Society considers a vegan diet a “healthy” lifestyle choice (both for humans and the environment). But is it? Some of the most severe and chronic health conditions I see are often connected to current or past veganism.
The science is convincing; vegans are far more likely to present with a number of key nutritional deficiencies compared to omnivores, particularly B12, omega 3 essential fats, choline and bioavailable forms of calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A and D. Our cells require optimal nutrient levels to function. When cells malfunction, we develop disease.
Our digestive system closely resembles other predatory animals’ and is designed to break down animal protein with stomach acid. Herbivores do not produce stomach acid. Plants are difficult to break down, which is why herbivores have a special stomach (a rumen) containing significant quantities of bacteria whose sole purpose is to release nutrients. If you watch a cow eating, you’ll notice grass is regurgitated multiple times – “chewing the cud”. The human digestive system has very few bacteria in the stomach (stomach acid is very hostile to gut bacteria), with the vast majority residing in our version of a rumen, the colon (which is as far away from the stomach as possible) and located after the small intestine, the key part of the digestive system that absorbs nutrients (in herbivores the rumen is before the small intestine). We are designed to absorb the vast majority of our nutrients from foods broken down in the upper digestive systems (animal proteins/fats), with indigestible plant matter passed to the colon, where the gut bacteria get to work and produce a raft of essential metabolic by-products that we have discussed and confer considerable health benefits.
I’m not advocating we eat lots of animal protein; it should be the “garnish” with veg centre stage! I’m pointing out that abstaining from all animal protein is not “healthy”. A vegan diet is essentially a form of fasting.
Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 0118 321 9533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com
If you are presenting with any chronic health or wellbeing conditions that cannot be explained, then a professional assessment should be advised for the following disorders.
Gluten-related disorders (GRDs) are fundamentally caused by the inability of the body to properly digest gluten (the storage protein in grains), typically driven by imbalances in the bacterial species of the gut in combination with genetic predisposition. If identified, eliminate gluten from a diet permanently in order to repair the damage.
Coeliac disease (CD) is the autoimmune variant of GRDs where the immune system attacks and destroys the small intestine reducing the ability of the body to absorb nutrients. CD can be diagnosed using a combination of blood, genetic and physical assessments.
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) are not an auto-immune disease, but is no less serious. This evidence is based upon results of a large study that reviewed 351,000 intestinal biopsies clearly showing that there was not only just as much inflammation detected with NCGS as with CD, but also that the increased risk of early mortality was 72% with NCGS compared to 39% with CD.
There is also a “new kid on the block” called non-coeliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS), where gluten is not necessarily the trigger, but instead significant immune system reactions are being triggered by other components of wheat. You can start to appreciate that both gluten and wheat can have serious implications on individuals that do not have CD but instead NCGS/NCWS.
Simply eliminating wheat or gluten, in your diet, before you have had a professional assessment is not advised.
Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 0118 321 9533 or visit
We all know that the NHS is under considerable pressure. The cost of diabetes alone to the NHS is over £1.5 million per hour, says Diabetes UK. The conventional medical view on type 2 diabetes (T2D) is that this condition is irreversible and requires long-term medication to control.
T2D typically responds very well to specific dietary and lifestyle interventions. Working in collaboration with their GPs, I have seen, firsthand, clients come off/reduce their diabetic medications by making substantial changes to their diets and lifestyle.
I am therefore somewhat perplexed by the fanfare that has surrounded the results of a very recently published randomised controlled trial in The Lancet, that has concluded that after the participants focused on a weight loss programme for 12 months that ‘almost half achieved remission to a non-diabetic state and off antidiabetic drugs. Remission of type 2 diabetes is a practical target for primary care’. This is great news, but not new news. There is considerable existing evidence to suggest that calorie restriction (in particular carbohydrate restriction) is one of the most beneficial approaches to optimally managing diabetes, which, after all, is an intolerance to carbohydrate. Obviously any such intervention does need to be carefully managed by a suitably, qualified health care practitioner in conjunction with the client’s GP/medical consultants. The reality is that standardising this type of approach, has the potential to save the nation around £7 billion.
It is time to stop simply focussing on how much more money the NHS requires and really start thinking about reducing overall load on the system, by using well-managed dietary and lifestyle interventions that are supported by unbiased science. Food is one of the most powerful medicines known to human kind.
Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 01183 219533 or visit
I regularly see clients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) – fatigue so debilitating that they are virtually unable to function. Often CFS presents as fibromyalgia, which is chronic fatigue with the added burden of widespread pain and stiffness all over the body.
It is believed the pain associated with fibromyalgia is caused when the mitochondria (the energy production plants in our cells), desperate to supply energy to the body, switch from efficient aerobic (using oxygen) to inefficient anaerobic (no oxygen) metabolism. Anaerobic energy production creates large amounts of lactic acid.
Lactic acid, as anyone who pushes themselves when exercising knows, causes muscle pain, which dissipates after a short rest. This pain, however, does not dissipate with fibromyalgia, as the body is unable to break lactic acid down, due to mitochondrial dysfunction. The excess acid can also cause damage to muscle tissue, presenting as very sensitive areas. This process can feed on itself as the damage releases lots of free radicals (destructive molecules), which can cause additional damage if antioxidant status (the ability to neutralise free radical damage) is low. So mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the key areas when it comes to helping move the body back into balance with CFS and fibromyalgia. Healthy mitochondria require a raft of key nutrients for optimal performance, including but not limited to magnesium, B vitamins, essential fats, CoQ10, carnitine and alpha lipoic acid and must not be bathed in toxins. There are often multiple systemic imbalances going on, including but not limited to digestive dysfunction, poor antioxidant status, immune system dysregulation, chronic inflammation, viral infections, food and/or environmental sensitivities/allergies, thyroid and adrenal dysfunction and micronutrient deficiencies. Nothing exists in isolation. Once again looking at the body from a functional and holistic perspective is key.
Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 01183 219533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com