Welcome to 2017!

The arrival of a New Year is a time of blissful relaxation for many of us and I hope you’re also able to enjoy that peaceful time.

As well as a long leisurely holiday, another New Year tradition is to look back on the year that’s been and set our goals for the year ahead.

Well, 2016 is like no other year I can remember that’s for sure. Who could have guessed at its outset what lay ahead in terms of political and social upheaval in the countries we understand best - Britain, the US, Western Europe - and with strong hints of more of the same here at home? I read a very disturbing report just yesterday that Australians’ satisfaction with democracy has fallen to its lowest level since the Whitlam dismissal back in 1975 and that we’re all thoroughly sick of politics and distrustful of politicians. Whatever we think of the latter, when we Aussies, traditionally among the world’s strongest supporters of democracy feel this way (the ANU survey revealed a 40% dissatisfaction rate), we should all be concerned. Imagine what it’s saying to such enlightened regimes as China and Russia.

Rather than give in to the pervasive angst that generates these sorts of numbers, surely it’s beholden on us who share a holistic vision for our world to see the potential for positive change. I was very impressed with the article submitted this month by David Arenson, “A New Age of Compassion”, in which he urges us to stand up for our beliefs and sense of purpose and not allow ourselves to be buffeted this way and that by forces beyond our control. He urges us to “stand alone, aware, still, grounded”. We can start in the simplest of ways - by taking control of what we eat, even growing some of our own, taking care of our health, reaching out more to form stronger relationships and communities - it’s all within our grasp. Perhaps the “Trump effect” is, as much as anything, a call for help as the bonds of communities collapse leaving people feeling alone and fearful. What’s needed most now is compassion and understanding that ripples out from that “still and grounded” individual.

I’ve just room to point you to two or three other features this month. In “Probiotics and the Brain”, the indefatigable Peter Dingle explores the very latest research into the link between the health of our gut and the state of our brain.The “gut-brain axis” has been understood for some time but now we’re finding that microorganisms in our digestive system can actually affect learning and memory and other cognitive functions. Autism is just one condition that seems to be strongly linked to specific gut microbes with exciting potential for treatment with probiotics.

And on the subject of the importance of good food, we welcome this month a new column “Japanese Superfoods” by chef and author Yoshiko Takeuchi. As well as telling us about the amazing punch some of these foods like Matcha green tea pack, she gives us some tasty green tea recipes for a lazy summer breakfast.

And in case you’re suffering from rich food overload, Oliver LeJus takes pity and offers us his bitter greens recovery plan, “Bitter Greens Boost Digestion”. It’s much tastier than it sounds so enjoy his suggestions.

Happy New Year to all!

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.