supplements

Healing Hypothesis Introduction

You’re ready to change your life. You can reclaim your health.

There is a set of concepts we use to help you change your life. Together, they make up our Healing Hypothesis. Everyone is unique and has a unique protocol. Applying these concepts to your case is what guides me in developing that protocol.

I want to share them with you so that you understand what you need to consider in order to finally get your health on track.

They are:

  • Health begins in the gut

  • Your body is built to heal itself

  • One size doesn’t fit all

  • Food isn’t always enough

  • Your unique biochemistry

  • A holistic approach

  • Your custom supplement protocol

  • Your custom diet

These concepts form our Healing Hypothesis, and they are the outline of the roadmap we use to bring you relief from your health problems, feel better, and help you meet your health and wellness goals.

Each concept helps us move the needle forward, and together they form the powerful, and holistic approach you need.

I know this because these concepts represent the lessons I learned along my healing journey, and are the things I did to get myself, and my health, back on track.

Here’s the deal. Chronic and complex health conditions have root causes. Finding these root causes is where we have opportunities to improve, and possibly even resolve them. My Healing Hypothesis guides us through identifying and addressing these root cause issues.

As a functional and clinical nutritionist I do not diagnose, or treat any condition. My job is to teach you what you can do to heal, feel better, and to help you identify root causes of the health problems you have. The kind of root causes I’m talking about lead to imbalances in your body, and long-standing ones can cause chronic and complex health problems. We can address imbalances with natural means like diet, supplements, and lifestyle interventions, and prevent long-term consequences.

The Problem (Part 1)

Likely until now, you’ve been fumbling through the maze of conventional, Western medicine.

You go to your doctor, you describe your symptoms, and they do some lab tests. There are two scenarios I see often. The first is that those lab tests come back normal, but you still don’t feel well. You are dismissed and led to believe your illness is all in your head. The second is that your labs are not normal and you are prescribed medication.

Let’s address this first issue. You don’t feel well, your labs look fine, and you are dismissed, and led to believe it’s all in your head.

What didn’t happen is that there was no exploration of what root cause issues (imbalances) may be contributing to how you are feeling, and causing the symptoms you have. You feel sick, scared, alone, and now think you are crazy and there’s nothing really even wrong with you in the first place.

You spend your time searching Google for answers, and find there are droves of others out there, going through similar challenges, all desperately searching for solutions to claim their health, and their life back.

Some have had success with this, that and the other, and you try these interventions, with no luck. Or maybe you have some minimal relief or notice some small changes, but it’s not enough to make much of a difference for you.

This is because everyone is different. Your biochemistry is as unique as your fingerprint, so what works for someone else may not work for you.

Also, interventions have synergistic effects. That means they work together, and combinations of interventions often work a lot better than individual ones.

This is why you’ve tried X, or Y, or Z and none of them have worked. Maybe you’ve even tried X and Y, Y and Z, or X and Y and Z, and still can’t seem to get results. X, Y, and Z are just three options.

Think of it this way, what if you take the entire alphabet, all 28 letters, and try to piece together what will work for you? It’s basically impossible (unless you're really good at probability... would that fall under 'probability'?).

That’s what this process is like, without the support and guidance of our Healing Hypothesis, and someone that can help navigate your journey as your copilot.

I was that person. I suffered many, many years with GI issues. Conventional doctors did what they knew how to do. For me, it didn’t help. My problems weren’t anything that conventional medicine could fix.

Even though I have the training, background, and experience in the kind of help I did need, I still had to search for my own answers, consult with other professionals in my field, and go through a lot of trial and error.

This process has inspired me to share my lessons learned with you. My lessons learned are the 8 concepts that form my Healing Hypothesis.

The Problem (Part 2)

Here’s that second part of the issue, your labs are not normal and you are prescribed medication.

How many medications have you been prescribed because of your health problems?

I spent some time on a SSRI (antidepressant medication) in my mid-20s after I had a breakdown. The stress from graduate school, feeling my life was out of control, I was in a severe dietary restriction phase at the time (one of my lowest weights, about 98lbs, and I’m 5’6” by the way), and I’m sure OCD, PTSD and the depression of course didn’t help the situation.

I didn’t stay on the medication long. It did help, but it numbed me and I wasn’t myself. It did get rid of the OCD. I would clean a lot, and when I was on the meds, let’s just say things became very different. Not in a good way, it was gross to be honest.

I still deal with OCD, PTSD and depression, however I’ve found lifestyle strategies to help manage it (I do read self help, motivational books and blogs for example), and so does nourishing my body rather than starving it. Our neurotransmitters that regulate our moods are built from amino acids, and the pathways that make them need vitamins and minerals to do it. We need to put the fuel in, and the best way to do that is with whole, real foods.

