Arthritis – Balancing Lifestyle And Western Treatments With Dr. Gemma Newman
We discuss in this podcast:
- Plant-based diet and its impact on health
- How dietary changes can help treat various diseases
- Dietary changes and blood pressure
- Raw vegan, vegetarian and other plant-based diets
- Plant-based recipes
- The benefits of a plant-based diet for osteoarthritis
- Risk factors and indicators
- The role of antioxidants
- The BLEND IT method
Clint Good day! I’ve got a very special guest today. Her name is Dr. Gemma Newman, and she has set aside some of her Sunday night to be on the podcast. So thanks very much for joining us, Dr. Newman.
Gemma It’s my pleasure Clint, lovely to be here. And I’m so honoured, I’ve admired your work from afar for a long time. So it’s been an absolute joy to have been invited to talk to you today.
Clint Well, thank you. And likewise, I’ve been wanting to get you on the podcast for a long time, as we mentioned or as I said just before we started this call. Let me give our listeners or viewers here some of the background on your credentials from your Web site I’ve picked out some of the bits that I would like to read. Dr. Gemma Newman has worked in medicine for 15 years and is the senior partner at a family medical practice where she’s worked for the last eleven years. She studied at the University of Wales College of Medicine and has worked in many specialties as a doctor, including elderly care, endocrinology, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, psychiatry, general surgery, urology, vascular surgery, rehabilitation, medicine and general practice. Dr. Newman has a specialist interest in holistic health, plant based nutrition and lifestyle medicine. In her practice she has come to understand that body, mind, and soul are not separate and that it is only addressing the root cause of stress and disconnection that we can truly heal from the inside out. She gives holistic health, nutrition and lifestyle advice to her patients who have gained tremendous results using the power of their plate. She is regularly invited to teach other doctors and the general public via training programs, podcasts like this one, and conferences about the benefits of plant based nutrition. And I have invited her onto this podcast today because we want to talk about what it’s like being a doctor, treating people who come in with inflammatory arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. We want to talk about some osteoarthritis, we want to talk about lifestyle in general and how it can impact our health. So let’s let’s get started. So thanks again, and tell us, what’s your day look like? when you go to work, let’s set the picture for what you go through each day and what it’s like.
Gemma It’s busy. So I arrive and my first I’ve got I usually do two clinics and a full day, and I’ll see around 15 patients in the morning and maybe up to fifteen in the afternoon. And I’ll have a 10 minute appointment slot per person. I may have home visits in the middle of the day, I will have results to look through, letters to review, prescriptions to review and reports to write. And then somewhere in that time I might need to go to the loo. So that’s why NHS Day, when I’m doing my work out of my partnership and I don’t usually have time for lunch, but I can sometimes grab something, it depends. It gets busy because it’s a nationalized health system and I’ve got nearly 3000 patients. So, I mean, the good side is that I’ve really got to know a lot of my patients very well, and I can review them over time. So it’s not that I’ve only got one 10 minute slot where a lot of people, especially with ongoing conditions, I can call them back and I can see them again and they don’t have to pay for any of that. That’s all provided through our national healthcare system.
Clint Yeah, similar to Australia, I believe. And having spent the last six or seven months here in the United States, I do miss the system. So whilst it isn’t perfect, of course, and I think most members of the public in each of the countries always have their criticisms of these medical systems, whether they’re government based or private or whatever. You know, I think that it’s nice at least to be able to feel that it’s free. I believe we’re taxed a little bit in Australia to be able to cover those costs. But yeah.
Gemma I think it comes it comes through tax. So we pay a fair amount and tax every year in order to access the healthcare system. But it worked very well in a lot of ways, it means that the people who dont have so much can get the same care as the people that do. And especially for things like cancer, you know, these diagnoses that, you know, especially in the US, no one would want that kind of diagnosis where you’re faced with a situation where you can’t afford to pay for your care and that is just devastating. So we don’t have that kind of situation here, thankfully, although see that as you say, there are downsides. People will complain especially about waiting lists, the time it takes to see a doctor of your preference and things like that. But. Overall, I think it’s an excellent system and I’m really glad to be part of it. I don’t like the idea of somebody who doesn’t have the funds putting off seeing a doctor when they could really benefit. And that’s something that I would really struggle with.
