With years of experience as a GP in NHS, private and online settings, I like to take a holistic approach to medicine.
Believing that one size does not fit all, I have received praise for my efforts in educating the public and my peers by thinking outside the box.
It was events in the past that have led me to where I am today. My own medical journey has meant that I’ve had to embrace different styles of medicine and lifestyle changes but as they say, everything happens for a reason and as a result, I can honestly say that I live and breathe what I teach.
How did it all come about?
As a youngster growing up in London, I had isolated episodes of severe abdominal pain. The pain was so great on one occasion that I was admitted to A&E and dosed up with pethidine, which sent me to sleep and eventually took away the pain. These episodes were infrequent and neither I, nor the doctors, thought much of it.
Signs and even
Whilst on holiday in 2006 I was shocked to feel the sensation of oil leaking from my back passage. I rushed to the toilet and found cooking oil floating in the water. That was steatorrhea (fat diarrhoea) caused by an inability to absorb fat, and in hindsight likely due to Crohn’s disease, a condition causing inflammation of the gut.
At the time, I put it down to traveller’s diarrhoea as I had no further symptoms, other than intermittent abdominal discomfort which I thought was irritable bowel syndrome. Then one night in the summer of 2008 I developed the same discomfort, but this time it became increasingly severe.
I crawled out of bed, the pain grew even worse, and I collapsed on the floor before reaching the bathroom. The pain was so intense that I could hardly move, and I wouldn’t let my wife, Vanessa, call an ambulance, fearing it would take too long to arrive.
Instead, Vanessa helped me into the car and the rumble of the road alone was enough to exacerbate the pain, the tiniest of bumps was agony!
At the hospital I was helped onto a trolley and given initial treatment before being admitted to a surgical ward. The consultant thought I might have burst my appendix and ordered an exploratory laparoscopy. I woke from the anaesthetic with a surgeon standing over my hospital bed. He told me my small intestine had a hole in and they had to remove 30cm of it. I said to him plainly, “It’s Crohn’s, isn’t it?”. He declined to answer and told me to wait for the pathology report.
Lifestyle and dietary change
After discharge I began to search through studies, looking for any associations between diet and Crohn’s disease risk. It was not hard to find Crohn’s disease was associated with diets low in fruit and fibre and high in sugar, baker’s yeast, animal protein and cow’s milk.
So, I decided to make a significant change to my diet and lifestyle. This was not easy. I felt I was addicted to sugar and the desire to forget the diet and eat what I wanted was powerful.
But with the support of Vanessa, I stuck with it.
Sustained lifestyle change
After losing my unhealthy habits it was easier to maintain this new diet and lifestyle.
Essentially, I cut out all processed foods, and ate virtually only fruits and vegetables for more than a year and took nutritional supplements.
At times, it was difficult eating at social events; not least because it was difficult to find foods within my specified diet, but it also drew some negative attention to me.
However, I was not put off by this. I was committed to my new way of life and felt so much healthier and better for it.
Over time I gradually re-introduced plant-based proteins into my diet but missed a lot of the foods I once loved. I am grateful that on occasion I can now enjoy bread, ice cream, and even my favourite, chocolate.
I also had to correct other problems such as severe vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with inflammatory bowel disease, shift work, poor sleep and rest, and improved physical fitness.
Following my bowel perforation, I was kept under regular review, however over time it became clear to my gastroenterologist that my condition was in remission with the changes I had made, and I became more of an interesting case than a patient needing treatment.
Sustaining this way of living has meant I have not needed any medicines to achieve complete remission from the disease. I have no symptoms of Crohn’s disease and am fitter and healthier at 40, than I was in my late 20’s.
The cause of Crohn’s disease is multifactorial and evidence for dietary intervention still being researched. Malnutrition is a risk of prolonged dietary restriction, therefore a personalised approach under the care of a specialist dietician is crucial.
Please do not self-treat or diet restrict without medical and nutritional support.
This has led me to where I am today. A Co-Founding Managing and Clinical Director of Uniquely Created Nutrition & Health Ltd. Now specialising in nutrition and lifestyle medicine, I am well equipped both personally and through extensive experience and qualifications to help others achieve the same results as I have.