbyjessica 


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