Q&A: Pia Jones

We chat with Pia about the best way to care for our bodies on the go and how nutrition impacts our overall wellness.

Though Pia Jones is now a nutritionist, naturopath, and psychologist at Brisbane’s integrated health clinic River Tree Health, she didn’t always have the healthiest relationship with food. After struggling with anorexia as a teenager, she now is an advocate of integrative health and treating diet as nourishment. We chatted with Pia about the best way to care for our bodies on the go and how nutrition impacts our overall wellness.

Tell me a bit more about your health journey. What led you to become a clinical naturopath and nutritionist?

It was a six-month stint living in a seaside town called Essaouira in Morocco that my way of relating to food began to change and I also became really interested in herbal medicine. We would gather at lunch and dinner and eat fresh meals using only wholefood ingredients baked in huge tagines. Food was always shared, seated in a circle with huge chunks of freshly baked bread in our hands. Eating was a social activity, just as much as a nourishing one.

What is the connection between the brain and the body? Why is nutrition so important for overall wellness?

We know that the gut and brain communicate with one another and if there is an imbalance in either one, the other is impacted. Vitamins, minerals and amino acids are the building blocks for our hormones and neurotransmitters, which are very powerful messengers in the body. Without good food, the body simply does not have the building blocks to manufacture these messengers that keep us happy and healthy.

What does a healthy diet mean to you?

A wholefood diet! I believe we have different needs and preferences based on genetics, intolerances, lifestyle, moral considerations and personal taste! However, eating a diet that places an emphasis on plant-based options and minimises processed and pre-packaged food is the number one priority.

Plant-based foods contain enzymes that support the digestive process and provide fuel for good bacteria, whilst processed foods tend to be loaded with sugar and chemicals and encourage the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.

How can we best care for our health?

Gut care! A really simple way to ensure you have microbial diversity in the gut is to exercise in nature, eat wholefoods, have contact with pets, include some fermented foods in your diet, and manage your stress levels.

What development in the nutritional world most excites you?

The team at River Tree Health love the developments in nutrition stemming from science. For me specifically, it’s the science linking our gut microbiome to our brain health and the subsequent understanding that food impacts mood!

The impact of nutrition on mental health is my biggest passion in life and I’m so excited to be a part of one of the few integrated medicine clinics in Australia that acknowledges the connection between nutrition, the gut and brain health.

Favourite Australian escape?

Bring on the coastline! Sydney has a stunning harbour. I’m a massive boatie, so give me water and a boat and it’s happy days.

Photograph by Michael Carrello

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Published: 23/09/17

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