I think that many of us want to take care of our bodies and expect our bodies to care of us. However, when looking at statistics on obesity, autoimmune disease, cancers and mental health from the WHO I consider humans struggling to accomplish a good standard of self-care. Staying up to date with research, news and data creates an optimism in me that Western medicine is discovering that out environment both internally and externally impacts on our health, but maybe it will take a little while for these ideas to become the norm. I I am interested in functional medicine holistic approaches to understanding the body and these are the ideas that I seek to explore in my research and practise.
Making healthy choices and taking care of a body is no short cut to a life free of illness. One could choose to eat only organic vegetables, exercise every day and supplement diet with vitamins and minerals, turn off all EMF emitting devices at night and such healthy choices could still result in chronic illness. However, the aim of healthy choices is I hope to feel great? If you feel well, if you’re enjoying life, if your stress levels are low and your body is functioning at its optimum capacity then not only is it likely you will feel happier than ever on a day to day basis also, you are likely to recover faster and more effectively if you do get ill. Being happy has been sociologically proven to be triggered by our emotional responses to our daily lives, more so than the social benchmarks such as pay rises, house purchases and newborns (Interested in this? For further reading check out ‘The Myth of Happiness’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky.)
Encouraging indicators that there is a shift towards these actually traditional ideas can be seen in the NHS’s adoption of social prescribing by certain local health agencies and the attendance at this year’s conference on ‘Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice’ held by The Institute of Functional Medicine saw a record number of GP’s in attendance. Meanwhile, interesting discussions are taking place over how anatomy is taught and understood. Hand surgeon Jean-Claude Guimberteau has challenged the beliefs that our body is a sum of parts that can be identified individually and cut apart. Professor of Anatomy Carla Stecco is continuing this work on fascia and her faculty teaches students how fascia is found throughout the body and it has been overlooked and misunderstood for many years and this could help in the understanding of complicated chronic illness such as Chronic Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
Staying informed on Medical Research and as a Massage Therapist with a degree in Global Politics and a C in science GCSE sometimes leads me to think I’m not qualified enough, my mind is so often boggled by the lectures, articles and data that I have set my eyes and ears to. However, despite feeling a little foggy when discerning the language of journal articles on nutrition I do understand a great deal even if it isn’t the lab report! Importantly, every one of us is a host for a mind-blowing number of bacteria and seemingly our internal environment and external environments do a daily duel to keep us in balance and check. Our immune systems act with the power of the world wide web yet with great efficiency, analyzing and responding to every-thing that we put into it by choice or by accident. Everything we come into contact with is processed and responded to on a conscious or unconscious level. If air pollution in London is at dangerously high levels, soil is deficient in nutrients because of giant agro-farming practices and Smart Meters emit dangerously high EMF waves and yet, what impact does it have and do we respond? Houses and offices are cleaned with products that show pictures of dead fish on the label, which mean in no unclear terms that these chemicals kill wildlife and same with our lovely scented candles - check our the label. On we go. If you start to do your own investigations and explore research papers on the impact of long term exposure to parabens and chemical fertilizer, EMF and the long list of other poisonous chemicals or radiations waves that are only present in ‘minute’ amounts in the products we use daily you might start to take stock of your consumer choices. The saying that all the pennies make a pound can be applied by the same logic to those ‘mirco’ amounts of toxic chemicals in the products you use on your body.
A recent study from Michigan University shows that withdrawal from Junk Food (pastries, chips, pizza) has the same impact on the brain as withdrawal from tobacco, alcohol and drugs. These symptoms include: sadness, irritability, tiredness and cravings. Many people run their bodies on this kind of dirty fuel. These technologies and foods are around us all the time and most of us encounter them daily and although it seems dramatic to say we are in immediate danger the balance or the natural and the artificial is tipping in the wrong direction with negative consequence for the health of humans, animals and the planet. With the added stresses of modern daily life which many of us consider just usual – long working hours, social expectations needing to be met, money etc...then how can we expect to keep up resilience and keep processing and eliminating these toxins?
