From Maine, Christiane Northrup grew up in a holistically-oriented household. She did not originally intend to become a doctor, but wound up attending Dartmouth Medical School. Northrup did her residency at Tufts in obstetrics and gynecology and was an assistant clinical professor at the Maine Medical Center for 20 years. Northrup has devoted her career to women’s health and wellness. She is an internationally renown writer and speaker and she has several best-sellers including, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause. Her work has been featured on Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, 20/20, Good Morning America and Dr. Oz. Reader’s Digest named her as one of the 100 Most Trusted People in America in 2013. Northrup is the founder and president of The Center for Women’s Empowerment and co-founder of Women to Women. Northrup has hosted public tv specials, and she also founded Amata Life, a health and beauty product line designed to help alleviate menopause symptoms. Northrup is considered to be a pioneer and visionary in women’s health and wellness and she has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. She has 2 grown daughters. Northrup is 5 feet, 4 inches tall.
Christiane Northrup’s Diet
Northrup firmly believes diet is one of the pillars of health. She recommends eating primarily plants along with some organic, non-GMO protein (either from animals or plants), and getting rid of all refined sugars and processed foods. She also says getting your water from plants is a good idea. Northrup advocates following a 80/20 plan of eating healthfully most of the time and indulging occasionally. She is also a fan of eating locally, with the seasons, and branching out and trying something new rather than going with the same old, same old. She says fasting is good for your body and can help you manage your weight, insulin and hormone levels. Northrup says no one should be eating while staring at their cell phone.
- Low-Medium Carb 30% 30%
- Medium Protein 40% 40%
- Medium Fat 40% 40%
Nix the Sugar
Not all carbs are created equal. For better health, Northrup recommends removing or seriously cutting back on the amount of refined sugar and high-glycemic foods, and all processed foods. She says that if you must add sweetness, make it from a natural source, like stevia.
Eat the Rainbow
Northrup says your plate should be at least 1/2 vegetables and fruits at every meal, and that you should aim to eat a variety of deeply-pigmented foods, such as berries, peppers, green veggies, and the like.
Northrup also advises people to get protein into each meal. It fills you up which can help prevent overeating. She likes organic eggs, full-fat dairy, lean meat, and fish. Vegetarians should look for non-GMO soy.
Don’t Be Afraid of Fat
Northrup says we’re still recovering from the fear of fat that peaked in the 80s and 90s. She says essential fatty acids are essential for a reason, and recommends eating eggs, high-quality flax seed, wild-caught fish, and nuts.
Fast For Better Health
Northrup says that while we were trained to eat ‘3 squares a day,’ our bodies were actually designed for occasional fasting. Whether you choose alternate day, time-restricted, or traditional multi-day fasting is up to you. She says fasting can help you lose weight and strengthen your immune system.
Eat Your Water
Northrup says good hydration is essential to good health. While drinking water is good, getting water from plants is even better because it sends the water to the right places in the body. She also recommends adding a pinch of Himalayan salt or a tablespoon of chia seeds to 16 oz. of water for extra hydration.
Northrup says how you eat is just as important as what you eat. Slowing down, paying attention and enjoying your food enhances your relationship to food and your overall well-being.
Cheat With Intention
Northrup says it’s okay to indulge from time to time, but when you do, you should nourish your body with a loving message along with the treat.
What to Eat
Lean Animal Protein
Wild-caught Cold-Water Fish
What to Avoid
Eating While Distracted
Northrup on Enjoying Food
‘Take pleasure in preparing and eating good food.’
Northrup on Fat
‘Not all fats are alike so it’s important to understand that fats per se don’t make you fat.’
Northrup on Grains
‘While it’s important to eat whole foods — mostly plants — you do need to be moderate when it comes to eating grains because our bodies rapidly turn grain into sugar, which causes all sorts of problems, including weight gain.’
Northrup on Processed Foods
‘It is well established that food manufacturers tinker with the chemistry of foods to make them more addictive.’
Christiane Northrup’s Fitness Routine
Not a Natural
Northrup says that unlike her mother and siblings, she did not care for sports growing up. She preferred a good book and some music, but since their vacations always centered around sports and she was naturally competitive, she felt compelled to join in.
Learn to Breathe
Northrup says that the correct way to breathe during exercise is through your nose because it sends oxygen to the lower lobes of the lungs, improving your aerobic capacity and chest wall flexibility. It also restores your body to ‘rest’ mode (as opposed to fight-or-flight). She does not recommend exerting yourself beyond where you can breathe this way.
Transform Your Ideas
Northrup says it took until the middle of her life to get rid of her negative feelings toward sports and engage physically without seeking the approval of others. She now only does activities that feel right for her.
