Land is not merely soil, it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.
The Royal Society of Medicine sits nicely next to the headquarters of Coca-Cola on Wimpole Street in London.
Such a contrast as we settle down to hear medical experts share their specialised knowledge on the microbiome, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The day began hopeful.
I was seated next to a nutritionist and cook and she told me that once a week she makes a meal with two others for eighty homeless people in London.
The chefs are given food past its sell-by-date by supermarkets, Wholefoods and Michellin star restaurants, which they then prepare in to a wholesome meal.
It will probably be the only nutritious meal they receive all week. Practical charity at its best as we go into a day where too much food, poor choices and poor quality are creating much of the negative health issues we have today.
From as far back as I can remember real food was first. It was the foundation of health at home and in our herbal practice and it’s hard to comprehend that it has taken mainstream medicine decades to understand a most primal necessity.
The Farmers – stewards of the land
Agriculture is our primary health service
Patrick Holden started the day at ground level.
He established his biodynamic farm in 1973 and quite wonderfully explained that a healthy gut microbiome begins in the soil.
There is a call to connect the human biome to the soil biome. It all starts there and it really makes you think about the food you buy.
We can look at the farm as the cell and if the cell is sick, ie the soil, then we have a sick population. We know that intensive farming methods and toxic chemicals are depleting our soil and compromising our health, leading to low nutrient levels in vegetables and in turn us.
He gave up selling carrots long ago to supermarkets. They squeeze the life out of farmers and I acknowledged even more that we need to support local farms, eat seasonally and organically as much as possible. And support people like Patrick in this most life giving work.
Like me he says he doesn’t need science to tell him organic is better.
But studies do show that organic produce contributes to the maintenance of optimal health and reduces the risk of developing chronic disease.
The Gut Professor
Professor Tim Spector has been studying twins at St Thomas’ hospital for 25 years and also specialises in the gut microbiome.
We must keep in mind that every meal we eat changes the environment in the gut and literally speaks to the body, influencing the expression of genes.
Forget the 5 a day, which has no scientific basis.
For maximum biodiversity we need around 30 different plants a day in our diet. That sounds like an impossible task but this could be a nut, a seed, a herb, spice or vegetable. It’s not unachievable.
Fibre is important as the fertiliser, because without it the microbes can’t thrive and will therefore go elsewhere.
Top tips for a diverse microbiome –
- Eat a little fermented food every day; sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha
- Choose sourdough bread
- Consume a wide range of dark and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables
- Enjoy dark chocolate and red wine in moderation
- The best prebiotic fibre rich ‘microbe fertilisers’; leeks, celery, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes
- Avoid sweeteners; animal studies show they produce abnormal chemicals and reduce microbe diversity
- Eat a wide and varied colourful diet
Interestingly studies show that patients undergoing immunotherapy for cancer have better outcomes if they have a rich biodiversity in the gut.
For more on this fascination subject read –
The Heart Specialist
Dr Aseem Malhotra, an award winning consultant cardiologist made a bold statement to one of his elderly patients.
She arrived at his clinic worried sick about her raised cholesterol.
He congratulated her and said she would live a long life. Study.
Lowering cholesterol does not increase longevity. In fact if you can withstand the side effects of Statin’s, over a 5 year period they will prolong your life by 4 days.
Statin’s have not reduced cardiovascular mortality.
Stress reduction is paramount and is an independent marker of heart disease. The importance of community, connections, friendships, love, peace, a sense of purpose and joy cannot be underestimated.
Read here how you can beat heart disease with a Mediterranean diet and by eating more fat.
Giving and receiving love lowers your risk of heart disease
Dr David Unwin is on the list of the top 50 most influential GP’s in the UK. He is a warm, slight man, joyfully helping his patients without the use of drugs.
He gives his patients hope and optimism. The word hope was used a lot during the day and it reminded me of Dr Lissa Rankin’s book Mind Over Medicine. She said you cannot belittle the most important aspect of healing, that you need a compassionate, optimistic doctor who doesn’t quash hope but offers possibilities.
Five years ago David’s practice was one of the biggest spenders of anti-diabetic drugs in the UK.
Now it is the lowest.
And it’s all down to diet.
He has transformed the lives of many of his patients who were overweight and ill.
He told us that even though these patients were on various drugs for their conditions they were still sick. Drugs were not creating health.
Many of his patients are now in remission and symptom free.
The fastest case of reversal was in just 38 days, with diet alone.
This is empowering and life changing.
“Hope is a waking dream.”
So What to Eat
The Eatwell guide which was designed by Gregg’s, McCain and The Coca Cola Company amongst other unhealthy food companies is promoted by the NHS.
And you wonder why we are in trouble.
Doctors working in an NHS setting reported at the conference on the unhealthy food offered in hospitals. No one wants it. And at a most critical time where nourishment is required it is just not there.
They said there is inertia in the NHS. It has to change.
We are reaching a tipping point, and as two young and newly qualified GP’s revealed, in 6 years study they received only 3 hours nutritional training. They aren’t happy and are calling for change.
Many doctor’s feel ill-equipped to deal with health conditions that so often can be improved and eradicated with nutritional changes.
The tide is turning, the ship has left the port and I was encouraged.
For decades natural health practitioners, like us, have always known the value of food in health.
I remember about 5 years ago I advised a person with terrible gut issues to change their diet, (they subsequently had part of their colon removed), their gastroenterologist said diet had nothing to do with it.
And so they carried on.
But is has everything to do with it.
Eating well is simple, life enhancing and life saving –
- Buy local, organic and seasonal where possible – support your local farm
- Eat natural, unprocessed food
- Eat meat from pasture raised animals
- Include a variety of herbs and spices in your daily diet
- Consume brightly coloured berries
- Enjoy dark chocolate for healthy gut bacteria
- Red wine is beneficial for gut health, in fact three times more than white wine
- Use only good quality fats; butter, olive oil, coconut oil and olive oil
And be joyful, walk, laugh, sleep well, keep good company, speak your truth, get sunlight and love.
It is never too late to begin.