Dr. John Dempster on Gut Health Functional Medicine

October 2, 2019

Twelve years ago, Dr. John Dempster, ND founded The Dempster Clinic – Center for Functional Medicine to focus on a functional medicine approach to help people achieve an optimal state of health and well being by finding and treating issues at their core. 

We sat down with Dr. Dempster to talk about the pressing health factors in modern society and what decisions can be made to achieve the best outcome for our bodies and our mental state. Tuned into the Podcast here. He’s an advocate of eating pasture-raised meat (from NIKU Farms) and organic plant-based food as he mentioned in our discussion and he makes sure his children get daily nutrition from those products whether it’s cold-pressed juices or NIKU’s grass-fed beef. 

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is an extension of naturopathic medicine and they share many similar philosophies the most foundational one being the treatment of the individual vs. focused merely on  their symptoms. Functional medicine merges science and innovative technology to gather data on patients and find the root of their illness to treat it with functional means. 

There are three demographics that seek help in the field. One consists of healthy people who want to ensure they’re doing all they can to keep their bodies in the same state and avoid any illnesses in the future. The second demographic is people with autoimmune disorders since there isn’t enough therapy for it other than the practices of treating the symptoms. And lastly people with chronic digestive syndromes, anything from occasional diarrhea to intense digestive conditions.   

Causes and Solutions 

Dr. Dempster believes  autoimmune disorders are often a product of our diet, lifestyle, and environment. It is caused by factors such as stress as well as exposure to toxins and GMOs the causes we didn’t have to face as little as 50 years ago. When asked if there are any noticeable trends resulting in autoimmune disorders Dr. Dempster responded: “Gluten is a major contributor but that is not to say a gluten-free diet is an answer to everything.” Each person has their own unique biochemical makeup to address and the diets like keto or paleo are a great fit for some but not for the others. 

“We’re living in an information generation” – Dr. John Dempster 

Only now people are learning what to eat and when. There are articles found online to prove any kind of point but it doesn’t mean they’re credible. It is our job to filter them and find the best fit for ourselves. Dr. Dempster acknowledges the effect of certain diets but he doesn’t believe in extremism. The key is to make a shift away from processed and genetically modified foods, avoiding pesticides and fungicides, will show the results such as weight loss and higher energy appear immediately. But they shouldn’t pressure themselves to be perfect or eat organic food exclusively because the inability to live up to the task can cause stress which is another major source of illnesses. 

Gut Health 

“The gut is a gateway to our health and well being,” said Dr. Dempster “Approximately 80 per cent of our immune system is in our gut and 70 per cent of our neurotransmitters get produced there as well.” What we put in, on, or around our body influences our microbiome, which is the collection of different microbes found in our gut.  To illustrate the importance of microbiome Dr. Dempster gave an example: “If we count up all the cells in our body, bacteria outnumber human cells ten to one. Bacterial genetic material that we have outnumbers our human genetic material hundred to one” 

There are DNA stool tests to allow us to understand gut health and condition. They help spot inflammation, bacteria and leaky gut before noticeable symptoms appear. These tests will ensure there is still time to treat people with functional medicine and prevent illnesses from developing. 

Stress Management 

Dr. Dempster talked about the effect stress has on us daily. We’re faced with more stress today, with less recovery time,  than 100 or even 50 years ago. For example, our body is often responding to our smartphones as a stress stimulus. While modern technology can be quite helpful, we use it all day at work we often take our work home with us, and due to an increased level of accessibility with these devices it can cut  into our leisure time. He brought up an example of a book called “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” The point of it being if a zebra is chased by a predator it’s over in two minutes and if they survive the rest of the day is spent stress-free. Humans keep over examining every detail of the day the experienced and are unable to shut off their thoughts without intensive practice. 

Another contributor to stress is lack of sleep. It is what meant to help us detoxify and repair yet we often take for granted and as if it was an expendable luxury. To fight stress and without sacrificing much time or efforts Dr. Dempster left us with one last tip: “Doing 10 consecutive deep breaths once an hour has been proven to reduce stress level by 40 per cent according to a researcher from Harvard.”

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Dempster’s practice, we encourage you to visit his website or listen to his podcast here.