Gut Health

Gut Health

How is your gut feeling?

It is now well known that gut health is crucial to our overall wellbeing. It is also connected to everything that happens in our bodies. The trillions of bacteria that live in our gut affect our health, our mood and our weight.  In a way these microbes work together to form what can be regarded as an extra internal organ and play a huge role in our health.

“Your gut is the centre of your being – it digests and assimilates nutrients from the food you eat”, says wellness expert Robyn Youkilis

healthy gut

Health and Happiness

Most of your immune system actually resides in your gut and the gut plays an important role in your mood. Robyn had discovered in her practice as a health coach, that healing the gut resolved many of her clients’ health issues, even the most stubborn.

Poor gut health can lead to digestive issues, such as abdominal pain, bloating, reflux and flatulence and other complaints. including fatigue, joint pain, headaches and even skin problems.  Robyn says depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability and poor concentration are now also being linked to the gut’s microbiome.  Other more serious illnesses and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer have been linked to an imbalanced microbiome .

Mental connection

The gut has also even been referred to as a “second brain” because it contains millions of neurones which are sensitive to emotion.  Our brain and our gut are, in fact, connected by an extensive network of neurones, chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback to and from the brain.  These signals carry information about how hungry we are, stress, sadness or even anger. Have you ever felt a sinking feeling in your gut when something happens that you were dreading? That’s the brain – gut connection in action. The emotion is triggering a reaction in your gut.

The connection can be a two-way street as tummy troubles will impact on our mood and happiness. Serotonin is responsible for good mood and it is estimated that 90% of your serotonin is made in your digestive track and reduction of this important chemical is reliant on healthy gut bacteria.

Weight Control

Research suggests that gut bacteria can alter the way that our bodies store fat as well as our response to hormones, making us feel hungry or full. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not what you eat, or the number of calories you consume, that’s important, but how your body is using what you eat. You might be eating nutritious whole foods most of the time, but still feel foggy, uninspired and generally less than your sparkling best. This is probably because your gut is not in good shape… not properly absorbing all the vitamins and nutrients from your food.

This means that your cells don’t have the fuel they need to carry out their role in absorbing and assimilating nutrients from your food.

Sources of gut-friendly nutrients

Sauerkraut (fermented food)

Spinach

Lettuce

Silver beet

Collards

Mustard greens

Kimchi

Healthline

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How to improve memory

Boost brain function

Improving memory is a goal that many people share, and there are several things you can do when you know how to improve your memory.

Here are a few tips to help improve your memory:

Stay mentally active: Engage in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles, and learning a new skill or language. This helps keep your brain active and strengthens your memory.

Exercise regularly: Regular exercise improves blood flow to the brain, which can help improve memory and cognitive function.

Get enough sleep: Sleep is crucial for consolidating memories and improving cognitive function. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Eat a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can provide the necessary nutrients for brain health.

Reduce stress: Chronic stress can affect memory and cognitive function. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress levels.

Stay socially engaged: Social interaction can help improve memory and cognitive function. Spend time with friends and family, join a social group, or volunteer in your community.

Use mnemonic devices: Mnemonic devices are techniques that can help you remember information more easily. Examples include acronyms, rhymes, and visualization.

Remember, memory is a complex process, and some factors that affect memory are beyond your control. However, by adopting healthy habits and staying mentally active, you can help improve your memory and overall cognitive function.

As we age, many of us may think that our mental ability must necessarily decline. But new evidence shows that this is not neccesarily the case.

Many older people think that by regularly completing crosswords or sudoku, they will enhance their brain power. However, this is probably not true.  At best, it will do no more than improve their ability to do crosswords and sudoku.  Unfortunately, there is very little evidence that these activities, along with the myriad of phone apps available to improve brain function, achieve anything at all.

According to Melbourne neuroscientist Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, the secret to keeping your brain fresh is continuing to do something unpredictable.  Recent research has shown that keeping your brain functioning well is not about repeating the same activities over and over, rather it is about undertaking new thinking patterns.  Dr Horvath maintains that there are twelve scientific principles controlling the way that we learn and remember. He says that the idea that we can use tools to boost brain function is not supported by current evidence. In actual fact, there is very little that is known about ways that we can help our brains to function better.

If we understand the way that our brain works, we will have a better chance of adopting habits and behaviours that will benefit us to the extent that we can develop a “super-efficient” brain.  As we learn, the brain starts to develop an automatic prediction mechanism. The secret is “you have to keep doing something unpredictable”.  

Learn Something New

Many people, after they retire, will start doing cross-words and playing golf and and may become very good at these activities, simply by virtue of repetition and practice.  However, if they were to take up something new, such as learning an instrument or another language or playing a new sport or even doing something outlandish, the brain will respond and new thought patterns will develop, thus improving brain function.

The conclusion is that any decline in normal brain function is not inevitable as we age.  In fact, if any decline occurs, it is most likely not due to any biological process, but rather sociological effects.

