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Spotlight on nutritional therapy

NutritionThere is an ever growing appreciation of the role of diet in determining our level of health. If the body is not fed the high quality fuel it needs for energy, maintenance and repair, then it’s only a matter of time before it fails to run in an efficient manner.

However as people learn more about the value of a good diet and proper nutrition, they often become confused by the conflicting opinions they encounter. The questions nutritionists are most often asked are:

  • What is a healthy diet?
  • How do I know what to eat and in what quantities?
  • How much protein, fat, fibre and other foods do I need to eat?
  • What properties do individual foods have?

Nutritional Therapy is much more than simply making healthy food choices. Nutritional Therapists use the science of food and diet to help boost the body’s ability to heal itself, maintain good health and prevent disease.

Our Nutritional Therapist Catherine Barker sees a wide range of patients. With over 20 years’ experience in clinical practice, both in the private sector and the NHS, she has helped people of all ages with both acute and chronic conditions – some of whom came to her with long term health conditions that had not responded to conventional medicine.

Catherine says, “In my experience, I’ve found that resolving any health challenge involves three steps: firstly to identify the possible underlying cause for a patient’s health condition, then to be able to select the appropriate treatment, and finally for them to embrace the changes that need to be made.”

Nutritional Therapy isn’t the same for everyone. It’s tailored to an individual’s health condition and needs, involving making changes to diet and lifestyle and may also involve taking a nutritional supplement.

Catherine continues, “In more complex health cases, I may recommend an independent laboratory test.  These are often for patients with gut, hormonal, adrenal and fatigue problems.

An initial consultation with Catherine at the Good Health Centre usually lasts around one hour. This involves her taking a detailed case history, which takes account of your current and past health concerns, and also your diet, lifestyle and levels of stress as these can all play a part in your overall health.

How Catherine helped Sarah

Sarah had been suffering from stomach problems and abdominal bloating with offensive wind and changeable stools for the last 15 years.  She had seen many doctors, had a flexible camera inserted both top and bottom with nothing abnormal found, and was finally diagnosed with IBS.

She was eating a healthy diet, having a nutri-blast twice a day (veg, fruit and seed combinations) and took a high dose, quality multi vitamin/mineral and essential fats. She exercised regularly and, on the face of it, was a model of healthy living. But despite all her efforts, she was still unwell and had to avoid some social situations and travel because of her unpredictable bowels and gut symptoms.

On taking Sarah’s case it became obvious that despite her good diet and quality supplements, her digestive tract was not digesting and absorbing nutrients properly.  Further investigations confirmed this; the test result also showed high levels of unwanted and potentially harmful bacteria in the gut and low levels of good bacteria which needed to be addressed. During the consultation it became apparent that Sarah had been living for a long time in very difficult circumstances and was experiencing high levels of stress. I explained to her how the gut has its own brain that is very much tuned into our emotions. Prolonged stress not only causes the bowel to release inflammation-causing chemicals, it can also cause deterioration in the gut immune system. If you consider that 70% of your immune system is in your gut, it’s not surprising this can make you feel very unwell and susceptible to illness.

In Sarah’s case it was not only important to treat her symptoms, which included taking digestive enzymes, together with hardy strains of good bacteria which were not going to be killed off by stomach acid and inflammation in the gut. I also prescribed a particular combination of herbs and nutrients to reduce the levels of bad bacteria which were causing the bloating and discomfort.

Fortunately Sarah was committed to doing everything possible to regain her health, including addressing her psychological stress. She was prescribed Homeopathic remedies to help strengthen her mentally and emotionally.

Sarah embraced the changes that needed to be made and is now virtually symptom free and enjoying life.

In Sarah’s case stress had played a major part in her condition, however the same symptoms could have been caused by nutritional imbalances, impaired detoxification pathways, candida or other parasitic infections, food allergies/intolerances, the list is numerous and identifying the underlying cause is an important part of successful treatment.

Catherine concludes, “I am a big believer in this statement made by Hippocrates over 200 years ago: ‘All disease begins in the gut.’ It has never been as true as it is today.”

Find out more about nutritional therapy at the Good Health Centre and how it could help you.

Arthritis Action
The Institute of Osteopathy
British Institute of Osteopathy
General Osteopathic Council
British Acupuncture Council
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