I think that many of us want to take care of our bodies and hope our bodies will care of us. When I look at statistics on obesity, autoimmune diseases, cancers and mental health conditions from the WHO I consider that we are struggling to accomplish a good standard of self-care and disease prevention. 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 evidence of a holistic approach to health I find in the NHS’s adoption of social prescribing by and the attendance at this year’s conference on ‘Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice’ held by The Institute of Functional Medicine seeing a record number of GP’s in attendance. 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. Despite this i persevere by discerning the language of journal articles on nutrition and 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 our immune systems acts 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. We are quick to identify gone off milk but how are we responding to air pollution in London at dangerously high levels, soil deficient in nutrients because of giant agro-farming practices and Smart Meters emitting dangerously high EMF waves? Are many of us responding at all? Certainly, on a state and industrial level we are ignoring these issues. How about cleaning products? Products that show pictures of dead fish on the label, which mean in no unclear terms that these chemicals kill wildlife wash our kitchen surfaces and leave our laundry smelling fresh. 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 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 normal then how can we expect to keep up resilience and keep processing and eliminating these toxins?
Governments and industry share interests in opening-up new markets, creating jobs, boosting economies through spending, demonstrating progress and this cannot always be trusted to be in the national interest. Something as obviously toxic as 5G is in the wings for implementation across the UK while the move to electric cars for 2020 will solve London’s dirty air. Other juxtapositions: McDonalds sponsors the Olympics along with Cadburys, Waitrose promotes itself as supporting British farmers, the ethical supermarket yet uses palm oil in its products. I wrote to them asking them why they continue to use a product whose production is devastating rainforests, displacing both animals and people. Their reply: “We're absolutely committed to sourcing ingredients in the most ethical way possible. When it comes to palm oil, we use 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). This has been the case since the end of 2012. This is an industry-leading target which ensures the palm oil used in our food is not contributing to the destruction of orangutan habitats.” Sadly research conducted by Queensland University Australia has shown that RSPO certified plantations perform no better on sustainability targets than unregistered plantations. Lets have a reality check – this is a marketing manoeuvre. 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? Or that regulators are not providing guidelines and checks to hold industry accountable?
Lucky for us we have choice in our lives and do not have to rely on poor regulation. You have a choice on how to spend your money, how to treat your body and there are ways and means to uncover how the products you use are being sourced. I’ll coin the tag line from one of the world’s leading cosmetic brands, ‘You’re worth it!’ The initial steps of the self-care/ planet care ladder 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 however, I am currently reading ‘Bad Pharma’ by Ben Goldacre. No doubt a blog coming soon! I am writing to challenge everyone to run a new pattern, a pattern of self-love and planetary love with the support and care from those around you who are doing the same. Kind 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. Nine years ago I suffered 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 of wellness as my GP was telling me this was set in for life. 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 fortunate to have had the support and determination to get healthy, my skin now glows and treats me well. Save for dry elbows you would never know I had any problems with my skin.
I am happy not to be a nutritional therapist! I am fascinated by the world of nutrition and believe whole-heartedly that our diet governs our whole selves. 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. Caring for the planet might seem tedious and confront you with a whole new set of decisions and challenges and perhaps mockery from friends. Consider you lived in the rainforest that you saw being torn down closer and closer to your home and perhaps we would all think more seriously about the products and companies that we choose to support. Life is complicated enough I realise and we can’t all be perfect however being aware of what is going on around us is a strong start to seeing a change and empathising with those dedicating all there time and energy to saving the plant.
https://www.bethfrancesnutrition.com/ - Beth’s Website
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