Jane Philpott MA (Oxon), MSc, PhD
Plants not Pills
Inspiring plant-based nutrition for health and well-being
with knowledge, integrity, kindness
My name is Jane Philpott. I live in Somerset, UK, and my passion is writing, teaching and inspiring others to eat, drink and think more healthily so they feel and look on top of the world.
I particularly enjoy helping people suffering from chronic disease, or dis-ease as I like to think of it.
Western medicine is almost unbeatable when it comes to treating trauma and acute health problems. It struggles, however, to provide genuine cures for most of the chronic diseases which cause loss of healthy years of life, and ultimately death, in industrialised societies.
At best, western medical approaches manage symptoms of chronic disease; they do not address underlying causes. This results in much unnecessary suffering and cost.
Indeed, many chronic health conditions would not arise in the first place if more people understood what causes them.
I think everyone should know the truth about their health and be in a position to make informed choices.
So I am on a mission.
But more of this in a minute. First a bit about me.
As a young child I watched with horror as images of the famine in Ethiopia appeared on the television and in newspapers. Everyone should have enough to eat, I thought, and I vowed to solve the world food problem when I grew up.
I worked hard at school and won a place at the University of Oxford to study biological sciences, specialising in agriculture. From there I moved to Imperial College, London, where I obtained an MSc in Crop Protection, with Distinction.
Whilst studying for the MSc, I caught the research bug and decided to continue in academia. I was fortunate to be awarded a grant by the UK Overseas Development Administration for a PhD, which involved laboratory research at the University of Bristol and field work in Sumatra, Indonesia.
After completing my PhD, I spent nearly 14 years in senior leadership roles in research and development in multinational agribusiness, focused on increasing global production of food.
Copyright Bristol News and Media Limited
Despite working on food production for over 20 years, I had never considered the effect of food on my health.
But that was to change when I completely burnt out trying to juggle a high-powered career and regular international travel with new motherhood.
I developed a raft of strange symptoms and doctors referred me for a MRI scan to rule out multiple sclerosis.
I had to wait 18 weeks for the scan and in that time, out of desperation, began to read scientific papers about nutrition and health.
This was a revelation.
I learnt that not only can the right food prevent disease, it can also treat it.
I was amazed by what I learnt and wondered how I had managed to spend so long as a biologist without knowing even basic facts on this subject.
Until I began reading the scientific literature I didn't know, for example, that you can actually eliminate symptoms of type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis and a whole host of other chronic conditions by changing your diet.
Not only this but some people have even managed to recover from serious diseases like multiple sclerosis and cancer by altering what they eat, drink and think.
I found that mind blowing.
Happily, the MRI scan showed no abnormalities but I was hooked on nutrition and decided to study it further.
In what some deemed a radical move, I quit my job in industry and moved with my husband, Paul, and our children to the countryside.
Soon after this, I began a 2 year training course in whole food cookery with Montse Bradford at the School of Natural Cookery, completed qualifications in dietary education and motivational coaching, and began studying for a degree in nutrition.
Along the way I also explored Eastern approaches to nutrition, health and well-being, including Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, yoga and meditation.
This journey taught me both the power and the limitations of the rational mind; it also taught me the importance of intuition and of following your heart.
I am often asked what I eat and the answer is simple.
A fresh, unprocessed plant-based diet comprising: whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, millet; green leafy vegetables; root vegetables; round vegetables; sea vegetables; vegetarian proteins, such as beans, pulses, tofu, tempeh, seitan; nuts; seeds; and fruit.
This has not always been the case though.
At one time, I did almost everything in the book you're not supposed to.
I skipped breakfast. Drank at least three black coffees when I arrived at work. Bought chocolate from the vending machine. Ate lunch while working at my computer. Microwaved heat-and-serve ready meals, including meat and dairy products, for dinner. Drank at least one glass of wine every evening. Worked late into the evening. Went to bed late and slept badly, particularly after my babies were born.
It does not take a rocket scientist to work out why my body could not cope with my lifestyle.
My decision to change to a plant-based diet was based purely on scientific evidence about the link between different types of food and health.
Plant-based diets are also less damaging to the environment and avoid cruelty to animals, which I am happy about.
Much of what I have learnt over the last 10 years has challenged my cultural and intellectual assumptions about food.
Many of the foods I was taught to believe are good for our health, in fact turn out not to be.
Whilst there are still almost 1 billion people on the planet without adequate food, there are even more people suffering from a different type of malnutrition, caused by eating food with too many calories but not enough of the vital nutrients which sustain us.
