Wednesday 27 April 2011

Theme of the week: "Can your diet in pregnancy make your baby fat?"

To me, it seems rather obvious that one's diet during pregnancy will affect the unborn child. Anything you eat will be processed by the gut and substances, whether they are nutritious or not so nutritious, will be passed on to the foetus via the placenta. After all, the only way it has access to food is through its mother!

Plus, as a scientist in physiology and neuroscience, I know for example that certain nutrients (sugar!!) actually change the wiring in your brain, and, in the case of sugar increase your liking of sugar (yes this sounds a lot like how addiction works...). I don't know whether this happens in foetuses as it does in adults, as their brains haven't fully developed yet, but I imagine that what you eat during pregnancy might have an effect on your child's (brain) development, and on how your child deals with hunger and satiety later on in life.

Thus, I wasn't surprised to read about a recent study in which a link has been found between a mother's diet during pregnancy and her child's body fat level at the age of 6 or 9.
It made me think, though, that mother's (or I should say "parents", really!) are the main influence on their kid's health not only before, but also after birth, because they are (or should be!) cooking their daily dinners. So whether it happens before or after birth, a child's level of body fat will depend on what its parents are feeding it (ah, let's discuss 'nutritious' school lunches some other time!).

So, is it important to know whether a mother's diet also affects a childs fat levels before birth? Everyone knows that healthy food is important in general, and when pregnant in particular. I think mothers have a responsability to make sure that their unborn babies are not negatively affected by their mother's behavior, be it by drinking, smoking or the things they eat. I thought this was common sense, so I was shocked to read in the research paper that a mere 24-31% of all mothers included in the study were actually smoking during pregnancy...

Furthermore, I think to only study a child's fat levels is giving a rather limiting picture. I do realise that researchers need to start somewhere if they want to build a clear picture of how things work, but I also think that there's too much focus on fat, in the news, in commercials, fashion, health information etc.

What do you think?
Do we need more studies to tell us how important healthy food is? How important healthy behaviour is?
Should we focus on fat this much?
Why is it so difficult to behave healthily when there is so much information about how damaging certain behaviors (smoking, drinking, bad diet etc) are?
Are people deliberately ignoring this kind of information or is the addiction that strong?

Please share your opinions on this topic with us!!

For more background, you can read the article on the NHS website
The original article is publised in Diabetes 2011, published online April 6.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Doctors 'often defy' their own treatment advice

Doctors might not always advise their patients the treatment they would choose for themselves, according to research recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Given the option to pick from two treatments for themselves in a case of bowel cancer, the majority of doctors chose the treatment with least side effects and least chance of survival. Asked what to advise their patients, however, they would choose the treatment with the best chances for survival, but with more severe side effects.

I recently came across a piece of real-life evidence that doctors' own opinions do not always agree with standard protocol. A friend of mine who had had surgery to treat his oesophageal cancer was told the following by his oncologist: "As a medical professional following standard protocol, I would advise you to be sure and undergo another round of chemotherapy, but as a human being considering your chances and the severy side effects, I would advise against it."

Now this friend of mine did a lot of research on his own on treatment efficacy and side effects. He also was lucky enough to have a doctor who spoke openly about the difference between protocol and his own personal opinion, but a lot of doctors may not go that way. Some patients may have the time, energy and brains to do research on their own about their treatment options to be able to make educated decisions, but others may have to rely or want to be able to rely on the advice their doctors are giving them. Also, many people would not even think of questioning the authority of their doctors!!

Should we rely on our doctor's advice completely? After all, doctors have studied for years in order to reach their level of expertise and would therefore be expected to give a balanced advice about difficult decisions. However, it seems like a lot of doctors have also been taught not to get emotionally involved with their patients. They can avoid this by following standard protocol rather than treating patients like unique individuals and putting themselves in those patient's shoes.

Should doctors always follow standard protocol? Or should they risk getting more emotionally involved by imagining what they would do if put in their patient's situation...? Which way of working leads doctors to making the best decisions?

At The Therapy Room, our motto is 'treating people, not problems'. This means that we use a holistic approach and treat each person as a unique individual. We think it's important not to just treat symptoms, but look at the person as a whole and find the underlying cause as well. Each person has a unique background, and although something like a headache may look the same for a number of people, it's cause may be very different for every individual person. Therefore we think it is impossible to use a standard protocol for every person coming in with a certain problem.

We would love to know what your opinion is! What do you think are the pro's and con's on both of these approaches? Please leave your comment here and help us get a good discussion going!

Read the complete post about this on .
We hope to be able to also post a link to the original article in Archives of Internal Medicine soon.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Spring Cleaning!!

Last week Spring time finally peeked her sparkly fresh face around the corner, and immediately I could see that the sunshine and warm temperatures made people feel much better. I saw more smiles and more relaxed walks were being walked on the streets of Cambridge. Spring is an excellent time for cleaning, and I don't mean just the house! Your body and mind may welcome a treat as well after a long dark and cold winter. One way to start your personal Spring Cleaning is by getting your diet right. Not one diet is perfect for every person, so a personalised diet advice based on your own metabolism may drastically improve your energy levels or help you loose those extra winter pounds. Get a free consultation with our health and diet consultant now! Or get rid of the winter 'stuckness' by getting the flow going in our Taiji or Qi Gong classes. These two forms of martial arts are both active and gentle and will improve your energy levels and increase body awareness. Come in on a Wednesday afternoon and try your first class for free! Alternatively, you might get rid of those winter aches in a wonderful relaxing or invigorating massage or reflexology treatment. We have several well-trained massage therapists offering different kinds of massage, such as Swedish, sports and holistic massage as well as traditional Chinese chair massage and reflexology treatments. Let's not forget your mind though! Our excellent psychotherapists and hypnotherapists may be able to help you ease stresses or get rid of the last bits of winter blues. Even if you're not so fond of Spring just because it makes your nose run and your eyes itch, our homeopaths may be able to help you ease those allergy symptoms without the need of conventional drugs making you drowsy. So give yourself a treat and get yourself ready and relaxed for Spring time! Learn more about the therapies that we offer and find out which might be the right one for you. Detailed information about our therapies and therapists can be found on our website You may also contact us for bookings or more information via email ([email protected]) or phone (01223 315400). We look forward to helping you with your Spring Cleaning!!