Physical Wellness

Student smiling in foreground with other students climbing monkey bar course

Physical Wellness

Physical wellness involves caring for our body, including our sleep, exercise, nutrition, immunity, and substance use. On this page, we have put together resources for how you can balance your physical well-being! Please note, no content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Immunity and Health

Coming to college offers students an opportunity for agency to make decisions for their healthcare in ways they may or may not have considered before...but you are not alone! The Office of Student Wellness and Health Services are here to help you stay well at Wellesley!

 

Caring for Your Mind and Body

How are you taking care of yourself?

We know that it can be hard to prioritize taking care of yourself in the midst of midterms, P-sets, deadlines and a host of other obligations that can pile up and create stress.

Did you know that without having strategies in place to manage your stress, your immune system weakens, increasing your susceptibility to getting sick and taking longer to recover?

Learn more about caring for your mind and body 

 

 

 

LGBTQ+ Inclusive Healthcare

Resources for Inclusive Healthcare
 
  • Tapestry Health: Provides affordable, LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare, such as free breast and cervical cancer screenings, free and anonymous HIV testing, and a needle exchange program.
  • Fenway Health: LGBTQ+ health care, research, and advocacy organization based in Boston, MA providing comprehensive and inclusive healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community, those with HIV/AIDS, and the greater community since 1971
  • Framingham GLASS Drop-In Center for LGBTQ Youth of Color: Framingham GLASS offers a safe community space for LGBTQ youth of color and their allies ages 13-25. The center provides activities, games, movies, and hang-out space along with free food,toiletries, and safer sex supplies like condoms. Drop-in hours are 4-7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. In addition, the program offers one-on-one support, STI/STD testing, treatment, PrEP, and other services between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For people over the age of 25, they may receive individual prevention, counseling and testing services on a one-to-one basis. Contact LB Moore at lbmoore@jri.org for more information.
  • Planned Parenthood believes everyone deserves high-quality, compassionate healthcare that’s appropriate for your needs and concerns — no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. Our health centers provide education, support, and sexual and reproductive health services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex patients.
  • Plume is $99 per month and provides everything you need to start, continue, and maintain your gender-affirming hormone treatment. We know everyone has different goals for their transition, and we are here to help you navigate your journey.
  • Transhealth Northampton is here to support trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse individuals with care from a compassionate team. We are here to support your health in whatever way you need. We offer in-person and telehealth visits and are hoping to open in-person, virtual, and hybrid community services soon!
Sexual Health
Inclusive sexual health education means including representation of all identities, bodies, and individuals. Please see below for resources for LGBTQ+ sexual health:

 

Nutrition

Do you have additional nutrition-related questions and want to learn more? Check out our virtual nutrition library for information and resources on a variety of topics!

 

I have questions/concerns about dining hall food (e.g. availability, choice, labeling, allergens, other). Who should I reach out to?

There are multiple ways to get support! Check out the following:

Is it possible that my diet is impacting how I feel?

Yes, your gastrointestinal tract (GI) is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, excitement — all of these feelings can trigger symptoms in the gut. That is because there is an anatomical and physiologic two-way communication between the gut and brain via the vagus nerve, referred to as the brain-gut axis. This brain-gut axis helps explain how psychological or social stress might cause digestive problems and offers us a greater understanding of the connection between diet and disease, including depression and anxiety.

It is important to note that the brain-gut axis is bidirectional. Meaning, the gut can send signals to the brain, just as the brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person's stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression.

Because of this strong brain-gut connection, stress and a variety of negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, depression, fear, and anger can all affect the GI system. These triggers can speed up or slow down the movements of the GI tract and the contents within it; make the digestive system overly sensitive to bloating and other pain signals; make it easier for bacteria to cross the gut lining and activate the immune system; increase inflammation in the gut; and change the gut microbiota (the types of bacteria that reside in the gut). That’s why stress and strong emotions can contribute to or worsen a variety of GI conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and food allergies and sensitivities.

The negative changes in the GI system can then feedback on the brain, creating a vicious cycle. For example, new research is demonstrating that increased gut inflammation and changes in the gut microbiome can have profound effects throughout the body and contribute to fatigue, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

Brain-Gut Messaging

The brain sends signals to the GI tract through the autonomic nervous system; either “fight or flight” (sympathetic nervous system) or “rest and digest” (parasympathetic nervous system). The speed at which food moves through the digestive system, absorption of nutrients, and secretion of digestive juices are all dependent on which signal is being sent. During the fight-or-flight response, digestion slows or even stops so that the body can divert all its internal energy to facing a perceived threat. In response to less severe stress, such as public speaking, the digestive process may slow or be temporarily disrupted, causing abdominal pain and other symptoms of GI disorders.

Gut to Brain Messaging

The gut has its own nervous system; the enteric nervous system (also part of the autonomic nervous system) referred to as the “brain of the gut”. Through the enteric nervous system cells of the gut communicate with the brain. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the GI tract may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter the helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. About 90% of your serotonin is produced in your GI tract and your GI tract is lined with millions of nerve cells called neurons. The function of these neurons and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is significantly influenced by the bacteria that make up your gut microbiome. The bacteria (your “microbiome”) has many important functions. Bacteria protect the lining of your gut, minimize inflammation, improve the absorption of nutrients from food, and activate neural pathways that travel directly from the gut to the brain.

Diet Approaches to Minimize GI Distress and Improve Overall Well-Being

  • Fuel your body every day, every 3-4 hours, and include a source of protein (animal/plant), fat, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables most times you eat.
  • Start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel.
  • Note hunger/appetite before eating, and fullness and satiety after eating. Practice assessing hunger and then eating sufficient foods to feel both full and satiated. Eating too little fat and carbohydrates in meals can leave you feeling unsatisfied and can lead to unwanted post-meal cravings.
  • Note frequency of meals. Do you go long stretches without eating? If so, try to figure out why? Are you busy, distracted, stomach pain, not hungry? Perhaps a meal schedule would be helpful?
  • Are you always hungry and find you eat all day? Try adding protein (nuts, seeds, eggs, yogurt, meat) and fiber (vegetables, fruit, whole grains) to meals.
  • Do you exclude or avoid any food groups, such as foods containing fat and carbohydrates? Avoiding certain foods/food groups can mean an imbalance of nutrients (too much fiber, for example) and can cause GI distress.
  • Note speed at which you eat and any distractions, such as TV, studying while you eat. Try to avoid distractions while eating.
  • Do you eat whole grains? If not, add to meals and snacks (examples of whole grains include whole wheat bread, oatmeal, nuts, seeds).
  • To flavor food, use onions, garlic, cinnamon, dried/fresh herbs, etc. rather than prepared sauces and marinades.
  • Try adding fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha and yogurt to your daily routine.
  • If after a few weeks you think a food you are eating is an issue, try an elimination diet whereby you remove the food from your diet for 3 weeks and then slowly introduce it back into your diet and see how you feel.
  • Schedule an appointment with Health Services to determine whether allergy testing or other testing is necessary.
  • For more reading, click here!
Is it possible to eat too little fat?

Yes, there are many functions of dietary fat in our diets:

  • Your body breaks down dietary fat and converts it into fatty acids needed for metabolism and energy
  • Fat improves taste, flavor, texture, and aroma of foods
  • Fat provides satiety and satisfaction and delays hunger
  • Essential fatty acids are necessary for formation in cell membranes and cell integrity
  • Fat is essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K
  • Fat is integral in maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails
  • Adequate consumption of fat spares protein so it can be used for repairing and building body tissue
  • Fat is a major component of retina, hormones, and hormone-like substances, and nerve endings

Functions of Body Fat

  • Temperature insulation & regulation
  • Organ protection & cushioning
  • Skin protection, softening, flexibility
  • Hormone regulation
  • Stored energy reserve: extended exercise/training moderate intensity

Total dietary fat you need to eat each day:

*    25-35% total dietary intake i.e. 55-80 grams of fat per day based on 2,000kcal

  • 1oz almonds (22 almonds) = 14 grams of fat
  • 1 egg = 5 grams of fat 
  • 1 T olive oil = 14 grams of fat

*    Eating <45 grams of fat/day is associated with increased levels of depression

What does "low fat" on a food label mean?

  • “Low fat” means 3grams or less per serving
  • “Reduced fat” means 25% less than the regular version
  • Be careful when choosing “no fat” products, as these items tend to be high in sugar and salt!
Does it matter how much fiber I eat every day?

Yes, dietary fiber has many benefits:

  • Reduced risk of colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes
  • Insulin and blood sugar stability
  • Prevents constipation
  • Beneficial to gut bacteria
  • Fullness and satiety
  • Delivery of vitamins and minerals
  • Reduced risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulosis

Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate that your body cannot breakdown. It comes in two forms; soluble and insoluble fiber.

  • Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel like substance. It stimulates the bowels to hold on to water, thereby bulking up the stool. It is found in foods such as oats, barley, legumes (lentils, peas, beans) and apples.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve. It increases stool bulk, which helps push material along in the intestinal tract. It is found in whole grains and most vegetables.
  • Functional Fiber is fiber that is extracted from its natural source (soluble and insoluble) and then added to supplements or fortified foods and drinks to boost their fiber content.

How much fiber do you need?

  • Females under 50yrs need at least 25 grams every day
  • Males under 50yrs need at least 38 grams every day

Signs of Inadequate Fiber (<25grams)

  • Constipation
  • Frequent hunger
  • Blood sugar fluctuations

If you suspect you are not eating enough fiber, try these tips:

  • Add color to your plate by adding at least one fruit/vegetable to every meal and snack.
  • Substitute fruits and vegetables for chips, pretzels, and crackers.
  • Try dipping fruits and vegetables in yogurt, salsa, hummus, salad dressing, or nut butter.
  • Choose “whole” grain bread, pasta and cereal. Read food labels. The word “whole” should appear first in the list of ingredients, such as “whole wheat flour”.
  • Add legumes and beans by adding them to sandwiches, wraps, soups and stews.
  • Add nuts and seeds to salads, oatmeal and yogurt.
  • Eat the peel of fruits and vegetables as a lot of fiber is in the peel.
  • Gradually increase fiber over time and spread over the course of the day.

