Motivation Monday: Dr Sara Kayat

Something slightly different from the usual Monday Motivational post today.

I had no idea who Dr Kayat was until a couple of weeks ago, when a post of hers popped up on my Instagram feed early one morning, probably because of the #preventativemedicine hashtag. It struck a chord with me so i showed it to my partner, who recognised her immediately as being the resident TV doctor on the ITV This Morning programme and from appearances on a variety of reality TV shows. I am not a great watcher of either of those so excuse my ignorance. What she had to say put a big smile on my face though:

This is the text of her Instagram post, which I repeat here with her permission.

  • This morning I had a patient so lovely that I haven’t been able to wipe this smug goofball smile off my face. He was just so kind, warm and upbeat. He wasn’t acutely unwell, and was just coming in for a chat about lifestyle modifications that he can make to optimise his health. I realise that in my job most of my patients are never going to be that happy or upbeat because they usually only come to see me when they are feeling unwell mentally or physically. But boy oh boy was it lovely to be faced with a big smile and a bounce up the stairs, and it’s given me such an energy- I haven’t even wanted a coffee yet! Maybe this is the face of what preventative medicine could look like every day if we get lifestyle medicine down to a tee- healthy, happy patients coming in for preventative medicine consultations, rather than reactive medicine consultations. Of course we can’t protect ourselves from every recognised cause of disease and death, it would be foolish to think so, some of the healthiest people I know have been struck down by an illness that should have never happened to them. And it wouldn’t be the job I signed up for and fell in love with if I didn’t expect to be treating and supporting the unwell too….but truthfully, I would love to have this feeling a little bit more often. So here’s to the future of preventative healthcare, to seeing more people engaging with their own health and taking steps to avoid illness where possible in the first place. The Yellow Emperor 4500 years ago said “to administer medicines to diseases which have already developed is comparable to the behaviour of those who begin to cast weapons after they have already engaged in battle”. I think he had a point.

I found it really refreshing to see an NHS doctor, and particularly one with a high public and media profile, speaking out so positively for the principle of Preventative Medicine. Over the past year or so I have been increasingly dismayed by the backlash against functional medicine in mainstream media and from the mainstream medical profession. I see a depressing flow of articles and social media posts from Doctors rubbishing dietary approaches to prevention or improving of health problems. I have seen medical professionals specifically saying the general public have no right to interfere in taking ownership of their health and decrying their arrogance and hubris for imagining themselves capable of grasping the concepts of health when doctors have studied for years in medical school and this is their domain. There seems to be a concerted effort afoot to discredit Preventative Medicine by lumping it in together with the woo and quackery of Alternative Medicine. Mention of the gut/brain axis is swiftly followed by reference to Gwyneth Paltrow and vaginal steaming.
I appreciate it must be frustrating for GPs who see patients who have self diagnosed from Google, but the idea that the medical profession has a monopoly on health knowledge is long outdated. I have experienced firsthand doctors reactions to me discussing dietary approaches to help with my son’s ASD behaviours, ranging from smugly condescending to quite hostile.
Dr: “I suppose you’ve read that on the internet?”
Me: “Well, yes, I have in fact. I downloaded this paper ‘The Perturbance of Microbiome and Gut/Brain Axis in Autism Spectrum Disorders’ from the International Journal of Molecular Science. Would you like to have a look?”
Dr, with an expression that suggests I offered a donkey porn magazine: “I’m afraid I don’t have time for that sort of thing.”
Well, no, of course you don’t. I appreciate the immense demands on doctors time and the difficulty they must have staying abreast of developments in normal medical procedure, pharmaceuticals, protocol etc. I don’t expect them to spend their every free moment scouring the net and podcasts and books for every new discovery in fields that are of specific interest to me. I appreciate that my son’s consultant paediatrician has so many demands on her time that she is only able to find 20 minutes every six months if we are lucky actually seeing him. I also appreciate that, certainly with regards to ASD, we are pretty much on our own in terms of dealing with it, so I am damn well going to do all the research I can, and to be quite honest, no I do not think it hubris to imagine that I am as capable of understanding how nutrition affects health as a doctor whose sum total of training in nutrition amounts to ten hours of lectures 20 or 30 years ago.
I have fallen out with a friend who is a doctor, who accused me of dilettantism and rather brittley informed me that it would be better if I left such things to the professionals, after I overhauled my own diet when I first had atrial fibrillation… really? All the profesionals offered me were beta blockers in perpetuity…

Anyway that has gone off onto a bit of a rant which may have drifted a little from Dr Kayat’s original post.
We face an immense wave of chronic disease that threatens to overwhelm our medical resources, in the UK, the US and almost every other country. Obesity, diabetes, depression, many cancers, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s are all going through the roof and the vast majority have their roots in lifestyle choices. There is so much we can do to take ownership of our health to reduce our risk of these types of illness through diet, exercise and liefstyle choices. It is enormously encouraging to hear the voices of doctors who have a platform, such as Dr Kayat and Dr Rupy Aujla coming through and challenging the status quo.
I would strongly urge you to check out her instagram @drsarakayat and website www.drsarakyat.com which has loads of interesting and useful stuff on sexual health, nutrition, yoga and more.

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