How I Stay Healthy: Dr Johanna Ward
How I Stay Healthy: Dr Johanna Ward

How I Stay Healthy: Dr Johanna Ward

A GP specialising in dermatology and nutrition, Johanna Ward knows everything there is to know about ageing well. The brains behind leading skincare and supplement brand ZENii, and the founder of Vitalize Skin & Wellness Clinic in Kent, she’s the industry go-to for better health – inside and out. From how she stays in shape to her favourite supper dishes and supplements, she shares her golden health rules with us…

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Count plants, not calories. Food is our cellular fuel and feeds our DNA, and I try wherever possible to pack in nutrients. I work full-time so breakfast has to be speedy and simple – my go-tos include Bircher muesli, kefir or porridge topped with mixed seeds and blueberries. I’m also a fan of making smoothies – you’d be surprised how many different fruits, vegetables and other nutrients you can pack into a smoothie. 

Covid changed everything for me, health-wise. I caught the virus back in the spring of 2020 and was very ill – I ended up being hospitalised with coronavirus pneumonia. The virus has left me with long-term cardiac problems, and whilst my health was always something I prioritised, it suddenly became even more important as I continue my recovery. Supplements are a staple in my house – every day, I take omega-3, vitamin D3 and K2 (the two often go hand-in-hand), magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, CoQ10, quercetin, collagen, MSM and hyaluronic acid. I also use a green powder in smoothies and, if I’m feeling particularly tired or run-down, I’ll add in extras. 

When it comes to hormonal balance, lifestyle is everything. Nourishing food, quality sleep, an active lifestyle and positive personal relationships are all powerful in our quest for longevity and health. As women move through menopause and beyond, it’s even more important to invest in these things. Five years ago, I created a supplement called Rebalance designed specifically to help women through the transition years. It’s an incredible blend of herbs, antioxidants and vitamins (such as vitamin B6, which is essential for the production of serotonin, our happy hormone). I don’t think I could survive without it now. I also take 3mg of melatonin every night, as my sleep has become more erratic with age. 

Collagen is a great all-rounder. Collagen is a crucial element of your skin – it’s the protein responsible for giving your face youthful bounce and, as it declines, fine lines appear. In fact, a significant part of skin ageing is the loss of collagen. I take 10,000mg of collagen every day in the form of ZENii’s Skin Fusion – this is a liquid formula, which means it’s better absorbed by the body and, at this strength, it’s known to have the most benefits. 

I try to avoid snacking where possible. Sticking to three main meals helps keep calories in check and is better for your gut health, too. I prefer to eat more at lunchtime and then have a lighter dinner. Dinner tends to be some form of protein on a bed of leafy greens, or a stir fry. If I do snack, it’s a piece of fruit or a handful or organic nuts. If I struggle for dinner inspiration, I use a Mindful Chef recipe box – not only is there lots of variety with their recipes, but they are all very healthy, using complex carbohydrates and well-sourced meat and fish, and there’s a real focus on superfoods.

I prefer savoury to sweet food. Every week, without fail, I buy avocado, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, onions and udon noodles. I love cooking Asian-style dishes and, when friends come for dinner, my favourite dish to make is a vegan miso and shiitake ramen. 

Choosing organic food will limit toxin exposure. We live in a toxic world of chemicals and pesticides, so it’s important to cut back where you can. I will buy organic food where possible and have a sauna three times a week to sweat out heavy metals and toxins. I also drink lots of filtered water and take NAC (a powerful antioxidant) to support the kidneys and liver, which are the body’s main detoxifying organs.

Around 70% of us are lactose intolerant. Dairy can trigger inflammation for so many of us, and we really shouldn’t be consuming anywhere near the amounts of dairy we do. I actively avoid dairy and instead use oat or soya milk as alternatives. 

Eating the rainbow is important. My diet is centred around plants – it’s not exclusively plant-based but it is plant-heavy. I encourage all my patients to eat food that nourishes them and fortifies the body from within. I don’t eat red meat anymore, but I do eat fish occasionally, so long as it’s deep sea and fresh. Avoiding processed junk food is one of the most powerful food interventions we can all make, as is cutting back on sugar. Sugar has no nutritional value for human beings and causes metabolic disarray. 

The best diet is the one you can sustain for life. Like so many women, my weight has gone up and down over the years. And after three children, it becomes much more of an effort to maintain the same body that I used to. We all indulge from time to time, but the most important thing is what you eat most of the time. So long as the vast majority of what we eat and how we live is healthy, the odd treat now and then isn’t a problem.

There’s never been a better choice of low-alcohol options. I drink minimally these days – I get dreadful migraines if I drink. My husband is a fitness fanatic which has had a huge impact on me and, whilst we might both enjoy a glass of organic wine every now and then, alcohol doesn’t feature much in our day-to-day lives. I feel much better for it, too. If I’m out, I’ll often choose an alcohol-free option and at home I have a selection of CleanCo drinks. 

Regular gym sessions keep me fit. I am incredibly lucky to live in the countryside, where we have incredible places to walk and be outdoors. During lockdown, we also created our own home gym, so that helps, too. I tend to do three sessions a week in the gym (a combination of cardio and strength), as well as one yoga class and outdoor walking with the family. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t achieve this each week, but it’s what I aim for as part of my longevity plan.

Strength training is essential for a strong body. When I was younger, I used to focus on cardio, burning fat and calories, but today I prioritise strength and resistance training. Studies have shown lifting weights (or using your bodyweight) is one of the most important types of exercise from your 40s onwards. If I don’t exercise regularly, I feel tight, stiff and get a sore neck – it’s easy to see how the body can seize up without regular exercise.

Hormones can affect sleep. I used to be a great sleeper but in recent years I have struggled with waking early and shortened sleep cycles. Levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, dwindle with age, so consider supplementing with 3mg per night. I try to get to bed at 10:30pm every night (the body thrives on routine) and have invested in blackout blinds. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but always avoid drinking caffeine post-2pm.

Learn how to say no. I’ve had periods of complete exhaustion and burnout in my career and those experiences have made me more protective over my mental health and I’m more conscious of not letting things spiral out of control. I give myself eight weeks off per year to be with my family, even if I take it as unpaid leave. 

Don’t feel guilty for prioritising self-care. Looking after your mental, emotional and psychological health is just as important as looking after your physical health. They are intertwined in so many ways, and we are only just beginning to understand the long-term effects of stress. I have a weekly deep tissue massage for my back and neck as well as migraine prevention, and once a year I do a yoga retreat with girlfriends. I own a skin and laser clinic in Kent and, on a monthly basis, have a medical facial – such as a Hydrafacial – or a chemical peel to freshen the skin. I also use collagen regenerating treatments like Profhilo on a regular basis. 

Finally, don’t discount the power of gratitude. There’s this idea that feeling grateful should be easy but, for most of us, it’s tricky to practise gratitude in a deep and consistent way. When we’re constantly rushing around, comparing our own lives to other people’s or wishing we could afford something out of our reach, it becomes difficult to see the good in our lives. Regardless of how busy my morning is, I take five minutes to say some positive affirmations – this sets a positive mental framework for the day and helps me focus on what really matters.

For more information or to book an appointment with Johanna, visit and

You can also follow Johanna on Instagram @DrJohannaWard

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