Much ado about Paleo: Doctor Fatemeh explains the paleo diet as a guest blogger

Wikipedia has described the Paleolithic diet “as a modern dietary regimen that seeks to mimic the diet of preagricultural hunter-gatherers, one that corresponds to what was available in any of the ecological niches of Paleolithic humans.” In a simple language a Paleo Diet (paleolithic diet) is based on the type of foods our ancestors ate. This diet consists of foods that can be hunted and fished, such as meat and seafood, and can be gathered, such as eggs, insects, fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and spices. Food groups that probably were rarely or never consumed by humans thousands of years ago are excluded from the diet, mainly grains, legumes (e.g. beans and peanuts), dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils, although some advocates consider the use of oils with low omega-6/omega-3 ratios, such as olive oil and canola oil, to be healthy and advisable. This way of eating has many names, including ‘the Stone Age diet,’ ‘the Paleolithic diet,’ ‘the Paleo diet,’ ‘the caveman diet,’ ‘the warrior diet,’ and so on.

There is a vast collection of information about this type of diet both on papers and on line. Most of the articles have compared this diet with a more modern lifestyle diet and have come to some sort of conclusions. From a more scientific point of view there are researches which back up the paleo diet and claim that this diet could benefit some of most problematic health conditions such as Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, allergies and many more.

In a recent study by the department of Clinical Sciences in Lund University/Sweden,13 patients with type 2 diabetes, 3 women and 10 men, were instructed to eat a Paleolithic diet based on lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, eggs and nuts; and a Diabetes diet designed in accordance with dietary guidelines during two consecutive 3-month periods. The result showed that the Paleolithic diet improved glycemic control and several cardiovascular risk factors compared to a Diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes.

There is no doubt that the Paleolithic diet has lower energy density compared to a typical diet consumed by modern humans. This is especially true in vegetarian versions of the diet, but it still holds if substantial amounts of lean meat are included in calculations. For example, most fruits and berries contain 0.4 to 0.8 calories per gram, and even by taking into account the meat/animal intake in the diet, it does not reach the densities of many processed foods commonly consumed by modern humans. For example, most McDonalds sandwiches such as the Big Mac average 2.4 to 2.8 calories/gram, and sweets such as cookies and chocolate bars commonly exceed 4 calories/gram.

There is substantial evidence that people consuming high energy-density diets are prone to overeating and they are at a greater risk of weight gain. On the other side, low caloric density diets tend to provide a greater feeling of fullness at the same energy intake, and they have been shown effective at achieving weight loss in overweight individuals without explicit caloric restrictions. Even some authors who may otherwise appear to be critical of the concept of Paleolithic diet have argued that high energy density of modern diets, as compared to paleo diet, contributes to the rate of diseases of affluence in the industrial world.

But there are a couple of questions which need answering:

  1. Is the low carb Paleolithic diet the one that is recommended for everyone? No. There is not such a diet suitable for everyone. Individuals are different, depends on the type of your body, your lifestyle, your physical activities, your medical history and many other factors, YOU and YOUR DOCTOR decide what’s the best food intake for you.
  2. Is there a less extreme low carb diet for fat loss? Yes, Of course. Again it’s up to YOU, If you prefer, you may use other low carb diets for fat loss or keeping fit.

Alternatively, you could also consider the following formula which seems to work for most of us:

  • Adopt as much fresh diet as possible, fish, vegetables and fruit, and try to avoid processed food, and in particular junk food.
  • Exercise frequently, but with a variety of durations and intensities (including rest periods) rather than doing always the same, ask your fitness instructor to overload your exercise routine frequently,
  • Perform a variety of cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, running, cycling, climbing, swimming…. These exercises involve different groups of muscles in your body and the effects are undeniable…

Finally and most importantly, don’t forget to check your primary health with your GP before taking any diet/food regimen.


To see more about this topic at Energya please click on the link below:

Reduce the risk of Sciatica

Well, I know I’ve said this before, but poor posture is one of the biggest causes of any back problem.

Being overweight can be an issue as well so, healthy eating and exercise is important.

Stress has a surprisingly negative effect on the lower back, which is exactly where the Sciatic Nerve is at its most vulnerable.

During day to day activities, remain mindful of lifting things that are too heavy, be careful not to twist, strain or bend in awkward ways. When seated or walking, don’t slouch as this alters the curve of your back, therefore moving your vertebrae closer to your Sciatic Nerve.

These are all things you’ve heard me say before… and they are things that every other expert will say too. So listen to us.

The main thing to remember is that treatment of an existing back pain is much, much harder to live with than avoiding it in the first place.

It’s so important to me that this preventative ‘way of life’ is learnt and adhered to by as many people as possible – it means that I’ll ultimately be out of a job of course… but I would honestly love nothing more than to eradicate back pain.

Harley Street advice for everyone

In recent months, I’ve been focusing on getting solid advice on back care out to the most vulnerable groups in society.  

