What’s so fabulous about fibre?

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We are only just beginning to explore the intricacies of how the food we eat interacts with our bodies and in particular, our gut microbiota (the incredible 100 trillion bacteria that live in our digestive system). Fibre is a vital part of what can be called your ‘way of life’ or your daily normal diet (click here to see my previous post on ‘Which diet is best for me?’). The aim of this article is to share the evidence on the benefits of fibre, where we can get it from and how we can apply this to our everyday. 

The WHY of FIBRE.

Looking into the importance and benefits of fibre will hopefully encourage you to welcome it into your day wherever and however you can.

FIRST BENEFIT: Fibre has hormonal effects.

What is a hormone and how does it relate to fibre?

The word Hormone is Greek for ‘set in motion’. If you imagine a hormone like a parent on a mission, intent on getting things done; hormones are chemicals that travel to certain organs and exert a specific effect in order to make things happen.

An example is the fascinating hormone Insulin which is remarkably designed to allow the body to utilise sugar/glucose from the food we eat to be used as fuel (sugar is essential for our survival, click here to read more on why). Insulin is able to unlock cells, in effect telling the body to absorb this energy source for immediate use or to store it for later.

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How is insulin linked to fibre?

The fibre in your meal adds bulk to your food, which means it takes longer to chew and travel through the body, slowing down the digestive process. This slowing down means that food takes longer to leave the stomach and longer for the digested food to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This results in a delayed release of sugar into the blood and a delayed release of the hormone Insulin.

Why is this so important?

Dr Jason Fung, Canadian kidney specialist describes the action of Insulin similar to the railway guards in Japan called ‘pushers’. The job of these ‘pushers’ is to cram as many people onto the subway trains as they can during peak time. Similarly, Insulin is released by the body after eating highly refined carbohydrates, for example,  to ‘push’ the sugar efficiently into our cells. With the sugar now being taken up by the cells, there can be a sudden drop in blood sugar which if persists in some people can cause feelings of hunger, tiredness, fatigue and dizziness- symptoms of what we may call a ‘sugar crash’.

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Blueprint for life? Learning to manage our core human needs.

mountains nature sunset summer

Growing up in a society where qualities of independence, maturity and responsibility are highly valued it has always felt like a weakness to admit vulnerability.

In a culture that prides itself on working hard and long hours, wearing high levels of stress as a badge of achievement;  admitting that we have needs has a sense of giving in to being flawed or weak.

Understanding how our brain has grown and evolved has been pivotal in my realisation that we do have very real needs that cannot be ignored and must be managed if we are to work towards achieving a healthy body and mind.

Rick Hanson, author of Resilient, outlines these three core needs and their evolutionary origins.

PRIMARY NEED FOR SAFETY – This is thought to have come from needing to stay alive and run away from predators and when met gives us feelings of being secure.

SECONDARY NEED FOR SATISFACTION– This perhaps evolved to give us the motivation to get things done and to achieve feelings of success.

FINALLY OUR NEED FOR CONNECTION– This is a connection with ourselves, our self-worth and connection to our community.  The feelings of being loved, understood and heard.

These needs have emerged from the progressive evolution of our primitive brain over the last 600 million years.

The oldest part of our brain is the Brainstem,  known as our REPTILIAN or Lizard brain; it is primarily concerned with raw basic survival.

The next structure to evolve from the brainstem is the Subcortex known as our MAMMALIAN or Hamster brain; wired to seek satisfaction.

On top of both these structures lies our crowning glory- the Neocortex, known as our PRIMATE or Monkey brain; concerned in particular with social connection.

During the flow of our day, there are many different situations that can easily threaten our wellbeing- if we let them.  They evoke various emotional reactions which, if we take a moment to be witness to them, are designed to show us where the work is to be done.

3 STEPS TO RECOGNISE, ACCEPT AND MANAGE OUR NEEDS

STEP 1:

Name the emotion to yourself, be it anger or feeling unhappy, lonely or unheard.

There is a lot of work written about the power of witnessing and naming an emotion as it arises instead of pushing it back down…guaranteed to resurface again when you least expect or want it to.