Governments and industry pair up and the want to open-up new markets, create jobs, boost economies, demonstrate modernity illustrate progress and so they land us with something as obviously toxic as 5G. McDonalds sponsors the Olympics along with Cadburys because they want to show they are all in support of healthy lifestyles. Waitrose uses palm oil in its products but says, don’t worry we are signed up to a Roundtable on safe procurement (I wrote to them about this). This is the same company that markets itself as supporting British Farmers so why is it kiliing orangoutangs? Lets have a reality check – this is a marketing maneuver. A company like Johnson and Johnson might have been selling a popular product for years and then new research suggests its ingredients cause cancer and then the company appeals and has the verdict overturned many times and a lot of money is paid out. It is a surprise we aren’t all angry. Why is it money can close these issues down? Is it all that we are too busy to pay any attention?
Lucky for us we have choice in our lives and you have a choice on how to spend your money, how to treat your body. I’ll coin the tag line from one of the world’s leading cosmetic brands, ‘You’re worth it!’ If you haven’t started a journey of self worth the first steps toward self-care and love are likely to feel uncomfortable, invisible, confusing and lonely. If you’re changing your diet you’ll experience withdrawal, mood swings and a fight with that voice in your head telling you ‘what is the point?’ and ‘oh just give up’. However, if you have the patience and kindness to treat your body like your most prized possession you could truly feel proud, fall in love with and value your real home – your body. Creating new patterns takes time and many of us have been running the same patterns for years and so the forces around us continue to profit. I won’t start here on the drug companies. I think I’m writing to challenge everyone to run a new pattern; a pattern of self-love with support and care. Beyond these personal care decisions can extend our lives, improve the quality of it and if more people cared for the bodies perhaps we could extend this to the planet. We could really all stop using plastic if we just prepared ourselves a little more thoroughly, and no new plastic bags would need to be produced.
I’m passionate about nutrition having been on this journey myself nine years ago to when I was overcome with a chronic bout of psoriasis from my neck to my toes that appeared from no-where and refused to disappear until I decided to seek nutritional help and embark on a journey through illness. It was a flat out stress response from my body and I did not realise at the time but, looking back I see it as a fortunate wake up call. I learned to take responsibility for my body and also I learned about self care and consideration and kindness. I was advised and supported by a nutritionist and the goal posts changed as we worked out how to respond to my unhappy and ill body.
I am so glad I’m not a nutritional therapist! I am fascinated by the world of nutrition and believe whole heartly our diet governs our whole selves but, these professionals have a huge job on their hands helping people adapt their eating patterns. Food is a social and emotional component in our lives and is not easy to guide people to new eating habits or ask someone to deny themselves of the sweet treats we fall back to for comfort. Remember how I spoke about addiction to Junk Food? The conclusion of this study was that making dietary changes is as challenging as giving up smoking or alcohol. Also, its true that you just aren’t going to enjoy the new foods at first. When you give up sugar you’re never full, you’re always thinking about something sweet while your mouth salivates and you just have to say no! A detox from anything that you are used to and you love is going to be a struggle. Because the brain likes what it knows and knows what it likes however, the second one isn’t always true, perhaps it is that it doesn’t know another way and it will just get used to it!
It’s a true test.
In the name of health, support and making changes I have teamed up with a good friend and nutritionist Beth Frances to offer all my clients a 10% discount on their first nutritional therapy appointment. With a kind ear for listening a sharp mind for seeing patterns and a love for health and nutrition Beth can offer you support and guidance while you’re attaining your personal health goals. Thinking of making a change? I dare you to give it a go and be open. Meanwhile, make kind decisions for both the planet and your body. There is just one of both.
https://www.bethfrancesnutrition.com/ - Beth’s Websire
World Health Organisation Online: https://www.who.int/en/news-room
Lyubomirsky. S (2013) The Happiness Myths. Penguin London,
Martin. S (2018) Functional Medicine Breakthrough? IHCAN Magazine
Barnes. T (2018) Johnsen & Johnsen Ordered to Pay Record $4.7 Billion Damages over Cancer Talc Lawsuit available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/talcum-powder-cancer-johnson-and-johnson-damages-lawsuit-ovarian-causes-asbestos-a8445286.html
Schulte. E, Smeal. J.K, Lewis. J, Gearhardt. A.N (Dec.2018) Development of the Highly Processed Food Withdrawal Scale, Elsevier Vol. 131 Pages 148-154
Accessed at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666318306196?via%3Dihub
DW Documentary (2018) The Mysterious World Under The Skin. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWU_DnC9t4I&list=LLUbzZs7rj6p5JLeQR5cqIXA
Guimberteau. J-C (2016) The Architecture of Living Tissue, The Liberated Body Podcast 059