How long does it take for me to get better once we get started ?
This varies very much from person to person. We are individuals and what got us sick in the first place is different for each of us. How many factors are contributing to your health problems today ? It is my job to investigate and propose changes. When health complaints have been present for a long time it may take a few months before you start seeing changes. Nutritional Therapy does not offer magic pills ! Many people come to me once they have been sick and tried many different medications, procedures, therapies and still feel poorly. I have seen people improving fast once we have made changes to their food combinations and deal with other lifestyle factors affecting their health issues. Typically, if your problem has been going on for more than a year, think about achieving optimal health as if you were peeling an onion, ie. peeling off the layers. Removing factors negatively affecting your health, replacing them with the beneficial ones, primarily : foods, rest, hydration, resolving infections, supplements, avoiding toxins, and allowing your body to repair. In these situations, adequate laboratory tests may be necessary as they give us the information about the underlying reasons for a problem (chronic infections for example).
What are the costs involved in working with you to improve my health ?
Your "investment" as I prefer to call it, starts with the initial consultation which looks in detail at your current and past health, then what foods and lifestyle habits you have which could be jeopardising your health. When needed, I recommend laboratory tests, and as much as possible recommend you doing them via your GP. There are however some tests that are not available at all via GPs which may be very helpful depending on your problems. In most cases I also recommend nutritional supplements - which is an added 'investement' - although I always work taking into account your personal circumstances. However, if you consider the old saying ‘health is wealth’, or even how many days you have wasted being sick and unable to enjoy your life to the full, perhaps you too will also agree that 'investing' in your health is one of the most important things a person can do.
Why do I need to take supplements if I already eat a healthy diet ?
Because the quality of the food generally available to us nowadays is low, compared to what it was even 50 or 100 years ago. This is why all those who believe in organic and sustainable farming quote the phrase "today we are overfed but undernourished". It is possible to have nutrient deficiencies even if you are following a ‘healthy' diet because:
Many of the foods we eat today are low in essential minerals and vitamins, due to intensive
modern farming methods. This renders the soil depleted of many minerals ;
2. Food processing destroys many of the nutrients present in the food naturally ;
3. The fats in your diet may be damaged and imbalanced, also known as trans fats. Laboratory tests consistently
show people with very high levels of Omega 6 (vegetable oils) and very low levels of Omega 3. This imbalance is at the root of the cause for many chronic illnesses as it puts the individual in ‘inflammation' mode ;
4. Inflammatory conditions / certain diseases / excessive exercise / chronic frequent infections mean you need much higher levels of certain nutrients that simply cannot be obtained solely from foods ;
5. Other factors to take into account are your own specific needs, which are dependent on your particular lifestyle demands, the efficiency of your digestion, absorption of nutrients and your very own individual biochemistry. All these markers can be tested in Laboratories. Nutrient deficiencies, however slight, prevent your body from repairing and working as well as it should.
What supplements should I take ?
Unless you are trained for that purpose it is impossible to know what to take , when , how much , in which combination, and for how long. That is the job of your Functional Medicine Practitioner, who will use only supplements of the highest quality recommended by professionals for therapeutic purposes. One of the problems I see the most is that of self-prescribing. Individuals who self - prescribe supplements based on what they think they "should" be taking inevitably experience disappointment when their health problems do not vanish. This is because Functional Medicine deals with resolving the root of the health issue that will have a number of subsequent consequences to your health. For example, all too often people are told they have a Vitamin D or Iron deficiency, but then self - prescribe a poor quality supplement or an insufficient dosage which does not resolve the deficiency.
Will I need to take laboratory tests ?
These are not always essential but in many instances adequate laboratory tests may be necessary as they give us the information about the underlying reasons for a problem, such as recurring infections, ongoing low energy and Inflammatory conditions for example. In many instances tests point to levels of certain nutrients that are needed that simply cannot be obtained solely from foods. Laboratory tests guide us as to the most efficient way to deal with obscure or poly-symptomatic health issues.
I have been told to take Vitamin D throughout winter. Is this true ?
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. However, to optimise your levels, you need to know your precise level, which can only be fully ascertained by taking a blood test. When this has been done, we can adjust the dosage according to your specific needs.
I have seen patients taking ‘1 a day’ for ages and still be deficient. People with auto immunity diseases / infections / low immunity need much higher levels to optimise their health. Your GP can do this test, or I can order a test for you - something I frequently do. The type and quality of supplement is essential. It should be noted that Vitamin D is a fat - soluble vitamin, and ideally you need an oil or fat based Vit D3 supplement, without Calcium (which is usually added in the form of calcium carbonate - aka chalk). Even if you spend ‘months’ in the sun - which usually in Europe we don’t as we are generally indoors - you may still be deficient if you were low in Vitamin D to begin with.
I keep reading stories in the press about supplements being dangerous for your health. Is this true ?
Nutritional Therapists are often asked this question. Though there are frequent articles published on this subject, my peers' response to this is that the following question should always be asked "who is funding this research?" and "what do they stand to gain from this ?" More often than not, major groups with vested interests actively fund research resulting in these findings. It is of course entirely up to the individual to make an informed decision on this subject, but it is important to note that medication - producing pharmaceutical companies' business model is founded on entirely different principles than that of Nutritional Therapy & Functional Medicine. The pharmaceutical business model - which is one of the wealthiest industries on the planet - is inextricably linked with returning clients and / or patients taking several drugs in order to target or suppress the symptoms of a health issue.
Nutritional Therapy & Functional Medicine by contrast is fundamentally based on taking a holistic appraisal of an individual's health, and targeting the root cause of it, thereby resolving not only the underlying cause but all related (interconnected) symptoms.
