Dr Laura Quinton is a London-based NHS general practitioner who has also studied for a Nutritional Therapy Diploma at CNM London. Now qualified as a naturopathic nutritional therapist, we spoke with Dr Quinton to find out how she merges patient consultations in surgery with nutritional therapy, and how medicine can merge with holistic healthcare.
What is the relationship like for you between medicine/antibiotics and nutrition/holistic health care?
I have definitely reviewed my prescriptions after studying nutrition, and look to lifestyle factors before reaching for the prescription pad. Antibiotic resistance is now a major concern for our society.
It’s interesting to read research coming out about the gut microbiome and the benefits of probiotic use. Drugs have a vital place, but we need to watch that we do more good than harm. There were half a million adverse drug reactions reported in the last decade resulting in 12,000 deaths in the UK.
There were half a million adverse drug reactions reported in the last decade resulting in 12,000 deaths in the UK.
How do you integrate nutritional therapy into your patients’ consultations in your surgery?
Time is the rate-limiting factor in the NHS because we are only allocated 10 minutes per patient. Despite this, I think there is always a little window of opportunity for patient education on food. People, in general, eat three times a day and my patients seem keen and interested to know what they can do to help themselves.
How important do you think nutrition is to our health?
I believe that food is medicine and many diseases start in the gut. What you feed yourself affects your health. It still amazes me that doctors get next to nothing taught about nutrition at medical school and this needs to change.
It still amazes me that doctors get next to nothing taught about nutrition at medical school and this needs to change.
What advice do you offer to people struggling with the pace and stresses of a hectic work life?
This is a huge problem in our modern society. Stress is what drives us on, but it is our perception of stress that is most important. Mindfulness practice, sleep, blood sugar balance, and a whole-food diet are the major keys to helping us cope with the effects of fast living. Recovery is so important because sustained stress eventually leads to crash and burn.
What complementary or holistic health care tips do you have for managing tiredness, exhaustion, etc?
– Prioritise sleep and recovery
– Avoid reliance on stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and sugar. Clients often need motivation and support to ditch these addictions.
– Get your hormone health checked up, as this is so interlinked with blood sugar, stress and digestion and you need to know what you are dealing with.
– Mindfulness meditation practice is always a simple but powerful therapy in any rebalance.
What advice do you have for any doctors that want to start progressing towards more holistic, natural guidance and support for patients?
It’s great that more doctors want to get involved. You can sign up for a whole diploma course like me, or get along to a local talk or online webinar on functional medicine or naturopathic nutrition. The amount of interest in this is growing fast. It’s always good to start with yourself too, so booking in a session with a nutritional therapist yourself might be a good start. I did this as part of my training and made some changes in my own diet and lifestyle with amazing health benefits. Jump in and do it!
It’s always good to start with yourself too, so booking in a session with a nutritional therapist yourself might be a good start.
What key improvements could be made in the current health care system?
I’d love to see more nutrition and mindfulness taught in medical school. I’d welcome trained lifestyle and health advisors such as nutritional therapists in GP surgeries. We need more integration, and for them to be able to work alongside doctors promoting holistic diet and lifestyle factors. Patients often need education and motivational support. It needs to start at the grass roots level and be adapted according to the individual community.
What do you think the health care of the future looks like?
I think functional medicine, big in the US now, will become big in the UK. The traditional medical model needs to change to address disease prevention and tackle the rise of chronic disease. Lifestyle coaches and nutritional therapists will play a huge role. Patients will become more empowered to take control of their own health using technology and information.
We will be able to offer individualised lifestyle prescriptions to alter gene expression in patients.
Research on the microbiome and genetics will help us learn how to target specific therapies in individuals. We will be able to offer individualised lifestyle prescriptions to alter gene expression in patients. Nutrition appreciation will play a huge role in an exciting future.