Busting myths and exploring the link between mental health and nutrition with plant powered doctor, Gemma Newman

by | Aug 7, 2020 | Features, Plant Based Health

In her practice, Dr Newman has come to understand that body, mind and soul are not separate, and that it is only in addressing the root causes of stress and disconnection that we can truly heal, from the inside out.

She has been featured on many podcasts including Rich Roll and Deliciously Ella, and has written articles for magazines, spoken at conferences, been interviewed extensively and is an advisory board member of Plant Based Health Professionals UK.

She is an incredible Plant Based Wonder Woman and we’re honoured to feature her.

Can you name some people/teachers who have had the greatest impact on your wellness journey?

I have been so lucky to have been well most of my life – but I realised despite going on a health kick to get fit and feel good a few years back that my blood cholesterol was raised.

I have strong family history of heart disease and sadly my father died at just 59, so I knew I had to do something to prevent dying young and not being able to see my children and grandchildren grow old!

That was one of the main benefits I noticed when I started to eat a plant based diet – finally, my cholesterol normalised and I could feel more confident of a long, healthy life.

My favourite teachers are so hard to define – everyone that comes into our lives at certain times have something to teach us. My parents, my children, my friends, my mentors and those who have inspired me from afar. I admire people with true compassion and a desire to do good in the world.

In terms of plant based nutrition, Dr Neal Barnard stands out as a man with a mission to serve and who has created something amazing in The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, as well as all the other things he does.

Why do you think so little about nutrition and the link between diet and health is taught when you study to be a doctor? It seems as if most doctors, even specialists know very little about this and don’t include this when treating their patients?

We have a healthcare system which tends to focus on the body going wrong and how to fix it.

Doctors understand how the body works, and how to avoid and treat deficiencies, but the focus tends to be on illness, not wellness.

This is starting to change, and doctors tend to be hugely passionate about helping their patients, so my hope is that preventative, holistic and lifestyle medicine will have its rightful place in the undergraduate medical curriculum soon.

On top of your medical practice, you’ve also studied psychology, meditation and energetic healing. Can you share how you incorporate this in your practice with your patients?

I only have ten minutes with my clinic patients, so I try to incorporate many tools for healing in that time.

Listening is really a key component as well as helping patients to focus on empowering themselves to health. I share meditation tips, and will occasionally delve into energy medicine – if it is an area that a patient has already expressed an interest in.

My NHS practice focusses largely on lifestyle tips for a healthier body and mind.

What are the top 3 things in your opinion that people can change right now to move towards a happier and healthier life?

Recognising love in the world when they see it.

Feeling grateful for all the experiences they have had so far – those perceived as bad as well as good.

This is one of the toughest things to do, but it can allow the possibility of acceptance and peace, which is a great place from which healing can begin.

Focussing on nourishment over sacrifice when it comes to foods, with a keen focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Can you please discuss the link between mental health and nutrition?

A good diet can’t always prevent low mood, but it can provide  fertile ground for feeling better in body and mind.

Folate and vitamin c are important for reducing inflammation, which is a key component of low mood in some people, and fibre rich foods such as legumes are great for feeding beneficial gut microbes that help to stabilise our mood regulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

Tryptophan rich veg like butternut squash are also important for making our feel good hormones.

In your professional opinion, what are the top myths about following a plant based diet you’d like to bust?

Plant based diets provide enough protein and calcium and as with any way of eating, an emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes is a great place to start.

These foods can be so delicious and versatile and can be part of any regional cuisine. It doesn’t have to be hard! The key is to make it easy.

Another passion of yours is the promotion of no-till regenerative agricultural techniques in order to bring health back to our soil and our farming systems, so as to allow healing of the ecosystems that sustain human life. Can you please share some points on the link between planetary health and human health?

Put simply, we cannot survive without radically shifting our farming practices and how we use animals.

The death of our pollinators, the monoculture crops that we grow to feed the cows and pigs that we eat, the waste products from these cows and pigs that destroy ocean ecosystems and the overuse of plastics causing hormone disruption and poor health are all a ticking time bomb of species annihilation – and ultimately death for us too.

We need to reconnect to the soil, start encouraging no till agriculture, re-foresting and re-using our resources if we are going to make this world a healthier place not just for the animals, but for us too.

What message would you like to share with our beautiful plant based sisters around the world?

Believe you can make a difference, and inspire your loved ones with your passion, radiance and joy!

Gemma’s favorites

Favourite plant based breakfast?

Pancakes

Plant based comfort food?

Chocolate

Plant based treat?

Bean burrito

A plant based eatery anywhere in the world I’d love to eat at

La Veganerie, Bangkok, Gaultier Soho (London)

Some fave plant based podcasts

Rich Roll, Deliciously Ella, Plant Proof.

Dr Gemma Newman’s website is incredibly informative with lots of valuable content and resources on plant based health and nutrition. Please take a look here: https://gemmanewman.com/

You can also follow her on instagram here: @plantpowerdoctor

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