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You think & feel what you eat

You think & feel what you eat
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Research confirms the role of food in keeping you (and I) mentally healthy is important.

In this post, I explore what I view as the essential insights to be aware of in this area.

The basics: You are what you eat

If you have listened, watched to or read anything I have written, you know I will oft repeat, you are what you eat.

This is because:

  • Food comprises nutrients
  • The body extracts these nutrients from the food during digestion.
  • The body uses these nutrients to make, repair and maintain you; your 11 core body systems (think cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, digestive etc).
  • In making, repairing and maintaining these systems you are able to function; to do, think, relate and be self-directed.
  • At the highest level, nutrients fall into three key categories;
    • 1. macro-nutrients, think quality carbs, proteins, fats and water
    • 2. micro-nutrients, think vitamins, minerals and
    • 3. other nutrients, think fibre and antioxidants.
  • All nutrients play an essential role.
  • Your body systems are interconnected and interdependent, they operate as a combined whole system, not in isolation.

The key take outs

  1. If the food you eat contains poor quality nutrients, then you are inadvertently making it more challenging for your body to make, repair and maintain you.
  2. If you make it more challenging for them to do this, you inadvertently make it more challenging for yourself to do, think, relate and be self-directed.
  3. To be the best version of you, consistently eat a nutrient dense and where possible fresh whole food based eating plan.
  4. No, you did not need to do the right thing 100% of the time, rather aim to do it most of the time.

Other nutrients (substances) are also important

It is essential to highlight there are other nutrients/substances that are important.

One of these is fibre.

Fibre has many roles. These include:

  1. Keeping you regular (yes toilet going regular)
  2. Trapping pathogens and wastes to remove them from the body
  3. Supporting blood sugar levels
  4. Helping you sustain healthy cholesterol levels
  5. Ensuring you feel satiated (satisfied) with what you eat, and
  6. Supporting/promoting your immunity.

It is estimated the average person falls well short of their daily average fibre needs. The average adult male needs approx. 30-35g fibre daily and an adult women 20-25g.

But wait there is more; a closer look at fibre

We need to take a closer look at fibre, specifically to look at its ability to shape how you feel and think.

The essentials of fibre

  • Fibre is categorised in “Other Substances” essential to good health.
  • Fibre does not (is not meant to be) digested by the body.
  • Fibre makes its way to large intestine (bowel/colon) where it ferments.
  • Fermentation produces substances that feed the microbes living there.
  • In doing so, it facilitates the presence of the microbe species, numbers and ratio of microbes living in your gut.
  • These microbes form part of your body’s microbiota.
  • The body’s microbiota plays an essential role in promoting and maintaining immunity.

Microbiome-gut-brain axis

There is a growing body of research indicating:

  1. The gut microbiota is linked with the brain in a bi-directional relationship, it is generally referred to as the microbiome–gut–brain axis.
  2. It suggests this axis has an important role in regulating brain function and behavior.
  3. The link to food is because what you eat, is one of the most significant factors shaping human gut microbiota structure and function.

Yes, research is still going on and yes we still do not understand all that goes on. However, we do understand the role of food, in particular fibre in large intestine microbiota health.

To keep things simple, the phrase you are what you eat takes a different meaning. You think and feel what you eat.

Why an important insight?

Your ability to think and feel is core to your ability to function and perform in day to day life; personally and professionally.

  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health crisis in their lifetime.
  • Negative stress is experienced by many, both in and out of work.
  • Your aim is to be agile, focused and relevant in thinking, so you can make quality decisions.
  • Your aim is to effectively manage and regulate your emotions, so you can engage, motivate and collaborate.

Key take outs:

  1. What you eat, is one of the most significant factors shaping human gut microbiota structure and function
  2. What you eat, including the amount of fibre you include in your diet, will help shape how you think and feel.
  3. What you eat, including how much fibre you include, is a factor you can have within your control.

So what do you do now?