This is my work in progress. Painful and difficult they may be, to not run away from those emotions but to name them and through awareness, stay with them.

Incredibly difficult to do and very easy to write about; I know deep down I can only teach this to our boys through my own self-practice and discipline.

They give me plenty of opportunities to experience a wide range of emotions and for them to see me PAUSE, NAME and STAY with the moment without an instant reaction is,  I feel, the biggest gift of emotional wellbeing I can give them.

But my goodness it is so hard. I am failing often but I can happily say I am making progress as I keep in mind what I want to achieve:

To develop an emotional intelligence that both boys can witness and mirror for themselves.

STEP 2:

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Sleep – The shocking science 4 part series

lion sleeping beside rock

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This week I would like to share Professor Walker’s findings on Sleep having listened to this incredible man and read his new book:

Why we sleep?

by

Matthew Walker PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and Founder and Director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science.

PART 1The scary statistics

PART 2Using Sleep to hack performance

PART 3Sleep and Diet

PART 4How can we Sleep better? What the research shows.

We are fascinating creatures with such complex internal systems with one goal in mind- to keep ourselves alive.
The more I study and read, the more I realise how little we know about our amazing bodies.

It’s taken nature 3.6 million years to develop and fine-tune this 8-hour sleep state. Why is it so important?

From an evolutionary point of view during sleep we couldn’t:

  • Care for our young
  • Search for food
  • Defend ourselves from predators
  • Find a suitable mate

So why is sleep such a big deal?

Since our two boys were born I had become convinced that I could survive on 4 hours sleep and still function at 150%.

After listening to Matthew Walker and reading about his findings from 20 years of sleep research, my whole routine and habits have gone out of the window. This shocked me to the core.

PART 1 – The Scary Statistics

Many studies have now categorically shown over a period of time that :

The shorter you sleep, the Shorter your life.

In the awake state, our body is producing waste and our normal daily activities result in minor brain damage which the body is designed to repair and heal and clean out overnight.

Findings show that the percentage of people that can survive on less than 7 hours sleep with no residual brain damage is equal to 0% of the world’s population.

Perhaps the most significant part of this is that the more sleep deprived you are, the more you feel you can cope. This is because a lack of sleep shuts down areas of the brain involved in logical thinking and increases emotional centres of the brain resulting in poor decision making and elevated emotional responses.

Daylight saving changes have given us stunning statistics :

Losing 1 hour of sleep has been correlated with a 24% increase in heart attacks.

Gaining 1 hour of sleep has been linked to a reduction in heart attacks by 21%.

Sleep and immune function

Natural Killer cells similar to secret service assassins actively search and destroy the bad guys, in our case all cancer cell activity. During the day we all produce cancerous cells. At night we have been gifted with NK cells that clean them up and reset us ready for another day.

4 hours of sleep has now shown to reduce the activity of these cancer-killing NK cells by 70%.

Sleep and risk of life-limiting diseases

Sleep has now been shown to be the MOST significant factor in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, cancers of the breast, prostate and bowel.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan both reported to survive on 4 to 5 hours sleep were sadly both diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Deep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep has been shown to clean toxins from our brain and reduce sticky proteins called:

‘Beta Amyloid’

which has been shown to increase in the brains of Alzheimer patients.

Sleep and shift work

Due to the poor sleep patterns involved the World Health Organisation has classified shift work as a Class 2A carcinogen – a possible cause of cancer.

Sleep and driving

Every 30 seconds there is reported to be an accident from drowsy driving more than accidents reported from drink and drugs.

Why?

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Press Pause: Just 3 steps to calm

 

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STEP ONE:  PRESS PAUSE & FEEL

This is the most underrated step but in my opinion- The hardest.

Here’s the situation:

You are late for work, you didn’t sleep very well,  you spill coffee down your suit in a rush, your boys are fighting over football stickers and to top that off your puppy runs around the kitchen with wet muddy paws.

It is in this moment that your nervous system is mounting a response, most likely from your fight or flight sympathetic system sending a cocktail of stress hormones designed to raise your blood pressure to help you attack or run away.

It is in THIS moment that you have a choice.  This is the juiciest part when you realise there is actually a gap, a moment…an opportunity.

