Good Sleep — the benefits of a good night’s sleep are priceless. This is hard to do in our fast-paced world, and can seem very unattainable for mothers of babies and small children. But prioritizing your sleep can have a huge positive effect in your health.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mirelle Leguia.
Mirelle’s interest in nutrition came after her own health challenges during and after her pregnancies. She left her established career in marketing to pursue her interest in women’s health, specifically prenatal and postnatal nutrition. Mirelle created Mother Nutrient, a line of holistic supplements and online educational resources to support women in their motherhood journeys.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
As with many holistic practitioners, my health journey began after experiencing health problems myself and not finding relief through traditional routes. The decision to quit my established career with a high paying job, go back to school to study holistic nutrition and help women and babies thrive, came during my own prenatal and postnatal experience. I realized that a lot of the issues I was experiencing (severe fatigue, recurring mastitis, hormonal imbalances, immune dysfunction and gastrointestinal issues, to name a few) were not only very common amongst new mothers, but very poorly managed through traditional medicine.
I suffered from Hyperemisis Gravidarum (non-stop nausea and vomit) when I was pregnant with my oldest son, which left me severely depleted. I was looking for answers and ways to heal myself holistically, so I went back to school, focused my nutrition studies in pregnancy and postpartum nutrition, devoured books and papers about the topic and read hundreds of nutrition studies and articles.
The knowledge I learned has not only helped me overcome my health issues and restore my health, but also allowed me to help many new mothers around the world. I started my new career as a nutrition coach and then transitioned to launch my line of holistic supplements, probiotics and superfoods designed to address the health challenges that motherhood brings.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
At first, I was under the impression that my nutrient depletion status was an anomaly, because I had hyperemesis during my pregnancy and rarely consumed fluids or food for 5 months. It made sense to me that under these extenuating circumstances, I had depleted my nutrient reserves, but I didn’t expect that to be the case with women who were able to keep food down during pregnancy. Yet I encountered that most of my clients also had signs of multiple nutrient deficiencies. As I coached more women, I realized that the majority of mothers are depleted, and usually in more than one nutrient. I dug deeper into the research and found that actually 95%+ of the US population is deficient in Vitamin D, 9 of 10 mothers are deficient in Omega 3’s, over 30% of women worldwide are anemic and so on. My mind was blown! It is the norm not the exception in the US for mothers to experience nutrient depletion, and this only gets worse for second, third and fourth time mamas. I believe this is due to a mix of our highly processed diet that is high in calories but low in nutrients, and the increased requirements of pregnant and postpartum mothers.
Knowing this, I created an online quiz that considers a woman’s diet and lifestage to evaluate for potential deficiencies and I also highly recommend mothers who are experiencing symptoms to take a micronutrient analysis test so they can get a better idea of where they stand.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was first coaching clients, I would make diet and supplement recommendations without going into too much detail about the quantities, ingredients and forms. For example, I would recommend my anemic clients to eat heme-iron rich foods and take an iron supplement. Many of my clients overcame their anemia but many didn’t really see a difference. So I started to pay closer attention to the details, and looked into which foods and supplements they were taking and how they were taking them.
Unfortunately the supplement industry is not heavily regulated in the US and there are a lot of sub-par quality products in the marketplace. It is very hard for a regular consumer to understand the labels and decide what is a good supplement versus what only claims to be one. Some supplements have super low dosages that are not enough to move the needle, others have lots of unwanted ingredients in them, or come in forms that the body can’t absorb. You’d be surprised to learn that some of the most popular brands put ingredients like dyes and even anti-freeze in their supplements.
This is why I decided to launch my own line of supplements, using the adequate quantities, in the most bio-absorbable forms, with the right co-factors, and of course no added fillers, colorants, etc. I read dozens of studies to understand what dosages and forms work best on women’s bodies. I made sure that all the B-vtiamins in my supplements are methylated, we use folate instead of folic acid, and we stay on top of the latest research to provide our clients with the best in class products. Nobody wants to waste their time and money taking something that is not going to work.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband has always been very supportive of my endeavors. When I told him I wanted to quit my job to pursue nutrition, he agreed because he knew how passionate I felt about spreading the knowledge that had helped me recover from my challenging pregnancy and birth. But he has not just supported me, he is my sounding board, my technical support desk and even my design to-go person. He helped me launch my product line from scratch and has been pivotal in navigating the complicated world of Amazon. Thanks to him we successfully launched on Amazon at the end of 2018 and have sold over 24,000 products there. I literally could not have done this without him.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Pregnancy and birth can be hard on a woman’s body, in fact more than 90% of US mothers struggle with some form of pregnancy or postpartum complication. And a third of mothers report persisting problems 6 month after birth, like diabetes or postpartum depression, which affects more than 500,000 mothers each year, this is more than the population of metro Atlanta, GA!