  1. Know how much fibre to include in your eating plan; the average healthy adult women approx. 20-25g daily and man 30-35g daily.
  2. Understand how much fibre you eat: Keep a food diary for 5-7 days, track food and the fibre it contains?
  3. If you are not eating enough fibre, takes steps to add fibre to your diet, both soluble an insoluble fibre.
  4. To learn more about fibre and what foods contain fibre, read my blog article Are you eating enough fibre.

What more information?

I encourage you to make contact.

Take care, stay safe.

ciao Jan


Stress, cortisol, adrenal overload: Are these enemies of my well-being?

Stress is now part of our common day language, it almost seems like we are all stressed all of the time.  Is this correct?

Are you stressed all of the time?  Is stress always negative?

And what is the cortisol, what is its links to adrenal overload?  How do I know if stress is a potential issue for me?  How do I know if it is impacting my health and wellbeing?


How to eat healthy at work?

How to eat healthy at work?

Do you work in a busy work environments.  Do you find yourself short on time constantly juggling priorities.

Is it undermining your ability to eat healthy?  Are you feeling the effects – poor concentration, lacking energy, low motivation?

To help you stay on track, here are 8 key tips for sustaining healthy eating when you are at work.


Combat poor food choices when stressed?

Combat poor food choices or overeating when stressed or busy.

Ever had a super busy or stressful day, week, month or months?  Yes, my hand is also in the air.

I have 4 questions for you:

  1. Did it undermine your good intentions to make healthy food choices?
  2. Did you instead find yourself craving or seeking out comfort (aka energy dense unhealthy) food?
  3. Did you find yourself inhaling your food at a rapid rate?
  4. Did you eat something before you were aware you had it in your hand?

How to achieve optimal health?

How to achieve optimal health?  So many health experts, so many health solutions.

Health information and solutions appear infinite.

If you start reading or researching, you may disappear for days, weeks or maybe for months.  And it is likely you will resurface still confused about where to start.

What is it you need to know before you jump in?

Read on for clear and simple insights into what appears to be our modern-day holy grail – our desire for optimal health.


How to nap to improve mood & alertness

How to nap to improve mood and alertness.

Did you know statistics indicate we are becoming more not less sleep deprived?  Poor quality or lack of sleep that leads to sleep deprivation contributes to and is associated with a range of health conditions and diseases.

Other than investing in 7-8 hours sleep a night, did you know you can use napping as a simple strategy to help combat sleep deprivation.

Read on to understand how to reap these benefits of napping.


Vitamin D and Sunshine

Vitamin D deficiency appears to be more prevalent, even outside the season of winter.

And as it is winter, I thought it timely to return to the topic of vitamin D and sunshine.

We understand that excessive amounts of sunshine, particularly during those times of the day when the sun is intense can increase our risk of developing skin cancer.  It is an important message that has been communicated effectively.

However we are unfortunately seeing increasing levels of Vitamin D deficiency particularly in women.  Like most things there are likely multiple factors contributing to this.

I am often asked questions about Vitamin D including why is it important, can get it safely from sunshine, are there are sources and is it possible to take too much when taking a supplement?

Read on for my answers.


Winter health tips

Winter health tips? How can you help prevent bugs from knocking you out for the count?

It is that time of year, when because we are indoors more we can be at risk of coming into contact with more bugs.

Three questions I am commonly asked are:

  1. How do I limit or avoid my contact with bugs?
  2. How do I help fortify my your immune system?
  3. What are some key nutrients I need to ensure are in my diet?

You know the drill, read on.


Healthy eating and living, is there a quick fix?

Healthy eating and living, is there a quick fix?

How easy do you find incorporating and/or embedding healthy eating and living habits into your day to day life?

My experience suggests that for many of you it is challenging?

Why is this?

Long term success is complex change  

The concept of healthy eating and mindful-living sounds simple enough does it not?  Don’t we just go out and buy some healthy food and start exercising?  Is that not all there is to it?

I do not think it is this simple.

I believe if you want to achieve long term quality health you need to understand the concept of integrated health and to understand that health comprises a number of elements.  And importantly that is when these elements are in ‘reasonable’ balance that we have the best chance of achieving long term quality health.

Let me explain.