Clint I’ve witnessed that here without being providing some specifics. Some people that we know and love have put off particularly dental care just because they don’t have the funds. And it’s. Yeah. So anyway, look, let’s talk more about your plant based nutrition background, your interest in this. First of all, from a personal point of view, how did this come into your radar and why did you adopt that kind of diet? And then after that. Tell us how you managed to sort of within 10 minute time slots with your patients, somehow managed to get in the words plant based nutrition in that short period of time and encourage them to go down that path.
Gemma Okay. So the first part of the question is how that I discover it?And it was actually through my husband mostly. So I always wanted to find ways to help people heal and feel better, and I went on my own health journey when I was in my 20s. I didn’t look after myself when I was at med school. Long hours and studying late nights, junk food. And I didn’t have any health problems, so I just carried on like that until I realized I was actually overweight, bordering on obese. And I felt I felt confused, I felt I felt hypocritical. I thought I can’t be helping people to get to their healthier selves when I’m clearly not living that life. So that was when I had the inkling that I needed to start preventing future diseases from coming into my life. And I thought the best way of doing that was the way everybody else was doing that. So I exercised a lot, I ate a low carb diet, lots of chicken and salads and, you know, fish. And I did manage to lose a lot of weight that way, I went down many dress sizes. I went to a normal weight, and yet my lipid profiles were still raised. And I was getting knee pains when I ran, I was getting sort of aches in both of my knees. And I thought, well, I just have to live with this, It’s my fate, no it’s my genetic destiny, I’m living a healthy life there’s nothing else I can do.
Gemma So I put that on the backburner, really imagining that that was just what my lot in life. And then my husband was training to run the London Marathon and he was getting a lot of inflammation in his joints, he was getting a lot of problems. And he thought, what can I do differently? And he starts to research ultra marathoners and the ones that he recently discovered that they had something in common, they were all eating a plant based diet. And so he was an early adopter. He was my he was my lead. I thought, oh, what’s he doing? What’s his strange way of eating? He explained it to me, and I felt like, oh, I should really know more about this. You know, my husband, he’s not medical, by the way. He’s doing this thing, and I need to know, is it dangerous? could he develop some sort of deficiency, you know. So I began to do some research then. And then I discovered a lot of science behind it, and I began to delve deeper into the studies. And I realized on a logical level that it made sense but didn’t actually make me do it, though, you know, I didn’t sort of I didn’t go full out into it for a little while. I just wanted to see the results first. And sure enough, he performed amazingly well. So the first marathon, he ran it an hour and 10 minutes slower than his second marathon because of the change in his diet and his lifestyle that he had implemented it in that timeframe. So I was completely blown away by that. I thought, wow, this really seems to work for him, this seems to work for a lot of other people, this seems to be corroborated in the literature. And I decided to secretly give it a go. I didn’t want to lose face, I didn’t want to decide I was gonna do it and announce it and then fall over and not achieve my goal. So I thought, I’m just gonna do it quietly. And I took a blood sample about a month or so after I began my plant-based journey. And my lipid profiles have completely normalized. I no longer had pains in my joints when I ran, even though I was running a lot less. I was exercising generally a lot less, I certainly wasn’t focussing so much on my health, and yet I felt healthier nonetheless.
Gemma And so I realized that it worked for me personally, it worked for family members. They had reduced osteoarthritis, pain, reduced diverticulitis, irritable bowel, recurrent dental abscesses calmed down. So so I could see the results in my loved ones. And then, of course, when I had the courage then with the literature behind me to talk about this with my patients, that’s when the magic really started to happen. And that’s where I began to see how much it can change people’s lives for the better. And that was truly special, that’s one of the most effective things I would say I’ve seen in my tool box. And as I’ve said i have been doing this a long time, I’ve been sort of experimenting with helping people with behaviour change. And when people have adopted a more plant based diet, that’s been the most effective thing I’ve seen.