Signs of Too Much Fiber (>70grams)

  • Bloating, gas, constipation, cramping, and/or diarrhea.
  • Decrease in appetite or early satiety.
  • Inability to eat enough energy due to high volume meals resulting in weight loss or lack of weight/muscle gain.
  • Fiber can bind minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc which limits absorption of these micronutrients and may therefore result in a deficiency in one or more of these minerals.
  • Intestinal blockages are rare but can occur.

If you suspect you are eating too much fiber, try these tips:

  • Remove added fiber from your diet such as high fiber cereal bars and supplements.
  • If each food in your meal is a high fiber food, try replacing one with a low fiber food or protein.
  • Choose cooked rather than raw vegetables.
  • Avoid foods that increase bloating such as sugar free gum, cough drops and candy.

 

Fiber Content of Select Foods

Food

Serving Size

Fiber (grams)

Oatmeal

1 cup

8

Chia seeds

.5 T

3

Lentils

1 cup

16

Quinoa

1 cup

6

Cooked kale

1 cup

3

Cereal bar

1 bar

10+

Apple

1 whole

3

Whole grain bread

1 slice

4

Raspberries

1 cup

8

Blackberries

1 cup

7

Pear

1 whole

6

Blueberries

1 cup

4

Cooked corn

1 cup

4

 

Additional Resources:

Are nutritional supplements helpful in fighting the common cold?

There is little evidence that nutritional supplements can actually help protect you against getting sick. There is no evidence that any supplement is a silver bullet that is going to boost your immune response to any and all threats. What then does the research specifically tell us about Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and the common cold?

 

Zinc

In addition to supporting general immune function, research has shown zinc may help you fight off infection in common colds faster. A meta-analysis published in the journal JRSM Open in May 2017 found evidence that zinc lozenges can shorten the common cold's duration by over 30 percent!

 

Vitamin C

The recommended amount of daily Vitamin C for women over 18 years of age is 75mg. To put that into perspective:

  • One medium red bell pepper has about 152 mg of vitamin C
  • One brussels sprout contains 13mg of vitamin C
  • 10 strawberries contain about 110mg of vitamin C

Vitamin C is associated with some benefits for colds. A meta-analysis of 29 trials including 11,306 people looked at how taking at least 200mg per day of vitamin C affected risk and management of colds. The study, published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that while vitamin C did not reduce the incidence of colds in adults, it did shorten the duration of colds, by 8 percent.

Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day translates to > 200mg of Vitamin C per day.

At doses above 400mg, vitamin C is excreted in the urine (because it is a water-soluble vitamin). A daily dose of 2,000mg or more can cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and it may interfere with tests for blood sugar.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is produced in the body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. You can also get it from food sources such as eggs; fortified milk and orange juice; and fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, and herring. The fat-soluble vitamin plays an important role in every cell of the human body.

We often think of vitamin D as being important in bone health, and that is true. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium, maintaining a balance of phosphate, and the growth and maintenance of bone.

Vitamin D is also important for maintaining a strong immune system. And low levels of Vitamin D are associated with frequent colds and influenza, according to the National Institutes of Health. Because we get a lot of the vitamin D we need from sunshine, many people see their levels drop off during the winter months.

Except during the summer months, the skin makes little if any vitamin D from the sun at latitudes above 37 degrees north or below 37 degrees south of the equator. People who live in these areas are at relatively greater risk for vitamin D deficiency.

Here in New England, during the summer months, 10-15 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all of the vitamin D we need. Your skin’s production of vitamin D is influenced by age (people over 65 generate much less), skin color (African Americans have, on average, about half as much vitamin D in their blood as white Americans), and sunscreen use.

It is not necessary to have your levels checked to safely take a Vitamin D supplement. The general recommendation is to take 600 to 800 IU or 15 to 20 micrograms daily.

Do I need to take nutritional supplements for optimal immune function?

No, a strong, well-functioning immune system is the cornerstone of good health, fighting off disease and infections, and allows us to recover more quickly if we do get sick. Eating a balanced diet that contains adequate energy, vitamins and minerals, is key. But it is not all about food. Studies show that regularly moving our bodies and maintaining good sleep habits are also key to strong immune functioning. Micronutrients — magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, C, D, E, — play roles in maintaining immune function and are all readily available in food.

 

Micronutrient/Vitamin

Food Sources

Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes, carrots, tuna, winter squashes, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, bell peppers, broccoli

Vitamin B6

Chicken, fish, tofu, beef, cereals, bananas, potatoes and other starchy vegetables

Vitamin C

Tomatoes, citrus fruits, sweet peppers, broccoli

Vitamin D

Eggs; fortified milk and orange juice; and fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, and herring

Vitamin E

Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds

Magnesium

Cereals, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, milk and yogurt

Zinc

Seafood (oysters, crab, lobster), red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, dairy products

Selenium

Meat, fish, cereals, garlic, onions, avocado, sunflower seeds

Iron

Meat, broccoli, spinach, raisins, clams, egg yolk

Copper

Seafood, seeds, nuts, mushrooms

Folic Acid

Asparagus, brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, oranges, nuts, beans, peas, enriched breads and breakfast cereals

 

You can inadvertently weaken your immune system if you eliminate entire food groups from your diet (related to food allergies/preferences) or you restrict food intake (related to dieting or an eating disorder). Before eliminating an entire food group from your diet, research/ask a dietitian what micro- and macronutrients the foods you plan to eliminate provide. Next, find out what alternative foods contain these nutrients and in what quantity, and be sure to include them in your diet.

Even if you do not intentionally avoid any foods or food groups, your food intake may not be providing you with all your micronutrient needs, in which case taking a daily multivitamin or a mineral supplement may be appropriate. Taking large doses of a single vitamin generally is not (unless prescribed by a physician).

More is not always better. Supplements containing micronutrients are often sold as immune boosters and are often sold in doses that greatly exceed the recommended daily allowance despite a lack of evidence that such supplements have more benefits than following a balanced nutrient rich diet. At too high a level some nutrients can be toxic. For example, excessive zinc can suppress rather than stimulate the immune system.

There is strong evidence that supplements improve immune function in populations that are truly malnourished, which is rarely the case in the United States, according to Michael N. Starnbach, PhD, Prof of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School. “People can be more susceptible to diseases when they are severely malnourished, but it doesn’t mean that replenishing higher-than-necessary amounts of vitamins and nutrients in someone is going to make their immune system work that much better".  

Generally, taking a daily multivitamin is considered safe. When choosing a multivitamin, look at the Supplement Facts label and choose one that generally provides 100% or less of the daily value of each ingredient, such as the CVS Women's Multivitamin.

Some supplements, especially herbal supplements, can interfere with medications, making medications more or less effective. Always consult with your Physician, NP, or Dietitian before taking high doses of supplements, or any herbal supplements.

If you are concerned your diet may not be meeting your needs, talk to a Physician, Nurse Practitioner, or Dietitian. If a medical professional has recommended you take a nutritional supplement, only choose products that have been third-party tested. Third-party testing involves a company that is not associated with the supplier or manufacturer of the product testing the supplement to make sure it contains what the label states. Third-party testing can also ensure there is nothing in the product that is not listed on the label, such as heavy metals and other potentially harmful contaminants. Check out NSF Certified for Sport and Informed Choice for Sport.

For additional information, please refer to the National Institutes of Health’s Multivitamin/mineral and Using Dietary Supplements Wisely

 

Try these helpful tips to boost your immunity through diet:

1. Fuel your body every day, every 3-4 hours, and include a source of protein (animal/plant), fat, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables each time you eat.

2. Aim to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh and typically less expensive. When choosing canned fruits and vegetables watch out for added sugars and salt.

Wondering what 1 serving looks like? Check out MyPlate for examples.

1 serving = 1 apple, 1 banana, 1 orange, 1 pear, 1 cup of cooked spinach, 2 cups of raw spinach, 2 medium carrots, 1 large red pepper, 1 tomato.

3. If you eliminate a food/food group due to allergies/dietary preferences be sure to identify the macro- and micro-nutrients that are in the food(s) you are eliminating and be sure to replace with alternative food sources. For example, meat is an excellent source of protein, fat, zinc, B12, iron, selenium, B3 (niacin), and phosphorus. If you eliminate all meat from your diet it is important to identify other foods sources of these macro- and micronutrients. If you eliminate all animal foods from your diet (meat and dairy), please talk to a healthcare professional to determine what supplements are appropriate for you.

4. Include pre- and probiotic food sources that support gut health such as fermented foods, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt.

5. Choose energy dense, immunity boosting snacks, that can be prepared in advance, eaten on the run/while relaxing/before or after a training session:

  • Yogurt smoothie - 2%/whole fat plain Greek yogurt, frozen fruits, a banana (if you have one on hand).  From the pantry, add chia and/or flax seeds. To liquify your smoothie, add a splash of milk (cow, almond, rice, soy, oat, other) or water. Blend and enjoy.
  • Banana-pb/sun butter hot dog - spread nut/sun butter onto 1 slice of whole wheat bread and wrap around banana to enjoy.
  • Trail mix – buy in bulk an assortment of nuts, seeds, pretzels, chocolate pieces, coconut, M&M’s, etc. Once each week, mix a variety of these foods together in one bowl and divide into 4-7 individual bags/reusable food containers for the week.
  • No-bake oatmeal energy balls - Mix in a bowl 1 cup dry oats (old fashioned or quick or a combination of the two – old fashioned will be chewier), ¼ cup peanut butter (or sun butter), ¼ cup honey, dash of salt, ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts (or sunflower seeds), ¼ cup mini M&M’s, ¼ cup mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then roll into balls. Store in the refrigerator for 1 week or freeze in a reusable container.
What should I know before using protein powder?

First, a few key facts about protein:

  • Protein is integral to our overall health and well-being. 

  • Protein facilitates cell repair and growth.

  • Protein Is used to build muscle when sufficient carbohydrates are in the diet.

  • Relative to carbohydrates, protein takes longer to digest, making you feel fuller for longer periods of time.

  • Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

  • There are 20 amino acids, of which 11 can be synthesized by the body. The other 9 amino acids are referred to as essential because the body cannot make them and therefore must be derived from food.

  • Complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids and are found in animal products (fish, shellfish, meat, and dairy) and soybeans.

  • Incomplete proteins do not contain all 9 essential amino acids and are found in plants (nuts, seeds, beans) therefore it is important to eat a variety of plant-based proteins in order to get all of the essential proteins your body needs.

  • In terms of energy, 1 gram of protein provides 4 kcal of energy, which is the same as the energy from 1 gram of carbohydrate. 

  • Most people can get the protein they need from food.

How is protein powder made?

Protein powder is made by extracting protein from food sources of protein, most commonly cow’s milk, eggs, soybeans, peas, and rice. Other ingredients that may be added to the powder include sugar, thickening agents, flavoring, vitamins, minerals, herbs. 

What are whey and casein protein and how are they different?

There are two types of protein in cow’s milk; whey 20% and casein 80%. When a coagulant is added to milk (such as renin, added during the cheese making process), the curds (casein) and liquid (whey) separate. Both are complete proteins (meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids). Casein is often referred to as the “slow” protein because it takes longer to digest than whey. The slower rate of digestion of casein means it is preferred with a meal, snack or in the evening before bed. 

Whey protein is the preferred choice of many after a strenuous workout because it is a fast digesting protein (and is therefore quickly available for muscle) and it has a high leucine (an essential amino acid important in building muscle) content. Food sources of leucine include meat, dairy, beans, legumes and tofu.

Whey protein is sold in three forms; concentrate, isolate, and hydrolyzed.

  • Whey concentrate is the most basic and least processed protein powder and therefore contains the most carbohydrates, sugar and fat in addition to protein.  It is the least expensive of the three.

  • Whey Isolate is more processed than whey concentrate and has very little carbohydrates, sugar and fat. It is typically easier to digest than whey concentrate, especially for individuals who are lactose intolerant. Manufacturers justify the price difference by claiming greater purity than the concentrate form.

  • Hydrolyzed whey is absorbed the quickest of the three because the proteins have been broken down into their constituent amino acids, making it the prefered choice for individuals with digestive problems. As it is the most processed, hydrolyzed whey is the most expensive of the three.

Is protein powder safe to consume?

Protein powder is not regulated in the same strict way as prescription drugs and food. Instead, it is classified as a dietary supplement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dietary supplements, such as protein powders, can contain harmful ingredients and still be offered for sale to consumers. To protect yourself when buying any dietary supplement, choose only products that have been verified by an independent third-party. Third-party testing involves a company that is not associated with the supplier or manufacturer of the product testing the supplement to make sure it contains what the label states. Third-party testing can also ensure there is nothing in the product that is not listed on the label, such as heavy metals and other potentially harmful contaminants. Choose items with one of these labels:

How much protein do I need?

Daily protein requirements for college aged women vary from person-to-person as it is based on body weight and activity level (0.8-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight, with intense training at the high end). Two women with the same body weight and same age will not necessarily have the  same protein needs. 

Generally, women should aim to eat 15-25 grams of protein per meal and 5-10 grams of protein per snack depending on your personal needs and goals. Eating more protein than your body needs will not result in more muscle.

The bottom line is choose food first. If you are concerned your diet may not be meeting your needs, talk to a Physician or Dietitian. If a medical professional has recommended you take a nutritional supplement such as protein powder, look for one that contains 15-20 grams of protein per serving and one that has been third-party tested. 

Here are a few vegan protein powders that are third-party tested:

Here are a few whey protein powders that are third-party tested:

What do I need to know about the mineral iron?

What is Iron?

  • Iron is essential to manufacture hemoglobin, which enables red blood cells to transport oxygen to the body’s tissues. Iron is also necessary for growth, development, normal cellular functioning, and synthesis of hormones and connective tissue.

  • Most of the elemental iron in the human body is in hemoglobin. Much of the remaining iron is stored in the form of ferritin or hemosiderin (a degradation product of ferritin) in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow or is located in the myoglobin in muscle tissue. 

  • Iron is a mineral that is naturally present in many foods, added to some food products, and available as a dietary supplement.

 

What foods contain iron?

  • Dietary iron has two forms: heme and nonheme. Plants and iron-fortified foods contain nonheme iron only, whereas meat, seafood, and poultry contain both heme and nonheme iron.

  • Dietary sources of nonheme iron include nuts, beans, vegetables, and fortified grain products.

  • Heme iron has higher bioavailability than nonheme iron meaning a greater percentage of the iron in meat, seafood and poultry is absorbed into your body.

  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), meat, seafood and poultry enhance nonheme iron absorption. Phytates present in grains and beans and calcium have the opposite effect.

  • While several foods, such as spinach, are good sources of iron, they have low bioavailability because they also contain iron-absorption inhibitors, such as polyphenols.

 

What is iron deficiency anemia?

  • Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a shortage of iron in the body. Your bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin. Without adequate iron, your body cannot produce enough hemoglobin to make red blood cells.

