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Connections – By Professor Green

Almost everything we choose to do, take, use, avoid, want, imagine, miss, remember, like, dislike, love and hate relate back to a feeling.

Almost all of our decisions, conscious or subconscious relate to emotion. What we call a lifestyle is really just a routine (or lack thereof) made up of obligations, rituals, habits, addictions and associations; the relationship between things and our relationship with them, connections. 

Some relationships develop over time, some are more immediate, some are healthy, others not so. 

The same can be said for associations. 

The smell of a perfume can conjure up nostalgia of a past partner, in the same way the actions of someone present in your life can trigger a reaction (over-reaction) that relates to a person in your past, the whiff of a spirit you’ve over-done it with in your youth can remind you of something you were almost too drunk to remember – just how sick you were (Southern Comfort for me – bad experience at 14).

Associations can relate to people too, you can revert to a child at the pitch of a parent’s voice – we all have people we associate with certain things. For a long time I’ve had the saying “Everybody is somebody else to somebody else”; different people bring different things out of us and accommodate different parts of our character or nature, but ultimately the choice to prod and wake up those parts of you is yours. After all, you know yourself better than anybody else and people can only be enablers of what you want enabled. Accountability and responsibility rest with you.

Associations can facilitate habits and addictions in the same way relationships can, in the same way we can be addicted to a certain type of relationship. There are many ideas as to what can facilitate a happy life, but balance seems to be a prominent part of almost all of them; the only thing with balance is that it requires consistency. 

If we were constantly proactive, consistency would be easier to achieve and maintain, but all too often we find ourselves oblivious to being in a reactive state, not that reactive equals lazy, this equation is far more complex. 

Think about being reactive as opposed to proactive in terms of health; we’re brought up getting sick, seeing a doctor and receiving treatment for an illness or ailment. 

It’s this reactive nature that often has us not taking very good care of ourselves; if you’ve got a headache you grab paracetamol, indigestion or heartburn you grab Gaviscon, a sore throat you get antibiotics. All very typical reactions without any thought as to what was behind any of the symptoms, or what they’re actually symptoms of. 

Prevention being better than cure is cliche, but cliches are cliches for a reason.

There are many tell-tale signs to avoid many of the ailments, aches and complaints we all too often accept as part of life. We’re far too accepting of ill health, most of the time not even recognising it as ill health because we assume that relates to something more severe, which over time will probably grow if left unattended to. You’ve heard the phrase ‘worried sick’, worry does in fact impact your health. Stress has a huge impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, depleting all-important vitamin stores and disabling our body’s ability to fight inflammation – a contributor to almost all chronic disease. I’ve noticed a connection between being reactive and my stress levels – life’s a lot calmer when you’re on top of things. 

I wouldn’t mind my 20-year-old self reading this and saving me from all that I’ve endured in my latter years. 

The problem with living in a largely reactive state is it will get you so far, but only so far. It may seem as though you’re tackling everything that needs tending to, all the while squeezing in enough of a social life to be somewhat content, but tending mostly to obligations and responsibilities leaves you reacting to past decisions, leaving you less free to. . . leaving you less free. If you’re constantly in a state of reaction, you’re probably a cortisol-producing powerhouse, constantly firefighting and dealing with everything with the same urgency and panic. It doesn’t give much room to be present, to plan and be proactive.

Our reactions to larger life events are more obvious than those in our day-to-day lives. It’s raining, we grab a coat; the bins are full (or in my case over-flowing), we take them out; a bill needs paying, we pay it (after a letter or two reminding us); you need the toilet, you find one and use it (slightly more difficult during a pandemic when all public loos are shut). 

All of these relate to relationships we have externally and often take precedent over the ones that exist internally, every single part of our being intrinsically linked – connected. 

We as a nation are largely uninformed about some pretty important things, there are gaps left by our government and education system that desperately need filling as far as nutrition and our understanding of our gut and its connection to just about everything. For instance, 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut, supported by short-chain fatty-acids created by healthy gut bacteria; then there’s the literal link between the gut and brain, the vagus nerve. It provides the primary control for the nervous system’s parasympathetic division: the rest-and-digest counterpoint to the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. When the body is not under stress, the vagus nerve sends commands that slow heart and breathing rates and increase digestion. In times of stress, control shifts to the sympathetic system, which produces the opposite effect.

