Having healthy digestion is crucial to feeling awesome. When digestion is working as it should, you feel energized, you have great sleeps and you easily maintain a healthy weight.
The digestive system is the way in which your body breaks down food, assimilates nutrients and eliminates waste out of the body.
Unfortunately so many people struggle with gut problems. Whether its gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, these issues are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world.
As a health practitioner, gut healing is a main focus of the work I do with clients to re-establish health, especially when hormones are out of whack. Gut problems play a huge role in hormone imbalance. When a client comes to me with hormone imbalance, I always start by looking at gut health.
Many of the clients I work with are already educated about gut health. They are doing all the staple things to improve their digestive health. They drink bone broth. They take probiotics. The consume digestive enzymes and eat a healthy, whole foods diet.
Despite their best efforts, their guts are no closer to being healthy. No matter what they do, their guts are still a total mess. They still experience constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating and abdominal pain. It is extremely debilitating and interferes with their lives.
I have found the missing link in gut health to be the presence of pathogenic GI infections. This might include parasites but can also include bacteria, yeast, worms or even viruses. A parasite is actually just one of the many organism that could be inhabiting your digestive track and promoting inflammation.
We all know what it’s like to pick up a stomach bug. Maybe you ate something questionable or are travelling in a foreign country and you get those initial food poisoning symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal pain. This is what is called an acute infection.
The problem that leads to long term gut problems tends to be low grade chronic infections. These are infections that we contract and our immune system deals with to a certain point but they are not fully eradicated from the system. They continue to exist in smaller amounts and cause chronic inflammation and over stimulation of the immune system.
Your immune system works hard to keep these things in check so they do not take over but this can lead to extreme fatigue, poor sleep quality and inflammation. You can imagine how many resources your body would need to keep these things in check. You suffer as a result. You may experience alternating constipation and diarrhea in between periods of normal bowel movements. You may also experience chronic low energy, brain fog, anxiety or depression.
If you have experienced chronic digestive issues despite cleaning up your diet and actively trying to heal your gut, an infection may be to blame.
I don’t believe these infections are the root cause of illness. I believe that our digestive systems become unhealthy due to exposure to toxins, stress, drugs and alcohol and this compromises the gut mucosal barrier system.
The gut is lined with an intricate barrier system which separates your GI tract from your bloodstream. You can imagine that you would not want everything you eat to end up in your blood.
The lining of your gut is selectively permeable. Some things can get through (ie. vitamins, minerals, nutrients) and some things are blocked out (ie. viruses, pathogens and toxins). Our constant exposure to toxins, chemicals, food additives and stress can not only create inflammation in this barrier system, causing it to breakdown physically, but it can also cause communication problems, that lead to malfunction.
The result is that the intestinal barrier begins to malfunction, allowing not only inappropriate things to leak into the bloodstream but also impacts the immune system and breaks down our defenses. The result is we become more easily infected with pathogenic organisms and physically we may experience more frequent illness, like colds and flus. A situation such as this is called, Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Many people are unaware of how common this is. I frequently find multiple pathogenic species in one person. If you would like to learn more about my journey with serious GI infections, check out this blog post.
Infections can absolutely destroy your digestive system. Not only do they stimulate the immune system, causing inflammation but they also produce excessive amounts of toxins. The toxic load stresses out the liver, causing congestion.
A liver that is overloaded with toxins, is unable to do its other important jobs like clearing excess hormones from the blood and converting thyroid hormones into energy. This can have serious implications for your adrenal and thyroid health, not to mention the effect it can have on your skin (acne, eczema or dermatitis).
Infections are huge blocking factors when it comes to healing. If you have had the experience of doing all the right things for your health but are still feeling terrible then this is definitely something to consider.
Store bought parasite and Candida cleanses are common. I see these lining the shelves of my local health food store. Many people do one of these 2-3 weeks kits and think they’re “good.”
Unfortunately 2-3 weeks is not nearly enough time to clear many of these infections. These kits also fail to address the reason one’s gut may have become unhealthy to begin with. If you do not change these reasons, then you will likely become re-infected or infected with some other pathogenic organism.
Not knowing what organism you might be infected with is another huge issue. Many of these infections share the same symptoms. Many people think they have Candida, because they have sugar cravings, a white tongue or extreme fatigue. But these symptoms are also common of parasitic and bacterial infections.
