Updated: Jan 15, 2021
Unlike the missing link in our human history, the missing link in our health is right in front of our eyes.
From speaking to many people in clinics, at the gym, or even at social events, it is apparent that people seem to feel the need to confess to me their food sins as soon as they discover my vocation. If you are that person that likes such conversation at a dinner party, I’d just like to let you know, I’d rather discuss the weather.
More importantly, after many years of having the same conversation, it is apparent that most people have what I like to call ‘surface knowledge’. Most people understand which foods are healthy, they understand that broccoli is ‘good’ and crisps are ‘bad’ and so on, but I call this surface knowledge as, upon further questioning, their understanding is extremely limited in scientific detail - they are unaware of the ‘why’.
I believe this is a big problem in the UK. If we don’t crave to understand the nutritional value of food and exactly how it affects our physiology, and therefore our overall health, we are truly buggered.
Whilst I absolutely think it is a good thing that a lot of people are now more health conscious than perhaps 20-30 years ago, I still think more could be done in terms of education - particularly around the healing powers of food.
Recently, I had a conversation with a client who cut out dairy and had her eczema symptoms vanish in six weeks. Being a nutritional therapist, this came as no surprise to me. I am aware that dairy is a known irritant that can cause inflammation within the gut, thereafter being pushed to the surface of skin, resulting in psoriasis or eczema. However to the average person, this isn’t common knowledge.
If you are reading this and hearing that for the first time, you’re probably not alone. I have seen incredible recoveries in chronic conditions such as ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/IBS/Chronic stress through nutritional and lifestyle recommendations.
Whilst I appreciate that for many, medications are the only way to control symptoms and conditions, with what I now understand about the potential natural healing powers of foods, I would always urge people to ask themselves the question… ‘What If I didn’t need medication anymore?’.
It might sound unrealistic, but some examples include:
Indole 3 carbinol instead of HRT to treat post breast cancer/menopause (ref 1,2)
Adaptogen usage instead of sleeping tablets for chronic stress/anxiety (ref 3, 4)
Gut healing program instead of topical steroid creams to treat psoriasis (ref 5)
The list could be endless, and I know they won’t always be applicable for everyone - I don’t want to throw my green pharmacy on everyone by any means. It must, however, be said that there are instances where natural substances can be applied to replicate the effects of some well known medications without the side effects.
The next natural thought would be “But why didn’t my doctor tell me about them?”. This is a broader topic, to be addressed in a separate blog, but in short they are not trained for such advice. It is promising that the NHS has now opted to implement the use of nutritionists and dieticians at some GP surgeries, especially given that the two biggest occurrences of disease in the UK (Stroke and heart disease) are both, to a large extent. diet and lifestyle mediated (ref 6).
I suppose the overarching message here is to ask ‘Why?’.
Why is broccoli good? Why are crisps bad? Why do I need that medication? Etc etc.
The healing power of food is massively underrated in today's society, I encourage you all to buy THIS book. It explains the ‘why’ and is the best example of how food can be used to naturally heal the body, as opposed to the calorific value many of us obsess over.
I have found that when people eat food to improve their health, as opposed to modulating their weight, they usually see results in both areas. It is a similar comparison to when I train people in the gym as a personal trainer. I always get people focused on a physical goal, like a pull up, a press up, or a box jump. Through gaining strength they usually achieve their desired body composition by default.
Food isn’t inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. As it is an inanimate object, it has zero moral value. We give it value based on our feelings of guilt towards it, hence people describing their weekends as ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ because they had some cake and a few beers.
What food does have, is nutritional value. And as I said earlier this is much more important when it comes to evaluating whether you really need it in your diet or not.
Everything is okay in moderation.
Be kind to your body, educate yourself around what you put into it, and enjoy life!
No one sits on their deathbed wishing they were thinner, so understand what it is your body needs, and enjoy life with the things that are really important to you!
If you want to take a closer look at your health, drop us a message.
Targeting of aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated activation of cyclooxygenase-2 expression by the indole-3-carbinol metabolite 3,3'-diindolylmethane in breast cancer cells. Degner SC, Papoutsis AJ, Selmin O, Romagnolo DF. J Nutr. 2009 Jan; 139(1):26-32.
Low concentrations of diindolylmethane, a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol, protect against oxidative stress in a BRCA1-dependent manner. Fan S, Meng Q, Saha T, Sarkar FH, Rosen EMCancer Res. 2009 Aug 1; 69(15):6083-91.
Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 3(1), 188–224. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph3010188
Farnsworth N., Kinghorn A.D., Soejarto D.D., Waller D.P. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Current status as an adaptogen. In: Wagner H., Hikino H., Farnsworth N.R., editors. Economic and Medicinal Plant Research. Volume 1. Academic Press; London, UK: 1985. pp. 156–209
The Skin and Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Common Dermatologic Conditions Samantha R. Ellis 1,2, Mimi Nguyen 3 , Alexandra R. Vaughn 2 , Manisha Notay 2 , Waqas A. Burney 2,4, Simran Sandhu 3 and Raja K. Sivamani