food is medicine. toxic truths, all disease begins in the gut
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Food Is Medicine – MINDD Forum

04 Jun Food Is Medicine – MINDD Forum

As Prof. Marc Cohen so powerfully stated, “ Once you know this stuff, you can’t un-know it”. The following blog post comes with this disclaimer!

Recently we attended the MINDD forum event in Sydney and were completely taken in by the wealth of information, research and insights discussed throughout the intensive three day program! The MINDD Foundation (who facilitated the event) are a non-for-profit organisation deeply committed to improving the lives of children and families by promoting a holistic approach to healthcare and living.

The Life Retreats healing philosophy is centred around food is medicine, inspired by nutritional pioneers Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and Sally Fallon, who were both speaking at the forum (lucky us)! Gut health researchers and specialists included Dr. Robyn Cosford, Helen Padarin (nourish-ed), Maria Hunt ( Your Digestion) who presented as well as Prof. Marc Cohen, all speaking on topics surrounding digestive health, brain gut health, inflammation and toxicity.

Attending the forum was unquestionably a valuable experience.

So our community have been asking: what did you learn? What were the key messages?

This week and in subsequent blog posts this month, we will share with you most of take-home messages and insights from the forum with the aim to inspire, to educate and to motivate!

One of the key (sticky) messages illustrated through hard facts gave perspective to how unwell our community, our world, our planet actually is. You might be thinking….. ‘this is not a inspiring and motivating message’, however it is our intention that such information leaves you with something very powerful: inspired change!

Okay , straight up – the hard facts and alarming statistics….

  • Childhood conditions ( particularly immune related disorders) such as autism, allergies, asthma as well as obesity are on the rise
  • Allergies are affecting up to 50% of all children
  • 1 out of 50 children suffer from autism and modern diseases such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes are growing rapidly to alarmingly high numbers all over the world
  • By 2020, 1 in 2 children are predicted to develop autism behaviours
  • Umbilical cord blood ( to date) now contains over 200 toxic chemicals
  • Children today are the first generate to live shorter lives than their parents
  • In Australia, cancer is now the biggest killer
  • 60% of all deaths are caused by lifestyle related chronic diseases
  • Food is the major source of ingested and harmful toxins!


So what happened? What factors have changed ? Why is it that humanity is exposed to such a large number of diseases?

Dr. Robyn Cosford revealed her research on the topic, and why she believes there has been a rise in brain-immuno-gut-disorders:

  • The modern diet – the introduction of GMO’s, food additives, preservatives and chemicals and introduction of high fructose corn syrup and refined oils
  • Food growing, processing, introduction of chemicals – environmental chemicals. US companies annually reporting releasing 1.2 billion pounds of chemicals into our environment ‘more than half are known or suspected developmental or neurological toxins’
  • Medical interventions – antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, vaccinations 
  • Child-handling practices
  • Lifestyle factors – stress, lack of movement
  • Electromagnetics – mobile, WiFi


It’s not all that surprising when you think about it further or examine the modern diet of the western world with the intake of processed and packaged foods increasing dramatically.

  • Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, cane sugar in commercial cereals and baked breakfast goods
  • Commercially baked refined flour breads, pastries, biscuits
  • Artificial flavourings, food additives, colours and sweeteners found in soft drinks
  • Grain fed and antibiotic fed meats
  • Processed dairy foods such as ice-cream, cheese and yoghurt!

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride further confirmed that the ‘consumption of processed carbohydrates is the basis of our modern disease epidemic’. According to the founder of GAPS, chronic inflammation is due to poor food choices which may causes cancer, heart disease and more.

Saturated fats, organic animal meats, eggs yolks and other high fat foods such as butter have have been given a bad rap for many decades with surprisingly little support by validated research. Dr Natasha claims that ‘it was when we stopped eating these foods, that heart disease and cancer went on to rise’.

Helen Padarin delivered an insightful seminar ‘Eating Away Inflammation’ and concluded some of the causes of inflammation are from being overweight, stressed, through pollutant exposure, lack of or too much exercise, sitting for prolonged periods and lastly, allergies, sensitivities, gut and immune disorders and chronic infections.

Further Helen suggested some of the top inflammatory foods are:


So what are some of the anti-inflammatory foods?

  • SPICES such as turmeric, cinnamon & ginger
  • BERRIES such as blueberries, cranberries, raspberries
  • FERMENTED FOODS such as sauerkraut and kefir
  • OMEGA 3’s in chia seeds ( if you can tolerate them) and oily fish
  • POLYPHENOLS – found in cacao, fruits and vegetables

What about the importance on gut health?

This topic was widely addressed in most seminar presentations through the latest research findings. We sampled belly-friendly foods, presenters shared recipes, we witnessed live cooking demonstrations and we spoke to exhibitors who showcased the latest and greatest gut complimenting products (and of course, bone broth was on tap).

The majority of MINDD presenters confirmed, like Hippocrates said many years ago, All disease begins in the gut! As we have mentioned, speakers reinforced the key factors ( as listed by Dr Robyn above) that endanger our gut flora and the lining of our digestive tract.

We will talk more broadly about this in our blog posts to follow ( and of course at our retreats) however one of the key messages to digestive health was further confirmed by Sally Fallon, author of the book ‘Nourishing Traditions’.

Her message was consistent with ‘Nourishing Traditions’ and continues to debunk some widely circulated nutritional myths, one being around saturated fat being unnecessary in our modern diets!

Sally strongly believes that saturated fat found in pastured animal proteins (to supply Vit A, Vit B12 and Vit D among many others of course), animal fats such as lard, tallow and butter, cod liver oil are the necessary food for our brain and absolutely essential especially for children as they are in the developing stages of their lives.

And finally, toxins! Some further hard facts. Prof. Marc Cohen shed light on the 10 toxic truths.

  1. Everyone is affected – chemicals are in our food, soil, air, water and homes
  2. The full extent is unknown – toxins are often invisible and many chemicals not tested for toxicity
  3. Tiny doses can have big effects
  4. Persistence leads to bio magnification – pollutants persist for years in the environment
  5. Chemical cocktails are synergistic – strong evidence suggests that mixture effects may arise when several chemicals are combined
  6. Bioaccumulation occurs over a lifespan – fat soluble toxicants are not usually excreted and accumulate in fatty tissue over an individual lifespan and passed onto the next generation in-utero
  7. Windows of development are critical – early exposure leads to latent chronic disease
  8. Effects are epigenetic and trans-generation – maternal exposure affects the unborn child and future grandchildren
  9. Exposure is unequal, unjust and accidents happen
  10. Risk is equal, unjust and greater for the young – Australian preschools were found to have widespread chronic exposure to multiple neurotoxic pesticides residues

Deep breath!

This information is alarming and deeply concerning however we are sharing not to scare but to inform.

Chemicals, toxins, pollutants may be everywhere however there are ways to reduce your exposure. At for Life Retreats, we show you how!

What are the take home messages?

With food being the major source of ingested toxins, we think Michael Pollan sums it up nicely!

Don’t eat anything…..

  • That won’t rot
  • That has a TV ad
  • You couldn’t make yourself
  • With ingredients you cannot pronounce
  • That is labeled ‘ diet’ ‘fat free’ or ‘low fat’
  • Your grandmother wouldn’t recognize

And we would add ….

  • Eat organic (as much as possible)
  • Eat local
  • Eat seasonal
  • Eat slow
  • Eat ethically
  • Eat home-cooked foods

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In Health & Compassion,   FLR_Logo_900x600

 Your For Life Retreats Team

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