Clint Yes. So give us some examples then, and also help us still also differentiate how you emphasise the whole food plant based diet and not the sort of junky vegan kind of, you know, tomato sauce and French fries kind of stuff. So give us some of these examples and what you’ve witnessed with some of your patients.
Gemma Yeah. So I suppose as a broad overview, my patients have improved their blood pressure and improved their arthritis, chronic kidney disease, Crohn’s disease. What else? Somebody reversed their very low grade prostate cancer using these dietary changes, depression and anxiety hast been improved. So there’s a number of things, there’s a number of different disease processes that respond to this way of eating. And I’ll never forget my first patient, actually, that I managed to talk about it where it was so funny. He came in to see me and he looked completely defeated, he’s sort of slumped down in the chair next to me and said, Doc I’ve been sent home from work and I’ve been told not to go back. And I turned to him I thought, what have you done? My first thought was wondering what he’d done, because you never know what you’re going to see when you’re a GP, and people come in with all sorts of things. He said, well, I had on the spot medical and they checked my blood pressure and it was way too high. And they said, we’re revoking your driving licence and you’re not allowed to come back until it’s sorted out because he worked as a driver at the airport. So he said, I have to get back to work, there’s no question. I said, okay. And I looked at him and I thought, and I’m not sure if you’re going to respond to this. He’s the South African guy, obviously loved his meat. And I said to him, well, normally what I would suggest is at least one blood pressure tablet to start then, too, probably with someone with a blood pressure, you are as high as yours, we need at least three agents to get it down to a near normal level. And he said three tablets. How long for? I said, well, forever, really? Until something else changes, until your lifestyle changes dramatically. And that’s what we’re gonna have to face. He said, I don’t want to take tablets for the rest of my life. Okay. he said I’ll do anything. I’m okay. So I had his attention. And I said, okay, well, you could try is a Whole Foods plant based diet. He said, what’s that? I said, well, you emphasise fruits and vegetables, and you emphasise whole grains, and you emphasized legumes. And I explained things like green beans, lentils, chickpeas, oats and herbs and spices and nuts and seeds. And he didn’t really look very impressed. He said, I’m not a bird. I said, no no no. I know you don’t like the idea of seeds, but let me explain how flax seeds really important and the ligaments and flax seeds and how they’ve been shown to reduce blood pressure, give it a try. I showed him the power plate that the physicians committee took about where you imagine a plate of food, and it’s not one plate, it’s not one meal, but it’s just an overview of the kinds of foods to really sort of embrace in the diets that explain multitude of fruits and vegetables should take at least half of your daily plate and then you should have whole grains.
He didn’t have anything like celiac or non celiac gluten sensitivity, so I didn’t suggest a gluten free approach, I suggested plenty of whole grains. And I said minimise the rest. He said, what’s the rest? I said, well, animal products, including red meat, chicken, fish, eggs and fatty foods, fried foods, junk foods explained that processed foods, what that meant. And he didn’t look too impressed because it’s obviously a big change from what he was used to. I said, well, I’ve also got the tablets and I’m happy to do the prescription. He said, no, no. I’m gonna try this diet. So you tried it. And two weeks later, he came back to me and his blood pressure gone from 180, over 100 millimetres of mercury down to 120, over 80 millimetres of mercury, It had completely normalized. And because he was one of the first patients I talked to about this, I was as shocked as he was that it worked so well. After In talked to him again, I checked it three times. I did it medical, you know, a couple of weeks after that, I wanted to be sure that it wasn’t just a fluke. And, you know, it was the happiest moments, he was able to go back to work, he was delighted, and I began to understand the benefits of it. So it is hugely effective in some people. Not everybody is going to respond as dramatically as he did. I have other patients that have had a big response, but not so big, especially my more elderly patients. If they had longstanding chronic inflammation in the bodies, you know, their blood pressure may go from 190 180, down to around 150. But of course, I mean, that makes a huge difference to life expectancy and a huge difference to the risk of cardiovascular disease. And I dont ever say that you should only exclusively undertake these lifestyle changes. I always suggest to people that we can use everything out of the box, you know, whether that’s medications or whether that’s surgery, whatever that is. We want to just maximise the chances of healing and take it from there. So yeah, he was one of my first patients that I remember.