So, the bottom line, according to Dr Horvath, is… “force yourself to engage in something new and once you get good at it, do something new again”.  If you have never done a crossword, it will help your brain by starting to do them.  But once you get good at it, learn to do something else, such as a cryptic crossword or solitaire.  Keep on stretching your brain to function outside of its comfort zone.

In essence, the secret to keeping the brain fresh is continual learning.  If you want a well-functioning brain, you need to feed it new skills all the time.

THREE WAYS TO BOOST BRAIN POWER

1 Follow the Mediterranean Diet

We have long known that exercise, sleep and stress management are all essential for our brain to function at its optimum. But in addition to these three things, we can improve our brain health when we eat a Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean diet helps improve our short term or working memory.

In essence, the Mediterranean diet consists of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with fish, nuts and salads topped off with olive oils.  Diets based on these foods have been shown to greatly improve vascular and brain health. These foods can make up a very healthy lunch or dinner with olives, spinach, goat’s cheese, tomatoes, fish, nuts and extra virgin olive oil.

2 Learn Something New

Learning an instrument or learning a new language can help improve our intellectual skills. As well as this, new sensory and motor skills can greatly boost the brain function. Reading about new things also increases our vocabulary and working memory

3 Go out and connect with Nature

Improving Brain Function

Time spent exploring the countryside is time well spent. Go for drives and explore nature. Meditate in nature, relax and have a picnic.  Appreciate nature… the sea, the countryside or bush land.  Being outdoors gets you out and walking, breathing fresh air.  This all broadens your perspective of the world at large around you and your appreciation of nature… bird life and animals.  

So slow down, get off the computer or phone and take a picnic and explore nature. Not only will you improve your brain function, you will feel more connected with the outdoors, the people you meet and you will feel more relaxed and calm.

healthy food
healthy take out

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A Mothers Day Reflection

Happy mother and child
Mothers Day Flowers

Each year, we celebrate Mother’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the women in our lives who have special meaning to us… the women who have played a significant role in our upbringing, who have loved us dearly, guided us and with whom we feel a very special connection. These women may be our own dear mother, a grandmother, an aunt or big sister motherly figure, or a carer, all of whom have guided us and helped us to grow.

Mother’s Day is also a special day to acknowledge all women who have experienced different or difficult circumstances in life… those who no longer have their mothers, those who have lost their children through different circumstances and are not able to hold or cradle them in their arms.  We also think of women who dearly desire motherhood but are unable to have children yet.  Mother’s Day can, for so many, be a very sad reminder of a loved mother who is no longer with them.

It’s a day to remember with gratitude all the times these women have been a source of strength and guidance and have been there for support when we have needed it… providing us with values to live by and resilience to bounce back when things get difficult.

Motherhood can be difficult and challenging at times. There can be lots to laugh about and lots of tears and sorrow.  We need to be grateful to all mothers everywhere who have come to the aid of others with encouragement, empowerment and strength of character and who have influenced other women, throughout history.

Mother’s Day is a great day to embrace all mothers everywhere, and to encourage all women to be the very best that they can be.

Dream BIG

Dream Big

You need to dream BIG to achieve BIG.

Most people spend their time, energy and resources.in life doing anything but their hearts’ desire.  A lot of people talk about what they are going to do one day but never really focus on their dreams and what they really want.  

Some people waste their time and their lives on frivolous things, trying to get from A to B to C but they often don’t have a purpose or a long-term outcome… where they would like to be in the future.

Some work towards bringing them about.

Why dream big…

Vision and Motivation:

Dreaming big helps you create a compelling vision for your life or career. It gives you a sense of purpose and direction, motivating you to work towards achieving your goals. When you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, it becomes easier to stay focused, overcome obstacles, and persist through challenges.

Stretching Your Limits:

When you dream big, you set ambitious goals that push you outside of your comfort zone. This encourages personal and professional growth, as you need to acquire new skills, expand your knowledge, and develop a mindset of continuous improvement. By reaching for the stars, you’re more likely to achieve significant accomplishments that can propel you forward.

Creating Opportunities:

Dreaming big opens your mind to possibilities and opportunities that you may not have considered otherwise. It allows you to think beyond current limitations and explore innovative solutions to problems. By having audacious dreams, you’re more likely to discover new paths, forge unconventional connections, and seize opportunities that can lead to success.

Overcoming Failure:

Dreaming big prepares you to face failure and setbacks along the way. In the pursuit of ambitious goals, it’s common to encounter obstacles and experience setbacks. However, dreaming big helps you develop resilience and a positive mindset that allows you to learn from failures, adapt, and keep moving forward. It enables you to see failures as valuable learning experiences rather than roadblocks.

Inspiring Others:

When you dream big and actively pursue your goals, you become an inspiration to others. Your passion, drive, and determination can influence and motivate those around you. By setting an example and sharing your journey, you can inspire others to dream big, believe in their potential, and strive for success themselves.

While dreaming big is essential, it’s important to complement it with strategic planning, consistent action, and adaptability. Dreams alone won’t guarantee success—you need to back them up with concrete steps, perseverance, and a willingness to adjust your approach when necessary.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Christopher Reeve
Dream Big

Why not sit down today and write out your BIG dream?

Dream big

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