Few of these people are happy.
I'd like to change that.
My goal is to help those who want to take responsibility for themselves to understand which foods are best for their health and inspire them to make simple changes to diet and lifestyle.
My passion is educating, inspiring, coaching and leading gently by example.
My focus is on encouraging you to change what you eat, drink and think.
I do not prescribe nutrient supplements.
Many doctors recommend supplements of vitamin B12 for those on a strict vegan diet. They may also prescribe iron supplements for those diagnosed with anaemia; or complex nutrient supplementation for malnourished patients who require specialist treatment. Apart from very specific needs such as these, in general, the scientific literature does not support the widespread use of nutrient supplements.
So if you want pills and to carry on eating junk food you are not in the right place.
Telling people what they should or should not do, or creating fear, is not my style. In fact, I believe that fear is as damaging to health as any junk food.
Even though I trained and have worked as a scientist for over 30 years and have all sorts of academic qualifications, I teach from the heart and from personal experience.
I understand the difficulties of changing behaviour and of learning new skills. I know what it is like to work full-time, to have family members who are fussy eaters, to have to prepare meals in a hurry and on a budget.
I know what it is like not to be perfect, even though you want to be.
And yes, in case you're wondering, I do sometimes eat chips and chocolate, though whenever I do, I end up feeling rubbish afterwards.
I also understand how difficult it is to know what to believe.
The sheer volume of conflicting and confusing information in the field of nutrition and health can be overwhelming.
The scientific method is supposed to help reveal the truth but even the scientific literature is rife with contradictions, never mind the popular press.
Even the most highly regarded scientists and physicians in the nutrition world end up arguing with each other at times.
Much of this is due to the fact that research on nutrition is poorly funded, often poorly designed, and frequently directed at reductionist approaches, using individual nutrients out of context as drugs, bearing little relevance to public health.
On top of this, the medical establishment has a tendency to look down on nutrition and cast it as 'alternative', so it receives inadequate attention.
And yet, there is mounting evidence which indicates that, correctly practised, diet and lifestyle can do more to create health and reduce healthcare costs than all the contemporary medical interventions put together.
I pay particular attention to scientists and doctors who publish quality work in the peer-reviewed literature.
My scientific and medical heroes and heroines are people like Prof T Colin Campbell, John McDougall MD, Caldwell Esselstyn MD, Dean Ornish MD, Neal Barnard MD, Lissa Rankin MD and the people who taught them.
I want to spread awareness of the scientific evidence on nutrition and health and show you simple and practical ways to use this knowledge to create a healthier life.
Work with me
I offer courses, personal coaching and free resources - articles, information, recipes and tips - on my website, blogs and social media sites, aimed at helping you create health and well-being for yourself and those you love.
At present, I am busy transforming my courses into digital format so you will be able to download them and benefit from the learning wherever you are in the world.
I love working with people who:
- Are willing, really willing, to take responsibility for their own health
- Have a positive attitude and are committed to putting some time and energy into making simple changes to their diet and lifestyle
- Would like help on where to start and encouragement to keep going
- Are busy and just want the bottom line - the reliable evidence-based bottom line - and practical solutions
If this sounds like you, I am extremely happy to welcome you.
Please click here to find out what others have said about me.
If you are interested in finding out more, your first step is to sign up for my free e-newsletter, which will keep you up-to-date with helpful information, recipes and announcements of new courses and programmes.
Please explore my website and if you are interested in embarking on a potentially life-changing adventure by working with me, please get in touch.
I can't wait.
When not on my nutrition mission, I spend my time with my husband, Paul - who seriously loves camels and spent many years working for aid agencies in war zones - and our two boys aged 14 and 13, in our 18th century cottage in a pretty village in Somerset, UK.
We have two springer spaniels called Mara and Bracken and I walk them every day through beautiful fields and woods, which keeps me fit and calms my mind.
I also practise Ashtanga yoga and am fortunate to be taught by the wonderful Jane Piddington in Glastonbury, UK.
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Examples of activities
- Worked with local authorities across the UK to provide training and consultancy on nutrition and healthier catering.
- In 2009 and 2010 I undertook a collaborative project on Healthier Children's Menus with local councils and the NHS Somerset, which was funded by the Food Standards Agency. We worked with independent catering businesses and Environmental Health Officers to improve the nutritional quality of food served to children.
- Offer personal consultations and provide confidential, professional expertise and advice on how to transform health and well-being through implementing changes to diet and lifestyle.
For further information and enquiries please contact me.