We’ve always known that diet is important. Long before we had mapped the process of digestion and absorption, or understood the biochemistry that allows molecules from the foods you eat to end up in your cells, we observed that food was important for health and longevity.
An apple a day…
Even when I was first studying nutritional science (at the turn of the century!) we didn’t realise quite how important. We hadn’t discovered that some of our genes are controlled by diet, and they play a key role in the onset, incidence, severity and progression of chronic and critical diseases. We hadn’t recognised that under certain circumstances, and in some individuals, diet can be a serious risk factor for a number of diseases – or that certain dietary chemicals can act directly to alter gene expression or structure. And we hadn’t yet understood that a well planned dietary intervention based on a knowledge of nutritional requirements, nutritional status and your genotype can be used to prevent, mitigate or treat a variety of diseases.
Back then, we were still stuck in the dark ages of eggs being bad for cholesterol, bran being good for constipation, low fat being the best way to lose weight, and Vitamin D being mainly for bones.
Things have moved on.
One man’s meat…
Perhaps the most important difference between then and now is the understanding that there is no such thing as a healthy diet for populations. We are all different. In our multi-cultural society most of us can trace our ancestry across two or more continents, which means our genes are more varied then they’ve ever been. With the result that the diet that best supports our health is also more individual than you might expect. Which is why I’m studying for a MSc in Personalised Nutrition. It’s the way ahead, not just for complementary medicine either – many of the people on my course are qualified doctors seeking to add a powerful new therapy to their toolkit.
Nutritional Therapy is all about finding out what your individual dietary needs are. It concerns itself with every step of the food process: choosing and cooking food; chewing and digestion; breakdown and absorption; elimination and detoxification; transport around the body and the employment of nutrients in our cells.
The more information we can pull together, the more accurate our work can be. If we map your genome, we can pin down individual nutrient pathways. Urinary analysis can tell us how your body is using key nutrients. Finger prick tests can give us information about key chemicals in the blood. And we can adjust your diet accordingly.
But if mapping and testing is not for you, years of clinical experience and observation can in many cases allow me to make an educated assessment of what’s happening and adjust your diet accordingly.
Jack Spratt and his wife…
I’ve seen the most amazing transformations in people as they find and follow the diet that suits them. A change in balance between carbs and fats, the difference that comes from eating at different times, a switch from a vegetarian to meat-eating diet – or vice versa, the inclusion of a key nutrient that is chronically lacking or needed in higher quantities than normal. I regularly see clients arrive tired, grey and apathetic and then graduate a few weeks later in full-on, vital technicolour.
I believe that changing your diet is the single most important step in regaining your health – and one that in all but the most urgent cases should be attempted before trying anything else. Changing your diet can literally change your destiny. When you get it right you can reverse diabetes, resolve high blood pressure, reduce arterial congestion, and help with the prevention and survival of cancer. I like to think that, one day, our acceptance of the link between genetics and diet will make radiotherapy, chemotherapy and double mastectomies seem as archaic as bloodletting.
The wonderful thing about nutritional therapy is that it works with your body rather than against it and any ‘side effects’ are likely to be healthy rather than creating a cascade of ancillary medical problems. Diets can be tailored to a range of health problems, including cancer, diabetes and weight loss, which are my special interests. I have a growing interest in working with nutrigenomics testing to tailor precisely to individual requirements. Although it’s a complex process, my job is to make it simple for you and support you along the way.
I’ve been in practice since 2003 and I’ve learned a lot – not only about nutritional science but also about how to support people to make effective change. I find it works best if we are both really invested in your success so I encourage clients to view it as a project rather than an appointment. You can find out more about how I work and make your first appointment over here. Or simply contact me below.