Change is one of those things that we as humans often struggle with and changing our eating habits is surprisingly difficult, the saying “better the devil you know” comes to mind. To be successful in changing our dietary habits, firstly we must have a need, for example a health problem such as fatigue, high cholesterol, being overweight, and mood swings to mention just a few. Secondly we need sound advice and often good evidence, that whatever dietary/nutritional change we are intending, is likely to be helpful. Finally we need support, professional or otherwise, to keep us on track. We often need to be brave in order to have a try, take risks in order to take action. We need a strategy that is feasible and a realistic time frame where the strategy can be put into action. It is helpful to learn from the process, even if mistakes occur or the outcome isn’t initially achieved, you may eventually get there. Your thoughts and feelings may move you forward or hold you back, learn about your thoughts and feelings to determine which category they belong to. All these things help with your motivation and lead to the desire to change, so if you are ready, read on!
The nutritional needs of my patients have become a very important factor in resolving their health needs. Clinical nutrition was part of my undergraduate training at The British School of Osteopathy (1987), which has been complemented by taking Nutrition and Advanced Pathophysiology Masters Modules as part of an MSc programme at The European School of Osteopathy. I have also formally become a Certified Metabolic Balance coach and am one of 2 official Metabolic Balance Lecturers to UK based clinicians.
I lecture extensively in Europe, in Osteopathic Medicine and was told about The Metabolic Balance Nutritional Programme by some of my German colleagues in 2008. It is an innovative nutritional programme set up by Dr Wolf Funfack, a German internal medicine doctor. His company have performed over 370,000 programmes worldwide and are now looking to expand into the UK healthcare market. It is based on sound science and it fits in with my philosophy of treating the patient as an individual.
There is no doubt that having a “balanced varied diet” is necessary for good health, but what does this mean? We all have unique metabolisms so what is balanced and varied for one may not be for another. For far too long the message going out to patients has been that a low fat diet is the healthy approach, to reduce obesity, high cholesterol, cardiac risk and diabetes etc. This has been challenged for many years with increasing evidence. For example, both the American Physicians Health study and The Framingham study in the USA have shown no increase in cholesterol or risk of heart attack, stroke or sudden death from consuming up to 6 eggs per week. Considering eggs are very high in cholesterol, this means that for many patients, dietary intake of high cholesterol foods may not actually increase their circulating cholesterol or indeed increase their risk of other cardiac events.
Dr Funfack hypothesises that for many people, the issue affecting many of our metabolic disturbances, lies in our excessive consumption of simple carbohydrates. The science shows that the eating of simple carbohydrates causes a short spike in blood sugar but elevation of insulin in the blood for several hours, which has several detrimental effects, including increase in fat deposition, hormonal changes, cravings, elevation in cholesterol and triglycerides, increase in blood coagulation to name but a few. Choosing carbohydrates with a low gylcaemic load (slow sugar release) and increasing the proportion of a variety of proteins and good fats has significant health benefits including reaching an optimum body weight.
Many of the promoted low fat foods actually contain substantial amounts of sugar!! It seems that most wheat products act as simple carbohydrates as far as insulin and blood sugar spikes are concerned, compared to rye, so reducing wheat products especially bread, croissants, pastries, biscuits etc can also have a very positive impact on our health. For many of us, whether we admit it or not, are addicted to many of the things we eat and drink (sugar, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, bread, pasta etc). I have eaten chocolate for as long as I can remember, amazingly after doing the Metabolic Balance Programme myself, I can now observe my wife gorge herself on chocolate (occasionally!) and not feel the need to indulge myself as I did in the past. Many of my patients have commented on
this reprogramming of their taste buds and substantial lessening of cravings for those naughty things in life. Interestingly MB encourages a treat meal weekly, having a little bit of what you fancy is positively good for you!
The Metabolic Balance programme is geared towards motivated people who really want to improve their health. A side effect of the plan is that it often helps people lose weight by improving their metabolism; interestingly it helps increase weight in underweight people.
So how does it work?
The patient attends for a diagnostic consultation to explore their health issues, medical history and have a clinical examination. Fasting blood tests are arranged, this is essentially a haematology/biochemical screen with some additional metabolic markers. The clever bit comes next; this information is put into The Metabolic Balance software and in just a couple of days a 24 page report is produced, your individualised nutritional programme. Occasionally the blood results reveal abnormal parameters suggesting other medical concerns, where medical referral to your GP or specialist may be necessary.
The Programme is divided into 4 phases:
Phase 1 Preparation Phase
Phase 2 Strict Phase lasting at least 14 days
Phase 3 Relaxed Phase up to 3 months
Phase 4 Lifetime Phase
Patients are supported through the Phase 1-3, a 3month course, based on the concepts of Metabolic Balance and their individualised food lists produced by the programme. This is usually done with face to face consultations and some telephone/email support.
My integrated approach to health means that just looking at nutrition, even though I believe Metabolic Balance to be the best nutritional programme I have come across in 24 years of clinical practice, may not be enough. Behaviour is often the key.
Anxiety patterns can have a profound impact on physiology/metabolism especially through altered breathing behaviour. Some of my patients may need a proper breathing evaluation, which I can offer via a capnotrainer and if dysfunctional, treated by hands on Osteopathic technique, biofeedback and breathing exercises. For more ingrained behavioural issues/addiction, I can refer you to my colleague at The Health Equation Dr Brian Roet, a medical hypnotherapist/psychotherapist. Interestingly too much exercise is counterproductive!! The programme suggests that for the first 2 weeks of the programme you do very little exercise, until your metabolism begins to change. After that period it may be that a good structured exercise programme may be helpful. For those patients who are unsure about an appropriate exercise strategy it may be helpful for you to see Ms. Georgie Shand, our exercise specialist at The Health Equation.
For further information on Mr. Gerry Gajadharsingh DO and his clinical team at The Health Equation go to www.thehealthequation.co.uk or call 020 7631 1414. The Health Equation has clinics in London W1 and Amersham, Bucks.