10 Facts About Your Gut

Marketing hype and dietary fads have hijacked the gut health space. As a result, it can be quite difficult to separate fact from fiction, writes clinical dietitian Lorraine Maher.

Fresh organic vegetables at local farmers market

It is now known that microorganisms that reside in your gut, your microbiota, have a big impact on your overall health by training your immune system, fending off bad bacteria and playing a crucial role in digestive health. The richness and diversity of what thrives in your gut is what keeps you healthy. Here are Lorraine’s top tips for gut health:

1 Eat your fruit and veggies…

Eat your veg and fruit: both are full of fibre and several provide prebiotics, which are the fertiliser for your gut.

2 Eat lots of plant-based foods…

Variety is important and it’s not as hard as you might think – plant-based foods include wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds – so you’d be surprised how quickly you can notch up 30 portions over seven days.

The micro-organisms that reside in your gut have a big impact on your overall health

The micro-organisms that reside in your gut have a big impact on your overall health

3 Eat something ‘living’…

Live or bio yoghurts tick this box, or for the more adventurous, try some fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha (tea fermented with bacteria or yeast) or sauerkraut.

4 Include healthy fats…

Include healthy fats in your diet: these can include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel; nuts such as walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts; or seeds such as chia.

5 Don’t exclude food groups…

Don’t exclude whole food groups: there’s no reason to, unless you have been medically advised to do so.

6 Chew your food, slowly…

Slow down the pace of your eating and try to chew each mouthful to a soft pulp before swallowing. The value of this is often underestimated.

7 Don’t skip meals…

Regular eating helps prevent over-eating. If you suffer with gut symptoms, your body will likely prefer smaller, more regular meals.

8 Keep yourself hydrated…

Water and decaffeinated drinks are best. Adequate hydration is important, since fibre depends on water to do its job and to help your gut to function at its best.

A sampler of fermented food great for gut health - glass bowls against wood:  kimchi, red beets, apple cider vinegar, coconut milk yogurt, cucumber pickles, sauerkraut

A sampler of fermented food great for gut health – glass bowls against wood: kimchi, red beets, apple cider vinegar, coconut milk yogurt, cucumber pickles, sauerkraut

9 IBS – don’t restrict diet long term…

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), first, make eating and dietary changes such as the above – clinical studies have shown them to be effective. If you embark on any restricted diet, remember that they should only be followed short term as you run the risk of upsetting your microbiota.

10 All probiotics are not equal…

Probiotic strains are very specific and not all will work on certain symptoms, so choose a probiotic that has been proven to work.

The dietetics department in Blackrock Clinic is presenting a Masterclass in Gut Health on Wednesday at 7pm at the Radisson Blu in Stillorgan, Dublin. To register, call 1800 601 060

(Source – Irish Independent – Life, Health & Living – Lorraine Maher – 08/04/2019)


Seven Steps To Developing A High Performance Mindset

Which would you rather have: talent or drive? Ability or ambition? These questions were part of the running theme from last week’s Cork University Business School (CUBS) ‘Leading the Way’ conference that I was privileged to facilitate along with fellow journalist Matt Cooper.

Before a crowd of undergrad, grad and transition-year students at Cork’s Opera House, a wide array of business professionals shared their experience.

From Bank of Ireland chairman Patrick Kennedy to Deloitte partner Honor Moore to Dell Technologies VP and general manager Aisling Keegan and many more, their personal stories emphasised the importance of communications, courage, resilience and teamwork. That’s why I call them ‘critical skills’, not ‘soft skills’, folks.

Let me bring you a bit from the final session of the day, a panel discussion on how to create and develop a high-performance mindset.

I was joined onstage by numerous notable figures. Olympic champion rower Paul O’Donovan, former Munster Rugby wing and current Deloitte audit director John Kelly, chair of Sport Ireland’s High-Performance Committee and Bank of Ireland provincial director Liam Sheedy, and former Cork City footballer turned JW O’Donovan solicitor Neal Horgan.

As each person described what having a high-performance mindset meant to them, leading performance psychologist Caroline Currid rounded out the panel by providing important contextual science.

Caroline outlined seven necessary elements to achieving and executing a high-performance mindset. But first, she stated – and perhaps answered my pondering opening questions in this column – that the latest research places the balance between ‘nature or nurture’ at about 50/50.

Based on that research, then, it suggests we have a lot of opportunity to influence ourselves toward higher performance. Essentially, we can nurture our own nature.

How to do that? Let’s turn back to Caroline. Her seven fundamental steps of high-performance mindset – with some examples from the male panellists – is the following:

Olympic champion rower Paul O'Donovan

Olympic champion rower Paul O’Donovan

1 Identify a Purpose

Before you can reach a goal, you must identify it. Share it aloud with others. Write it down in a diary or journal, but make it tangible. For instance, John recalled back when he played rugby, a fellow player used to announce to his teammates how many attacks he aimed to achieve. By declaring it, he made it more concrete in his mind.

2 Chart a Process

This may seem obvious, because of course if you aim to move toward a goal, you need to take a procession of steps. But, like announcing your goal, laying out the precise path you plan to take, should also be made formally. Write how many hours you will practice – in sports, drafting your book, lifting weights, whatever puts you closer to your goal – and follow your process.

3 Overcome Limiting Beliefs

Along with identifying your goal and process, it’s essential to understand how you may be holding yourself back. You don’t have to do this alone. Neal explained that a sports psychologist had successfully counselled him to help improve his awareness about his own negative thoughts.

4 Set High Standards

Paul and his brother Gary exemplified setting a high bar. “We said we wanted to win an Olympic gold medal,” Paul said. They rowed to silver in 2016, but their eyes are back on the glimmer of gold for 2020. There’s a lovely saying: ‘Aim for the stars. If you miss, you’ll reach the moon.” Aim high.

5 Train Hard

The high-performance mindset keeps up the drive. Liam revealed that when he coached a team in Tipperary, he made sure each player committed equally to training. “Everyone had to push themselves.”

6 Communicate Honestly

If, as Liam related, a team member was not carrying his load, he had to be told. Paul explained that he and his brother did not always train together – but they always communicate their activities with a strong level of trust. Be direct and open with others – and yourself.

7 Value Yourself

According to Caroline, this final step in developing a high-performance mindset underpins everything. Train hard, but don’t be too hard on yourself emotionally.

A Tip of The Communicator Cap

After the conference, CUBS finance professor Mark Mulcahy made a special point to find me and tell me his recently departed mother had “been a huge fan” of mine. “Before she died, she regularly cut out the column like a proper Irish mammy for me to read. I’ve found many tips helpful.”

What a touching story. Thank you to Mark for making the effort to let me know. And thanks even more to his thoughtful mammy for making the effort to clip articles for her son. I’ve had many people tell me their mothers have given them copies of my column. You wonderful clipping-sharers are multiplying the positive power. But as my Editor would likely say: “It’s even better if they buy a copy of the Sunday Independent for themselves!”

Like the speakers who shared their stories at the CUBS conference this past week, sharing experiences and approaches to help us connect better with other people – and ourselves – is what I’m all about.

  • With corporate clients on five continents, Gina London is a premier communications strategy, structure and delivery expert. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor. @TheGinaLondon

(Source – Sunday Independent – Sunday Indo Business – Gina London – 17/03/2019)



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