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 professional body for Nutritional Therapists in the U.K.
Daniel offers a highly scientific approach to diet, nutrition and health optimisation and has a special interest in stress, mood disorders, complex cases, weight management and advanced biomarker analysis.
Why did you create Bodhimaya?
In clinic I spend 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, I have an extended period of time with someone; this allows me 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 standard of care. For us, this means combining expertise with the right level of support; we help people to initiate and maintain a process change by giving 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?
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 study Nutritional Therapy. 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 rejuvenation, complex cases, biomarker analysis and nutrigenomics. I decided to specialise in areas of Nutritional Therapy that are challenging and also in 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 other biological markers every day, I therefore have a great deal of experience handling this data which allows to stay up-to-date with the latest scientific developments in Nutritional Therapy and biomarker analysis.
I am regarded as one of Europe's leading biomarker analysts and Functional Medicine practitioners.
How do you create these programmes?
I gather as much information about my clients as possible. I do this using a thorough consultation process and testing. The more information I have, the more targeted recommendations I can make, the more targeted the recommendations, the greater effect the programme has.
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 and what isn't healthy for them and their body.
What testing do you use?
With testing, I'm looking at a snapshot of a persons health. I'm looking at biomarkers, which give me clues as to what may be happening within the body. From testing, 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 specificially, is different. With genetic testing you look at a persons biological blueprint; you're 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 gives 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 when analysed correctly 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 biomarker analysis which I developed as a response to the inadequate tests that are available in clinics or spas. BodhiGen is one of the only forms of biomarker analysis in the world to offer genuine genetic insight and analysis. It is certainly the only genuine form of genetic analysis available in any spa or retreat.
It takes me up to five hours to properly analyse someone's biodata. I analyse this data within the context of all other information I collect from the consultation process.
So our genes tell us more than just what diseases we are going to get?
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 effect on 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, 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.
As with all recommendations, the key to success is compliance. If someone sticks to the programme then they will see incredible results. This is why we recommend ongoing support and aftercare to all of our clients.
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 testing becomes important as it gives me information about their body, information that I can't get from simply asking them questions.
Testing is ideal for people who have a health condition and want to look at everything that may be causing a problem and also for 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, and with testing we are able to put someone on a diet that completely fine tunes their body 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 and impossible. Mentally it isn't good for us to obsess over what we eat. 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 or emotional stress.
Finally, after studying Nutritional Therapy did you find out what was the best Diet?
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 built around our own biodata is the future of Nutritional Therapy.