Natural Health Magazine

Christian Bates is on the expert Q & A team of Natural Health Magazine a well known national publication. Read below for his responses to readers questions and short articles he has contributed:

Question: I decided to go on a raw food diet after reading that Cheryl Cole ate that way, but actually I don't feel that great on it? Why is that when she looks so amazing?

Response: Without knowing exactly how you don't feel great I can only offer you three reasons that spring to mind, I'm sure one of these will apply as I see them commonly in the clinic. Firstly, if you are having digestion issues it might actually be that the raw food is putting too much strain on your stomach. By strain I mean that the raw food, I'm thinking vegetables here, are too hard and the acid in your stomach isn't in enough quantity to efficiently breakdown the hard fibre. Lightly steamed vegetables will be easier to digest, it's easy to understand that cooked for is just softer that raw.

Secondly, as a naturopath I would use a raw food diet as a cleansing / detoxification protocol. The enzymes in the raw food and perhaps restricting the variety of foods eaten can prove a powerful cleanser, particularly if it is just a fruit cleanse. So you may be experiencing what naturopaths call a "healing crisis". This is where the body has been given enough good nutrition to allow itself the opportunity to cleanse. The most powerful cleanser is a water fast, but raw food maybe enough in some people to promote this reaction. It is good though! Your body could be getting rid of toxins of it own accord, however it is probably best to be able to talk to a natural health expert whilst doing this, just so they can coach you through the healing cries, which commonly might be a headache or diarrhoea.

Fasting is an interesting process to understand. If you restrict intake of food your body will actually be resting. Just think, no chewing, no digesting, no assimilation, no absorption, no processing of toxins etc. Etc. So by limiting your food your body will briefly have more energy available to distribute to areas of the body that need to be repaired. So if you have inflammation in a joint it may decide to go and repair that. You give your body the opportunity to do a bit of housekeeping.

Thirdly, you may just not be suited to the high amounts of carbohydrates you are getting from the raw foods. Here I am assuming you have increased the amounts of fruit and vegetables you are eating rather than a raw steak! If this is the case you maybe be feeling lethargic, lightheaded or even dizzy between meals. This indicates a blood sugar low, the carbohydrates you have eaten from the fruit and vegetables have been processed and metabolised by your body so quickly you have nothing else to fuel you. Typically you may feel hungry and very quickly after your meal. In this case you need to add protein and fats to the meal, these are slower released energy and will take you longer into the day without hunger and will also not cause blood sugar highs and lows. Remember the answer to a blood sugar low is not to eat sugar! The answer is to eat a meal with the correct ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates for you so you don't get the blood sugar low in the first place.

To find out what ratios you should be eating protein, fats and carbohydrates in you need to do a Metabolic Typing test or a Body Biotyping assessment. More information on these can be found here. I hope this helps, the moral of this is, don't always copy the celebs diets no matter how good they look, especially if your body shape and size is different from the celeb. If you are different it will be highly likely that eating like them will just not suit you. We are all individuals after all.

Question: When I am on my period I get low back pain, should I see an osteopath for this?

Response: As a naturopath and osteopath this question is particularly suited to me and the answer is related to how I treat many of my patients; ie in a holistic fashion, looking at both their structure and their nutrition. This is a great example of what is known as a facilitated segment, in effect a type of referred pain. Your pelvic organs, which at the time of your menstruation are highly active, are sending signals via the nervous system back to your spinal cord. The area of your spinal cord that receives the signals is actually in your low back or lumbar spine. The signals that are being sent to the spinal cord are actually diffusing into other local nerves which supply the structures of your low back, and so your are feeling low back pain. To take this a step further if those signals also started to interfere with the nerve that is at your lowest lumbar spine (L5) you could even get some referred pain into your lower leg and big toe, all because you are menstruating. You haven’t mentioned whether you have any digestive issues, but these commonly aggravate menstrual problems and the bowel also sends pain signals to this area of your spine.

In answer to your question, yes you should see an osteopath, preferably one that is also a naturopath so you can get diet and lifestyle advice. The reason for seeing an osteopath is that this nerve “loop” can work in the other direction too, so it is possible that a low back problem is actually causing the menstrual irregularities. Supplements that may help include the B vitamins which can be useful in many hormonal problems as can omega 3 fish oils. The fish oils are also anti-inflammatory and may therefore lend some help to any inflammation present in the low back. Magnesium helps cramping if this is present, and is also a good detoxifier which maybe needed to help the menstrual problems. Of course check your diet and make sure it is free of refined and processed foods too.

