BUILDING A BETTER BRAIN & BODY: How Nutrition Can Help

Did you know that unless you're growing your own food on the top of a lush, untouched Andean pinnacle, or a thriving virgin delta somewhere, it is highly likely that you are not getting the vitamins and minerals that your body and brain need to operate at their optimal efficiency? Without wanting to scare the pants off you (or perhaps that's what it will take?!), the soils where most of us get our vegetables and fruits from these days are badly depleted of life giving nutrients. They're also often poisoned with enough chemicals and pesticides to melt the Wicked Witch of the West before you can say 'there's no place like home'. Chemicals, pesticides and other household and environmental pollutants result in body/brain toxicity and rampaging free radical damage to our cells... But that's another story.

What I want to talk about here is our nutritional intake. Is it up to scratch for the pace of our modern day lifestyle? Are we getting enough of essential vitamins and minerals to fight aging, disease, illness, fatigue, depression and other illnesses of our time? Is what we're eating giving us what our bodies and brains need to build a healthy immune system and providing us with copious energy and vitality to keep up with our kids, excel in our jobs and enjoy the life we have, here and now?

No!

Not only is the soil in which our food grows a very real problem, the majority of average Australians eat more fast foods and processed foods than ever before. Eating these types of foods creates a kind of 'nutrient starvation' in our body which can lead to fatigue, illness, depression, obesity and disease if prolonged and excessive. So, clearly we need to do something about it! The problem is nutrient deficiency; the solution is to boost our daily food intake with SOMETHING! Now, for most of us to get the required amount of vitamins and minerals we need to support our bodies and minds, we would need to consume ridiculous amounts of fruit, vegetables, nuts, proteins and grains everyday which had been grown in nutrient rich soils and eaten within hours of being picked. This just is not possible for most of us.

I would suggest that a combination of approaches is a good idea.

• If you can afford it, buy organic or grow your own... along with being chemical & pesticide free and non-modified, it tastes better too! There is no reason you cannot have a mini-vegie garden grown in pots on your balcony.

• Take a multivitamin - a good one will be highly absorbable into the blood stream, and contain those trace minerals that we cannot get anywhere else except by introducing them ourselves to our bodies.

• Eat a balanced diet packed with a nice variety of veggies and fruit and change it up each day.

ORGANIC: It is important to check your organic source. The Australian Certified Organic Standards is easy to come by on the net and provide all the information on what to look for when buying organic produce, whether fresh or packaged. You can even do a search for the product you're curious about. Growing your own vegetables, herbs and fruits is a great alternative or addition to your regular fruit and vegie intake. Ready to go organic potting mixes are available at most garden stores and it's really so easy to grow something edible, even in pots on a balcony or courtyard. I have spring onions, strawberries, thyme, mint, parsley and rosemary.

MULTIVITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS: I recently discovered that many Australians are only consuming half the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables... when you do that math, it means not only are we eating way less than what we should be, if those veggies that we do eat are significantly low in nutrients, we really only getting a quarter or less of our required vitamins and minerals! Scary!

Check out these scary stats... In 1948 Apples contained approximately 25 mgs of Vitamin C. The CSIRO report "The Diminishing Nutritional Values of Australian Grown Fruit and Vegetables: Comparison between 1948 and 1991" (accessed 12 April, 2007, http://www.csiro.com) showed just 5mg of Vitamin C was present in Apples in 1991. Similarly, the same report showed that Broccoli contained approximately 175mgs of Magnesium in 1948 and in 1991 Broccoli Magnesium content had dropped dramatically to just 25mg.

The nutritionals industry is cashing in on this deficit and producing supplements that are supposed to be packed with everything we could need for our bodies including trace elements and antioxidants to neutralise free radicals. The problem, the vast majority of them, provide the nutrients in a form that is not bio-available, so you end up 'pee-ing it down the toilet' before your body has the chance to absorb it.

The nutrients in live fruit and veggies in their natural form, ie. Plants! are wrapped in fibres and proteins to help our bodies take them in. Multivitamins that are not bound to organic compounds such as these crystalise in the gut, making them insoluble and pretty much useless! What's more, the antioxidants that many well-known nutritional supermarket brands claim will fight free radicals in your system actually help to create the very free radicals that they're supposed to get rid of. This is because isolated minerals such as Vitamins A, C & E can actually produce free radicals if they're not bound by an organic compound like they are in our fresh produce.

This means, the antioxidants that are 'added' to your traditional multivitamins have to neutralise the free radicals produced by the very vitamins you're swallowing, which means less antioxidants are available to fight the free radicals already in your system!

Sounds complex... but in a nutshell; the antioxidants and vitamins you consume in everyday supplements actually cancel each other out and are ineffective for your overall wellbeing! So, if you want a quality supplement to support your organic food intake, you have to look for the right type. There are a few nutrient brands available in the wellbeing marketplace that have broken through this barrier, but you can't get them at your supermarket or chemist.

Finding a nutrient supplement that will actually be effective in building a better brain and body means researching: look at the appropriate nutrient levels for your body type, age, size and gender (women, men and children have very different nutritional requirements, particularly men and women 'of a certain age'!), AND most importantly, you make sure it is bio-available. Recent scientific studies have identified a type of organic compound that wraps itself around the vitamins and minerals in the supplement, making them more readily absorbable. It's known as Oligofructose complex, or in short, 'Oligo'. It makes the vitamins soluble so that they can be absorbed into the blood stream rather than being excreted as waste.

I've found a brand that ticks all the boxes that I've mentioned and that really works for me. It has the 'oligofructose' organic compound in it. The 'Oligo' helps the minerals and vitamins be absorbed and it also protects them, limiting their capacity for creating free radicals. This means the added antioxidants in the nutritionals can fight the free radicals that are already there. I've definitely noticed that my energy levels on the days that I remember to take them, are vastly improved! This is because I'm getting about 80% MORE vitamins and minerals absorbed into my body. They're wrapped similarly to the nutrients found in fruit and veggies and so my cells can take them in and actually use them! If you want more information about these wonder vitamins, you can email me and I'll let you know where and how to get them.

BALANCED DIET: I've included the generally accepted Australian healthy eating and food guidelines here for your reference. You can download the brochure and keep it handy at home. However, I'd like to note that EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! I'm really noticing that there are certain foods that my body just does not tolerate. I do not have dairy or wheat allergies, but my gut feels bloated and generally not good when I have them, so I substitute, eat sparingly, or eliminate all together, depending on my will power at the time! I love bread and cheese, but my body does not! Nuts are another thing that makes me feel yuck so I'm steering clear of them.

The point here... LISTEN to what your body is telling you... be mindful of its reactions to what you eat and choose foods accordingly. Generally, it is best to stick to complex carbs such as leafy greens, and fresh fruits and veggies. The traditional apples, pears, oranges and bananas may not be as exotic as the stone fruits and such, but they have less fructose and less salicylate (the culprit in many fresh food allergies) than mangos, strawberries and the like.

If you're in doubt about what to eat, stick to the basics, good old fashioned meat and fresh veggies is best for most people. In my book, there are THREE GOLDEN RULES:

1. EAT FRESH / GROW YOUR OWN

2. TAKE A QUALITY NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT

3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!


WANT TO KNOW MORE?!

Visualise This! Enterprises' founder and Director Kristy Rackham is the Author of Head Space-Meditate Your Way to Study Success, a book that teaches utilisation of mindfulness meditation and creative visualisation to help its readers manage their stress, increase productivity, enhance memory and clarity of mind and improve general wellbeing and life balance.

Kristy gathered a team of like-minded individuals with a similar vision... a world where all of us have the opportunity to make manifest our deepest and most treasured ideas and dreams. Our philosophy centres around the idea that anything is possible if you can imagine it! We believe every person has their own set of special talents and gifts which when discovered, nurtured, encouraged and directed in a positive way, can morph from quiet potentials into bold manifestations.

Kristy and her team offer their own unique talents and gifts to help facilitate others to find their divine spark, innate intelligence and personal brand of creativity in a sustainable and holistic way.

We do this by offering and linking you to a range of services and products available online, in person and by telephone within Australia, and internationally.

Kristy and her Visualise This! team can be engaged for lectures, keynote speaking engagements, freelance writing, workshops and seminars.

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