Register here – Free Webinar: Functional Medicine Approach to Gut Health

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As a practice we believe everyone has the capacity to feel good and live life to their fullest potential. We have found that the Functional Medicine approach allows people to truly see what the potential root causes are for their chronic health condition. Once we are aware of the root causes we use lifestyle changes to support the body back to health and vitality. 

Gut health issues include bowel symptoms such as, IBS, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel disease, and indigestion issues.

Join us on Thursday, 11th November at 7pm, as we take you through our approach to gut health conditions from:

Wherever you are in the world we hope you can attend.

Register here.

 

Functional Medicine and Mental Health

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Functional Medicine optimally addresses the needs of the patient with depression and anxiety. Conventional medicine relies on symptom classification towards a diagnosis rather than the Functional approach which does not. A diagnostic classification approach in conventional medicine makes no sense at all because we know that different networks in the brain, nervous system and the entire body all share and are affected by different disorders.  Not one size fits all, depression and anxiety are multifactorial. This also means there is no magic bullet drug approach. Therefore, you must look deeper, and here in Functional Medicine, that’s what we do best, root cause medicine.

 

Causes of depression and anxiety have expanded and are much more complex than they were 50-70 years ago. Your anxiety disorder or depression is not the same as your mother’s or grandmother’s. There is greater disruption of social fabric; many more young children are being raised in single parent families. There is increased chronic disease. There is poor nutrition, nutrient depletion of our soils, higher rates of diabetes for example in young people not seen 50 years ago. There is more electromagnetic pollution which may affect some to a significant degree. There are more hormonal abnormalities due to diet and chemicals in the environment. There is increased inflammation due to the air we breathe, mould, our diets, infections, our environment etc.

 

Chronic disease that shares the symptoms of depression and anxiety include Alzheimer’s, coronary heart disease, asthma, HIV, cancer, diabetes, allergy, autoimmune diseases, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, hormonal disorders, traumatic brain injury, to name but a few. There may not be a one-to-one correlation, but there is significant overlap. For example, as an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease, research shows that depression is a greater risk factor than smoking. Research also shows that individuals with mood disorders are 30%-50% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later on in life.

 

How effective is Functional Medicine for depression and anxiety? Because Functional Medicine takes a multi-pronged approach treating the whole person, we go beyond just treating the mood disorder. We tend to help ease the chronic diseases along the way.

 

As a Functional Medicine practitioner, I choose to be a medical detective; find the causes, treat the causes. This will involve gathering information about your life from even before were born. Your depression and anxiety journey did not start when your symptoms started, it will have started way before then. I need to carefully listen to your story looking for clues about your genetics, and factors that will have predisposed you to an illness pattern. I want to know about triggers that will have provoked your symptoms. I also want to know about biochemical, psychological factors that continue to contribute to your symptoms.

Perhaps you have a family history of depression and anxiety, or your mother was exposed to toxins before your birth, perhaps there are subtle changes in your genetics that make you more susceptible. We know that early life stresses change the way our genes function. Perhaps you suffered a head injury many years before, even a mild head injury can be a cause for concern. Perhaps you suffered an infection which required antibiotic treatment, both of which can be a trigger. Perhaps you have suffered trauma in your life physical, mental, emotional. Perhaps you have been exposed to environmental toxins, substance abuse, pesticides, heavy metals. Even our standard British diet will help contribute towards anxiety and depression. You’d be surprised.

In Functional Medicine we are changing the way we do medicine, and the medicine we do.

October’s Newsletter

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Our latest newsletter is available to read here.  We have the details on our upcoming events along with our two latest blogs.

Click here to read

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletters which gives you early access to tickets and Practice updates, please register here

Guest Blog: Pans and Pandas International Awareness Day

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9 OCTOBER 2021 

Since the recent discovery of Long Covid, awareness around the neurological and psychiatric effects of post infectious disorders is increasing, however for some families with children affected by PANS (or PANDAS) awareness is not increasing quickly enough.  PANS and PANDAS are immune-mediated conditions which present with neurological and psychiatric symptoms and the result on the sufferer and the family is catastrophic.  

PANS (Paediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) and PANDAS (Paediatric Auto-Immune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections) are a set of conditions caused by a misdirected immune response to a common condition such as strep throat or chickenpox.  Affected children can become extremely ill overnight and lose the ability to function because antibodies start to attack the brain resulting in a variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms.  