Pregnant ladies, older people, post surgery patients and manual labourers to name a few.

Back care is sorely underrated and people don’t appreciate how incredibly important it is to every aspect of your life.

As a Physiotherapist, I don’t want to be meeting people who are already in pain and already suffering… I want to help people way before that stage. 

Prevention is always better than cure.

So, it’s now a mission of mine to link up with as many groups as possible to help prevent back issues before they occur.

I’m going to be targeting people who, through no fault of their own, are more susceptible to back problems – and I’m going to be helping them. 

Watch out for Fatemeh The Physio

Thank you

The healing effects of Spinal Touch on Scoliosis

Scoliosis effects 3 out of 100 people worldwide.

Recognised treatments are observation, bracing or surgery.

Observation: Scoliosis can be non-progressive and can have no pain or ill effects. Observation, especially in children, is essential before any action is taken.

Bracing: Is an effective way to help children who are still growing to maintain as straight a spine as possible.  Bracing is not recommended for people who have stopped growing as it’s thought that it would simply not work. 

Surgery: If the spinal curve has reached 40 degrees by the time the patient has stopped growing, then it’s likely to continue changing by 1-2 degrees each year. If this is not prevented, the patient could experience problems with internal organs, so surgery is recommended.

Massage, exercise and yoga have long been recognised to ease pain symptoms in Scoliosis, but they have never been recognised as a method of correcting an abnormal curve.

Now… I’m incredibly excited to publicise my first evidence showing the benefits of Spinal Touch.

This x-ray is from a 17 year old girl who has 50-60% scoliosis of the spine. Going by the above statistics, the only treatment for her would be surgery to deal with the curve and massage to deal with the pain. In fact, doctors have predicted that up to 6 operations might be required to straighten her back, and the side effect of that would be a reduction of spinal movement by almost half.

This young girl came to me to see if Spinal Touch could be an alternative to surgery. 

The above x-ray was taken prior to the first session and the below x-ray was taken after the fourth session. 

The results are amazing and, maybe, with continued sessions, this young girl might not need surgery at all. 

Spinal Touch is a truly miraculous discipline and has not yet been fully recognised for the non-invasive benefits it can have on patients such as my 17 year old friend.

Back exercises are essential at any age

Some older people suffer in silence with back pain, (some not so silent!) but the common point is that a lot of older people do suffer. They don’t need to.

People say things like, “I have a little back pain every now and then, but I am getting on now. It’s to be expected.” – No!

It is of course true to say that the older we get, the thinner our muscles get.  But this isn’t something we have to live with; we can build and maintain their strength again with a few simple rules to living well.

Rule 1) When you’re sitting or standing, remember not to slouch. Remain as upright as possible because, if you lean to one side, you put pressure on the disks in your back. This is a major cause of back pain.

Rule 2) Always make sure any work surface, whether standing or sitting, is the right height for you. Chopping veg in the kitchen, working on your computer, eating your dinner… your elbows should ideally be at a right angle and, if seated, you should use armrests. Shoulders back and down helps with posture.

Rule 3) Don’t stay in any position for too long as we tend to ‘seize up’. Our joints and muscles stiffen and make movement uncomfortable. Keep the muscles warm and flexible by changing position and walking round at intervals.

Rule 4) Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy for you… that includes people! Lifting children or grandchildren who are getting a bit big, is a very common mistake in many families.

Rule 5) Maintain a good and proper diet – more healthy, less weight, better back.  And when you look good, you tend to feel good too!

Rule 6) If you suffer from a bad back and you’re a smoker – my advice is to quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes spinal disks to degenerate.

All of the above are just nice and easy ways to help reduce pain in your back on a daily basis.

On top of that, there are exercises you can do for extra strength, extra stability and extra comfort.

Next time, I’ll chat you through some of the simplest exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime.

Thank you


Spinal Touch

Spinal Touch is a unique and effective light touch technique.

Its aim is to bring the spine into mechanical balance by realigning the body’s centre of gravity which is situated on a plane between the fifth lumbar vertebra and the first sacral segment.

The treatment is based on the principle that such a realignment can play a central part in restoring health.  It works by releasing tension in adjacent muscles, vertebrae and nerves.

In both its postural assessment and its treatment, Spinal Touch has the great virtue of being so gentle and non-invasive that no physical harm can be done with it.

Although it is best known for helping with back ailments and associated disorders, Spinal Touch can be of benefit in a far wider range of conditions.  It is especially effective in conditions which are stress related.

Please feel free to contact me for information on where to go and what to do if you’re interested in Spinal Touch.

Here’s what some of my patients think about Spinal Touch.

Back pain in pregnancy

There are two types of back pain in pregnant ladies: true back pain and pelvic girdle pain.