Clint What a classic in a wonder that one’s unforgettable. Besides blood pressure, which I’ve actually got a warning now Paddison Program because I took a leaf out of Dr. McDougal’s guidelines with his recommendations around this, that sometimes if you shift quickly to a plant based diet from a very western style way of eating, your blood pressure can improve so dramatically that if you are on blood pressure medications, you suddenly could find yourself with to lower blood pressure. Correct?
Gemma Yes. And you could start finding yourself feeling unwell for that reason. And the same with diabetic patients, I’ve had some diabetic patients and I’d also add the same caveat. It’s even more important, especially if you’re in a hypoglycaemic medication such as (inaudible) or if you were having to inject insulin, that you have to monitor things very carefully because you insulin sensitivity will rise so dramatically that you’re not going to need the medication and you’re gonna start having hypos, dangerous hypos unless you monitor very, very carefully.
Clint Mm hmm. Wow. And the other one that I experienced personally was cholesterol. So I had a regular standard amount of non-dangerous levels of cholesterol, but my cholesterol absolutely plummeted. And what was fascinating to me was my rheumatologist, every visit, every blood test, he’d point at my cholesterol. And he’s like, this is unbelievable. He’s like, if you could bottle and sell this level of cholesterol for people, you’d be like the most famous person ever. And he just he obviously had this particular fascination with my cholesterol levels, which were so low and he’d never seen them so low. And that was mostly when I was concentrating on green smoothies and raw foods. So we’re talking about an extraordinary amount of raw fibre, tons of fibre.
Gemma That fits with the studies as well. There’s one I read recently was published in The Lancet, and there’s a very strong link. Obviously, as you know, there were increased risks of heart disease with rheumatoid inflammation. And there was a study that they had a randomized single blank trial study where they had a brief modified fast for the patients with rheumatoid arthritis. And then they had a raw sort of high raw vegan diet and then they moved on to a vegetarian diet. But what they found, especially for the actually there was another study I’m talking about here. It was one with gluten free, vegan (inaudible), a well-balanced, omnivorous diet. And they found that there was not only reduced BMI, but they had reduced level of unoxidised LDL, which is obviously one of the ones that we look at more carefully, more closely with heart disease risk. And their (inaudible) protective antibodies went up. And so there was a number of mechanisms whereby having that kind of eating not only improved the rheumatoid arthritis, but also improved their lipid profiles. So it’s exactly the same as what you have experienced, but they also were able to show that in a small trial, they had 66 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. And they were able to show that in that trial, so definitely sort of corroborated.
Clint Oh, absolutely. And whilst we’re talking about inflammatory arthritis and plant based diet. Well, and we also draw reference to our friend iida, who she is a mutual friend of ours. And one of the favourites on our show has been on several times, who’s also done tremendously well in someone that you’ve met at events, author of A Kitchen Fairy Tale, of course. So just connecting the dots goes our audience too often watch every single episode of the show. And so it’s nice to make that connection that you know her and you’ve met her. And, you know,.
Gemma I do, she’s lovely and she’s doing so, so well. She’s not long had her second baby.
Clint It’s awesome, isn’t it?
Gemma Yeah, she’s doing brilliantly and her book is fantastic. If anyone hasn’t got her book and you know, you should have a look. It’s great, wonderful recipes.
Clint Now tell us more about either we can now transition across to some of the work that you wanted to talk about with osteoarthritis, some of the studies or some of the other rheumatoid studies you’d like to reference. Or perhaps you’ve got another example of another case that you’ve worked with as a patient who’s come to see you that you’d like to share.
