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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Dubai's Glenville Nutrition Centre aims to be a one-stop solution to women’s health issues

We find out more from founder Dr Marilyn Glenville

The Glenville Nutrition Centre is open at The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel. 
The Glenville Nutrition Centre is open at The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel. 

It often happens that you visit a doctor for issues ranging from bad digestion and conception troubles to perceived thyroid imbalances, only to be told that, medically, everything seems fine. And yet you know that something’s not quite right. That’s when Dr Marilyn Glenville and team step in.

“An example would be a woman who has IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome]. When she does a colonoscopy, there’s nothing going on digestively – no polyps, no diverticulitis [gastrointestinal inflammation]. So we do tests and find her beneficial bacteria aren’t good, there could also be a yeast and she’s got a parasite sitting there,” explains Glenville. “So there may be an underlying cause that’s not being checked for, which could then be eliminated, or the beneficial bacteria can be put back using probiotics.”

The nutritionist and psychologist, who operates from Harley Street in London, opened her first Glenville Nutrition Centre in Dubai this year. She says that many of the issues her London clinic deals with are common among women in the UAE, too - from fertility, fibroids and PCOS to weight control, osteoporosis and menopause. Glenville’s latest book, Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s, provides diet tips to protect the brain.

“We work alongside medical consultants in the UK, and that’s the kind of network I want to build here in the UAE, too. Once a patient has been cleared medically, we know that at least there’s nothing life-threatening going on. Quite often people need nutritional advice to resolve their ailments or improve their quality of life,” says Glenville, who specialises in women’s health and hormones, although GNC Dubai is open to men and children, too.

The clinic can recommend and run a range of tests that regular doctors would not ordinarily consider. From checking adrenal stresses and the presence or lack of beneficial bacteria to testing across all vitamins, minerals and even omega-3 fatty acid levels, Glenville’s aim is to track down the root cause of the issue, whether it’s a hormonal imbalance, digestive issue or stress-related manifestation.

As levels of stress continue to rise – and lifestyle choices tend to deteriorate with age – supplements play an important role. “When I started my practice 35 years ago, I would have done everything with food, but I don’t think we can anymore. Stress depletes our minerals and vitamins. For example, we need magnesium when we are stressed, but research shows that only half of the residents in the UAE are eating enough fruit and veg,” Glenville points out.

“As in the UK, a lot of the food that comes to the UAE has travelled hundreds of miles; it’s often sitting in a warehouse, so its [nutritional value] could be compromised before it gets to you. So in this situation, where stress is high and food quality is questionable, people are not eating well enough. So you must look to supplements, because some of these nutrients are critical and you need to top them up.”

While stress is a mitigating factor for almost all conditions, food allergies are another source of discomfort, with more people finding themselves intolerant to gluten, diary, eggs, nuts and the like. However, not all allergies are life-long, explains Glenville. “Allergies fall into two categories. The first is IgE, which includes milk, wheat or nuts. And until enough clinical trials have been done, the person who is allergic to, say, peanuts has to keep away from them forever. In some cases, even the odour is enough to set them off, and could result in an anaphylactic shock,” she says.

“The other group of intolerances are driven by an IgG antibody – these are more owing to frequency of consumption and overload. If one took the food source out of their diet or if they have not eaten as much and gradually introduce it after a year or so, the body may be able to tolerate it,” she adds. Given how insulating food allergies can be, the latter prognosis is just another example of improving somebody’s quality of life over the long run.

Glenville will visit her Dubai outpost two to three times a year, while a nutritionist that she’s worked with for over a decade oversees the clinic here. Upon making an appointment, visitors need to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire and can also send in past test results. “We really want to know what their goal is, what they want to achieve for themselves. We like women to be totally honest, even if their diet, exercise routines and other lifestyle habits are not all positive. Sometimes the weekends are not as good as the weekdays,” notes Glenville.

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Helping smokers quit is another feather in GNC’s cap. “Part of the treatment is looking at why a person is smoking in the first place. If it’s stress-triggered, maybe we can address and offset that, so that over time they realise they don’t need that cigarette, after all. The key is to take away the reason they were smoking in the first place. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sudden stop or a weaning process; everybody is different. “Smoking is an even bigger risk after menopause, because it can decrease bone density by up to 20 per cent, so women have to think about what else it’s damaging apart from the lung,” she says.

While the majority of GNC’s clients are adult women, Glenville says parents can take steps to protect their children from a young age. “The biggest problem right now is that sugar is added into everything, even savoury foods. If we could keep that reduced in the home situation, make different choices and look to alternative products, building that foundation will really count. Then it does not matter as much if kids eat typical birthday party food or give in to peer pressure from time to time.

“Even, as adults, if you’re eating right 80 per cent of the time, and using supplements to, well, supplement your diet, almost like an insurance policy, you’ll be fine. Of course, have a care not to take supplements and then eat junk food constantly,” she concludes with a knowing laugh.

The Glenville Nutrition Centre is opened at The Retreat Palm Dubai McGallery. For appointments, call x