When Dr Simone Laubscher, a down to earth Aussie mother of three, first arrived in London 15 years ago, she was struck by the lack of choice for a nutritious lunch on the run.
‘The healthiest thing I could buy was a tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise sandwich,’ she recalls. ‘There was nothing else on offer.’ Today, with the advent of Whole Foods, Leon and countless other outlets as well as a general food revolution, the story is thankfully very different.
Simone, who runs her own nutritional therapy business Rejuv in London’s Harley Street, has witnessed an enormous sea change in attitudes towards food and health since she first started out as a nutritionist.
‘I have seen more patients than ever before for nutritional support through cancer in the last two years,’ she says. ‘Oncologists have started trusting in the idea that nutrition can help to support your body through illness whereas back in the day, nobody gave it much credence. An oncologist would say, if you fancy doing a diet, it won’t do you any harm, but it has a lot more street cred now.’
She puts the shift down to better education, more easily available information and a newfound willingness among patients to question their doctors and ask what they can do to help themselves. Simone is encouraged to see the UK catching up with America and Australia, which have traditionally led the way.
‘There has been a massive health shift in the UK in the last eight years. Patients are a lot more educated and savvy now and they are no longer relying on an oncologist to spoon feed them. They are taking their own power and saying what else can I do? There is a definite shift in the patient mind set whereby people are taking responsibility to look after their health and take action without someone suggesting it to them.
‘Consumers are becoming more savvy on all levels, people are travelling more and being exposed to different food cultures and there are more health articles, magazines and health food outlets in existence. Fad diets have always existed but the vegan, alkalising and juicing experts have put a lot more information out there via the internet, blogs and other websites.
‘The London Oncology Clinic runs nutrition workshops and offers this service free to their patients. The most powerful thing is the average patient is saying I believe. There’s a lot of word of mouth about how people are getting through health issues by changing their diet and many think it’s worth a try. According to recent statistics, one in two people get cancer in their lifetime so this couldn’t be happening at a better time.’
Treating cancer patients is a particular passion for Simone. She first became interested in the impact of diet on cancer after her mum Caroline was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 49 and much of her research on how to support cancer patients through treatment and into recuperation is based on what she did for her mum.
‘Mum is now 70, she has had breast cancer three times and also had an enormous benign lung tumour as a result of breathing in second hand smoke from her parents, who smoked like chimneys,’ reveals Simone, who has also had a couple of pre-cancer scares herself. ‘She decided to do what she could to help herself and has totally kicked it into touch.
‘If you look at the billions of pounds spent on Formula One racing cars, they are the most elite machines on the planet yet not even a fraction as amazing as our cells and how our bodies function. Millions are spent every year on the perfect fuel mix for a totally inferior machine to our human body, so why is it so impossible to believe that our bodies would also need a good fuel mix? I find that extraordinary, it’s just common sense.
‘Our grannies used to say a penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Nothing is guaranteed, you can be super healthy and never smoke a cigarette in your life and sometimes fate bites you on the ass but you can still kick it if the foundation is strong. We know what makes cancer grow and what retards it. It’s good old fashioned science but it’s not rocket science.’
As well as cancer, Simone also specialises in treating infertility, anorexia, bulimia, paediatric health problems and obesity. She runs regular clinics in Egypt and derives a huge amount of pleasure from seeing the improvement in her patients. ‘A lot of people say to me, how terrible that you have to deal with sick people all the time but I don’t look at it that way at all,’ she says.
‘People might arrive poorly but it’s very rare that we can’t shift them and take them from A to B. I don’t really see me being in the sickness industry, I see me being in the wellness industry. When you treat some really young patients, it hits your heart and you think this is unjust, especially as a mother. It shouldn’t happen but it does. There are moments with my paediatric patients where it makes me mad but kids respond quicker than adults and ultimately it is rewarding because it’s very rare that we can’t help someone.’
One of Simone’s highest profile clients is Elle Macpherson, who went to see Simone after being recommended by me as a result of Simone helping me through chemotherapy. Elle wanted to feel less sluggish and more energised and as a result of her sessions with Simone, the pair decided to launch THE SUPER ELIXIR Alkalising Greens, a potent super greens supplement which has already sold out four times in Selfridges since its launch 12 months ago.
‘I had trialled this combination of alkalising greens over many years at my clinic as an effective way to bring your body back into pH balance. It is so important to keep within this healthy alkaline state. I am excited by the sales, they speak for themselves, but I didn’t put any expectation on it, I just wanted the science to be solid. We want to show that this isn’t a fluffy beauty product nor is it just a product Elle has slapped her name on. She wanted to feel better and asked me if instead of taking 10 products, she could just take one, and that’s how it was born. We are helping people and that is the best thing of all.
‘We are currently running a clinical trial to prove it’s a good product. You always get a few naysayers so we are spending the bucks to show that this will improve your health. We are building a wonderful following of loyal devotees, many of whom write to us telling us how this has turned their health around.
‘We are also launching THE SUPER ELIXIR Nourishing Protein, a chocolate protein powder. A lot of people are trying go more vegan but it’s hard to get enough clean organic protein. If you eat a hummus salad at lunchtime, you want to devour calories galore by 4pm for due to the lack of protein your blood sugar levels drop through the floor. This is a great nourishing protein supplement which can boost your metabolism, balance your mind and body and work as a meal replacement or meal supplement especially on busy days or if you want to lean up.’
Last month, a Nourishing Protein for kids was added to the stable, which acts as a multi vitamin, mineral and overall health tonic, giving them everything they need. ‘I looked at my own three kids and thought what do they really need?’ adds Simone. ‘They need brain food, immune support, healing, concentration, blood sugar balance, vitamin and mineral support (for our foods don’t contain the nutrition they once did) and they need to feel full and have balanced moods. It’s everything a kid needs in a chocolate vegan milkshake. What could be better?’
To the people who can’t afford to see a nutritionist, Simone has some sage advice. ‘Eat more plants, eat less animals, and research an alkalising diet on the internet. I would also recommend the 80/20 eating plan. Think about healthy meals as money in the bank. You have three meals a day, seven days a week. That’s 21 meals. If you put 20 good meals in the bank every week and you blow it on one meal, you’re in a pretty safe place.
‘That one blow out meal is important. Not feeling tortured, fenced in and like your wings have been clipped, this does more for your immune system than being anally retentive about food. Longevity studies on ageing have found that the average person who follows the 80/20 lifestyle lives seven years longer than the person who doesn’t have a life. Having balance means you will live longer than if you are worrying about eating French fries once a week.
‘Any stress, be it physical or emotional or work-related, causes a physiological reaction - your heart rate goes up, adrenalin and cortisol is released, your veins constrict and your body thinks there’s a truck coming. Everything shuts down in case you have a physical injury to stop you from bleeding to death. If you are constantly paranoid, your body shuts down, goodness can’t get to the cell and junk can’t be removed from the cell. Everything is retarded and you age faster.
‘We know our environment is stronger than genes and that genetic disposition doesn’t determine our future, but our lifestyle does. We can choose a lifestyle that can turn our genes on and off. How empowering is that?’
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