Certain infections do not stay put in the intestine. They travel outside to other areas of the body like the brain, gallbladder, liver and lungs. Infections that exist outside the intestine do not respond well to botanical formulas. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary. Read more about my experience taking antibiotics to treat a potentially fatal parasitic infection.
I have run hundreds of Gastrointestinal Pathogen screens on clients and students and it is rare that they come up clean. In one person it is not uncommon to find parasites, bacteria and yeast infections all at once.
Do you want to know whether or not you have a Gastrointestinal infection? Get my free quiz below:
As you may have noticed, I am a huge supporter of the Paleo diet. In the past few months, I have mentioned this diet as a therapeutic way to deal with hormonal issues such as estrogen dominance and PCOS.
There is some controversy surrounding the Paleo diet. Proponents of this style of eating discuss earlier times in human history when people were healthier and free of degenerative illness. Many believe the Paleo diet mimics that sort of diet, when access to grains, dairy and legumes was limited.
This may be true but many dispute this, saying that our current diets in no way represent foods that were available in prehistoric times.
The truth is, I don’t care much for either of these arguments. It’s true our food has changed significantly in the past few thousands of years. Nothing we eat today has much resemblance to the foods that were available to our ancestors. It has been modified many times over to be sweeter, bigger and to resist disease. Replicating an ancestral diet is virtually impossible.
That being said, we can rely on certain principles that helped our ancestors to be healthy and free of many of the diseases that plague modern society. These principles involve eating real, whole foods, reducing sugar, eating free range meat, growing our own food and reducing processed food as much as possible.
The reason I am such a huge supporter of the Paleo diet is due to it’s therapeutic qualities. When it comes to hormones, the Paleo diet can be extremely helpful.
The Paleo diet eliminates sugar. Sugar has a significant effect on blood sugar. Yo-yoing blood sugar is incredibly stressful to the body and is a main culprit behind imbalanced hormones. The adrenal glands, which produce stress hormones, also produce a significant amount of your sex hormones.
If you blood sugar is consistently crashing because you are eating a high sugar diet, your body will be stressed and the adrenal glands will pump out cortisol to deal with it. Since cortisol gets priority over your other hormones, your sex hormones can become depleted.
Too much sugar can also lead to weight gain. Excess weight becomes an organ of it’s own because fat cells can produce estrogen and upregulate an enzyme the increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can lead to Estrogen Dominance. Sugar also stimulates testosterone production. Too much testosterone can lead to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and prostate problems in men.
Soy is a phytoestrogen, which means that it is shaped similarly to natural estrogen. When consumed, phytoestrogens can increase estrogen load in the bloodstream. Excess estrogen can cause weight gain, PMS, menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts, and mood disorders.
Estrogen Dominance is a huge issue in both men and women. To learn more about estrogen dominance, click here.
Like sugar, grains & legumes have a significant effect on blood sugar. They are broken down quickly and do little to give you long lasting energy. As we know, fluctuating blood sugar levels have a massive effect on hormonal health and energy levels.
Additionally, grains can be irritating to the gut lining. Many health practitioners implicate grain consumption in the development of Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome can lead to GI infections, yeast overgrowth and autoimmune conditions.
A Standard American Diet tends to be high in Omega 6 fats such as canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil and other seed oils. Too much Omega 6 fats can lead to inflammation. Inflammation is an issue for most genders but for women it can increase premenstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms.
Too many Omega 6 fats can also negatively affect an infants brain during the last trimester of pregnancy, leading to decreased frontal lobe formation.
The Paleo diet encourages a high intake of Omega 3 fats such as coconut oil, animals fats, avocados and eggs which reduce inflammation and promote healthy brain development.
Conventional dairy products contain added synthetic hormones and traces of antibiotics. Synthetic hormones given to cows are still present in the dairy that you eat. This can throw off your own delicate hormone imbalance.
Antibiotic exposure depletes gut flora and increases the likelihood of developing leaky gut syndrome and other gastrointestinal issues.
In addition to eliminating problematic foods, the Paleo diet also focuses on including high quantities of nutritional foods; fruits such as blueberries are high in antioxidants, vegetables such as kale are rich in vitamins and minerals, and high quality animal products such as pasture-raised eggs deliver complete protein and nutrients different from those found in plants like choline, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. A nutrient-rich diet is critical for reducing inflammation, balancing hormones and having optimal reproductive health.
