Attending a CAM summit or conference is always a recipe for an exciting day! The tome we’re given when we arrive is indicative of the amount of new research, information and developments we will hear about during the day, from the scientific and nutritional expert speakers.
By 5pm my mind has been fed a veritable orgy of information. I’ve spoken to most of the fifteen stands: new and old supplement companies showing new products, new laboratory tests being explained. I’ve checked out future seminars, caught up with friends from my college days and drunk copious amounts of green tea (and eaten enough pineapple triangles to last me a lifetime).
The learning curve is ever rising. New knowledge layered upon trusty old knowledge. It all makes so much sense to me, nutritional therapy. Science based facts, and people-based studies tick my ‘proof needed’ box. And I think all of us in that room yesterday must’ve shared the same need. Wanting to learn and understand all the new and exciting research. Discussing tests and finding valid answers to previously unanswered questions. Moving forward with knowledge and confidence.
Nutritional therapy is not just about food. I explain this to clients, especially those with complicated health conditions. Working together and changing diet is the first great step, but it’s just that, a first step. Some lucky clients email after a month and say “I left out gluten and sugar and dairy and I feel great.”
But often I’ll hear, “ I’ve cut out gluten and dairy and coffee, but I still get violent stomach cramps and joint aches or headaches; why aren’t I feeling better?”
Were it so easy, everyone could self treat. But sadly, in the main, it’s not just about food. The food you eat is indeed the very best start on your journey to wellness, but as I said, it’s a first step. Possible damage or inefficiency of your metabolic systems, or your gut wall, adrenals or arteries…will need more than food changes.
And if you’ve been on steroids and medication and are wanting to gradually wean yourself off, with your doctor’s blessing, then it’s highly unlikely that food alone will be sufficient to relieve symptoms (and neither will a lone fish oil capsule or a multi which you may have read about. After years of ulcerative colitis or IBS or severe allergies, one fish oil capsule daily – as great as it may be – will not be the magic bullet).
Considering that your gut contains about 80% of your immune cells, it’s little wonder you will want to look after it, so that you have not just a happy digestive tract, but also a strong immune system.
So what are the steps I use in my practice?
Testing is one of the founding stones. A laboratory can pinpoint overgrowths, intolerances, compromised cells, imbalances in your endocrine system or the seeds of an auto immune condition – and more, much more. Laboratory tests can save endless hours of guesswork – and money – and ideally help address and improve symptoms sooner rather than later.
I then use a system taught in college, namely the 5Rs: Remove, Replace, Repair, Re-inoculate and Rebalance.
The first step is to Remove whatever is causing the symptoms of ill health – this could be the bacterial infections in the gut, or parasites or viral load which test results have thrown up.
Or it could also be the foods you may be intolerant to, which will subsequently be causing inflammation in the form of pain, discomfort in the gut, headaches or rashes or muscle ache, joint pain…
Or it could be from (non organic) food pesticides you’re eating… or the mercury load in your mouth (some people have one filling and can’t tolerate it – others have a mouth-full and live to get a telegram from the Queen. “We are all individuals”).
Then I Replace any nutrients you may be lacking – phytonutrients from eg. vegetables or vitamins and minerals… or less animal fat… or more protein – whatever is showing up as your individual requirement.
Repair is about helping damaged tissue, such as the gut wall lining which may have had years of abuse, having been exposed to those intolerance foods or to that overgrowth of bacteria. Eating certain foods to promote healing of the skin but also supplementing with natural anti inflammatories; supporting the gut mucosa and the myelin sheath of your nerves.
Re-inoculating will help colonize your gut with the friendly bacteria required for immune health. Eating prebiotic foods to nourish your gut microbiome, taking additional probiotics, and ensuring you stay away from the foods which will feed the unfriendly bacteria and yeasts.
Lastly, Rebalancing your life.
As I mentioned above, nutritional therapy is not just about foods; and it’s not just about supplements and testing either.
It is also about lifestyle and balance. Encouraging good habits such as sufficient sleep and relaxation; exercise of some sort; enjoying hobbies; widening your view from the narrow stresses that work and family and the world can squeeze onto you. Taking a deep breath often and looking at the love and nurturing in your life.
Is your spiritual world embracing you? Are you living mindfully – eyes and heart wide open to the changes you will be doing to improve your health?