02 Feb Nutrition – Is there a one-size-fits-all solution?
Many of the patients who come to OpenHealth, whether it’s for manual therapy, massage or nutrition, arrive confused about the condition they’re in.
More than likely they’ve done a bit of research themselves, and perhaps had advice given to them by friends and family. Even without a problem that requires attention, you don’t have to spend very long watching TV, reading newspapers or browsing the internet nowadays to find articles that propose one-stop-shop solutions to complex problems:
- “The ONE stretch you must do to prevent low back pain”
- “The ONE lifestyle change that will stop your headaches”
- “The ONE supplement you should take daily to get rid of irritable bowel forever”
(Ok, so I made these up, but you know you’ve seen them)
When will people give up the quest for one solution to each problem, and start to appreciate, even embrace, the complexity of the human being?
The Individual Approach
Here at OpenHealth we approach every patient as an individual. No two patients have exactly the same problem, so no two patients are going to respond the same way, nor are they going to require the same treatment. To this end, any intervention that is made with a patient must begin with appreciation of the underlying problem followed by consideration of:
- What is the goal of treatment?
- Are we being realistic, taking into account a patient’s individual circumstances?
- How will we measure success?
So, when it comes to nutrition, it’s never as simple as telling everyone to have their five fruit and veg a day. Too much fruit might be detrimental to controlling diabetes for example.
The Current Debate
And here we come to a recent debate that kicked off with a BBC documentary that threw criticism at some of the “clean eating” promoted by authors such as Ella Mills, the Hemsley sisters and Natasha Corrett. Yes, they may be the envy of middle-class England with picture-perfect lives, but is there anything damaging about promoting natural ingredients, home-cooking and balanced diets in a world of increasing obesity and diabetes? Why on earth should they be the target of criticism that some might interpret as an attack on their values?
Yes, they may be the envy of middle-class England with picture-perfect lives, and they’ve recently been criticised in the mainstream media. But is there anything damaging about promoting natural ingredients, home-cooking and balanced diets in a world of increasing obesity and diabetes? Why should they be the target of criticism that some might interpret as an attack on their values?
However, we would also be foolish to jump on the bandwagon of any individual and follow their diets to the letter. Each of these people has designed a menu to fulfil their personal requirements, have measured their success, and probably reached their goals with a good dose of trial and error!
Ella Mills, for example, has a range of medical conditions that she manages through dietary modification, but that doesn’t mean that her books are going to contain the answer for people with different conditions. Let’s take ketogenic diets, which were developed to tackle childhood epilepsy. They’re quite an extreme intervention, designed to starve the brain of glucose, and wouldn’t necessarily be recommended to patients suffering any other conditions.
Is There One Answer?
If there is one answer for a lot of these problems, it’s personalisation. Another step towards holism and away from reductionism.
In the same way that two patients with back pain might get different management; one might get stretches, the other might get strengthening exercise, our nutritional therapist is here to meet and assess each individual and tailor-make a plan for each person.
So if you get confused by all the glossy books and magazine articles, and find the internet a minefield of unconvincing advice, we suggest you consider seeing a nutritional therapist.
If you have any questions about this article, and particularly on the subject of nutrition, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.