Keith Wright is an instructor of accounting and information systems at the Villanova School of Business. He has advised for the Eat like a Woman company, but did not receive compensation.
For decades, the Food and Drug Administration and the food industry in general has largely neglected women and women’s health needs, focusing instead on conducting research on healthy young males. In fact, in 1977 the FDA actually banned females from participating in all clinical trials, including medical and nutritional trials. This has led to a dearth of issues with drug and nutrition science, sometimes with devastating consequences. While modern science has taken steps to make up for lost time, some in the business community are taking matters into their own hands.
A young California start up called Eat Like a Woman is taking the latest research into women’s health and applying it to the world of nutrition with a line of shakes, nutrition bars and other snack products that are plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and made using organic, real food ingredients and carefully calibrated food ratios that provide lasting energy for women-on-the-go. It all started with the book of the same name, which founder and CEO Staness Jonekos, wrote with Marjorie Jenkins, a leading expert in sex differences in health and personalized medicine, after learning about the FDA ban. Jonekos was absolutely shocked that women had not received equality in research.
"Until recently, it was thought that the only difference between women and men was merely reproductive," Wendy Klein, a member of the Eat Like a Woman scientific advisory team, said. "Today, we now know that the combination of genetic, hormonal, and physiological differences affects not only our susceptibility to disease, but also how our bodies respond to diet."
The year is 2018 and women are finally saying ‘#MeToo’ and ‘#TimesUp’ to discrimination. Now it’s time to respect gender differences and account for the unique health and nutritional needs of women. Many experts agree that women may in fact be able to slash their risk of major chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, dementia and obesity just by what they eat.
There are other examples of bars and shakes that partially focus on the nutritional needs of women, such as The Primal Pantry and some Luna Bars. But Eat Like A Woman has the most extensive product line and best advisory team of experts on the market. Medical advisory team members include high profile experts from the Office of Women’s Health and the FDA as well as many other world class doctors focusing exclusively on women’s health and female research inclusion.
Refreshingly, this wave of new women-focused nutrition start-ups aren't focused just on weight loss but rather a holistic approach to women’s overall health.
Sixteen long years after banning women, the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act finally mandated the inclusion of women in clinical trials in 1993. It wasn’t until 1994 that the FDA formed the Office of Women’s Health. By 2001, things were slightly better, but still two thirds of trials excluded women.
Because of the 1977 FDA ban, and the exclusive study of young men, the national dietary standards were also based on the studies of young, healthy males. Most current diet books present programs for men and women, based on the research results that used men only.
Through Eat Like A Woman, Jonekos is rapidly making up for lost time. But she wasn't always in the nutrition business. Prior to launching ELAW, Jonekos was an award-winning television writer, producer and director, as well as an author and writer on women’s health issues. She was one of the original executive producers who launched the television network Oxygen Media, co-founded by Oprah Winfrey. During a meeting, Oprah turned to Jonekos and asked what she was doing to make a positive difference in the lives of women with the research she had uncovered. Oprah’s personal encouragement inspired Jonekos to take her passion for women’s health out into the world, building a bridge between the latest science and women everywhere.
The FDA’s Office of Women’s Health is now working hard to bring awareness and enforce mandates to ensure females are included in appropriate research. The Society of Women’s Health Research is also on the same mission.
At long last someone is taking the latest research and applying it to the world of women’s nutrition — the first step to great health. If medical experts are correct, we can significantly reduce every major chronic disease — heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, dementia and obesity — simply through what we eat. Women will be able to achieve optimal health, and the entire society will benefit, from lower health care costs to the expansion of the incredible value that women add to society. The future looks bright and the inclusion of females in clinical research will benefit both sexes for years to come.