Due to a lack of awareness, these children are often misdiagnosed as having late onset ASD, a psychiatric illness or indeed in many cases are just described as naughty children, when in reality, something as simple as routine antibiotic treatment can resolve all symptoms.  

PANS is characterised by the sudden onset (usually within 24-48 hours) of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or severely restricted food intake along with two or more of the following symptoms which are not better explained by a known neurologic or medical disorder. 

PANDAS, a subset of PANS usually starts with an acute onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and/or tics, (particularly multiple, complex or unusual tics).  PANDAS symptoms can then appear to wax and wane with the child experiencing flares periodically, following illness or periods of stress.  The child is usually between the ages of 3 and puberty when first symptoms occur and usually appear following a streptococcal infection such as sinusitis, ear infections or scarlet fever.  In some cases, children can carry the streptococcus bacteria without showing any signs of illness. 

Whilst it is not a diagnostic requirement, in addition to OCD and/or tics, children may also experience co-morbid symptoms similar to those seen in PANS. 

Additionally, whilst not part of the diagnostic criteria, in approximately 25% of cases there have been reports of Psychosis and/or Hallucinations.  Dilated Pupils are also reported by many parents  

PANS PANDAS UK is a charity established in 2018 by a small group of parents with children affected by these conditions.  The mission of the charity is to educate the general public and medical professionals so that any doctor seeing a child with these symptoms will consider PANS or PANDAS.  The charity also supports families from all over the UK living with this condition and have a friendly and helpful Facebook support group.  Just search ‘PANS PANDAS UK Support Group’ and click to join.   

PANS PANDAS UK works alongside a Network of Doctors, from all over the UK called the PANS Physicians Network who meet quarterly sharing knowledge and understanding of these complex conditions to ensure treatment of this group of children improves.   

For more information and resources for families, teachers and doctors please visit our website:  www.panspandasuk.org or email secretary@panspandasuk.org 

Energy: An Essential Element in the Fundamentals of Living

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One of the most common symptoms we face at the Practice is fatigue. 7% of people’s body weight consumes 60% of our resting energy expenditure which keeps the heart, kidney, brain, and liver working.  The key organelle that allows your body to produce energy is your mitochondria.  This is found in large numbers in most cells and if it begins to struggle it can lead to fatigue, as well as other issues.  There are many reasons for mitochondrial dysfunction, such as poor diet, stress, and toxins, many of which can be identified.

This blog looks at how we investigate the causes of fatigue and how improving the fundamentals of living: sleep, food, thoughts, and movement, can help remedy this common symptom.

Fatigue is a protective response from the body asking you to slow down, maybe stop, and reassess what is happening. To find out why someone is feeling fatigued it is essential for us to carry out an assessment so we can understand your energy production.

This assessment contains the following questions:

  1. When do you first remember feeling unwell and having issues with your energy level?
  2. What was happening both around you and to you, at that time? Anything and everything that comes to mind.
  3. How do you sleep? What do you eat?
  4. How aware are you about the way you think and feel and believe?
  5. How do you move?

We are looking for 5 main things that can affect how your body is working:

  1. Nutritional deficiencies: How was your nutrition at that time? Any diets? Any restrictions? Fussy eating? How colourful were your meals?
  2. Infections: Have you had recurrent infections? Are you someone that gets colds and coughs?
  3. Increased Pressure or Trauma: How is work, school, home life? Have you experienced stressful situations?
  4. Toxins: Have you been exposed to toxins such as chemicals or mould?
  5. Allergies: Have you developed allergies in your life?

Once we have a list of potential things that have affected both your body and its energy, we can begin to understand why it’s producing a protective response, fatigue.  The connections we make from your answers show how your body has been affected.  For example:

Stress at university → affects nutrition choices→ nutritional deficiencies→ affects how the mitochondria work → lack of energy → affects behaviour→ affects mood → increases stress.

Becoming aware of your story is the first step to understanding what you can do.

At the Practice we firmly believe that the power to feel better comes from you and your lifestyle choices. This includes the way you sleep, what you eat, how you think and how you move your body.

Sleep is a key area for many and where, as practitioners, we focus a great deal of our attention.  To understand your sleep patterns better, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you prioritise sleep? Is work taking priority?
  2. What is your slow down routine at the end of the day? Our body takes cues from the environment to know it’s time to slow down and get ready for sleep.
  3. When do you have your last meal and drink before bed? Sometimes we see that patients’ blood sugars can be an issue through the night and it can cause you to wake up.
  4. What time do you wake up at night and why? Is it pain or hunger or racing thoughts?

When answering these questions, what comes to mind as your priority? Knowing about how you sleep can give you the information to help improve your sleep.  There is plenty of information available on the subject or you can speak to your practitioner.

Nutrition is another major factor when considering causes for fatigue. It is essential to eat a colourful plate of food which aids digestion and helps the body absorb the food. Energy is created from the food that we eat.  Remember, food is medicine. Each colourful vegetable and fruit have nutrients that our amazing body needs to function optimally. Ask yourself, how many colours do you eat in one day? Choosing a new vegetable when you go for a shop is a great way to add diversity to your plate.

When talking about digestion the biggest tip we can give is to slow down when eating and chew!!  Did you know we should be chewing 15-30 times before swallowing?

How we think has a huge impact on our health.  Our perceptions of the world around us and our stress levels can cause our bodies to feel like they are being drained of energy. Becoming aware of the amount of energy we spend thinking and trying to figure things out can be the first step in addressing unnecessary energy exertions. Let’s stop, take a breath, and find a way to rest and find flow in our lives.

Movement is also a critical factor when exploring reasons for fatigue. This is a matter of balance. When we are fatigued sometimes the best approach is to slow all the way down and listen to your body.  Other times it’s about adding in some short bursts of energy. It’s through understanding your body that you will learn to know which response is needed.

These fundamentals of living all need to be considered when trying to support your energy levels. If you want to find out more, please get in touch.

September’s Newsletter

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Our September Newsletter is now available to read.  In this month’s edition we have two fascinating blogs which focus on why rest is essential and why your stomach can’t multi-task.  It also provides details on the events taking place.  Watch this space for more news on the Festival of Functional Medicine 2022.

Click here to read

If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please sign up here:

 

Newsflash: Your Stomach Doesn’t Do Multi-tasking!

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Are you a multi-tasker? In our busy, modern lives it always seems like we’re juggling three things at once (minimum). We rush from one thing to another and food can often get forgotten. Grab and go lunches and snacks are available everywhere. Even if you always prepare your own food it’s so tempting to eat whilst catching up on email, or social media, or that latest box set…. Problem is your gut won’t thank you for it.

Digestion starts long before you take that first bite of your lunchtime sandwich. Have you ever popped into the supermarket (hungry) and the smell of fresh bread immediately makes your mouth water? How do you feel when you look at a colourful spread of dishes? When we are looking at – or smelling – appetising foods our brain picks up these cues, we attune ourselves to our hunger and our digestive process kicks in. Our stomach acid and enzymes will start to build ready to help breakdown and support our digestion. Skip these steps and we risk indigestion, bloating and gas.

That’s not the only challenge for multi-taskers. If our mind isn’t focused on our food we have a tendency to rush, we don’t chew our food properly. This means we are skipping another important step in our digestion. Digestion doesn’t start when the food hits our stomach. We have digestive enzymes in our saliva. When we are focused on our food, we tend to eat more slowly and chew more. This gives those enzymes the chance to do their job and start to break down our food for us.

Why does this matter? Most of us are carrying a lot of stress around on a day to day basis. When we are stressed our body enters fight or flight mode. This means it focuses on what is important for immediate survival and diverts resource from less essential processes. Put bluntly, if your body thinks you need to escape a bear it is going to feed energy to your muscles to escape – not your stomach to help you digest that sandwich!

We may not be able to do much in the short term to alleviate stress but we can make some simple changes to support our digestion and make sure we get the most from our food.

At Dr Indra Specialist Functional Medicine Practice our Nutritional Therapists will look not just at what you eat but how you eat too. We have a passion for tasty, healthy food that nourishes and we want to share that with you.

Why Rest is Essential

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The word ‘rest’ is often met with negative connotations as we feel we are being lazy or selfish when we allow ourselves to take a break.  However, it is vital for our health. It is very easy to get caught up with the demands of life but at our Practice, we repeatedly recommend to patients that they stop and rest. People are innocently living in a state of constant vigilance as they strive to be better, and are forever in a state of high alert.