Back to my take on medications, what do they do? They help with symptoms, if you’re lucky.

There are medications that save lives, and of course we need them from time to time. Antibiotics do save lives, when they are used appropriately. My issue with many medications that are commonly prescribed is that they mask symptoms. The symptoms you are having are your body’s cries for help, that there is, or are, underlying root cause(s) creating imbalances in your body, that over time, result in chronic and complex health problems.

If you mask symptoms with medications, root cause imbalances are still there, and they can continue to wreak havoc on your body. Now that you don’t have symptoms, you don’t know this is happening so root causes and imbalances are left unchecked and unaddressed. Before you know it, you have more symptoms. Something new and different starts to occur. Your doctor gives you another prescription. And the cycle continues.

Many of these medications mask symptoms by interrupting, altering, and shutting down biochemical pathways in your body. This is a problem because all systems are connected, so when you interfere with one pathway, others will be affected.

My favorite example is the use of statin medications for cholesterol. Statins are one of the most prescribed medications today, and they are one of the biggest money-makers ever for pharmaceutical companies.

Research shows that for some people, statins can be beneficial. They may help reduce blood pressure, and may be useful for secondary prevention of heart attack and stroke (meaning if you’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, statins may help prevent it from happening again), however, research also shows that they can be very harmful for others, and lead to rhabdomyolysis, cognitive loss, neuropathy, pancreatic and hepatic dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction.

Statins work by shutting off a step in the pathway that makes cholesterol in your body. The problem is that we need cholesterol, and that pathway does other things, including make CoQ10, an essential nutrient needed for energy production in your body.

 What do we need cholesterol for? Just for example, it is necessary for making steroid hormones including your stress hormone cortisol, and your sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen), and cholesterol makes up a good part of the structure of cell membranes in your body. If your body can’t function at the cellular level, you certainly won’t be able to.

I’m not saying to stop taking your prescription medications (statins or others), I am saying make sure you ask your doctor questions, and educate yourself. Often there are natural ways to better manage your health issues that have no risk of adverse side effects.

You can start by exploring the root cause(s) of why you are having symptoms in the first place. Remember, symptoms are tied to systems and all systems in your body are connected.

If you’ve been struggling with health issues, you need a different approach to resolve them. Our Healing Hypothesis is that approach, and what I used on my own health journey.

Health Begins in the Gut

The concepts that form our Healing Hypothesis are:

  • Health begins in the gut

  • Your body is built to heal itself

  • One size doesn’t fit all

  • Food isn’t always enough

  • Your unique biochemistry

  • A holistic approach

  • Your custom supplement protocol

  • Your custom diet

Now we’ll break down these concepts and explore each individually, starting with health begins in the gut.

Health begins in the gut. This means that literally whatever chronic, complex conditions you have, impaired gut health may be involved.  

Most of us have heard the famous Hippocrates saying, "All disease begins in the gut.” Guess what? It’s true!

Impaired gut health adversely affects the body in a variety of ways.

If your gut health is impaired, you won’t be able to digest and absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. This means that even if you eat a perfectly healthy diet, it won’t matter much because your body won’t be able to use those nutrients from those healthy foods, and you can end up nutrient deficient. All of the biochemical pathways in your body, which make your body function, run off of nutrients from foods you eat. These nutrients are the fuel for your engine. Without fuel, your engine won’t run, and over time will break down, leading to illness and disease.  

Not so concerned about nutrient deficiency? You should be. During my last (and final) severe dietary restriction phase in 2016, I was down to about 98 lbs, at 5’6”. My lab work was off, but my GI doctor couldn’t figure out why. I couldn’t either to be honest. I had weird symptoms like boils on my body, and my labs showed low thyroid function and high liver enzymes. My body was slowing down and breaking down because I was starving. There was no fuel for it to run on, it started eating itself.

There are other ways impaired gut health is a huge problem for your overall health. Eighty percent of your immune system is located in your gut microbiome. If your gut health is impaired, your immune system will be too.

Impaired gut health leads to inflammation in the gut, which can cause increased gut permeability (leaky gut). When this happens, toxins and food particles escape the GI tract and enter your blood stream where there are not supposed to be. The result can be autoimmune disease, food allergies and sensitivities (food sensitivities are a symptom, not a cause of your health problems), asthma, arthritis and join aches and pains, mental health and neurological disorders, skin conditions, hormone imbalances (such as estrogen and thyroid hormones), and much, much more. As you can see, many of these issues are outside of the gut, so while you may have impaired gut health, you might not even have any gut related symptoms.