Gemma Yes. I mean, with relation to osteoarthritis, I distinctly remember one lady and she was in a lot of pain. And as you know, there is a slight inflammatory element to it as well. And it would wax and wane, some days you feel better than others. And she was pretty desperate at that stage because she was on maximal painkillers, it wasn’t working. She was looking at having to have her joint replaced. And I talked to her about Whole Foods plant based nutrition in a very similar way, explains some of the basic principles. Because don’t forget, in this kind of environment, you don’t have that personalized long amount of time to educate somebody. You know, having these programs is not possible. So if I basically very briefly explain, these are the principles, these are the kinds of foods. This is a good recipe book, make a recipe a week, see how you get on. And then you’ll change your repertoire within five weeks, and that’s what she did. And what was astounding to me is that she came back to me a few months later and she came back about another issue, but she came to thank me as well. And I said, why? And she said, well, I decided to buy the recipe books,and I decided to do some of my own research. And when I did, I realized so many benefits. And I actually was able to counsel my surgery. I don’t need to anymore because my pain is gone. And I was just oh, so happy for her because obviously, you know, having a surgery for a problem like that is very important if it’s needed. But if it’s not needed, if she could have done something to prevent the pain in a day-To-Day life, of course, she’d have wanted to know about that and experience that. So I was absolutely over the moon for her. She did really well.
Clint Yeah, that’s fantastic. You’ve got some studies as well to to share with us about osteoarthritis and in plant based nutrition. I think it’s very relevant to anyone with inflammatory arthritis because we all end up with damaged joints from the inflammatory impact, lost cartelaige and so forth. So what have you got to share with us?
Gemma Well, as you know, you know, osteoarthritis is a more low grade inflammation in the cartilage, and synovium. And you do have lots of joint structure, and then obviously there’s some deterioration of the cartilage as well that goes with that. And we know about, you have a slightly increased risk of it, especially with sporting injuries we know that. But it’s actually the main the main reason that it happens is often with the ravages of age, but also with obesity. It’s interesting that if your BMI is over 30, there’s about there’s nearly seven times more of a chance that you’ll get osteoarthritis compared to if you have a normal BMI. And physical inactivity, ironically, is also another risk factor. So people worry about being active, but I’d say actually, as long as you’re not dealing with a very specific and longstanding injury being active, it is really important for preventing osteoarthritis. Reducing the amount of plant foods and increasing the amount of saturated fats is also associated with osteoarthritis. So I think there’s partly genes, there’s partly epigenetics. There are certain sort of male-female influences as well. But the bottom line is if you can get to a normal weight and if you can have a fantastically healthy and nourishing diet, then a lot of the risk factors for osteoarthritis will melt away.
Gemma And that’s something that I think is really important to people, you know, in your support groups to know as well. And so so what was I gonna say about that? So why? Why? Why does it help? What what is it about a Whole Foods plant based diet that helps it? Well, to my mind, it’s the multitude of phytonutrients I think what is so crucial to it. We know that there are certain specific phytonutrients that have been shown in studies to help. So, for example, cyanogen is one of them. It’s one of the anthocyanins, which is one of the sort of polyphenols in fruits and vegetables that can give us these benefits. So things like blueberries, black grapes, raisins, cherries, plums, prunes, aubergines, they contain these compounds and they could inhibit an (inaudible) pathways of inflammation to the certain pathways that induce inflammation in the body. And these are great at trying to dampen those down, basically. So for a (inaudible), cruciferous vegetables, again, highly anti-oxidant, really important for many other sort of diseases as well. That help reduce your risk of cancer as well as inflammatory diseases, fatty liver, things like that. So you get those with things like broccoli and cauliflower, sprouts, kale, cabbage, all those kinds of things.
There’s another one and it’s called PQQ I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, heard of that one? (inaudible) And there is a very, very strong antioxidant. And again, it’s just another thing. So what they found in these pre-clinical trials was that it was important for maintaining articular surfaces of the joints at the thickness of the cartilage and also preserving the cartilage matrix as well. And that’s that’s contained, as I say, is ubiquitous in the vast majority of plants. And there’s thousands of other polyphenols, no resveratrol and lycopene and quercetin and all these natural plant substances, also salicylate. You know, if you heard of the salicylate and aspirin that helped to reduce inflammation, well, actually, if you’re having a high vegetable diet, you can do a blood draw and you can see that there’s actually high levels of salicylate in the bloodstream which are important as an anti-inflammatory. They inhibit the transcription of Cox 2 inflammatory enzymes, which is what the painkillers do as well. It’s the same way that aspirin will work, for example. And also similar mechanisms to non-steroidal painkillers. So those load of reasons why that would be helpful not only for rheumatoid, but for osteoarthritis as well.