  • While iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, deficiencies of other micronutrients (such as folate and vitamin B12) and other factors (such as chronic infection and inflammation) can cause different forms of anemia or contribute to their severity.

 

Who is most at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia?

  • Women with heavy menstrual bleeding

  • People who have gastrointestinal disorders or have had gastrointestinal surgery (such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease)

  • Frequent blood donors

  • Pregnant women

  • Infants and young children

  • People with cancer

 

What are the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency?

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Irregular heart beat

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Chest pain

  • Cold hands and feet

  • headache

 

What to do if you suspect you might be iron deficient.

  • Call Health Services and schedule an appointment. 

  • Iron deficiency anemia is diagnosed with a blood test.

 

Are iron supplements safe?

  • Iron in supplements can be in many forms: ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous bisglycinate, ferrous glycinate and iron amino acid chelates.

  • Taking a daily Multivitamin for women that contains 18mg of iron is generally considered safe. 

  • Blood work to diagnose iron deficiency anemia should be done before taking more than 18mg of iron daily. 

  • To correct iron deficiency anemia, 50-100mg of iron is typically prescribed, under a physician’s supervision.

 

When should I take an iron supplement?

  • Do not take iron with tea, coffee or high doses of other minerals (such as calcium and zinc).

  • Antacids (such as Tums) can reduce iron absorption. Taking antacids regularly may increase the risk of iron deficiency.

  • Both long term and intermittent use of proton pump inhibitors (such as Nexium and Prilosec) increase the risk of iron deficiency.

 

What are the side effects of taking an iron supplement?

  • The most common immediate side effect of taking an iron supplement is gastrointestinal distress, constipation, nausea and diarrhea.

  • While ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate are usually the least expensive forms of iron, they are most likely to cause negative side effects.

 

I have difficulty swallowing pills. Does iron come in chewable or liquid forms?

  • Yes. Iron supplements are also available in chewable pill and liquid forms. Here are a few examples of different doses and types of iron supplements:

 

Is taking too much iron harmful?

  • Yes.  Acute intakes of more than 20mg/kg iron from supplements or medicines can lead to gastric upset, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and faintness, especially if food is not eaten at the same time.

  • Taking supplements containing 25mg of elemental iron or more can also reduce zinc absorption and plasma zinc concentrations.

  • In severe cases, overdoses of iron can lead to multisystem organ failure, coma, convulsions and even death.

 

Does iron interact with any medications?

  • Yes. Iron can interact with certain medications and some medications can have an adverse effect on iron levels.  For example, iron supplements can reduce the absorption of Levodopa, used to treat Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome. The simultaneous ingestion of Levothyroxine (used to treat hypothyroidism, goiter, and thyroid cancer) and iron can result in clinically significant reductions in levothyroxine efficacy in some patients.

 

Looking for additional nutrition information?

Barbara Southcote, Nutrition Coach, is a Registered-Dietitian Nutritionist and has been with the College since January 2016. Using an evidence-based approach, she teaches students the value and skill of flexible eating. Barbara celebrates body diversity and talks about health and well-being through the lens of each student’s experiences. Her goal is for all students to feel empowered on their unique journey of greater well-being.

  • Make an appointment by emailing Barbara directly at bsouthco@wellesley.edu

    • There is no cost to Wellesley College Students

    • All visits are confidential 

    • All appointments are currently virutal and available Mondays and Wednesdays

  • Individual appointments are for students who are:

    • Managing nutrition-related diseases/heath problems, such as IBS, Diabetes, PCOS

    • Refueling for optimal sport performance

    • Managing weight or body image concerns

    • Normalizing disordered eating behaviors

Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics (PERA)

Moving your body in joyful ways can help you to stay active, build a relationship with your physical self, and strengthen your mind-body connection. Are you looking to learn new sports or meet friends on-campus through recreation? Want to improve your strength or flexibility? Are you looking for an outlet to burn off stress and improve your focus? Then be sure to check out these wellness resources and those below from Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics (PERA)!

 

Physical Education

Wellesley Physical Education engages students through instructional classes in diverse physical activities to develop skills and knowledge on the importance of regular physical activity that leads to a healthy lifestyle.

Students must earn eight physical education credits to fulfill the College's graduation requirement. These credits do not count as academic units toward the degree, but are required for graduation. Students may earn PE credits for:

Recreation

Wellesley Recreation promotes leadership, a healthy balanced lifestyle, and social interaction through structured and informal activities. Diverse programming meets the evolving wellness needs of the College community with a focus on developing a lifelong relationship with physical activity. 

  • Keohane Sports Center (KSC)
    • Fitness Center
    • Dorothy Towne Fieldhouse 
    • Varsity weight room 
    • Spin studio
    • Chandler pool
    • Indoor climbing wall
    • Squash courts
    • Dance studios
    • Multipurpose gym
    • Fields complex
    • Butler boathouse
    • and Nehoiden golf course
  • Live Zoom Fitness Classes
    • Group exercise classes are a great way to stay connected, relieve stress, tone muscles, and provide a renewed sense of well-being.
  • Fitness Trails
    • There are fitness trails located across campus, both indoors and out. We encourage people of all fitness levels to use trails around campus as we all work towards a more balanced lifestyle, while also enjoying the beauty of our campus.

