An interview with daniel
Daniel O'Shaughnessy is the Co-founder of Bodhimaya, one of the World's leading Nutritional Therapists and a Director of BANT, the Nutritional Therapist's professional body in the U.K. Daniel has a special interest in advanced functional and genetic testing and offers a highly scientific approach to diet, nutrition and health optimisation.
Why did you create Bodhimaya?
In clinic I spend around an hour with a client every two to four weeks, while this gives me time to help people make changes to their diet and lifestyle, there is only so much you can do in an hour. With retreats, we have an extended period of time with someone; this allows us to modify every aspect of a person's diet and lifestyle for a number of days and for them to experience the benefits of those changes. By the end of their stay they feel great, have broken their bad habits and feel inspired to make a long-term and lasting change to their diet and lifestyle.
How is Bodhimaya different?
Bodhimaya is owned and run by wellbeing experts, our entire focus is on giving people the best possible care. For us, this means combining expertise with the right level of support; we help people to initiate and maintain a process change by given them effective recommendations and offering them an unprecedented level of support as they work towards their goals. It is these two ingredients that give people the best chance of making a positive and lasting change to their diet, lifestyle, physical health and emotional wellbeing.
Why did you choose to study Nutritional Therapy?
I have always been interested in nutrition and the affect it has on the body, but there is so much conflicting information out there that it's hard to know which information is right and which is wrong. This is why I decided to study Nutritional Therapy.
It seems that everyone has opinions on what you should and shouldn't eat, there is advice everywhere, the problem is that most of the information out there isn't science based. I wanted to understand the science behind dietary intervention and so decided to undertake a four-year Nutritional Therapy course. Since then I've been consumed by a passion to learn as much as I can about the body, it's nutritional requirements and how to optimise health through diet and nutrition.
The nutrition programmes you create are regarded as the 'gold standard' of Nutritional Therapy. why are they so well regarded?
Since completing my studies I've gone on to specialise in rejuvenative nutrition, complex cases, functional testing and nutrigenomics - the influence of genetic variations on an individual's nutritional requirements. I decided to specialise in areas of Nutritional Therapy that are challenging and emerging sciences so that I can be as reactive as possible to the scientific developments in my field. There are so many new developments, especially in functional testing and genetics, that to keep up with these developments, you need to specialise in these areas.
I'm fortunate enough to be exposed to highly complicated genetic data and functional test results every day. I'm therefore able to get an increasing amount of experience handling this data and staying up-to-date with the latest scientific developments in Nutritional Therapy.
How do you create these programmes?
I gather as much information about my clients as possible. I do this using a thorough consultation process as well as functional and genetic testing. The more information I have, the more targeted recommendations I can make; the more targeted the recommendations, the greater the effect of the programme.
So it's a bit more complicated than just telling people to eat healthier food?
I'm telling them to eat healthier food, but I'm telling them exactly what is healthy for them and what isn't.
What is the difference between functional testing and genetic testing?
With functional testing, I'm looking at a snapshot of a persons health. I'm looking at a collection of biomarkers that give me clues as to what may be happening within the body. From these tests I can see if a person has nutritional deficiencies, pathogens and intolerances; I also see where the body may not be functioning too well and where it may need some additional nutritional support.
Genetic testing is different. With genetic testing you look at a persons biological blueprint and see what could be causing a problem and affecting the functioning of the body. Instead of a snap shot of what is going on, this blueprint give us an insight into probabilities and potential. It's important to realise that just because someone has a particular genetic variation, it doesn't necessarily mean that this genetic variation is causing a problem. Whether or not a particular gene is causing a problem is something that must investigated. Genetic analysis isn't simple, it takes a lot of time and patience, and it's an emerging science, however it provides us with crucial information, information that can be a game changer for some people.
It is important that genetic information is analysed correctly. Most of the tests available use very limited pieces of genetic information and offer you little or no analysis of the data. In terms of health optimisation and nutrigenomics, this type of test is completely worthless.
BodhiGen is the genetic programme which I developed as a response to the inadequate tests that are available in most clinics or spas. BodhiGen is on of the only genetic programmes in the world to offer genuine genetic insight and analysis based on all of the factors that can affect a person's health and the functioning of their body.
It takes me up to seven hours to properly analyse someone's genetic data. I analyse this data within the context of all other information I collect from the consultation process as well as other functional tests that I may recommend. Additional functional testing helps me see how a person's genes may be expressing themselves.
So our genes tell us more that just what diseases we are going to get?
Firstly, it's important to remember that having a particular genetic variation that may indicate an increased risk of developing a disease does not mean that you will go on to develop the disease. The development of illness and disease is a complex process that is dependent on a number of factors: your genes, diet, lifestyle and environment. This is why genetic analysis is so complicated and why you can't just buy a test off of the internet and find out what diseases you will get. Genetic testing just doesn't work like that.
BodhiGen does not look at disease risk at all. BodhiGen looks at your genes from a functional perspective – at how your genes may be affecting the functioning of your body. I can see what genes may be causing certain imbalances - a predisposition to high cholesterol, low vitamin D, neurotransmitter issues, depression and anxiety, fertility problems, weight issues or whether a particular food, vitamin or mineral could be having a negative affecting someone. There is a huge amount of data to explore.
What results do people get from the programmes you create?
I'm essentially removing all of the guess work from a person's diet and lifestyle, I'm helping them discover exactly what type of diet they should be on based on the latest available science.
These highly targeted programmes help people to optimise their health, help them manage their health concerns more effectively and help ensure that they are giving their body the nutrition it needs to functional at an optimal level.
Does everyone who comes to see you do testing?
No. Some people just want to know how to make basic changes to their diet. If someone is healthy and doesn't really want to know the perfect diet for their body, then there are some basic recommendations that can help them optimise their health.
When someone has a health concern then functional and genetic testing becomes important as it gives me information about their body, information that I can't get from simply asking them.
Testing is ideal for people who have a health condition and want to look at everything that may be causing a problem and people who want to be on the best diet that science can give them.
Increasingly people are interested in the anti-ageing, rejuvenation and disease prevention effects of nutrition. With genetic analysis and functional testing we are able to put someone on a diet that causes as little inflammation in the body as possible and provides them with highly targeted nutritional and dietary support.
Do people need to follow the programme all of the time to get the benefits of it?
No. We don't believe people should pursue perfection as a goal because that is unhealthy. Mentally it isn't good for us to obsess over what we are eating. We need to have a balanced lifestyle, and that includes eating treat foods, chocolate and enjoying a glass or wine or two.
We recommend an 80/20 rule. Follow your programme 80% of the time and let loose for the rest of the time. It is important that we have a relaxed approach to food. In fact, challenging our body by eating treat meals every now and again is good for our health. Our bodies seem to thrive when put under a controlled amount of physical stress.
Finally, if after studying Nutritional Therapy did you find out what The best Diet was?
I found out that the answer isn't so simple. The best diet for you is the one that is right for your body. The truth is that what optimises the health of one person can lead to illness and disease for next. The question shouldn't be "what is the best diet?", it should be "what is the best diet for your body?". The answer is personalised nutrition.
There are some recommendations we should all follow: eat more vegetables, eliminate sugar, drink plenty of water and so on, but the real power of nutrition comes when we create a highly personalised programme; one that supports our body's needs and our particular health concerns with highly targeted nutrition. A personalised nutrition programme using functional and genetic testing is the future of Nutritional Therapy.