Reading through the musings of ancient Greek philosophers about the human condition, it’s no wonder their legacy has endured the ages.
For instance when Hippocrates declared ‘Let food be thy medicine’, or Thales who made the connection of ‘a sound mind in a sound body’.
While these claims were made thousands of years ago, they provide the basis of Alida Deligeorges’ practice today.
A qualified pharmacist and herbalist, she is behind THE GUT DETECTIVE.
As the name suggests, Alida treats many people with gut-related issues. With people increasingly consuming diets high in gluten and sugar, and as farming and manufacturing practices have changed through the ages, she says modern-day diets are often very high in inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, and in some cases, eggs and nuts as well.
“I really promote a grain-free diet,” she says. “The recipes that I hand out are very much getting people off gluten. Dr. Alessio Fasano, the guy who discovered leaky gut, said if you have gluten today basically the gut stays open for the next three hours. If you come in with gluten in the next meal, likewise and likewise. But it will get to the point where it just can’t close anymore, and that’s where the build-up of inflammation starts to go in the body.”
“We’ve got to get back to our roots, our basic understanding that we can live off the land and we can heal ourselves if we are given the right environment to do it.”
While some people can eat gluten and feel fine, Alida says it can sometimes take up to 20 years for the destruction that gluten causes to show itself in the body.
But contrary to popular belief, the gut is not primarily what Alida focuses on, and says that it is even deeper than that, coming back to the mind-gut connection – as Thales suggested.
This was something she noticed from the very beginning while carrying out her first hours in the clinic, to becoming a fully qualified herbalist in her own practice, blown away by the common theme that emerged: the experience of trauma and the aftermath effect on the mind and body.
“To start with, we see a lot of dis-ease, rather than disease,” Alida explains.
“There’s a lot of emotional issues that cause disease. For many of them, there’s usually post-traumatic stress disorders running, and many can be multiple years back. When you’re trying to trace back the symptoms – ‘okay how long did you have that?’ Ten years. ‘Okay, what happened 10 years ago?’ Sometimes they say ‘I had a boss that really abused me’, or ‘I got divorced’ and so forth, and then I see the spiral of disease come through.”
She says that aside from the gut, the effects of trauma are seen in three organs – the liver, kidney, and thyroid gland – “the three amigos”, as she calls them.
“They are often very much interplayed in terms of the way disease starts to cycle and obviously can lead on to autoimmune issues, which comes from stress,” she says.
“Stress will trigger off what is known as adrenal fatigue, which will really start the spiral of organ dysfunction, and we’re up against this with a society that is not coping with stress overall.”
She says disease of any kind doesn’t happen overnight, and that it can take up to 10 years to fester and show itself – which means there’s no quick fix – and neither can one symptom be treated alone, given all organs are interconnected.
“I need to understand to what degree are each of those organs needing support and to what extent do they need to feel safe. The keyword you hear me say in consults is in your body those organs are not feeling safe for a particular reason and they’re kind of crying out for help. The thyroid [gland] especially is looking at how it can balance the whole system,” Alida explains.
Taking heed from Chinese medicine, she recommends people actively seek to bring joy into their lives.
“Everyone seems to be quite regimented and going about their day really robotic, and the joy seems to have gone,” Alida says.
But that doesn’t mean running away from negative emotions. Instead, she says it’s important to sit with your emotions, and embrace them, having a good cry occasionally – but to balance it with the joy in your life. Finding healthy ways to release anger, resentment, and forgiveness are all crucial as well, and if need be, to seek out counselling.
“If you’re happy on the inside and you’re feeling quite content, your body’s immune system is always going to be working at its peak. This is because your immune system is about 70 percent gut-based and your gut is constantly communicating with your brain – a relationship known as the gut-brain connection. If you’re not happy in your brain if you don’t feel joy and content and peaceful there, it’s going to show up in your gut, and you’re going to get a weak immune system,” she says.
Even in her early years as a pharmacist, Alida was always naturally drawn to a holistic approach – looking at the bigger picture of healing, than just the one tablet approach.
With more and more people impacted by chronic autoimmune issues, she says the public increasingly want alternative therapies. But this holistic approach is what doctors sometimes struggle with, given the lack of time in consultations.
“You need that time to just sit down and really digest what’s happening to this particular person, then decide on an individualized program for them because everyone’s so unique,” she explains.
“The traditional western medicine treatment is really one pill for every ill and before you know it you’ve got a concoction of medication running and many of them are causing side effects.
“The need for natural medicine is to actually create full healing, which the body is very capable of doing if we supply it with the tools that it needs: nutrition, a sense of feeling safe, getting off that fight/flight mode. We’ve got to get back to our roots, our basic understanding that we can live off the land and we can heal ourselves if we are given the right environment to do it.”
ALIDA’S 5 WELLNESS TIPS
#1 Consciously seek out and bring more joy into your life:
Alida recommends ending your day with an activity that makes you happy, like watching a couple of episodes of your favourite show – and avoid watching the news.
She also suggests taking up a hobby, singing in the shower – anything that may help in bringing out the child within.
#2 Be mindful of and embrace your emotions – the good and the bad:
Alida encourages people to sit with their emotions, and not to shy away crying. She says having a teary moment can do wonders for your liver.
Bringing out these emotions can be done by looking through old photos, going for a little walk, reminiscing and reflecting.
“But don’t stay there too long,” she says, “always balance it with some joy.”
#3 Remove inflammatory foods from your diet:
This means moving towards eating less of or totally eliminating gluten (especially wheat, rye, barley, and corn), dairy, sugar, and soy. In some cases even eggs and nuts.
Alida says that while it is one of the most challenging things to do, forgiving certain people and situations in your life, perhaps even yourself, can go a long way in helping the mind, and as a result, the body, to heal.
#5 Gentle exercise:
Exercise is known to help release endorphins, helping you to feel better and brighter. But be sure to take it at your own pace. Whether it be a gentle walk, or if you’re feeling up to interval training. Alida says that a maximum of three 50 minute workouts a week will encourage your body to recognize that after being in flight mode, that we can recover.