Clint What I picked up from what you were just saying then from those studies is there’s a lot of antioxidants, isn’t it? A lot of it’s, you know, the colourful fruits and vegetables. Correct?
Gemma Correct. And it’s not just about what it’s a lot about antioxidants, but it’s also about how it changes the microbiome as well. You know, you mentioned the fibre, that’s very important. But, you know, rheumatoid arthritis patients apparently, according to one study, they have higher levels of Proteus mirabilis, which is one of the more inflammatory gut microbes. And they have higher levels of antibodies as well. And when you have more of these protease mirabilis antibodies, it’s associated with increased disease activity. So having a diet rich in fibre, rich in fruits, rich and vegetables will dampen that down and also improve your overall microbiome health, which is correlated with reduced flare-ups of the disease.
Clint Yes, absolutely. How do you convey all that to, when someone comes in to see you with rheumatoid arthritis what is the precise use of your time? How do you convey all this information before you then I presume send them to a rheumatologist, which I guess is is is your sort of duty of care or is it not?
Gemma So I would always do what I think to be the conventional thing as well. So, for example, if I’ve got someone that I suspect of having a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, obviously I will refer them to a rheumatologist, but I will also offer them ways in which they can improve their situation in the meantime. And it depends on the person, iIt’s very unique to the person. So I sometimes will speak about none of this stuff, sometimes it would literally just be I actually you know what, I have got a little pneumonic that I keep in my mind when I was when I’m helping patients with behaviour change and it’s called blend it. And blend it stands for belief. So the first thing is that I have to believe that they are capable of change and they have to believe that they’re capable of change in order for this to sort of take hold. So I like to think positively about the, you know, all of my patients and their abilities to make their lives better, but they have to believe it, too. So I start off with a B and then I move on to L, which is listen, I listen to their concerns. I listen to how it’s affecting their lives and how their lives feel right now based on their symptoms. And also how their lives could be different from other perspectives you know. Do they have time? Do they have an interest in learning about all of this?Aand they in a situation that they feel they’re not in control of. So really listening to them and finding out what where they’re at is it is a good place to start. E in blend is evoke. So I begin to help them evoke a positive future, and that could be asking them, okay. So when your joints are feeling better, what are you looking forward to doing, for example? And how are you looking forward to seeing? How will it impact your day to day life? When you get out of bed, how would it feel when your joints are less Stiff? What would you be doing? Who will you be seeing? So I begin to help evoke a positive future that they could begin to imagine. And is no bossing, I cannot boss them around. This is the nobody likes to be bossed around and that includes patients. I think doctors are very good at saying just do this, this is why I’m telling you, just do it. Then I go off and think, Oh, well, I don’t want to do that. So I asked their opinion, and I asked them would they be interested if I was to offer them some resources to look at? Is that something that they feel able to do? And then D is desire in blended D is desire. So once I’ve got them to sort of imagine this more positive future, I then get them into a position where they feel strongly that that’s something that they want and that they can achieve. and then blend it. I is information, so then I give them the information that they have asked me for. And T is timed, I give them a very specific timeframe within which to implement some changes and then experience the benefits.
Gemma So to be honest, that 10 minutes slot is not just about imparting as much physical information as possible. It’s about engaging with them and understanding what they feel they have the bandwidth to take on. And whether they feel that they’re in a position to empower themselves and how to go about doing that. So I dont tend to sort of rush to give them all the info at first I find out what’s important to them, and then take it from there. But if someone is engaged, then again, I talk very specifically about the food groups. I write it down for them, sometimes they like that personal touch. I write down the food groups and then and then I took them through what they like to eat now and give them a couple of suggestions for meal swaps to start with. So we dont have to you dont have to go sort of all and go big because it can feel a little overwhelming. Sort of give them what they feel that they can take at that time.
Clint Do you often see people, patients in parallel to their rheumatologist as well to offer them this additional, I guess information and viewpoint to what their rheumatologist provides?