This has an impact on the human body. It changes the chemical composition of the surrounding cells, and this can lead to inflammation and chronic illness. As humans, we are constantly being told that we need to “do” something, not giving ourselves enough time to rest and heal. This is adding to the pressure that the body is experiencing on a daily basis.

Most times, the starting point is just recognising that we are on the hamster wheel and need to get off. Once we’ve taken the time to accept where we are, we can then begin to slow down and give ourselves permission to stop and rest, without feeling guilty.

Rest can look different to everyone.  For some, it’s creating a space of quiet. For others, it may be sitting, walking, eating, or dancing.  It’s all rest. Being in the state of flow, feeling love and connection, is rest. Being in rest is when the body is able to optimally heal, repair and digest.

The benefits of meditation have long been encouraged, along with being able to control your breathing.  These techniques help our parasympathetic system, where the body is able to rest, digest and heal. There is a fine line though, as pushing ourselves too hard to reach this state means we are not actually resting!

Allow yourself to stop and let go for one minute a day.  Notice the strife that you carry, allow yourself to explore that feeling and take note when you release it. You have the power to heal.

To ensure you practice resting, make sure you plan your “Rest Days’’. On those days do whatever your body and mind needs. No music, tv, phone, computer, books – just be alone with yourself. You can sleep, sit in your garden, eat what your body needs, write, walk and stare into space. The first time is hard because the busy mind takes over and you may start thinking about all the things you should be doing.  Once that quietens down, new thoughts and insights appear.

Once you learn to rest, not only will you begin to feel less stressed, but you will also start to notice these benefits:

Enjoy your rest.

August Newsletter

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Take a look at August’s newsletter which includes our latest blogs on the benefits of Group Care and a Case study.  There’s also more information on our upcoming events.

Click here to read

If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please sign up here:

Group Care – Top Ten Benefits

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The Top 10 Benefits you can expect to experience as part of Functional Medicine Group Care:

You may be feeling exhausted and overwhelmed? By coming together and realizing you are not alone, there is a wonderful opportunity to learn and share some ways to improve your health outcomes in a safe space.

  1. Accountability: Signing up and showing up. Being part of something bigger than yourself moves you forward in a transformative way. The group facilitator is there to guide you in the group in uncovering your WHY. With this in mind, when faced with choices that don’t optimize your health, you circle back to what made you curious to improve your health in the first place.
  1. Relatability: This is your opportunity to realize that you are not alone. Through the support of others in the group, we share in one another’s wins and challenges. The virtual room is an inspiring and motivating space, where despite different lives, you all come together to move your life forward with better health and vitality.
  1. Community building: While in group care, you build relationships with people, and together you are stepping into your power. You support one another, and the feeling you had before of your health challenges ruling your life is less amplified.
  1. Value: Accessing Functional Medicine in the group care model allows you to spend more time with the healthcare team at an affordable price point.
  1. Client Led approach: Group care is not a webinar series, there is an educational component to the coaching, but ultimately we explore what we need for your group on the day. The time belongs to you, and the facilitator is the guide.
  1. Focusing on what works: For a long time, you may have identified your health challenge as the barometer for who you are in the world. In group coaching, we look towards your strengths rather than your weaknesses. By focusing on the positive, change organically emerges.
  1. Meeting you where you’re at: In this collaborative process, you will be heard, and there is plenty of time for you to explore your health vision. You are not trying to get to any specific place; you are taking steps at your own sustainable pace.
  1. Power in Numbers: Think of trying to play a football match on your own. Okay, you can’t. Well, that is the power of group care. Every member of the team counts and is there to make a difference. Every member of the team has the opportunity to be a role model to someone else.
  1. Empowering environment: Group work allows you to experience your humanity and similarity, creating an empowering conversation for change.
  1. Behaviour Change: The group care facilitator is there to listen actively, ask questions and allow you the space to explore what your life may look like if you choose to try on a new way of looking at your life for the future. The secret here is finding a way to close the gap between knowing what you have to do and then going ahead and doing it. The magic happens in the group.

Group Care is launching at the practice this August. Be sure to get in touch with our team to reserve your place.