Thursday, 30 April 2020

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

You are what you eat.

This is very true and at a time like this, when the world is in the midst of a pandemic let's take an opportunity to revisit our diet and the principles of optimum nutrition.

When I was in medical school there was very little formal education on nutrition. Yes, we did learn about principal food groups, vitamins and minerals and diseases caused by deficiency or even excess of these items but that was it! No education on optimal nutrition for prevention of diseases or indeed optimum nutrition in the post-operative period to hasten recovery. I believe this was important knowledge for a surgical resident but the emphasis was on surgical anatomy and how to do the operations well.
I don't believe this situation has changed much today.
Most of the nutritional education for me has been self directed learning and and a huge amount of knowledge working with my membership of learned societies such as the American Academy of Anti-aging medicine and World Academy of Anti-aging medicine. I also took and passed the board certification examination in anti-aging medicine all those years ago. I do not practice all aspects of anti-aging medicine especially bio identical hormones at present. I like to call it as optimal aging or age management rather than anti-aging!

Nutrition and optimum nutrition can be a very confusing subject. Hardly a day goes by when you do not read conflicting headlines about benefits and harms of substances like chocolate or alcohol!
So what is the truth ?
One has to critically appraise the literature out there. There are a couple of books that I highly recommend and and these are -

1)Thomas M. Campbell II
The China Study Solution: The Simple Way to Lose Weight and Reverse Illness, Using a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet

2)David Servan-Schreiber
Anticancer: A New Way of Life

Both by highly regarded authors. There are others but let's not overload you!

So here is a summary of what I believe to not attract much controversy. 

Modern diet is rich in calories but deficient in nutrients.

Obesity is a ticking time bomb.

Portion size distortion has occurred. Our stomach is the size of our fist so this has to be remembered when we talk about an optimal portion size.

Natural whole foods are good and processed food is not that great.

High fructose corn syrup, trans fats and sugars are what I call daily poisons.

Meat and dairy are not good for us.

"Well most government guidelines say that a balanced diet should have meat and dairy in it' I hear you ask. The problem is that there are so many lobby groups that by the time the government guidelines come out they have been watered down to keep different pressure groups happy, so you have to consider conflict of interest when you read any of these.

In summary I believe that predominantly plant-based, unprocessed and locally sourced food is best. You get fruits and vegetables that are in season, that have been produced locally and haven't been plucked before they've had chance to ripen and secrete all the good flavanoids and polyphenols. These are the real immune boosters.

I do believe that vitamin and mineral supplementation is important as modern diet is deficient in these items.

So what's in it for me?
I have no financial interest in any of this. I believe in preventative medicine and that prevention is better than cure. Of course it goes without saying that you get the best results from our treatments if you have good nutritional status. Poor nutritional status will not provide optimal results from any medical or cosmetic intervention..

I hope you found this article of some benefit. You're welcome to leave your comments below.

Dr Sanjay Gheyi MBBS MS FRCS BCAAM Medical Director Coltishall Clinic 
#optimumnutrition  #gooddiet   #antiageing  
#norwich   #norfolk