The Paleo diet is a great place to start if you want to significantly improve your health. You don’t need to get caught up in all the silly rules of Paleo. You can customize this diet to fit your needs. Some people can tolerate some grains and some people can tolerate some forms of dairy.
My advice is to start with the Paleo diet and all it’s restrictions for at least 30 days. After 30 days you can try adding some dairy or some grains back into your diet and see how it goes.
Watch below to see me talk about this article in a video!
Want to hear something crazy?
“Humans have ten times more bacteria than human cells in their body. So a common saying is: we’re more bacteria than we are human.”
What if our bodies are just puppets to haul around bacteria?
It’s totally possible.
If we have 10x more bacteria growing inside us than human cells, maybe we should pay a little more attention to these little guys. They might play just as big of a role in our health as food, air, and water. Improving our microflora may be just as important as optimizing diet and lifestyle
I find the topic of probiotics confusing. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. One day I’m all, “Take probiotics! Everyone! Do it now,” and the next day I’m all, “Meh, probiotics. Are they really having the effect we think they are?”
Maybe you are as confused as me. So let’s smash the confusion. Let’s talk about bacteria.
For Starters, There Are Three KINDS of Bacteria
Each of these three types of bacteria has a different role in our body and there’s some that are more important than others.
There are three main types of bacteria:
1. Essential or Beneficial Flora (AKA the good guys): that’s the friendly bacteria we’re always talking about; the kind that are in probiotics and fermented foods, like Bifidobacteria, Lactobacteria, and E-Coli (not the deadly mutant straing. The good strain).
2. Opportunistic Flora (AKA the bad guys): there’s around 500 various species of microbes in your gut that fall in this category. It’s normal to have a large amount of “bad guys” in your gut. When the gut is functioning as it should, they guys are kept in check and are not allowed to take over.
The issue is that many people have dysfunctional microflora. The bad guys can overgrow and take over.
3. Transitional Flora (AKA the drifters): these are microbes from the outside environment. They travel through your system from food and water and exist out of the other end. Seeeee ya.
All these types of flora are important, even the “bad guys.” They all have a place in our gut but once they start doing something other than what they are meant to, they can all cause problems.
So What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are strains of beneficial bacteria that we can supplement with to support our native beneficial bacteria. They can control the opportunistic bacteria from taking over and protect us so that the transitional bacteria and pathogenic organisms can’t take hold inside our damaged guts.
The important thing to understand is that probiotics are “transient.” They do not stay in our body long term and are often gone in 2 weeks after ingestion. It is actually impossible to take probiotics to manipulate the type of flora present in our intestinal tracts. It is not as easy and “take this” to “replace that.”
This is unfortunate since most people have significantly less gut flora than that of their ancestors.
Who Needs Probiotics?
If you have typical gut dysfunction symptoms (ie. diarrhea and constipation) than there is a good chance things aren’t right in there. Probiotics can help with this.
And here’s another mind blowing fact. Anywhere from 50-80% of the dry weight of your bowel movements is dead bacteria.
Mind blown x 2!
Anyone who is struggling with digestive disorders, especially irritable bowel syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, is probably going to gain some benefit from taking probiotics.
Probiotics – The Dark Side
Probiotics can be beneficial. The caveat is that most of us don’t know what types of probiotics we should be taking. This is going to be different for everyone and the only way to identify this is through lab testing.
For example, let’s talk about Bifidobacteria. This is normally a friendly flora but it can also overgrow and cause issues. Unless you know your Bifidobacteria is low than you could cause an explosion of this bacteria.
Another issue would be if you have Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth. This is a condition where the friendly flora in the large intestine migrate to the small intestine and take over. SIBO people struggle with gas, bloating and abdominal pain.
In the case of an overgrowth, supplementing with probiotics can actually make SIBO worse. If you take probiotics and feel worse, stop. Probiotics are not good for everyone.
How To Start With Probiotics
One of the best ways to increase beneficial bacteria is to eat fermented foods. Fermented food has been used for tens of thousands of years. This is how our ancestors preserved food without refrigerators. Fermented foods contain an insane amount of bacteria. No probiotic can compete with fermented foods.
That being said, fermented foods are not great for everyone. If you have a histamine intolerance, you should avoid fermented foods.