Northrup was in the middle of writing her first book on menopause when her 74-year-old mother was leading a hiking expedition in the Adirondacks. She says it caused her to rethink our attitude toward age and what is possible.
One of Northrup’s preferred activities is Pilates, which she engages in 2-3 times a week. She likes it because she travels a lot and it can be done anywhere.
Cardio + Weights
Northrup says she’s tried a lot of weight training programs, but her favorite is a regimen called The FIRM, which involves aerobics using weights.
Northrup acknowledges that exercise can be intimidating if you’re out of practice. In which case, she recommends cranking up the tunes and just dancing around your house as a way to start.
A Christiane Northrup Start Somewhere Routine
Choose an activity you enjoy. If you can’t think of one, harken back to your childhood when you played outside and use that for inspiration.
Commit to yourself and your health. Promise yourself to exercise at least 3x a week.
Learn how to breathe through your nose.
Don’t sabotage your efforts by pushing yourself too hard. This can lead to overeating, derailing your efforts.
Have fun! The more you enjoy your exercise, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Northrup on Exercise & Age
‘My mother’s physical condition and prowess [at age 74] helped me realize that physical decline and weakness do not need to be a natural part of growing older.’
Northrup on How to Start Exercising
‘The important thing is to just start somewhere…Take a walk and enjoy your surroundings without putting any pressure on yourself with regard to how far or fast you walk. Just do something to wake up your muscles.’
Northrup on Her Sports Prowess
‘I specifically remember my father telling me that I swung a tennis racquet like a broom.’
Northrup on her Relationship to Exercise
‘I still have some unfinished business around sports and exercise.’
Christiane Northrup’s Supplements
Northrup recommends probiotics as a way to strengthen the immune system. Immunity begins in the gut, and that is why you need one that works.
Northrup says magnesium is the most important mineral in your body. It regulates over 300 enzymes, is needed to make DNA and RNA, is necessary for proper nerve function and cardiovascular health. She says magnesium is just as important as calcium for bone health, and that most of us are deficient. It is difficult to test for magnesium deficiency, but common symptoms include anxiety, asthma, constipation, infertility and muscle spasms.
Northrup says about 1/3 of pregnant women in the US are iodine deficient, and that this deficiency can lead to cognitive delays in their babies. Iodine also protects against environmental toxins.
Northrup says vitamin D deficiency is very widespread, and that symptoms can be serious. They include poor wound healing, frequent illness, depression, hair loss, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Christiane Northrup’s Lifestyle
Align With the Divine
Northrup says nurturing a spiritual life will make you not only happier but healthier too.
Evaluate Your Relationships
Northrup says healthy relationships with others strengthen the immune system, so don’t let the energy vampires suck the life out of you.
Master Your Migraines
Northrup said she suffered terribly from migraines when she was young and always trying to please others and win their approval through perfect grades, etc., but once she decided she didn’t have to do that anymore, her migraines went away.
When she isn’t traveling, Northrup likes to indulge her hobbies of boating, staying fit, reading and Argentine tango.
Northrup says one of her earliest memories is of her baby brother almost dying, and her parents trusting unconventional medical advice to cure him. She became determined to explore ideas outside of the traditional medical approach of drugs and surgery.
Like Father, Like Daughter
Northrup’s father was a dentist who had a holistic bent. He believed that the mouth was a window into a person’s health and personality. Northrup’s aunt and uncle were traditional doctors who made fun of her dad’s unconventional ideas, but she said her dad was a much happier person, which rubbed off on her.
Sleep Better Tonight
Northrup says some 20-40% of women have sleep disorders. Lack of sleep can not only make you irritable and more accident-prone, but also mess with your hormones and put you at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Northrup recommends tidying your space to reduce stress, not eating or drinking before bed, turning off electronic devices and having a wind-down ritual to signal to your body it’s time to sleep.
Northrup on her Life’s Work
‘I’ve spent the first half of my life researching and footnoting everything that can go WRONG with the female body — knowing all along that there had to be a better way. Now I’m dedicating the rest of my life to focusing on everything that can go RIGHT.’
Northrup on the Mind-body Connection
‘When we find the connection between our thoughts, beliefs, physical health and life circumstances, we find that we are in the driver’s seat of our lives and can make profound changes. Nothing is more exhilarating or empowering.’
Northrup on How She Picked Obstetrics
‘Being around women giving birth was as easy as breathing.’
Northrup on Conventional Medicine
‘Most of what I was taught about disease is not the truth.’
Northrup on Migraines
‘I cured my migraine headaches. Not with Imitrex. Not with Advil. I cured them with a change in perception.’
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom