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“Our body is like a factory and it needs quality fuel” - Dr. Joanna Krzeslak-Hoogland [Interview]

Dr. Joanna Krzeslak-Hoogland educates and consults in the field of nutrition, intestinal health and dietary supplements. She runs her own company, writes blogs and speaks at various conferences but she is also a mum of two. We asked her to share valuable tips on starting your own business and explain how she finds the right balance between her professional and private life.

Can you give us a brief summary of your career to date?

“I have always been inspired by the natural sciences and therefore I decided to study biology. After completing a MSc in Biology in Poland, I came to the Netherlands to continue my academic journey. I carried out doctoral research in molecular microbiology at the University of Groningen, earning a doctorate in 2009. I went on to work for one of the top biotech companies. I was involved in clinical research and later provided medical information on diseases and medications to professionals and the general public. I am an author of several publications and I have contributed to several books.”

“After becoming a mother, I started paying more attention to health and made choices that improved my wellbeing. It was a turning point for me. I realised that I could also help others to feel better. Since then, I have followed several educational programs and became a certified practitioner. Now, I am trained to look for signs of common health imbalances and ways to restore them by the use of lifestyle interventions. I enjoy it because it’s like an investigation, you keep exploring and learning while helping others to solve their challenges. It’s very fulfilling. It’s like an ultimate career, for me. I am also a consultant in the field of human gut microbiome.”

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What attracted you to the food industry and to gut health in particular?

“It was the realisation that food can be our medicine. I have learnt that our dietary choices can promote or undermine our health. The impact of food on our gut and overall health is incredible and many people have suboptimal gut health and poor digestion. So you want to look at what you eat and how you eat. Our body is like a factory and it needs quality fuel (nutrients, oxygen, water) to keep running. Nutrients nourish the body and drive a countless number of biochemical reactions. Without the nutrients, reactions become compromised and we can feel unwell or experience illness. If someone suffers from chronic health issues and they don’t know where to start, it’s good to start with a good diet and proper gut health hygiene, while keeping a holistic view on other possible factors.”

In your view, is society more aware of the importance of gut health now than it was 5 years ago?

“Yes, absolutely. Gut health has become a sort of a trend now. Everyone looks into the gut microbiome. There is much more research done, more publications, books, blogs and talks about the importance of gut health. People become more aware that poor gut health and poor eating habits can be manifested outside the gut, for example skin conditions or mood disorders can have their origin in the gut. Gut microbes influence our mood, our digestion, our immunity, our hormones, our metabolism and much more. We still keep learning about it, it’s such a complex network of interactions that it will keep us busy for coming years.”

Could you share what motivated you to open your own business – ProBiotic DIGEST?

“After witnessing how lifestyle interventions had helped me, when I had a health crisis, I was inspired to spread the word. I realised that others could benefit from what I have learnt and I simply listened to my gut feeling.”

What were the biggest obstacles in starting your own company and how did you manage to overcome them?

“Honestly, I did not see anything as obstacles. More as a process of growth and an opportunity I had. I was going with the flow and I still am. The most challenging might have been getting my first clients. How did I do it? I ran workshops to let people know I existed, to share my knowledge and to tell what I did. I was patient and kept a good faith.”

Could you give 3 tips to women trying to start their own business?

#1 Have a product or service you believe in and you stand for. It will help you stay true to yourself. Ideally, do something you have a passion for and use your individual strengths. Define your ideal niche and your unique selling points.”

#2 Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks and don’t feel discouraged when things don’t go as planned. Treat it as a part of a learning curve. Be aware that sometimes we have to do something seemingly ‘unsuccessful’ in order to get where we want to be.”

#3 Be realistic, creating a well prospering business takes some time and energy. No one becomes an expert and a business guru overnight. Taking the right steps in the right direction, following your intuition and learning from experts will help you succeed.”

You run your own company, write blogs and speak at various conferences but you are also a mum of two. How do you balance your time between the family and the business life?

“Balance is my second name, some could say - I thrive for balance. I listen to my needs and to my family’s needs, and I use my knowledge and common sense to find the best solutions at the given time to create a harmony. In reality, it’s a constant balancing act and continuous adjustments are needed to find that sweet spot. I prioritize and try to be efficient in my work but I also allow myself to have some lazy days. Actually, having my own business gives me and my family more flexibility, because I can plan my schedule around our family life. Also, as my daughters get older, it also gives me more space.”

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