We have the greatest respect for anyone who works in medicine, and they really know their stuff. However, it’s rare to come across a doctor who not only believes in the link between nutrition in health but also really understands it and promotes it. So we were thrilled to come across Dr Laura Quinton who is a GP and Nutritional Therapist in training, and here she shares her philosophy with us.
I’m a GP partner and a final year student of Nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. I graduated from UCL in 1991 and there wasn’t much on the curriculum to do with food at medical school. There is still very little taught now and this has to change. Food is so tied up with health and doctors need to understand more about it.
Many foods are highly calorific but nutritionally poor
I’ve practised as a GP for 20 years and things have changed and become a lot more protocol driven. Patients are slotted into referral pathways and prescribed lots of medication from guidelines. This can sometimes do more harm than good and I see a lot of people who don’t feel any better with this approach. I started to believe that many of my patients’ problems start with their diet and gut. Referrals to gastroenterologists were not the answer and relying on basic routine ‘one size fits all’ dietary advice was not good enough. So much of the way food is processed now has resulted in foods which are highly calorific but nutritionally very poor. I decided to study nutrition from a holistic naturopathic point of view. We study lifestyle factors, food sources and food production as well as food and nutrients themselves.
I started to believe that many of my patients’ problems start with their diet and gut.
I’ve been trained in nutrition with a functional medicine approach. This has grown so much now in popularity in the US and is gaining strength in the UK. Many of the ideas can be used in holistic lifestyle plans for clients and it’s a very different perspective from my traditional medical model. I am married to a pretty sceptical ITU consultant and even he has taken on board some of the ideas I’ve learned at home and our health and wellbeing have improved as a family.
Many diseases are driven by inflammation
At my surgery, just reviewing medications and bringing the idea of food and drink choices into the consultation is a first and positive step. I start with small ideas and healthier swaps. The 10 minute NHS consultations are often not enough. In the future, I would love to see holistic lifestyle coaches working alongside doctors who understand nutrition and health and who can motivate, educate and support patients. So much of chronic disease is driven by inflammation in the body. Addressing this through diet can be extremely beneficial. Cutting out processed additives and inflammatory trans fats and adding in the right balance of healthy oils, such as Omega 3, is crucial. It is such a common first step advice for many of the conditions I see.
Laura Quinton April 2017