Christian Bates is an osteopath, naturopath, metabolic typing advisor and EAV practitioner. He works from The Perrymount Clinic in Haywards Heath, W. Sussex. He can be contacted on 01444 410944,,

How to recognise if your joint pain is arthritis

What's the difference: In consultation I need to clarify whether the joint pain is from an acute injury or if it is the onset of an arthritic condition. The biggest give away will be the patients age, if they are elderly then it is more likely to be wear and tear on the joint surfaces and osteoarthritis is more likely, however elderly patients can have a simple joint injury too, so don't jump to any conclusions just yet! Secondly, do we know how the injury occurred? If it was from sports, a twist whilst gardening or something similar then it is probably an acute ligament strain of the joint which will repair quickly. If the onset is over a long time with no particular incident and it is getting worse, especially if the pain comes on rest ie sitting watching TV, then this will seem to be more like a chronic arthritic condition.
What to do? Firstly you need to rest the injury, but keep the joint moving gently to reduce the inflammation. Cold packs are also helpful to decrease inflammation, the secret here is to have the cold on BRIEFLY, only for 5 - 10 minutes, when the cold pack comes off you should have a rush of healing blood into the injury. If you have it on too long the injury will just stay cold with no blood so no healing.

Best tip: Get some treatment whether it is an acute sports injury or an chronic arthritic condition. This will prevent the acute injury not fully healing and becoming a repetitive injury in the future and it can also work wonders on chronic joint pain too. Even if the internal cartilage is worn there will be many other joint structures that are causing pain that will be easy to treat, such as the muscles, tendons or ligaments.

Stress and ageing

It could be said that stress is the ultimate ager as it affects us in so many detrimental ways. Our adrenal glands, found on top of our kidneys, are responsible for secreting the "stress" hormones; adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones are good in short bursts, they help us deal with the stress. Where it can go wrong is that we are designed on the "fight or flight" principal. Thousands of years ago we would have stayed to fight the wild beast or we run from it, and if we survive our stress system returns to normal. In modern days we are bombarded by continual stress, maybe not life threatening, but it is continuous, traffic jams, late trains, PC's crashing etc. This keeps our adrenal glands switched on and pumping out adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones change virtually every system in the body to basically save our life; sugar, fat and proteins are released for fuel to run and escape, the bowel and sex hormones are shut down as they not needed at times of emergency, the immune system is re-directed to the skin in case we get injuries, the nervous system goes on alert to pump our hearts faster but consequently can cause anxiety and insomnia and the list can go on and on. Perhaps you can see now how daily stress will eventually be damaging and aging?

So what to do? Firstly you must eat right so you have the fuel to repair yourself, but clinically the two things I see patients struggle most to do regularly, and therefore when they make the effort shows the best results is to exercise and to relaxation. Exercise of course can be relaxing, as in the case of yoga or Tai Chi but it can also "burn up" the excess stress hormones. Please remember though that too much exercise can be an adrenal stressor in its own right, so make sure you get the correct intensity for your own fitness levels. Next, relaxation and by this I mean, mediation , visualisation or whatever you like to call it, but just 10 minutes per day, alone, sitting quietly to let your mind rest, this can have such great benefits for resetting your stress levels.

Question: I’m a 34-year-old woman who tends to sweat rather a lot at night and I wondered whether this was the sign of a health complaint? When I go to bed my hands and feet are usually freezing cold, but by the middle of the night I wake up drenched in sweat. I don’t have the heating on during the night and I don’t wear bed socks or have a hot water bottle. It’s a bit of an embarrassing and uncomfortable problem. Do you have any suggestions?

Response: Firstly, it might be best for you to see a local practitioners so they can take a full case history as the information in your question is a bit limited however there are a few clues in there as to what might be going on. A number of your symptoms point to adrenal fatigue (see March issue!!) , including stress, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, mood swings and constipation. In fact all of them lead to it in some way! When the body goes through significant stress or small daily stressors it switches into a fight or flight mode and this literally alters all bodily functions into an “emergency mode” this is vital as it could save our life but in the long term is quite detrimental. For example the body will preferentially make the fight or flight hormones, like cortisol, instead of the reproductive hormones like progesterone and oestrogen. These will become deficient and hormonal problems will follow, such as mood swings and PMS.

You also mention you can become constipated with certain foods and the foods you mention are prime candidates for doing this, especially the white bread. Grains such as wheat have been produced in agricultural quantities for about 10,000 years and in the grand scheme of things ( a couple of million years) this is not long at all, so we are not so well adapted to grains as we are many other natural foods. This explanation goes some way to explain why so many people have digestive issues with grains, or to put it another way why most people feel better when they exclude grains.

Another angle on the constipation is that the vitamin B5 is a main ingredient into the energy pathways and if you undergo a busy lifestyle and have stress then you may be using this up in enough quantity to make you deficient. What is interesting is that this B vitamin also powers the peristalsis of the gut, so stress can cause constipation too.

I would look at improving your diet initially and then seek help from a professional that can recommend nutrients to boost your adrenal function. This will also improve your sleep patterns and getting more sleep can be amazingly rejuvenating and really aid your recovery.
Christian Bates is an osteopath, naturopath and metabolic typing advisor and works from The Perrymount Clinic in Haywards Heath, West Sussex. 01444 410944.