Feeling better – naturally
By Juliet Gellatley, nutritional therapist, founder and director of Viva!Health and Viva! Over the years I have supported many clients with many conditions and the power of a healthy diet never ceases to amaze me! Here are just three examples of many success stories where people have been helped without fish oils for conditions where they are traditionally used.
Sean. Age: 5. Condition: eczema
Sean’s condition had suddenly worsened, with the whole of his side covered in sore, red skin. Topical steroids are popular in cases such as this but I advised natural products and a change in diet. The first thing to go was dairy, which is a well-known eczema trigger. I then helped his mum to improve his diet by introducing rich sources of omega-3s – flaxseed and hempseed oil – by mixing them into his main meal after cooking and from ground flaxseeds sprinkled onto breakfast cereal. This was also changed, from high-sugar to wholegrain varieties and porridge made with soya milk, to which were added mixed fresh or frozen berries every day.
To boost his antioxidant intake, I persuaded his mum to buy a juicer so he could have a mix of fresh fruits every morning, something which became part of his (and her!) routine. Foods rich in nutrients to help the skin heal and ensure bowel health were given.
The eczema dampened down quickly but returned if the changes were not stuck to. It took about four months but Sean’s skin has now returned to being normal and healthy.
John. Age: 62. Condition: osteoarthritis
Inflammation is central to this condition and so I advised John to remove the inflammatory foods from his diet – particularly sugar (including alcohol!) and dairy. I advised an anti-inflammatory vegan diet rich in the antioxidants vitamins C and E (which protect and enhance cartilage formation), complex carbohydrates, fibre, vegetable proteins and omega-3 oils.
A helping hand came from a plant supplement which specifically helps reduce inflammation in joints and promotes healing. Levels of omega-3 DHA and EPA were topped up with an algal supplement.
In John’s words the results were ‘amazing’. His long-established and worsening condition improved 100 per cent in his knees and elbows and by about 60 per cent in his shoulders. No fish oils or shark cartilage were used!
Andrew. Age: 66. Condition: coronary heart disease
Andrew had a heart attack a year before seeing me. Despite wanting to help himself become healthy rather than rely solely on drugs, he had received little information on diet. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels were high and so I advised an anti-inflammatory diet as inflammation plays a big role in clogging arteries.
Diet can reduce inflammation, which is why people are advised, wrongly in my opinion, to opt for fish oils. I advised Andrew to cut his saturated fat intake and he immediately stopped eating meat and then gradually removed all dairy from his diet. He boosted omega-3s by taking flaxseed oil and ground seeds daily, as well as green leafy veg, and ate walnuts regularly. All these foods help reduce inflammation and clogging of arteries as well as helping to ‘thin’ the blood.
To help lower his blood pressure, Andrew included much more fibre from brown rice, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta in his diet, and by sprinkling rice bran on soups and sauces he also helped to lower his cholesterol. His fresh fruit and veg intake increased to about eight portions a day and again I advised him to invest in a juicer.
Together, we devised an exercise programme that suited him and during the course of a year, his cholesterol came down by a third and his blood pressure returned to a normal 120/80.
With nutritional therapy, long interviews are conducted with patients and treatment plans are tailored specifically for them. In these brief reports, only some major elements of the treatment are included.