Gemma I have an ongoing relationship over many years. So, yes, that’s absolutely the case, and I have patients who I mean, in all honesty, most of the rheumatologists that I’ve come across excellent clinicians and caring physicians, but they don’t know about the power of the diet. So it’s not so much that they would be contradicting my advice, it’s more that they wouldn’t really know about it, they wouldn’t necessarily have really looked into it. So I do find that it is really important thing to be able to see them alongside the rheumatologist, and the rheumatologist that don’t actually get much time either. They may have a half an hour appointment when they first go to the hospital, follow ups may be, you know, 15 minutes. So it’s really, you know, spending that extra time with somebody, and talking them through what they’ve discuss with rheumatologist. It’s actually very easy for me to add in sort of nuggets of information as they go along, see them again, see how they’re doing, add in a bit more. But the results they get will be as dramatic as the changes that they implement. So I think that’s something that I also try to say to them is, look, you know, having an extra salad a week will help, but it won’t change the disease process enough for you to really notice the benefits. So, you know, explain that you get more more results the more you put in.
Clint Yeah. And have you had some clear, exciting improvements from patients who have adopted a plant based lifestyle with any of the inflammatory arthritis conditions?
Gemma So one lady comes to mind. She has a very inflammatory bowel condition which improved dramatically with the whole food plant based approach. And then she found that her arthritis also went away and her asthma also improved.
Gemma So, yes, I’d say that there’s a multitude of potential benefits, which is why it’s so gratifying because, you know, that the advice you’re giving isn’t necessarily specific to one disease process. You know, you’re removing things that can cause inflammation and you’re flooding the body with things that can dampen the inflammation process down. So, yeah, there’s a number of different mechanisms for that.
Clint Do you ever find that you get some kind of kickback or resistance from the medical community when you talk about this? Because as people like myself in the alternative sort of health sort of sphere, if someone tried to categorise me, it does tend to come up.Now as someone with a foot in both camps, How do you delicately balance this and can you give us some examples?
Gemma So the way I go about it is I think to myself, when an intervention has no contraindications, no side to side effects or adverse effects, and can be combined with standard therapies, and we have no way of preventing the onset of the disease with a medication. Then really it’s my duty of care to suggest these alternatives, because you’re doing no harm and you’re giving a potential benefit. And there are studies to back it up you know, I mentioned the one about the reduced markers of LDL cholesterol. You know, the other one that I started to mention and then switched over to that one was a one year study which showed dramatic improvement from a vegan and a vegetarian diet intervention for patients, specifically with rheumatoid arthritis. So it’s not so much a stab in the dark or an anecdote. It’s something that, you know, you can if if needed, you can back up with some of the relevant information in the literature. But ultimately, you know, it comes down to doing no harm. So unless my advice is somehow seen as dangerous or contradictory to the standard, then I then I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. And it is interesting because some colleagues of mine have actually been very supportive. Some colleagues, you know, feel that it’s not going to be as effective as it really is. But I think that’s because they haven’t seen the power of it themselves. You know, they haven’t actually experienced that for themselves. And I’m sure if I was walking in their shoes, that I would maybe feel the same way. So it’s really about trying to stay open, staying friendly, offering data, but not in a way that that feels combative, that’s not something that I think anybody really responds to.
Gemma And it’s interesting, because when someone has a certain point of view and you offer, you know, deluge them with data that would contradict that point of view, then it’s human nature to then actually dial down further into that stance and reject that data. So I’m more about just sort of sharing through experience and presenting data when necessary, but not trying to pressure, not trying to push it with people.
Clint Yes, you also have such a friendly kind of calming and smooth approach that also, I think, helpful as well. You know, I think the approach where someone gets on their pedestal and becomes all authoritative with their approach can be very off putting as well. So I think it’s helpful to be, to approach it gently, refer to the science exactly as he said, and I love the point of, look, if it’s not harmful, then why not? Why reject something that’s not harmful? And we have some science to back it up. The science that I always present, which does pull some criticism is like the one that you mention, the one year study. Often the trials are only 50 people or the trials are a little older. By my recollection, I didn’t catch the name of that one. But some of the trials can go back, you know, 10, 15 and even 20 years, some of these trials, because you know who’s out there funding vegan trials when there’s no money in it. Right. So we do hit that as a little bit of a challenge. But look, if their biggest argument is that the study is old or there was only 60 people involved, you know, I still think it’s valid it’s valid evidence. So we can still quote and use that information.
