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“To Optimize Your Mental Wellness, Surround Yourself With Good Hearted People”, with Kara Landau and Beau Henderson

Ensuring that you surround yourself with good hearted people, find the activities that you enjoy to help with connections and ensure you nourish yourself with the nutrients you need to support your gut health and mood, can all play a part in helping you build self confidence. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Landau. […]

Ensuring that you surround yourself with good hearted people, find the activities that you enjoy to help with connections and ensure you nourish yourself with the nutrients you need to support your gut health and mood, can all play a part in helping you build self confidence.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Landau. Kara, the “The Prebiotic Dietitian” is a respected NYC based Australian Registered Dietitian and Founder of Uplift Food. A previous spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, and now the media representative for the Global Prebiotic Association, Kara has successfully lead Uplift Food to receiving the first ever investment by Mondelez Internationals SnackFutures new venture arm within 12 months of launching, and is on a mission to support consumers globally reap the mental healthy benefits of a prebiotic rich diet.


Thank you so much for doing this with us, Kara! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’m an NYC based Australian Registered Dietitian and the Founder Uplift Food, the world’s first dietitian created functional food brand to focus exclusively on the mood supportive benefits of gut healthy prebiotics. In September, we launched the world’s first 100% plant-based and organic gut-health focused cookies, Gut Happy Cookies™, at Natural Products Expo East. Before Uplift Food, I was working as a nutrition consultant for corporate companies in Australia and as a media spokesperson for well aligned brands.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Most certainly the most interesting story was from the moment I connected with the Mondelez International innovation team, who months on spun out to be the SnackFutures team and lead to Uplift Food being their first-ever investment. It was like a dream rolling out in front of my eyes. Between being nervous of stuffing something up and the sheer belief that it was going to happen, I remember flying to Chicago to meet with their Chief Growth Officer and having a superb meeting, followed by a few tough months of due diligence and negotiations, to finally getting to the day that the announcement of the investment was taking place. It was a reminder that when you truly believe in something, and you put in the effort, sometimes things come together just the way you envisage.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I think believing that just because you have an incredible product that stands out in a crowded market, people will “understand” the benefits and feel a need to try it was a mistake I made. Being in an area of gut health that is cutting edge and having an education piece required in order to convert the masses to become consumers, I have learned that there is a true process involved that takes a monumental amount of time, energy, people, and funding.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mentor and dear friend, Rod Curnow, who is the CEO of the Click Foundation, a not for profit that helps raise awareness and educates the public on epilepsy, has been instrumental in pushing me to live my truth, keep pushing forward, and to surround myself with those that understand me. This man has lived multiple lives, producing films, setting up advertising agencies across the globe, lecturing at universities and much much more. Besides literally pulling together a production crew to film a pilot episode of a television program I had an idea for, all out of his own free will and back pocket, just to help me try see a vision come to life — so too has he helped in the more personal ways — when I previously lived in Melbourne I recall us going on almost weekly coffee or brunch meetings where I would be presented with a blue folder filled with newspaper pull outs and digital article prints that were relevant to my industry or information that could help motivate me as a female entrepreneur. This source of energy has never gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

I would encourage people to believe in themselves, to give things a try, and feel confident that they will be okay. So often we miss out on the opportunity of bringing our best selves to the table due to simply being too scared and being too stumped by the prospect of others opinions that we don’t allow others the opportunity to see and receive the benefits that would come from us actioning our ideas and bringing our most fulfilled, and ultimately happiest selves, to the table.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Help your team see the vision that you show (and tell) them that you respect and believe in their capabilities to lead their respective areas of the business, and provide the feedback that you appreciate the efforts and contribution they bring to building the company and attaining the overriding mission at hand.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness?Can you please share a story or example for each.

Load up on prebiotics

Science shows us that about 90% of our body’s serotonin in found within our gut; And with depression no longer being seen as a disease of a hormonal imbalance, but rather also one of inflammation, it makes sense to nourish our gut in efforts of support mental health.

One of the best ways you can nourish your gut is to load up on prebiotics -Prebiotics are non-digestible substrates that are able to feed the probiotics in our gut, and impart a beneficial effect on us, the host. This differs substantially from probiotics, which are live micro-organisms. Prebiotics can be seen as the fuel for the probiotics, and they can be found in a number of forms, be it prebiotic soluble fibers, resistant starches or polyphenolic compounds.

After rigorously studying the science connecting the gut and the brain, as well as going through my own mental health transformation through utilizing the power of healing food, I took it upon myself to create Uplift Food, a brand dedicated to fueling your gut with the prebiotics it requires to thrive and that it isn’t getting through the standard American diet.

Increase your intake of Omega 3’s

Omega 3’s, and in particular the essential fatty acid EPA, are essential for mental wellbeing. Playing an important role in reducing inflammation and the signalling pathways in the body by being a part of our cell walls, consuming omega 3 fatty acids from a range of foods such as salmon, other oily fish or algae based foods can support mood.

Don’t Skip Out on Magnesium

Magnesium is a vital mineral known to help with stress via its role in nerve signalling and helping us be more alert; considering the prevalence of magnesium deficiency in today’s diet, ensuring adequate magnesium intake via foods such as nuts, avocado or dark chocolate would be recommended.

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

After retirement, the lack of structure can oftentimes lead people to fall off the bandwagon when it comes to healthy eating. If you’re not fueling your body with nourishing food and you aren’t eating at specific meal times, the body can become in disarray and malnourished. This not only affects your physical health, but your mental health and overall energy.

I would recommend to anyone that’s in this life transition to, if they had healthy eating regimented routine, try to stick to it or a routine based off of your previous one.

And if you didn’t have the healthiest habits during your work life, then now is the perfect time to start! With (hopefully) a little more time at your disposal, prioritizing yourself, your nutrition, and your mental health, will hopefully lead to a new joyous and empowering stage of your life.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

Our teens, and pre-teens are an emotionally challenging time for many as you begin to start to shape your identity, feel pressured to fit in with those around you, and find your own all at the same time. Ensuring that you surround yourself with good hearted people, find the activities that you enjoy to help with connections and ensure you nourish yourself with the nutrients you need to support your gut health and mood, can all play a part in helping you build self confidence and have your body working on your side through the transitioning period.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

I absolutely loved Unwritten by Jack Delosa, an Australian entrepreneur — we think very similarly in our approach and mindset to life, and it was encouraging to have someone I respect sharing so diligently how your mindset can shape your world, and how you can design a life that actually aligns with you, so that you can present and feel as your best self.

I loved a section in the book that talks about how you do your life’s best work when you reach a point of ultimate alignment, when your heart aligns with your head, which aligns with your hand.

He was sharing that when your heart, referring to your innermost truth, what brings you job, and makes your curious; Your head focusing on what stimulates and intrigues you, together with what you are actually good at, and your hand referring to what you actually end up doing on a daily basis, are all in alignment, this is when you truly are able to reach a point of bringing your best to this world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would encourage people to believe in themselves, to give things a try, and feel confident that they will be okay. So often we miss out on the opportunity of bringing our best selves to the table due to simply being too scared and being too stumped by the prospect of others opinions that we don’t allow others the opportunity to see and receive the benefits that would come from us actioning our ideas and bringing our most fulfilled, and ultimately happiest selves, to the table.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“I think one of the most courageous things a person can do is walk away from a situation that is no longer meant for them, no matter how much they wish it was.”

I have read this quote on a daily basis when I have had to make some of the hardest decisions in my life, be it personal or professional — it has helped me take leaps of faith I have needed at some of the biggest life changing moments of my life — be it moving countries, ending relationships, or letting go of business ideas that were not coming to fruition the way I had envisaged. It has given me the humbleness that is needed when I have been playing a role in my business that doesn’t align with my strengths, whereby I would be doing a disservice to my company, my mental wellbeing, and my mission, if I tried to stay there any longer.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Uplift Food Social:

https://www.instagram.com/UpliftFood/

My personal Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/theprebioticdietitian/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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