Gut health is often overlooked by conventional, Western medicine as an underlying cause of chronic and complex disease, and this is these conditions remain chronic. Addressing gut health, even if you don’t have GI symptoms, is an integral part of the healing process as we explore root cause issues, and this is in fact where I start my scavenger hunt to find reasons why you have the health problems you do.

One-Size Doesn't Fit All

There is no one-size-fits-all plan. I can’t begin to tell you how often I hear “I tried the XYZ diet because my best friend did it and lost 10lbs”, “I’m fasting because Jimmy Fallon does and he swears by it” or “I want to go on a cleanse because Gwyneth Paltrow did.” The list goes on. 
 
I’ve put myself on just about every diet out there, and fell victim to so many of the fads. The one I was most entrenched in was the fat free, low fat craze that grabbed me in the early 90s, as I was starting college. I was constantly starving, had frequent hypoglycemic episodes, and felt like crap all the time. Around this time my disordered eating habits were really taking off.
 
Coincidence? No.
 
The media and advertisers are very good at what they do. For someone like me with tendencies to want to control things, I found the perfect outlet for them. The only foods I ate were fat free, which means I was living on sugar. That’s it, just sugar, and a little protein because I would eat chicken breasts and tuna since there was basically no fat in them. No wonder I felt like crap.
 
This is a reason why it’s important to track your diet in a journal. You may not realize how much is missing otherwise. I realized I was eating fat free, but had I written it out and seen the make up of what I was eating, it would have been a wake up call, one I needed sooner than I got.
 
Back to the problem about these one-size-fits-all plans. It’s been said that 95% of people fail at their diet attempts.
 
If you resonate with this 95%, what do you think went wrong?
 
I’ll give you a hint. This is where your individual biochemistry is involved. It can dictate what diet, lifestyle and even supplements work best for your body to help you meet your health and wellness goals, and heal from chronic and complex illnesses.
 
Think about it, if your biochemistry is different from anyone else’s how can a cookie cutter diet, supplement regimen or cleanse program give you the results you want? It can’t, especially not long-term.
 
This means you haven’t failed. The truth is that these diet plans fail you because they promote a one-size-fits-all approach that does not account for your biochemical individuality.
 
In order for you to feel better, you have to consider your unique biochemistry. If you haven’t gotten results from the same plan your best friend or favorite celebrity has, you haven’t failed. The system has failed you because it has neglected your individual needs.
 
Rather than labeling a diet as keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Atkins, Weston Price, blood type diet, etc. we have to look at your biochemical needs and develop a plan to meet them. This is a customized approach, and it’s how we get results to address your health problems, and optimize your overall health and wellness.
 
When developing a customized plan, something else to keep in mind is that food isn’t always enough.

Your custom supplement protocol

All of the concepts that make up our Healing Hypothesis are important and make a difference in helping you feel better and heal, and this one can truly have a significant impact.

I firmly believe that supplements are an important intervention as part of an overall protocol.

In functional medicine, we focus on natural ways to improve your health. That means food first. The functional medicine approach looks for the underlying causes of disease and illness and addresses it in order to improve health status.

The core of functional medicine is functional nutrition, and we use diet, lifestyle and supplements as primary tools of addressing your health problems.

I've been asked, can't food be enough? After all, as a clinical nutritionist the expectation is that I'm going to create a diet plan to make you feel better. Yes! This is part of what I do. 

Sometimes, food isn't enough. This can happen as we age and bodily processes slow down and need a little extra help, when we have a functional deficit in a metabolic pathway, when our hormones become imbalanced, and when our guts aren't functioning the way they're supposed to.

These are just some examples of when we may need a little more than what even the best, most thought through food plan can provide. And this is where supplementation can help restore your metabolic processes to an optimal state, which is important, especially when you’ve had long-standing imbalances.

We are exposed to stress, environmental toxins, and lack of physical activity (for most of us) daily. We also don’t get enough exposure to sunlight, and have many other problems associated with the 'conveniences' of Western society.

These are reasons why you can benefit from supplementing your healthful diet with extra nutrients. Some supplements help support metabolic pathways and therefore the biochemical reactions that make your body run. Others help support your immune system and combat oxidative stress and inflammation, two causes of chronic and complex disease. These are just some examples.

Keep in mind, for supplements to work, recommendations need to be customized for the needs of your body. If you’ve tried a variety of supplements based on Google searches, and haven’t had any results, the reason is because your unique needs are not accounted for.

I do believe that most of us can benefit from taking certain supplements. There are some standards I keep in my toolbox.  To get access to professional grade ones, click here (you’ll be prompted to create a free account).

So, are nutrient supplements necessary, and can't we get everything we need from food? Yes, and maybe not.

Speaking of getting what we need from food, we also need to address fad diets and calorie counting, and this is a concept of our Healing Hypothesis.