  • Recreation Saturdays
Athletics

Wellesley College offers a variety of student-organized club sports that compete with other teams in the region.

  • Archery
  • Equestrian
  • Nordic ski team
  • Rugby
  • Sailing 
  • Squash
  • Ultimate frisbee
  • Water polo

Wellesley College is also a NCAA Division III member with 13 varsity sports teams:

Sexual Health and Violence Prevention

Taking care of your personal health also includes sexual health, such as safer sex options, STI prevention, preventative care and services, healthy communication with partner(s), and feeling empowered to make safe and informed decisions. 

 

General Sexual Health

Be sure to check out "The Sex Talk You Never Had" by the Wellesley College Sexual Health Educators!

Are you looking to learn more? See below for some great resources:

LGBTQ+ Sexual Health

Inclusive sexual health education means including representation of all identities, bodies, and individuals. Please see below for resources for LGBTQ+ sexual health:

Contraception + Birth Control

Are you looking to find the right option for you/your partner(s)? Below are resources to help you navigate, and as always consult your physician or Health Services for additional questions.

Services

Health Services provided by Newton-Wellesley Collegiate Health offers a variety of services, including gynecologic services, including birth control counseling/discussion and STI testing, counseling, and treatment.

For additional sexual health services and/or STI testing:

Sexual Assault + Intimate Partner Violence Prevention

If you are looking for resources for yourself or a loved one, please see below. Sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking are prohibited and will not be tolerated by Wellesley. Wellesley is committed to providing a safe environment in which all students can thrive as they pursue their educational goals.

Not Anymore

All Wellesley College students are encouraged to compete Not Anymore, an interactive online education program that will provide you with information about sexual misconduct on college campuses and how to be an active bystander, as well as opportunities for personal reflection. Not Anymore will also provide you with helpful resources available to you at Wellesley College and in the community. The program takes less than 90 minutes to complete.

The information you provide to Not Anymore is completely anonymous and will only be available to you. Your identifying information is only used to verify completion of the program. 

"From the start, I found the test inclusive towards different identities (race, gender, orientation, disabilities, etc.) ...Moreover, I consider myself well-read in regards to sexual assault-related definitions and statistics, but I still learned a lot from the video and pre/post testing, especially seeing whether I got it right or wrong. In all topics, hearing student's diverse stories and encounters was incredibly eye-opening and impactful towards engaging my awareness and consciousness towards these occurrences." - Student Leader, Class of 2015 

Accessing the Not Anymore Program

Step 1: Log on to Not Anymore
Step 2: Enter your username - your username is your Wellesley College email address
Step 3: Enter your password - your password is your Wellesley College password

Sleep

If you're having trouble getting sufficient sleep after making adjustments to your routine, reach out to us in Student Wellness to discuss how we can help support your sleep!

 

Did You Know?

Did you know that average college-aged students need 7-9 continuous hours of sleep each night for optimal health and academic or athletic functioning?  

Busy schedules and residential living can make achieving this ideal challenging, but there are many things you can do to sleep smart!

Remember: Pulling all nighters, or not getting enough sleep regularly, takes a toll on academic performance. If you want A's, be sure to get your Zzz's! Read the information and tips below to learn more about how you can improve your sleep routines!

Sleep Information + Tips

It is common to experience difficulty acheiving restful sleep, quieting a racing mind, or unwinding from the day. However, rest is one of the key ways to boost our immunity, improve cognitive function & memory, recharge our mental health, and ground ourselves.

Please see the resources below to help you achieve more restful sleep:

Meditations + Music for Sleep

Sometimes it can be difficult to quiet our minds when it is time to rest. Tools like calming music or meditations can be helpful aids in acheiving restful sleep.

Substance Use Safety

The College encourages students to engage in thoughtful decision-making and responsible behavior with respect to substance use. A range of educational programs and services are available to help students negotiate choices that promote harm reducation.

For students that choose to use, check out these substance safety tips to practice harm reduction.

 

Alcohol

If you choose to drink, here are some essential things to know:

  • Alcohol is absorbed through the small intestine into the bloodstream
    • Reaches brain in approximately 5 minutes
    • Metabolized by the liver (1 serving of alcohol per hour)
    • Cognitive effects accumulate when liver can't keep up
    • Food and dilution provide a buffer
  • Harm reduction trifecta
    • ​Measure
      • The only way to be certain that what you are drinking is a standard drink is to actually measure it, this will also help you pace yourself.
      • Standard drinks are based on alcohol percentages:
        • 12 ounces - standard can of beer or hard seltzer, 5% alcohol
        • 5 ounces - standard glass of table wine, 12% alcohol
        • 1.5 ounces - standard shot of liquor (i.e. tequila, vodka, whiskey, gin), 40% alcohol
    • Pace​
      • Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream, knowing your BAC can help you make lower risk decisions

      • We want to aim for the "green zone", where you really only need 1-2 drinks to do so, going higher puts you at increased risk.

      • There is a point while drinking when the buzz will not get better with more alcohol, this is referred to as "diminishing returns".

