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Sunday Edition #70: Nicola Vaughan

Q: How did you and anatomē cross paths?

Nicola: Ah! Brendan somehow found my Instagram reels of me walking the dog in the woods, where I talk about anything and everything nutrition-related that pops into my head. I loved the ethos of anatomē's work; the wellbeing practices resonated with me, and our conversations have gone from there.

Q: What can the anatomē community expect from you?

Nicola: I hope to share my passion for nutrition and wellbeing with the anatomē community. A healthy lifestyle is not about fad diets.

If we can understand how to best nurture our body with the right nutrients and wellbeing practices, we stand the best chance of optimising our health.

Q: Share your journey from being a physicist to becoming a nutritionist.

Nicola: As a physics graduate, I have always been intrigued by how things work and what makes the universe go around. I spent years working in the aerospace industry, immersing myself in research and tackling difficult problems.

Fast forward to my adult family life, and the diagnosis of my young son with 'idiopathic' autoimmune arthritis led me down the nutrition journey. I would not accept that this was happening to my three-year-old for simply no reason. I could not stand by as a parent and do nothing to help him with his pain.

So, I started my journey of understanding how our immune system, gut health, environment, and nutrition are connected.

Over the following years, we changed our family diet and lifestyle and witnessed him thrive and come off all medications. I decided to change my career and graduated from the British College for Nutritional Health in 2022 as a Nutritional Therapist.

Q: How do you approach nutrition and functional health?

Nicola: I am a scientist, so the "why" is fundamental to me.

So, I will always approach someone's health concerns by trying to identify the root cause. One example would be when a client comes to see me because they are tired and struggling to lose weight.

A doctor's test indicated that they also have low ferritin levels, a marker for iron storage in the body. Perhaps it would be easy to simply provide an iron supplement, but that will not help us understand why they are in that situation. Certainly, low iron will contribute to fatigue, so they may initially feel better.

But by looking at liver and gallbladder health, we identify that sluggish bile flow is also a problem, and this ties in with a picture of constipation because sluggish bile can also be related to slower gut motility. If bile production is suboptimal, you will also not be efficiently absorbing nutrients, including iron, in your digestive system. And include nutrients that help your metabolic processes, which are so important for weight management. So, we would work together to improve digestive processes and liver and gallbladder health.

Q: What's your favourite wellbeing practice?

Nicola: I absolutely love a warm shower before bedtime. Hot if possible, but that depends on whether the children have used all the hot water! After a hot shower, your body will try to cool itself down, and this helps initiate the natural process of falling asleep.

Q: Can you share a piece of trivia about yourself?

Nicola: I'm an orange belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, play the flute, and my childhood dream was to be an astronaut.

Oh, and I can drive off-road in the desert. I've swum the Bosphorus - the most amazing thing to do! I think everyone needs to do that once in their life.

Q: Tell us about your dog walks and their connection to your work.

Nicola: I was actually always afraid of dogs. When I was a child, in a pushchair, a dog barked right at my face - and my subconscious reaction from then on was to be very frightened. I wouldn't go to a friend's house to play if they had a dog. When I was an adult, my husband (boyfriend at the time) was a keen runner, so we started running together.

We live in the countryside and often come across dogs off their leads. I would cower in a ball until the dogs went past. Realising this was not very practical, I had help from a hypnotherapist to overcome my fear.

Fast forward 15 years, and we found Luna! She is a cross between a golden retriever and a vizsla and is just amazing. I love her and really enjoy that part of my day taking her out on a run or a walk.

She is three years old and is a big part of our family. I often use time whilst out with her to think of anything nutrition-related that pops into my mind, and I record little bite-sized snippets that I share on social media. 

Written by:
Emeric Fakambi

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