This book imagines a meeting between Charles Darwin and Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father of medicine, supposing that any dialogue between these two great thinkers should be quite sensational. Each chapter is introduced by a short dialogue between the two great men and the book covers some of the main areas of this large subject including controversial issues such as the use of nutritional supplements, probiotics and junk food.
John Nichols graduated from Liverpool Medical School in 1967 and entered General Practice in Guildford in 1971. He spent six months as research assistant to Ian Watson at the Shere GP practice in Surrey working on various projects including a trial of revaccination against measles 5-10 years after primary immunisation which showed a decline in immunity that was boosted by revaccination. In 1973 he joined The Fairlands GP Practice near Guildford where he was able to collaborate with university colleagues on a number of research projects. He was also a GP trainer for 20 years. He graduated the MSc Nutritional Medicine in 2005 and was subsequently appointed as a Visiting Research Fellow in 2011. He has published research on zinc status and postnatal depression, trace elements and female infertility, smoking cessation, diverticular disease and the use of probiotics in primary care. Published books include two books on Nutritional Medicine and three works of fiction. One science fiction novel has been published as a paperback and two are currently only available as e-books; all available through Amazon books.
In this section of the book, I considered what nutritional supplements women should take to prepare for pregnancy. There is absolutely no doubt that all women should bump up their folate status by taking folic acid. Folate deficiency is common in young women and this can have dire consequences. there is also a good case for improving intake of vitamin D, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc but all of these could be achieved by improving dietary intake. For iodine, I would advise everyone to only buy and use iodised salt. For the rest, a diet including meat, fish, five-a-day fruit and vegetables and dairy products should be good enough. Therefore vegetarians and the 20% of the population who never eat fish have a problem and perhaps only a supplement like Pregnacare plus is the answer. Keeping to this sort of diet can be impossible in early pregnancy due to nausea and vomiting of pregnancy which reinforces the argument for getting good nutritional intake established in preparation for pregnancy. But why on earth do pregnant women feel nauseous and sick? Well, I have attempted to explain this later on in this chapter.
An Introduction to Nutritional Medicine
Unsurprisingly, folate has the highest star rating for preconception supplementation and this is due to the evidence already outlined but also because the diet of 30% of UK women is below the recommended daily intake. Note, however, that selenium, iodine and zinc also have relatively high star ratings for preconception intake and iron and calcium have an equally high star rating in pregnancy. Does this mean that these micronutrients should all be taken in a preconception supplement and that this should be continued into pregnancy?