The majority of maternal complications have been linked to nutrient deficiencies, because
mothers need double or triple the nutrients during this time. It is almost impossible to meet these increased needs by “eating for two”, that’s why traditional cultures around the world feed mothers special “pregnancy and postpartum” foods. Unfortunately, our modern prenatal care system in the US is lacking in this area. The reality is, most mothers are left feeling depleted and exhausted (myself included).
This is where we can help; we offer a line of high quality supplements designed to boost the overall health and wellbeing of mothers, whether they are trying to conceive, pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking care of children. Studies have shown that women who take supplements during pregnancy and lactation, are more likely to avoid health complications, and the longer they supplement, the better off they and their babies do. It doesn’t have to be all encompassing either. Taking something as simple as a probiotic can boost levels of immune-boosting compounds in a mother’s milk and protect her baby from colic, spit-up and eczema.
When I think about the bigger picture and how we impact people’s lives, it goes beyond improving mom and baby’s health. In my view, we also help make motherhood an easier and happier journey, that can result in a healthier generation both physically and mentally.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Move your body — exercising helps in so many ways! It increases metabolism, improves mental health, reduces stress, improves circulation and oxygenation, regulates blood sugar, increases muscle mass and lean tissue, I could go on. You can start with just walking, no need to run a marathon to gain the benefits of exercise. Try to be consistent.
- Eat Clean — it is no secret that the food that we eat today is highly processed, and that creates more work for our bodies, while it deprives us from real nutrients. Learn to read the labels and when possible opt for fresh food, this includes your children too.
- Ditch the sugar — it is hard to escape because it is everywhere, but sugar is the cause of so many health issues, it would take pages to address. One interesting statistic is that immune system activity is decreased up to 50% after 1–2 hours of eating sugar, lasting up to five hours!
- Reduce Stress — I know it’s easier said than done, but even if you eat super healthy and sleep 8 hours at night, if you spend the rest of your day in stress mode, you will end up depleted and unhealthy. Some of my favorite ways to combat this is by taking Ashwagandha, an ayurvedic herb that reduces cortisol, the stress hormone and by practicing 20 minutes of meditation.
- Good Sleep — the benefits of a good night’s sleep are priceless. This is hard to do in our fast-paced world, and can seem very unattainable for mothers of babies and small children. But prioritizing your sleep can have a huge positive effect in your health.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Intermittent fasting, it’s cheap, uncomplicated and gives your body a break from constantly digesting food.
That way it can actually focus on repairing. I personally stop eating around 6:00 pm everyday and eat my first meal around 11:00 am the next day and after getting used to this, I don’t feel hungry in between. There are a lot of books and resources about fasting, I highly recommend people check it out.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Being an entrepreneur often means you will work harder than your typical office job, at least at the beginning, be prepared for long hours ahead.
- Juggling motherhood and a career while trying to stay healthy, eating well, etc is a balancing act. Don’t lose track of what’s really important.
- Don’t underestimate yourself, you are capable of fulfilling your dreams, if you believe in yourself, others will follow.
- Making mistakes is part of the process, it is a way to learn. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Ask for help, nobody can do it all!
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
I would have to say mental health, because it’s an issue most mothers struggle with and unfortunately even today, it is frowned upon in our society. Too many mothers that suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety are scared to talk about it and seek help because they are afraid they will be judged or criticized. We tend to blame the mother if she feels inadequate during this time, but there are so many factors affecting our mental health and we need to take it seriously.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
We are most active on Instagram, follow us at @mothernutrient for health tips, recipes and more!
We also offer a 3-minute free online quiz to help women assess what nutrients and supplements they are in most need of: quiz.mothernutrient.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights!