The Dr Louise Newson Podcast
147 - Changing minds about food and diets with Dr Robert Lustig

147 - Changing minds about food and diets with Dr Robert Lustig

April 12, 2022

Dr Robert Lustig is Professor emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. He specialises in the field of neuroendocrinology and his research and clinical practice focuses on childhood obesity and diabetes. Dr Lustig has led a global discussion of metabolic health and nutrition, exposing some of the leading myths that underlie the current problem of diet-related disease. He is the author of several books including the books Fat Chance and Metabolical: The truth about processed food and how it poisons people and the planet.

In this episode, Dr Lustig talks to Dr Louise Newson about the influence of sugar, fats, and processed foods on our brains and health, changing minds of the public and health professionals and challenging the food industry. And – just as with changing public perception of HRT – challenging misconceptions about sugar and processed food starts with education.

Dr Lustig’s 3 tips to improve your diet:

  1. Yoghurt is good but make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar
  2. Juice is not healthy. Fruit is healthy and has fibre which is the good part. It’s food for your microbiome.
  3. Trans fats are not good for you at all, try and avoid them at all costs including watching what oils you cook with.

Dr Lustig’s website is and you can find out more about all his books here.

146 - Helping others feel less alone with POI with Ava Vanderstarren

146 - Helping others feel less alone with POI with Ava Vanderstarren

April 5, 2022

Ava Vanderstarren is a performing artist, actor and public speaker. She is the co-author of Blossom Living With Premature Ovarian Insufficiency / Early Menopause Journal and is the co-founder of the charity Innocence Lost Foundation. She has over 10 years lived experience of POI & mental health maintenance.

In this episode, Ava discusses her experiences of her POI diagnosis when she was 17 and how confused and isolated she felt at the time. Ava has co-authored a supportive journal for young people to help readers through diagnosis of POI or early menopause and to provide clear information and help them feel less alone.

Ava’s 3 tips:

  1. Advocate for yourself, even though its frustrating and exhausting
  2. Remember self-care and your own health come first
  3. Don’t underestimate the impact of hormones on your physical and mental health

For more about the Blossom Living with POI / EM Journal:


Connect with Ava on social media:

Instagram & TikTok: @avavanderstarren

Twitter: @AVAnderstarren

YouTube & Facebook: Ava Vanderstarren

Ava’s professional website:

Ava’s charity working with child soldiers in Sierra Leone  

145 - Raising awareness of endometriosis and surgical menopause with Vicki Shattock

145 - Raising awareness of endometriosis and surgical menopause with Vicki Shattock

March 29, 2022

Vicki is 39 years and has struggled with heavy periods and related pain since she was 10 years old. She was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis at 22 but continued to suffer with severe pain, heavy bleeding and UTIs, despite treatments and multiple surgical interventions. As a last attempt to be pain free, Vicki chose to have a hysterectomy when she was 35. Even though her ovaries were not removed, she realised she was entering menopause after the operation when she began having night sweats, insomnia, anxiety and very dry hair and skin. The ‘cure’ Vicki was hoping for didn’t materialise – another battle just began instead, as it took 18 months to access the treatment she now needed for her menopause.

Vicki shares some of the struggles younger women have when trying to get help for endometriosis and/or a surgical or early menopause, and reflects on the decision she made and the lack of information provided to her at the time. Dr Louise Newson advises women in this situation to speak with their doctor about the likelihood of surgery triggering menopause and to find out about the symptoms and benefits of HRT in advance, so you are prepared.

Vicki’s tips if you have, or think you have, endometriosis:

  1. Do your own research and be your own advocate, push for answers
  2. Keep pushing your GP, make them listen to you, show them your pain diary and take someone with you who sees you when you have pain
  3. Learn as much as you can about endometriosis; treatments are not just surgical, there’s exercise, diet, physiotherapy, and others
  4. Understand that hysterectomy isn’t a cure for endometriosis but if it is the right decision for you, learn about the menopause and benefits of HRT in advance.

You can read more about Vicki’s experience here and follow her on Instagram

Vicki helped contribute to the booklet, ‘Endometriosis and You’

For more about endometriosis, visit Endometriosis UK

144 - ZOE’s co-founder, Jonathan Wolf, on the future of nutrition science

144 - ZOE’s co-founder, Jonathan Wolf, on the future of nutrition science

March 22, 2022

Jonathan Wolf is the CEO and co-founder of ZOE, a health technology company that focusses on personalised nutrition. ZOE runs the world’s largest nutrition science study with universities such as Harvard and King's College London, investigating the gut microbiome and how nutrition can improve overall health and wellbeing. During the COVID pandemic, their valuable technology was utilised to help scientists understand more about the virus. The COVID-19 symptom study app was designed at record speed and had a million users within 24 hours of launch.

Dr Louise Newson speaks with Jonathan about the latest understanding of how the gut microbiome affects our health and weight, how much our genes our to blame (or thank) for our body shape, and about ZOE’s latest study into the menopause and metabolic responses, nutrition and the microbiome.

For more information on ZOE’s research and products, visit

The podcast mentioned and hosted by Jonathan is ‘ZOE Science and Nutrition’.

143 - Fertility, pregnancy and perimenopause with Rhona and Tanya

143 - Fertility, pregnancy and perimenopause with Rhona and Tanya

March 15, 2022

In this episode, Dr Louise Newson is joined by two women, Rhona and Tanya, who share their experiences of fertility support, pregnancy, and having symptoms of low hormones after the birth of their children.

Rhona asked the fertility specialists whether the hormone treatments she was taking to become pregnant would affect the onset of her menopause and she was told that it wouldn’t. 18 months after giving birth while still breastfeeding, Rhona experienced severe symptoms due to low hormones and spent 2 years suffering and seeking help before a friend suggested it could be her perimenopause. After seeing a menopause specialist and finding real improvements with HRT, Rhona wants other women to be aware that problems after childbirth might not simply be ‘baby blues’ but could be the start of perimenopause.

Tanya also had a child with the help of fertility treatments in her 40s, and during screening tests it revealed that indications of perimenopause had begun. The IVF was successful, but after the birth of her baby and a relocation, Tanya’s mood plummeted and she experienced a range of symptoms caused by low hormones. Her GP offered antidepressants, but Tanya didn’t think it was postnatal depression and knew her hormones were involved. Tanya is now pregnant again and is apprehensive about what will happen due to low hormones after her next birth.

Louise explains what is – and isn’t – known about hormones during pregnancy and in the postnatal period, and why this can affect women so much in the months and years after birth. She describes the benefits of topping up those hormones with HRT and the multiple improvements it could bring to women at this challenging time.

Rhona and Tanya’s advice for women thinking about pregnancy and perimenopause:

  1. do you own research and seek medical help if you have perimenopausal symptoms
  2. don’t be scared to try IVF, but know the possible effects of low hormones after birth, especially if you’re in your 40s
  3. be aware of what your own body is telling you before you start fertility treatments, are there signs you could be in perimenopause?
  4. If you choose to do extended breastfeeding, know that your hormones will be low and this may cause symptoms

For more information on breastfeeding and HRT, postnatal depression and another personal account relating to post-pregnancy hormones:

142 - Losing my wife: was her perimenopause a contributing factor? With Peter Smith

142 - Losing my wife: was her perimenopause a contributing factor? With Peter Smith

March 8, 2022

Content warning: suicide


Peter Smith joins Dr Louise Newson this week in a difficult and emotional episode. Peter lost his wife, Victoria, to suicide a year ago after she experienced a sudden change in her mental health in her late 40s. In their quest to understand how things could have got to such a crisis point for Victoria, Peter and his family have learnt more about the menopause and mental health, and they’ve raised the question of whether Victoria’s perimenopause could have been responsible for, or at least contributed to, her sudden mental illness when she had never previously experienced any such difficulties.

Peter describes the series of events that led up to Victoria’s death and how healthcare professionals dismissed the possibility of hormones playing a part in the worsening of her mental health, both at the time and during a recent inquest. Louise explains the work she is now jointly involved in, with Peter’s help, to raise awareness of the link between mood and menopause both in Pete’s local NHS Trust and nationwide.

Peter’s advice for partners if your loved one is struggling:

  1. Go with your partner to see a GP, and if needed, find someone that specialises in the menopause.
  2. Talk about it with each other. Listen and try and understand what they’re going through, and support them as best you can.
  3. Encourage them to talk openly with friends about it too.
141 - Helping organisations change their culture around menopause with Sarah Davies, Talking Menopause

141 - Helping organisations change their culture around menopause with Sarah Davies, Talking Menopause

March 1, 2022

Sarah Davies is an experienced business coach and trainer who previously spent over 15 years in senior international corporate roles and as a head-hunter for senior executives. Sarah supported her sister, Dr Louise Newson, as business manager, six years ago when Newson Health menopause clinic was launched. Seeing how devastating the consequences of the menopause affect personal and professional lives, Sarah set up Talking Menopause to educate and support men and women across all levels on the impact of menopause at work. 

In this episode, Louise and Sarah look back on starting their respective journeys into menopause care and support services, and discuss the real-life impact of the perimenopause and menopause in the workplace. Sarah shares some of the outcomes of her workshops and webinars and describes how Talking Menopause stimulates cultural change within organisations.

Sarah’s advice to workplaces:

  1. Everyone should be aware of the peri/menopause and respond to it as a normal process for their employees and their partners.
  2. Consider the practical side; where is the safe space for women to escape to? What are the practical solutions for women suffering at work?

And to women at work:

  1. Don’t suffer in silence, talk to a friendly colleague, download the balance app and go and see your healthcare professional if you’re not getting the right level of support. There’s a lot of help out there.

You can learn more about Sarah’s work at

140 - Addressing the emotional challenges of perimenopause and menopause with Simona Stokes

140 - Addressing the emotional challenges of perimenopause and menopause with Simona Stokes

February 22, 2022

Simona Stokes is an experienced counselling psychologist who uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) to help people with stress, depression and anxiety. After 20 years working in the NHS and voluntary sector, she then founded her own clinic in Birmingham, and has developed an interest and specialist knowledge in helping women with the emotional and psychological challenges of the peri/menopause. Simona’s personal experience of hormonal changes hit her hard and this led her to develop and successfully implement the psychological tools she had at her disposal to support her own journey and made her realise many women need help to understand the impact their hormones have on their moods, thoughts and emotions.

In discussion with Dr Louise Newson, Simona explains the power of estrogen as our primary fuel and the problems that can arise when estrogen falls. She explains the difference in perimenopausal depression compared to general depression, what CBT is and how it can help women at this time of life that can often be a pinch-point on our emotions. Simona advises how to look after yourself and your emotions and elaborates on why so many women feel a sense of loss of one’s role, of identity, and loss of purpose at this time.

Simona’s advice for women experiencing emotional challenges:

  1. Menopause is unavoidable but suffering is optional. CBT helps us to change the narrative we create about the difficulties we’re facing, and allows us to let go of the struggle against the changes we’re feeling. An attitude of compassion, kindness and curiosity to yourself will help you understand your difficult emotion in a more helpful way than being harsh, self- critical, and just wanting a feeling to go away.
  2. It’s really important to make peace with all your emotions. We’ve been conditioned to think that difficult emotions are undesirable and we must strive to feel happy and grateful. Increase your openness to difficult emotions and this will help you be more resilient and emotionally ‘fit’ to cope with your peri/menopause.
  3. ‘Emotion follows motion’, so engage in physical activity, even if you don’t feel like it, as physical activity is a powerful tool to change how you feel. Use your body to calm down your mind either through breathing and relaxation techniques or getting out there and being active.

Simona’s clinic and website details can be found here.

The ‘Meno D’ rating scale to detect depression that Simona refers to can be found here.

If you would like to access psychological therapies via the NHS explore your options here.


You can find Simona on her social media pages a:

Instagram - 


Facebook - 

139 - ‘How my life experience has influenced me as a doctor’ with Dr Naomi Jiagbogu

139 - ‘How my life experience has influenced me as a doctor’ with Dr Naomi Jiagbogu

February 15, 2022

Dr Louise Newson met Dr Naomi Jiagbogu over a decade ago at Birmingham Medical School when Louise was mentoring students who were studying medicine as a post-graduate degree. Naomi subsequently qualified, began her GP training and moved to Manchester with husband, Aria, who was training to be a paediatrician. Louise and Naomi discuss their memories of the post-graduate course and reflect on how the students were older, from more varied backgrounds and had broader life experiences than you would typically find on an under-graduate course and how these factors enhanced the student’s skills and learning, especially when relating to patients.

After beginning her GP training, Naomi’s husband Aria sadly developed a brain tumour and after surgery, treatments and a yearlong remarkable recovery, the cancer returned and Aria died in 2020.  During his illness, Aria wrote two children’s books for their young son about sickness, loss and family, and he also wrote a memoir for adults titled, ‘Broken Brain: Brutally Honest, Brutally Me’. Together, Naomi and Louise discuss the importance of looking beyond the disease and connecting with the person not just the patient, and consider how personal suffering can transform the way you communicate as a clinician.

For more details about Aria’s story and books please visit his website

The books can be purchased from

Or Amazon

The royalties from Arias children's books are going to Brain Tumour Research, Royal Medical Foundation, Society for the Assistance of Medical Families and Royal Medical Benevolent Fund. 

If you have listened to Naomi’s story and would like read more and donate to Brain Tumour Research, please go to

You can follow Aria on Instagram at @ariatheauthor64

138 - Explaining what the evidence shows to offer choice to women after breast cancer, with Avrum Bluming

138 - Explaining what the evidence shows to offer choice to women after breast cancer, with Avrum Bluming

February 8, 2022

Medical oncologist, Dr Avrum Bluming makes a welcome return to the podcast this week to re-visit the hot topic of menopause hormone therapy after breast cancer. Avrum has spent decades studying the research on the benefits and risks of HRT in women with a history of breast cancer and is passionate about giving women clear, evidence-based information that dispels myths and combats the misinformation that has unnecessarily frightened women and clinicians for over 20 years.

In discussion with Dr Louise Newson, Avrum clearly explains what his recent review of the literature reveals about the safety of HRT and the benefits it brings for your future health. The experts highlight the gender disparities that are commonplace in how women with cancer are treated with regard to their hormones compared to men, and they also discuss the importance of patient-centred medicine and giving women choice.

Avrum’s 3 tips for women interested in exploring their menopause treatment options after breast cancer:

  1. Speak to your oncologist. Tell them about your menopause symptoms, ask to discuss the possibility of starting HRT and have a conversation about the benefits and risk for you individually.
  2. When it is available, take Avrum’s article that will be published in the ‘Cancer’ journal in May/June 2022, and show it to your oncologist and GP. Don’t accept a dismissal of your views – engage them in discussion.
  3. Oestrogen Matters’ (2018, published by Little Brown) is a book co-authored by Avrum that is for women and clinicians, including a chapter on HRT after breast cancer, and it is heavily referenced to show all the evidence behind the information given.

Links to Avrum Bluming’s upcoming journal article will be published on the website when it is released.

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App