      •   In fact, drinking more alcohol at this point can lead to more negative feelings like fatigue, impaired speech and judgement. If you choose to drink, aim to stay below .08 BAC for a safe, relaxed buzz effect.

      • Note: the legal limit for individuals 21+ years of age in Massachusetts is .08

    • Know your limit

      • Plan and prepare so that you stop when you've reached your limit, and respects others' limits, as well

        • Stick together - especially if off-campus
        • Check in with yourself
        • Avoid shots and drinking games
        • Pour and hold your own drink
        • Pace and track number of drinks
        • Eat before drinking
        • If feeling any strong emotions, go slow!
        • If taking any medication, make sure it’s safe first
  • For additional resources for athletes, please see NCSA and NCAA for further details
  • Wellesley's Alcohol & Other Drug Policy
Cannabis

Harm reduction refers to a range of skills, strategies, and public health policies designed to lessen the negative social and/or physical consequences associated with substance use. Below is information about cannabis use to help you make informed decisions that balance health and safety:

  • Note:
    • Cannabis in any form is not allowed on campus
    • You must be 21 years or older to use cannabis products in Massachusetts
  • Should you choose to use cannabis:
    • Plan to stay in a safe place until the impairing effects wear off
    • Avoid using cannabis before activities that require intact cognitive functioning
      • Such as driving, homework, exams, classes, etc.
    • Don’t mix cannabis with other drugs, including alcohol, which can intensify negative effects
    • Know your source and dosage
  • Should you choose to use edibles:
    • Overdoses are more likely to happen when using edibles
      • They can take time to feel the effects, so people may often overestimate the dosage
      • Start low and go slow
    • Always follow serving sizes, if you don't know the serving size, take less
    • Wait at least two hours before taking more, edibles have delayed effects
    • Plan to stay in a safe place until the impairing effects wear off
  • Understanding terminology
    • THC and CBD
      • THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis plants, responsible for the "high"
      • CBD is non-impairing or non-euphoric, can provide physical benefits such as reducing pain or nausea
    • Strains
      • Indica: higher CBD, but THC content isn't necessarily less; full-body, deep relaxation, drowsiness
      • Sativa: often higher THC and lower CBD; head high, stimulating, energizing
      • Hybrid: hybrid of both THC and CBD; effects are dependent on the strain
    • Chemovars (chemical varieties)
      • Type I: high THC
      • Type II: THC/CBD combined
      • Type III: high CBD
Prescription Drug Use, Stimulants, Depressants

Medication can be part of someone's treatment plan, so how do we stay safe?

  • Safety is why they are not available over the counter
  • Take only as prescribed
  • Ask provider if it is safe to take with alcohol or other substances
  • Do not share with others; they may metabolize and/or react to medication differently than you!

Mixing substances

  • Alcohol and stimulants
    • Combining with alcohol increases occurences of alcohol poisoning
      • Stimulants can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, causing people to underestimate how drunk they are, and continue to drink risking poisoningSome examples of stimulants include:
      • Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, meth, ecstasy, cocaine, coffee, energy drinks
    • Other potential risks include:
      • Racing heart rate, elevated blood pressure, respiratory depression
  • Alcohol, Opioids, and Depressants
    • Stacking multiple central nervous system (CNS) depressants is extremely dangerous
      • Some examples include:
        • Anti-anxiety and sleeping pills (Xanax, Ativan, Valium)
        • Opioid painkillers (oxycontin, Tylenol 3 with codeine, Percocet)
      • Combining with alcohol slows the central nervous system, affecting:
        • Breathing and heart rate
        • Motor skills and coordination
        • Can be fatal!

 

Vaping, Tobacco + Cigarettes

Did you know that 77% of Wellesley College students have never smoked cigarettes? And only 3.5% of Wellesley College students reported smoking cigarettes on 3 or more days in the last month. Many of those who do smoke would like to reduce the amount they smoke or quit entirely.   

e-Cigarettes and Vaping

e-Cigarettes are battery operated devices designed to look like actual cigarettes, but rather than burning their contents, they heat up liquid to release nicotine and other chemical vapors.  The contents of the liquid may vary widely in terms of the amount of nicotine and other additives included.  Although e-Cigarettes may not deliver the same toxins as cigarettes to the user, they are still a carcinogen delivery device.  Early research shows that e-Cigarettes may be useful in helping existing users quit tobacco use, but that in young people, they may be serving the exact opposite function and facilitating initiation of tobacco use.

Vaping

Online Resources for Help with Quitting

Alcohol + Other Drug Policy

Wellesley College is committed to providing an environment of well-being, learning, and accountability for its members, and established its Alcohol & Other Drug Policy with the priorities embodied in the logo created by Ashley Longseth ‘13 for the College's alcohol and other drug education programs: Educate, Moderate, Communicate Concern.

The Alcohol & Other Drug Policy establishes the following Community Standard regarding alcohol:  Students are expected to comply with governing law and College policies; respect this community by minimizing the impact of drinking upon others; care for their own health and well-being; and seek assistance for themselves of someone else who needs support or medical attention. Please read the entire policy here. The College complies with federal law which prohibits marijuana use.