When I tell people I am an osteopath the first thing they usually do is say – ‘oh I’d better stand up straight’ and they then put themselves through all sorts of bizarre contortions to show me how straight they can stand. [They don’t realise I’ve already assessed where the tensions are in their body – I just can’t help it].
So why is an osteopath talking about chocolate?
Many people don’t realise that osteopathic training parallels medical training – and, in fact, we get more training on nutrition than the average doctor. I am a cranial and visceral osteopath, so I regularly work on digestive issues in my patients including IBS, colitis and Crohns Disease.
We all know that diet is essential to good health. The only problem is we are given such conflicting advice on what is or is not good for us. The fact that so much medical funding comes from the pharmaceutical industry and the power of the agri-business on Government institutions, means that much of it cannot be considered un-biased.
A patient recently told me that her diet was really healthy – ‘I don’t eat any fat’, she said with a big smile on her rather unhealthy-looking face. She was, in her mind, following advice from experts. Given that every cell in our body consists of a phospholipid bilayer (made of fat) held together with cholesterol. Not eating fat is very bad for us!
Education with food
We all need to educate ourselves on the food we put into our bodies – learn to listen to advice critically – and use common sense. Our ancestors in the West ate fruit, vegetables, grains, eggs, animals and fish raised without the use of chemicals and outside in the open air. In Buddhist countries people have lived for millennia on vegetarian and vegan diets.
I recently attended a business networking breakfast and went over to the fruit and yoghurt continental counter. A friend said, ‘I knew you would be over here with the healthy food’. Little did he know that the previous meetings I had always had a ‘healthy’ full English breakfast. I just didn’t fancy it that morning.
The adage ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ is a motto I am happy to go along with.
Common sense and a critical mind are, however, essential. When Jamie Oliver bravely took on the food industry and showed us the absolute muck they shamelessly add to our food, I thought people would wake up and start demanding better products – sadly many children are still being fed on highly processed food devoid of any nutritional content. The argument I have heard so many parents use is – it is cheap, and they will eat it. My reply is – it is cheap because it is poisoning your child and not helping them to grow into healthy adults – you are storing up all sorts of health problems for them later on in their lives. Hence the exponential rise in diabetes, auto-immune diseases, asthma, eczema and a general distortion of the immune response to a whole host of diseases including cancers. We are attacking our own cells while cancer cells grow.
So where do I stand on chocolate?
To me it is a question of quality over quantity. Chocolate is a food which not only contains health giving antioxidants and minerals. But, most importantly, tastes really good and actually activates pleasure sensors in the brain. Which effectively works as an antidepressant.
Cheap bars are worse for you
The horrible cheap bars of chocolate which have a cocoa content of less than 30% are simply not going to create the same benefits as the high-quality chocolate. Which can be sourced by Saffire. Cheaper chocolates rely on sugar content to give us a quick fix predisposing us to diabetes and compromising our immune systems – while Saffire’s chocolate. With its significantly higher cocoa content and less sugar is the real deal!
My professional medical advice is to avoid the nasty cheap chocolate bars. Save up your pennies and every now and again treat yourself to some wonderful hand-made cocoa-rich artisan chocolates. Then slouch down in your chair and enjoy every last mouthful.
Nigel Utton MOst is Principal Osteopath at NU Osteopathy on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich