15 Mar Health Hero interview: Lara Briden
Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor with more than 20 years’ experience. Originally from Canada, she now runs a busy clinic in Sydney, Australia, where she specialises in women’s health.
Lara is the author of the bestselling Period Repair Manual. She also writes a hugely popular blog on her website, where she delves into the intricacies of periods, PCOS, PMS and more.
I have been reading Lara’s work for years, and I often direct my clients to her blog in order to learn more about their hormones. Read on to discover Lara’s eye-opening definition of health, her views on hormonal birth control, and her top food advice…
How would you describe your job?
My job is to be part of the revolution that is currently happening in women’s health. More and more women are saying “no” to hormonal birth control and “yes” to their own natural cycles, and I’m very excited to be part of that change!
Through my writing, I strive to bring awareness to the value of ovulatory cycles for general health, not just for making a baby. And I strive to help women all over the world have happier healthier cycles.
I also love working with my patients in my Sydney consulting rooms!
What inspired you to work in this area?
I was inspired by my patients. By their stories of being prescribed birth control for every sort of condition and their frustration at not being told there are other options.
Period problems respond incredibly well to simple diet changes and supplements and I’ve had the opportunity to see that in action with the thousands of patients who have come to me for help.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m currently in the situation where I live in Christchurch, New Zealand but commute to my Sydney consulting rooms four times per year.
When I’m home in Christchurch, I start the day with a walk and then move into a day of writing, answering emails, and giving interviews. My husband also works from home so we enjoy all three meals in each other’s company.
When I’m in Sydney, my days are pretty filled up with patients, but I still try to squeeze in a quick morning walk. I also schedule time for an after-lunch meditation or nap, which really helps with my energy through the afternoon.
What does health mean to you?
Health is ultimately about being well enough to do what we need to do. For me, that’s leading a women’s health revolution and going on multi-day walks. For others, it could be travelling or getting a Master’s degree.
“Health is ultimately about being well enough to do what we need to do”
Health is what helps us to live for our purposes. It’s not a purpose in itself.
What do you think are the biggest misperceptions about health today?
A big misconception is that women do not need ovulatory cycles except to make a baby.
In actual fact, we need ovulatory cycles because ovulation is how we make the hormones we need to be healthy. To say that women don’t need ovulation except to make a baby would be like saying that men don’t need testosterone except to make a baby.
What’s your favourite thing to eat?
My husband’s special recipe slow-roasted duck legs with duck fat potatoes. He makes it for loved ones when they visit and sometimes he even makes it for just the two of us!
I also love “Saskatoon berry pie”, which is pie made from the Saskatoon berries that grow wild in the Canadian wilderness where I grew up.
If you could give just one piece of advice concerning food, what would it be and why?
Reduce consumption of processed vegetable oil and high-dose fructose such as soft drinks and desserts. I’m convinced by the research that suggests those two foods are major drivers of insulin resistance or pre-diabetes that affect so many people today.
Whom do you look up to, and why?
My hero in the women’s health revolution is Professor Jerilynn Prior, a reproductive endocrinologist and who has been researching the value of ovulatory cycles for decades.
“Women benefit from 35 to 40 years of natural ovulatory cycles”
Prof Prior helped me with my book Period Repair Manual and has made the bold statement that “women benefit from 35 to 40 years of natural ovulatory cycles, not just for fertility but also to prevent osteoporosis, stroke, dementia, heart disease, and breast cancer.”
Tell us something about you that people wouldn’t expect.
I used to work as an evolutionary biologist and published a scientific paper on sex differences in the foraging behaviour of big brown bats.
Aside from good health, family and friends, what do you cherish in your life?
I cherish the time that I spend in the wilderness and I structure my life to permit me time to do multi-day wilderness walks in Canada and New Zealand.