Gemma Absolutely. And the thing is, when you’ve hit the nail on the head, who’s going to sort of fund this research? Usually it’s pharmaceutical companies that fund the majority of the research. And, you know, they dont really have anything to gain from that kind of. So it’s just the way it works, the way of the world, and if we can help improve people’s lives and that insofar as they don’t need so many medications, then that’s always a good thing.
Clint For sure. Now, just to just to start to wrap this up, you’ve got a very busy couple of months ahead. I know that your part of the sort of community of plant based experts within Europe who speak regularly at events and so on. Have you got any speaking events that people in your part of the world may be interested in coming along that they could attend? And can you give us your Instagram handle so that people can follow on Instagram, your website address? And then I’m going to tell my audience specifically how you and I and them can connect again as well. After you share with us that information.
Gemma OK. So I have the handle plant power doctor on Instagram and you can, that’s pretty the best place to follow me because I do a bits and pieces up on there. My Web site is www.gemmanewman.com. And on that Web site, there’s loads of resources, so there’s talks that I’ve done, there’s some basic information about how to transition to more plant based diet. There’s information on pregnancy, child rearing, diabetes, heart disease, healing in general, there’s quite a lot on there. So check that out if you’re interested. Talks that I’m doing, I’m speaking at the plant powered World Expo this weekend in Olympia, London. Olympia.
Clint We’re going to miss that. I won’t be able to get that release on time.
Gemma Don’t worry. There’ll be other opportunities. And I am speaking at the plant based Health Professionals UK conference, I should think that’s going to be coming up in May. There will be another plant based conference plant powered, wasn’t it? Another one under the name of plant powered expo, that’s coming up in October. I’m doing a speaking event in Belfast for doctors, Doctors for Nutrition group in Belfast. Oh, actually, no, it’s not. Belfast it’s Dublin. And I’m also going to the veg-med conference in Berlin in May. So there’s there’s quite a few going on. So, If you could keep up with my Instagram page then you’ll find out all the different talks and where they gonna be.
Clint Fantastic. And then you’ve got a book that you’re working on as well in between all of that. Before we go and talk all about your book, that’s a little bit, you know, down the track. So maybe next time we have you on the show, we’ll be able to talk about your book.
Gemma Exactly. I’ll have come up with a title by then.
Gemma Yes. So that’s going to hopefully be out at the end of the year.
Clint Beautiful. Now, Dr. Newman and myself will be part of www.rheumatoidsupport.com monthly support call in the end of March 2020. So in about two months away. So Dr. Newman’s going to join me on that. So if you’re a member of rheumatoid support, then you’ll be able to ask questions of Dr. Newman. Obviously will be able to be well covered on the rheumatoid arthritis front with myself and her answering questions, but also with rheumatoid arthritis we always can develop these other problems, these, you know, co-existing health challenges that are outside of my expertise and my personal experience. So Dr. Newman will be able to take care of those. We’ve talked about some blood pressure and cholesterol issues, we’ve talked about osteoarthritis on this call. So just to name just a few of many things that can also be part of our health challenges. And so it’ll be great to have you on that call, and to be able to answer people’s questions live and help them without them having to go and see their doctor, they can have a chat. You get your opinion on that and how that will also be helpful for them. So that’s at the end of March. But between between now and then, I just want to wish you all the best. Continue to do wonderful things to help people as a medical doctor and and spreading the plant based message, it’s it’s really awesome. And thanks for coming on the show.
Gemma Thank you for having me. Clinton, I’ve got to say the same to you. You’re doing amazing things. Keep it going. And many, many more people will benefit from your wisdom and your experience. So well done. And keep keep up the good work yourself.
Clint Thank you.