The vagus nerve also carries sensory signals from internal organs back to the brain, enabling the brain to keep track of the organs’ actions. The brain uses 10-20% of the cells to send information to the gut, in contrast the gut uses 80-90% of the cells to send information to the brain. 

Connections. Relationships. Associations. They all relate to what’s going on inside as much as they do externally. 

‘You are what you eat’ is another great saying. God knows if who came up with it knew what they were onto (probably Shakespeare – he basically came up with everything), but they were bang on the money. I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s a connection between what you eat and how you feel. That said, even a balanced diet doesn’t suffice at times; my great-grandmother used to encourage moderation with the saying ‘a little bit of what you like won’t hurt you’ which in theory sounds great, but over time, it probably will. 97% of foods aren’t organic, we’re constantly encountering free radicals and toxins that are connected to poor gut health. Many of us suffer a level of malabsorption (especially as we age) which makes it harder for us to get the nutrients out of what goodness we do eat, which is why even a varied and healthy diet often needs supporting. 

With age there are vitamins we retain less of that are crucial to our wellbeing, like b12; in our adulthood we often develop problems with the acids and stomach enzymes needed to process the vitamin. There’s also a huge difference between having ‘sufficient’ levels of essential vitamins and amino acids and having optimal levels. 

At a time when we’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic (which studies have shown the severity of is directly affected by and connected to the health of your gut) I find it very odd that we’re hammered relentlessly day after day with numbers of deaths and cases without much (if any) context rather than being provided with information that would give us all a better chance at staying well. I’d quite like to avoid having to have the 14-item prescription, pillbox, diary and schedule my Nan sadly has, a lot of which are drugs prescribed to treat side effects of other drugs she has to take.

I’m not saying there’s no place for medicine – we wouldn’t have been able to create Aguulp using liposomal technology had it not been for the advances in medicine that first demonstrated the benefits of the technology in the 70s. Liposomes are now used in extremely clever ways in pharma, attaching DNA and other chemistry to target them towards particular areas of the body. When you consider scientists estimate that only <0.1% of a regular drug finds its way to its target, it’s pretty easy to understand how important developing targeted medicine is. Without targeted medicine we stay tied to the undesirable qualities; TNF for instance is a drug that can amazingly cure arthritis within minutes, but on the flip side reduces the functioning of the immune system. It leaves you susceptible to attack and vulnerable to illness, meaning that it’s not an option for long-term relief. Antihistamine drugs that clear your body’s response to allergens but can make you drowsy, not to mention also blocks histamine, which is an essential neurotransmitter. Chemotherapy drugs can destroy harmful cancers that the body is otherwise unaware of, but they wipe out everything else in its path (including your immune system and hair). When it becomes possible to really target medicine it will be a revelation, until then though what we can (and are doing at Aguulp) do is use the technology for delivering nutrients with the highest possible absorption. 

It’s funny looking back at the moment of conception – Aguulp was born of a drunken conversation between myself and Kevin Godlington (one of the few pissed-up ideas that materialised into something tangible – rare) about connections, about our connection and the parallels in our upbringings, along with probably the most relevant to the company’s launch, the connection between the gut and the brain. 

We’re now beginning to understand how important the gut’s role is in our overall wellbeing and its connection to not just the brain, but just about everything.

Beyond selling nutrients, our aim is to try and fill in the gaps left by education and the government as far as nutrition’s role in keeping well – which requires more than just supplements. Supplements support a healthy diet much in the same way a healthy diet supports supplements. 

At a time when everyone is being badgered daily with numbers of deaths and cases of a virus without any context, I find it surprising there isn’t more positive information being spread about how we can best take care of ourselves beyond standing two metres apart – enforcing distance between us doesn’t really encourage much of a connection, does it?

Love as always,

Professor Green

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