talkhealth meets... Dr Gemma Newman
Dr Gemma Newman joined us for an exclusive webinar earlier this year. As an expert in holistic health and plant-based diets, Gemma has all the tools you need to harness the power of your immune system. If you're looking to learn about how diet and lifestyle changes can optimise your health, save your space at the event here!
Ahead of her 40-minute digital session, (watch the ondemand video here) we wanted to learn more about Gemma. In this short Q&A, she shares how her own health journey drove her to help others.
How did you come to specialise in nutrition and lifestyle medicine? What is your story?
When I graduated as a young doctor, I was struggling to lose weight and neglecting my health. I loved all the kinds of foods that didn’t love me, I wasn’t exercising and late nights studying had taken their toll. I was overweight, bordering on clinically obese, and had high blood pressure. I felt hypocritical, part of my job was helping people to lose weight and improve their lifestyle and I was not talking the talk. So, I cut carbs and started exercising. I dropped dress sizes, but a look at my blood profile told me that my cholesterol and LDL levels were raised, meaning I was at risk of heart disease.
My journey into learning more about the power of plant-based nutrition started then. I found intervention studies showing heart disease reversal with plant-based approaches and epidemiological studies showing that plant-based populations live longer. My initial research fuelled a passion that has never left.
You promote a holistic approach to healthcare, what does this mean?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said: ‘There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.’
This quote resonated with me because I want to help my patients jump clean out of the river and walk them upstream to find their path to wellness, empowerment and autonomy. This journey is not only reliant on a plant-based diet but also encompasses finding purpose in life, getting a good night’s sleep, staying active, relaxing and much, much more!
Who benefits most from a plant-based diet?
A whole foods plant-based lifestyle has benefits for everyone, from those who're concerned about extinction and the future of the planet, to those with a chronic health condition who're hoping to fuel their bodies and ease symptoms. Plant-based nutrition allows you to maintain ethical values whilst optimising your physical health at the same time. Whatever your reasons might be for adopting a plant-based diet, there is no doubt that it will have tremendous benefits for you now and in the future.
How does a holistic healthy lifestyle promote a better immune system?
The systems in our bodies are all connected. Our diet has a huge role to play in digestive and immune health. The majority of our immune cells live right next to our gut lining, so the integrity and health of our digestive system are very important. As well as the food we eat, moving our body is important for lymphatic flow – the way our immune cells get where they need to go – and sleeping is key for the creation of immune cells in the bone marrow.
What issues do your patients seek help for the most? Are there any simple tips you can share for remedying them?
Heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes are the most common causes of ongoing disease, and they can all be improved with plant-based nutrition. I share tips in my book, but as a basic rule of thumb, if you are consuming daily portions of fruit, veggies, whole grains and pulses alongside herbs, spices, nuts and seeds you are successfully following a healthy plant-based lifestyle and are less likely to be affected by these conditions.
You are a founding member of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK. What does the organisation do?
We educate health professionals, members of the public and policymakers on the importance of whole food plant-based nutrition in preventing and treating chronic disease. The organisation has a university accredited nutrition course, free weekly webinars, and a brand-new digital health course. We promote the reclaiming of people’s health through a plant-based diet.
What is your top tip for maintaining a healthy, more holistic, lifestyle?
Sticking to healthy habits can be hard. Professor BJ Fogg, a research associate at Stanford University, encourages people to think of habits like seeds. Sometimes they don’t grow because you have chosen the wrong spot in the garden or the wrong time of year for the seed to grow. You should consider where a new habit best fits into your garden and how it can take root. Once the seed is planted it's also very important to celebrate the wins. By doing so, you will engage positively with new habits and make successful shifts in your lifestyle.
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 5 February 2021
Next review: 5 February 2021