True back pain was probably always there, and is caused by poor posture in your everyday life.  Of course, poor posture during pregnancy is unavoidable and so it exacerbates true back pain.

Pelvic girdle pain is caused by movement in the pelvis as the body gets ready for birth. This is very different and must be treated differently.

True back pain in pregnant ladies.

This is very common and can be debilitating.  You can follow my ‘back facts’ on Facebook and Twitter; these explain why back pain occurs, so deals with avoidance. This blog deals with the treatment and handling of true back pain.

Treatment and handling of true back pain in pregnant ladies.

– Core stability exercises are vital to protect your lower back.  When you bend forwards, the extra weight on your stomach makes your lower back work extra hard.  Good core stability means good posture, which means less back pain.  (I’m constantly happy to give free advice to anyone with back pain.  My DVD, however, provides a visual guide that you can use at home, in the car or at work.)

– You must have the correct posture when seated and when standing.  Please scroll down to read my “Feeling good – from top to toe” blogs.   

– Exercise regularly.  There are many simple exercises you can do to help your back. They’re not over strenuous and are suitable for women at various stages of pregnancy. Whenever you exercise, you must listen to your body… if your body says ‘no’, don’t do it.  (My DVD can show you everything you need to know.)

– When your back is strong, external factors will have less of a negative impact on your back.  Please scroll down to read my ‘Manual Handling’ blog. Manual Handling isn’t just for the workplace; it’s for home life too.  

– Pregnancy should be a pleasure.  Take regular breaks, rest with your feet up, maintain your fluid intake, exercise to a level that suits you and, I’ll say it again… take regular breaks! 

Once the baby arrives, your life will be beautifully hectic and you need to enjoy every second.  True back pain will come and go dependent on whether you remember to look after yourself.

So please take care and I’ll see you next week to talk about pelvic girdle pain.

Thank you your time


Manual handling the right way


Manual handling is very underestimated!  Yet it’s crucial to avoiding back pain and long term back damage.

Manual handling is a simple set of common sense points.

There are 4 major areas you need to address before lifting anything…

1) Item – you should answer ‘no’ to all of these…

a)  Is the item an awkward shape and size?

b)  Is the item too heavy for you to carry?

c)  Is the item unstable (does it ‘shift, is it ‘unpredictable’?)

d)  Do you really need more than one person to move this item?

e)  Is the item hazardous?  (hot, cold, sharp)

2) Task – you should answer ‘yes’ to all of these…

a)  Is lifting from above the head or below the knees being avoided?

b)  Is twisting being avoided?

c)  Is the item manageable?

d)  Do you know your route and is it clear?

e)  Does someone else know what you’re doing and where you are?

3) Environment – you should answer ‘yes’ to all of these…

a)  Have you got enough room to lift and move the item?

b)  If you’re on an uneven floor, do you know your route well?

c)  Is your route clear of obstacles?

d)  Indoors or outdoors – have you considered how your environment might change during the lift?

e)  Is the place you’re moving to, ready to receive the item?  

4) You – you should answer ‘yes’ to all of these…

a)  Are you fit and able enough to lift the item?

b)  Are you correctly trained, if training is required?

c)  Do you have the correct lifting equipment, if equipment is required?

d)  Do you have the correct protective equipment, if equipment is required?

e)  Have you answered all the above questions correctly?

The above list sounds like lots to learn, however, it’s mostly common sense.  Sensible thinking equals sensible lifting.

The most important rule of all is this one – use your head… not your back. 

Thank you for reading


Feeling good – from top to toe!

Hello again,

Okay, here’s part two of my ‘Top to Toe’ posture advice.

This one is for when you’re standing –

Whether you’re standing in a bus queue or guarding Buckingham Palace – there’s a right and a wrong way to position every part of your body.

So, here’s the right way to stand, from ‘top to toe’…

Your head:  should be facing forwards. As with sitting, your neck muscles are only perfectly balanced when you’re holding your head straight. It is good, however, to roll your neck at intervals in order to stretch and warm the neck muscles.  This keeps them flexible and stops them from seizing up.

Your shoulders:  should be back and relaxed down. Rolling them forwards and ‘slouching’ when standing, rounds that lovely natural curve in your spine. This puts pressure on your disks, can cause nerve damage, and it will certainly lead to lower back pain.

Your chest:  should be ‘open’ (so, shoulder back!). You will get tired more quickly if your breath is restricted; don’t underestimate the effort required simply to stand.

Your hips:  should be facing forwards and be in line with your shoulders and heels. Your hips are a sturdy, mid-way, centre of balance. As with your neck, you can roll your hips at intervals in order to stretch and warm the muscles.

Your feet:  should be shoulder width apart to form a wide, sturdy base.  If your legs get tired when standing for a long time, move one foot slightly behind the other and shift your weight onto the back foot. Alternate to rest each leg in turn.

Everything matters – from top to toe

Thank you

Fatemeh the Physio