Yesterday I went to London to spend the day learning about gut health, but mainly Women’s Gut Health. It was organised by CAM Conferences and was held at the Cavendish Conference facility in central London. (quick facts here!)
The structure was five, very tight to time lectures from industry speakers on issues like coeliac disease, gut health, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. It was to aimed mainly at women’s health (more women than men suffer with some sort of gut disorder) but all speakers did touch on how the conditions varied between men and women and also how treatments could be used for all.
Christine Bailey spoke first, she called it ‘the Starbuck shift’. I thought that was pretty appropriate as there was a Starbucks just around the corner and many cups wandering in for the registration. She was talking in depth about gluten intolerance and coeliac disease. Two different things but both suffering with one of two problems. 1. GPs not recognising the symptoms early enough to help people with symptoms and 2. Patients not realising quite how much of a change to their diet they need to make to avoid it. Christine spoke of shampoos and shower gels containing gluten which will still cause symptoms after all gluten has been removed from someone’s diet.
Coeliac disease has been associated with conditions as far ranging as unexplained infertility, chronic fatigue, menstrual problems, dental and oral health problems, early menopause and blood sugar regulation to name but a few.
Coeliac disease has been found to be 2- 3 times more prevalent in women. And for many the first sign that something is wrong isn’t digestive or bloating issues, but anaemia.
Discussing with your GP that you want to be tested is also a bit of a minefield. Having the test once you have already gone gluten free won’t produce a positive result as there are no longer any antibodies in your body. This could send you off on another journey to find out what’s wrong when actually you are a coeliac.
There are genetic marker tests which show if you have the gene for coeliac disease. If you have the maker it doesn’t mean you will get it, but the chance is higher.
There are also soon to be launched saliva tests from nutritionists who will be able to give you even more precise testing.
The inflammation caused by coeliac disease needs to be calmed down and Christine spoke of reducing other foods which can aggravate an already vulnerable system. Foods like: convenience and take-away foods, sugar, grains, lentils, soy, beans, dairy, high carbohydrate diets, hydrogenated oils and fats and seed oils. Therefore eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, meat and fish is going to really help heal the system.
Healing the gut with supplementation in the short term is an option too and vitamin D, probiotics and fish oil, iron and vitamin B12 were all discussed.
If you have had long term, underlying health issues that you and your GP can’t get a handle on then it may be worth considering a gluten intolerance. Try removing gluten completely from your regime (foods, cosmetics and hygiene products) for 3 months and see how you feel.
Our next speaker was Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride (she’s the reason I went!) I saw her speak at the Weston Price conference in March and was just so impressed with her presentation, results with clients and passion for her topic.
Today she was talking about the role of the immune system and gut micro-flora and it was fascinating. She speaks very fondly of our gut bacteria! At one point referring to them as 90% of all our cells, making us just 10% “a shell”. Makes you think doesn’t it?!
She said many immunity problems (that we are seeing in the Western World) are down to us trying to be too clean, too sanitised, too vaccinated. We need to teach our immune systems to protect us. That is their job, they cannot learn about disease if they are not subjected to bugs and germs and parasites. The fixation with fat free diets and even worse, no saturated fats in diets is proving to be our downfall. She said that fat and the immune system were inter-locked. We need the fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K in their most useable form. We get that from animal products and fats. Remove these from your diet and you are setting yourself up for more illnesses and health problems. Hooray for butter, goose fat, lard and cream!
It’s not just what we lack that can damage our immune system but these too:
antibiotics, the pill, stress, dental work, old age, pollution, bottle fed babies … the list went on.
The relationship between the immune system and our gut flora is hugely important for our health. If you have allergies, intolerances, asthma, IBS, colitis, arthritis, depression, substance abuse, dyslexia, dyspraxia, OCD, ADD/ADHD all of these are linked to the health and function of your gut. This can be treated, with nutrition and Natasha’s research and clinical expertise has lead her to write about it. Her website is www.gaps.me and has a raft of information on it. But it’s one area I would like to be more proficient in and am looking to do her next GAPS Practioner training course next year.
Here is a little video I did with Dr Natasha about the importance of gut health and allergies and intolerances. It is quite noisy in the background, but if you turn the volume up you should be able to hear her!
We had three more speakers talking about more specific gut disorders, Dr Peter Cartwright on constipation, Dr Nick Read on Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Dr Alan Stewart on how to help people with chronic gut disorders.
It was all very interesting, there were some areas of conflicting information which left the audience a little in limbo, but that’s what these events are about. Not merely taking what you hear as truth, but finding out ways that you can help client and patients as each of us is different and may need a different approach.
Finally, I have never been to a conference though where smoking was deemed to be beneficial! It was said with tongue in cheek, but when discussing cures for constipation a cigarette and coffee was shown to be useful!
Travelling back through Waterloo (how appropriate!) I saw this man carrying a chair. Are trains that busy?