Combining my 30 years of experience in the health field and the best-available scientific evidence

I offer a gentle, light-hearted and deeply professional approach

About me: Professional expertise

I have worked in leading complementary and mind-body health initiatives for 30 years including the world-renowned Penny Brohn Cancer Care centre.

I frequently give nutrition-related presentations.  In 2016 I lectured alongside Professor Tim Spector at the ‘Bristol Loves Bugs’ conference and the CEO of Public Health England at the Royal Society of Medicine, ‘Food: The Forgotten Medicine’ conference in London.

I work alongside doctors and other integrated health practitioners at the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine in Bristol. I regularly teach nutrition to a wide range of health care professionals: medical students and doctors (including a new Diploma in Integrative Medicine).

I research and write for a number of national and international complementary/self-care health information projects alongside academics and doctors.

I am an External Quality Advisor for several nutrition courses for the Crossfields Institute (an awarding organisation regulated by Ofqual). My role includes both assessing the quality and helping colleges to develop nutritional therapy courses.

Why I got involved in nutritional therapy:

I initially trained as a nurse and then became interested in complementary therapies. I worked at the world-renowned Penny Brohn Cancer Care for 16 years alongside pioneering integrative health professionals who were exploring new whole-person ways of looking at health. This was a real privilege and hugely inspirational.

Whist working there I trained in counselling, massage, reflexology (all to Diploma level) and also completed a Master’s degree in Complementary Health Studies. I then completed my nutrition degree (BSc) in Nutritional Medicine.
I’ve always loved food and nutrition felt the missing part of the picture in my studies. I have had various health problems of my own over the years and had always struggled to understand why, as I mostly (!) eat very healthily and know how to manage stress. I went to see a practitioner and following various tests I realised my digestion was more than likely the root cause of my various symptoms. This was a little surprising as I had no obvious digestion related symptoms. I then went on a journey to explore more and after seeing a number of different practitioners and undergoing a variety of tests, I realised that improving digestion was key. When my own gut bacteria profile was tested I realised this was going to be a key area for me to address.

My start to life was not the best as my mother was unwell when she was carrying me and had to have a lot of antibiotics (by injection…eek). I was then a caesarean birth and very unwell in the first few months (hospitalised with pneumonia and yet more antibiotics).

This realisation sparked my interest in how to improve digestive health/microbiome (the family of gut bacteria that reside within our intestines) balance – a great excuse to do yet more learning!

The research that is now pouring in about the importance of the microbiome (microorganisms in the gut) is fascinating and links to my other area of special interest – nutrition in mental health.

I love my work and find it deeply rewarding. It combines all the various work experiences and trainings I have done during my career – and my passion for food! 

For more information and keep up to date with news about my work follow me on Facebook or  Twitter @helencookeNT.