A supplement would have to be taken at very high dosages, over a long period, and consistently before the possibility of toxicity arises. No trained nutritional therapy and functional medicine practitioner would advise such dosages over that length of time !
Natural supplements receive a lot of negative press from the mainstream news. I invite you to read this article from the Alliance of Natural Health International and draw a more balanced conclusion of your own.
Do you always ask people to stop grains and / or gluten ?
The emerging science (last 10-15 years) is unequivocal on the topic of grains, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. I refer to scientists such as Prof Alessio Fasano and Prof Aristos Vojdani to name only two. Not necessarily always, but as many of my clients have inflammatory conditions, intolerances, allergic reactions, Auto Immune Diseases and chronic pain issues I may (for a time, although not necessarily always), but as many of my clients have inflammatory conditions, intolerances, allergic reactions, Auto Immune Diseases and chronic pain issues I may do, for a time. And some people due to their health problems need to avoid these for long periods, it all depends on the individual. It is also worth noting that the alternative foods I recommend instead have much higher nutrient values. The most recent research in this field points to grains as the food group most involved in inflammatory conditions. Therefore if you are asked to avoid these foods for a while you will also be much better nourished !
Can you test to find out if I have parasites and candidiasis ?
I recommend and work closely with very prestigious laboratories that offer comprehensive tests to assess an individual's digestive and intestinal health. I find these tests the single most helpful tool in my practice as so many health issues have their root in the gut. Since I started practising, I have seen many people with an array of (often chronic) health issues, and yet when we begin to dig a little deeper it transpires that they have had intestinal / digestive (gut) complaints for a long time. Resolving these problems is the key to improving your health !
Are genes important ?
Yes they are indeed. Some diseases are clearly genetically induced. However, most chronic diseases affecting us today have a very strong environmental component (unbalanced diet ; stress ; toxin exposure - both indoors and outdoors ; chronic infections ; skin products, and hormone imbalances). Our genes have not changed at all in the last few thousand years. What has changed dramatically is our way of life (including specifically the quality of foods we eat), the ‘cocktail’ of pollutants we are exposed to, and the increasing exposure to all manner of radiation from different sources and most of these can be modified. In his book "Genetic Nutritioneering", Jeffrey Bland PhD explores research and understanding of how foods and nutrients improve genetic expression. He argues that the so - called ‘bad gene’ alone does not guarantee disease. Scientific research being published every day is proving this to be the case. The more rare genetic diseases affecting us are being well researched by scientists and progress has been made on alleviating some of them. The most recent research I'm aware of clearly says that genes are at most a 10% cause of disease and that environmental factors (ie.foods/toxins/air/alcohol/lifestyle/stress/emotions) in combinations are the main drivers of disease.
Are nutritional therapists and dieticians the same ?
There are similarities but in practice they are different professions: A nutritional therapist works on optimum amounts of nutrients which are the amounts needed to minimise health problems and promote optimum health. A dietician works on recommended daily amounts of nutrients set by the government and are the amounts needed to prevent diseases such as scurvy and beriberi.
Is it true that the brain is 60% fat ?
Yes it is. Some studies argue that that figure is even a little higher. Some fats are very good for your health and others are
very bad. Other facts about your body you may like to know are that
the skin rebuilds itself every 28 days ;
the lining of the gut is repaired every 4 days ;
our whole blood supply is renewed every 90 days ;
4. every molecule in muscle tissue is replaced every 6 month ;
5. 70% of our immune system is found in the intestine and our primary protection from colds, flus, infections, viruses and more should ideally be coming from the beneficial bacteria that naturally occurs in the gut. Science is proving how health begins in the gut.
When given the right nutrients and rest our body repairs itself.
If you would like to read up more on the issues discussed above, please take a look at the following books / links :
www.healthdefence.com by Dr Paul Clayton, Medical Pharmacologist. This site offers scientific explanations about how diseases develop in easy - to - understand, precise scientific language
2."The truth about the drug companies" by Marcia Angel, ex editor - in - chief of the New England Journal
of Medicine. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social
Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Here is the link.
3. www.autismresearchinstitute.com : a website dedicated to developing a standard of care for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
4. www.ewg.org : A team from all walks of life empowering people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, they drive consumer choice and civic action.
5. www.mercola.com : an American Doctor / Nutritionist with a comprehensive weekly site covering drug side effects,
vaccines, pollution issues, etc.
6. Regenerus Laboratories : a UK company offering tests from prestigious laboratories in Europe / the USA. I
mostly use this Lab for my patients. Click here for their website.
7. www.bant.org.uk - the British Association for Nutritional Therapy.
8. www.naturaldispensary.co.uk : An independent nutritional supplement mail order company dedicated to
practitioners and their clients by referral. With over 6,000 practitioner - prescribed products under one roof, their
aim is to provide an efficient one stop service.
9. A report from the Alliance for Natural Health discussing the latest full research and risk assessment of taking supplements. Click here for.
10. www.responsibletechnology.org : A comprehensive guide on GM foods and several other issues affecting health.
11. www.riverford.co.uk : one of the oldest organic foods (dairy/vegetables/fruits/meats) home delivery companies. Grassfed Wonderful service and reliably excellent quality.
12. Dr Fasano : MD, Founder of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition & Professor at Maryland University, USA. In this video, he explains the many ways in which gluten in grains affects our health. Essential viewing for anyone with any disease involving inflammation/auto immunity, including diabetes , chronic diseases , weight issues or obesity , digestion and intestinal discomfort or disease.
14. http://www.foodforthebrain.org : Food for the brain wishes to raise awareness of the importance of optimum nutrition in mental health. We are a charitable foundation working to inform organisations and empower individuals to change their diet and lifestyle and take greater control of their own mental health.
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
WHO, World Health Organisation