Just feel the rush of the emotions going on in your body. We so often run away or don’t want to feel our emotions, they then get pushed down only to resurface later, this time stronger and now demanding your attention.

I challenge you, as I do myself in these moments, to PRESS PAUSE and just FEEL what comes up in that moment…is it anger, pain, resentment?

 

You then have a choice to either :

REACT  OR   REFLECT  Which will you choose?

 

If you can get past this step and pause even for 20 seconds you are winning.  You are overcoming the inbuilt programming that we all have.

Every time you do this you will be able to pause a little more and even maybe move to STEP 2.

 

STEP 2: LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO OFFER YOURSELF WORDS OF SUPPORT

Instead of saying or thinking to yourself:

‘Why me?

‘I should have been quicker, better, more organised, should have woken up earlier…’

You start blaming yourself and everything around you,

Think :

‘I have great coping skills, I can do this’

According to the fabulous  Marisa Peer, the quality of our self-talk is very important in building our inner self-worth and self-esteem.

 

Positive self talk  calms your nervous system and tells your brain that things can relax again… it’s ok,   you really DO have this.

Your brain can then go from SURVIVAL PANIC mode

to the calmer LOGICAL I-GOT-THIS mode.

 

STEP 3: LEVERAGE

Ok if you have got this far, you are pretty amazing.  It took me some time and many bad days to get this far.

So you’ve PAUSED, offered yourself some words of support. Now what?

LEVERAGEVictor Frankl in his very moving book ‘Man’s search for meaning’ wrote about his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp.  He speaks of how we have a choice, even in the worst situations imaginable on earth, those men and women that chose a positive outlook and reframed their situation were able to live and survive extreme hardship.

 

Leverage is reframing a bad situation into one that can offer us an opportunity for growth.

I am now using this with our boys and looked at what I say to them.

Instead of: ‘That will teach you a lesson or serves you right’

I now pause and say: ‘Well this is an opportunity for growth’.

They are fed up of hearing it but I have read that through repetition, the things we say as parents have been shown to affect the future self-esteem of our child.  Subconsciously, our dialogue, be it positive or negative, will become our child’s inner self-talk.  This is a huge opportunity to make an empowering difference to our future generations.

 

 We are now reframing ‘you are bad and deserve to be taught a lesson’

to

‘Mistakes happen, that’s ok, it is an opportunity for us to grow’.

 

I failed many times and I still do, but I feel I am moving forward as  I can pause for longer and react less and reflect more.

 

 

Thank you for reading,  I aim to bring value to you through sharing new information, knowledge and my experiences.
 
SHARE, COMMENT  and  LIKE
 
if you would like to help me spread the word and  make a difference.

 

Even if all you can manage is to press that PAUSE button you are almost there.

 

Good Luck and Keep Going.

It takes a lot of work and time but I know you and I can do this.


Are you having a bad day? I have one word for you : Leverage

man old depressed headache

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Robin Sharma, a leader in personal mastery, eloquently speaks of Leverage and in one word has transformed my attitude to bad days.       

Leverage,  defined as  ‘To use for maximum advantage”   has enabled me to now reframe a bad or unfavourable situation from:

 

Why ME ?

to

What can I learn from this ?

 

And now this isn’t easy and it takes a great deal of work but I can tell you that its work that’s worth doing.  I have constructed a 3 step plan for myself every time something bad happens.

So what changed? Well I started writing these steps on the back of my hand to remind me and well to live life means to experience the bad with the good so the ‘bad’ was still there I just didn’t see it as ‘bad’ but an opportunity.

 

 ‘Having a Bad day? Try my 3 step plan’

 

Have a read and do take a moment to comment, let me know what you think.  I’m trying to patiently reinforce it with our boys  and there is the challenge right there…

 

To ask an 11 year old to PAUSE and REFLECT and LEVERAGE  before he clobbers his 7 year old brother for destroying his art work… ok work in progress.  I’ll keep trying.

 

Thank you for reading,  I aim to bring value to you through sharing new information, knowledge and my experiences.
 
SHARE, COMMENT  and  LIKE
 
if you would like to help me spread the word and  make a difference.

 

 

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