If you are trying to eradicate Candida overgrowth, avoid fermented foods. While fermentation can feed the good bacteria, it can also feed the yeast. If you are interested in eradicating Candida the right way, make sure you aren’t make these common mistakes.
If you have SIBO, fermented foods are also not your friend.
The best advice I can give when it comes to taking probiotics is to start with a low dose. For example, if you buy a probiotics with 10 billion bacteria, you may want to start by breaking that capsule open and cutting it into 4 parts. You can dissolve it in liquid and drink it down.
You can slowly increase your dosage over a couple of weeks. A few symptoms initially may be a good thing. This may indicate that the probiotic is having an effect on your system. Symptoms should subside after a few days. If they don’t, that probiotic may be wrong for you.
How To Choose a Probiotic
When it comes to probiotics, you get what you pay for. Make sure you buy a quality supplement that comes in capsules and is stored in the refrigerator. Right now my favorite probiotics are;
(For best results: take them 30 minutes before breakfast right when you wake up or a tleast two hours after a meal right before bed. That’s the best odds to get live cultures past the stomach pH and into the intestines.)
In Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, she states:
“A good probiotic should have as many different species of beneficial bacteria as possible. A human gut contains hundreds of different species of bacteria. We should try and get as close to that as we can.”
She goes on to say, “Making sure there are strains from different groups of probiotic bacteria is more beneficial than just one group.”
And as always, I know I probably sound like a broken record, if you can afford testing, do it. Testing will help you identify micorflora deficiencies and allow you to customize your probiotic supplements.
I would love to hear from you. What has been your experience with probiotics? Have they helped you? Let me know in the comment section below!
Candida diets are popular. It seems that everyone I know is on a mission to murder Candida in whatever way they can.
Firstly, I want to address the fact that Candida normally lives in the large intestine. When dealing with Candida, the idea is not to totally eradicate the yeast but to deal with the overgrowth and restore balance to the intestinal tract. I think a lot of people miss this point. Total eradication is not only impossible but can be detrimental as well. We need some amount of Candida, we just don’t want it to take over.
When Candida is allowed to thrive, it can come with a plethora of nasty symptoms. Does this sound like you?
If you are struggling with any of the above, you are probably desperate to find relief. Likely, you have done a lot of reading on the internet and have come to the conclusion that Candida is your issue. Before you go full force into the first Candida protocol you find, stop. Read this first.
Mistake # 1: You Don’t have Candida to Begin With
If you are currently doing a Candida protocol, ask yourself this question, “How do I know I have Candida?” Many people assume they have Candida overgrowth based on their symptoms. This is problematic because most symptoms for yeast overgrowth are vague and are also symptoms for a myriad of other health conditions. Diagnosing yourself based on symptoms is never a good idea.
Candida is a buzz word. Everyone is talking about it. Many people read an article or two and assume they have it. It could be Candida but it could also be a number of other fungal species. It may not even be yeast. It could be a parasitic infections, a bacterial infection, leaky gut, autoimmunity, a thyroid condition or a number of other disorders that virtually cause the same symptoms as Candida.
These conditions are not mutually exclusive. You could have Candida plus any of these other conditions at the same time. To assume you have Candida is to run the risk of treating the wrong condition and never getting to the bottom of your health complaints.
For example, I rarely see Candida overgrowth without other pathogenic infections. Yeast is generally a secondary infection, meaning that some other infection came first and paved the way for Candida to overgrow. If you do not address additional gut infections then the yeast will simply come back over and over and over again. And that’s just frustrating!
How to Test for Yeast?
There are a number of different testing options that will identify yeast overgrowth. My favorite is the Great Plains Laboratory Organic Acids test. Genova Diagnostics also has a good organic acids test. Additionally, the Diagnostics Solution Lab GI-MAP that I have been using recently with clients also has markers for yeast.
Mistake # 2: You are using the Candida Diet “Alone”
Googling “candida diet” will give you a million different types of diets to kill Candida. Most diets recommend removing sugar, starch, alcohol and refined foods. Since sugar and starches are a primary food source for the yeast, in theory by cutting these things out the yeast will go away. Wrong.
By eating this way you may essentially be eating a “low-carb” diet. Eating low-carb increases the production of ketones, which are secondary food source for your body. Unfortunately, studies show that Candida can thrive off ketone bodies as well.
By limited fuel to Candida, you are pushing down the overgrowth. Candida can simply go dormant and come back to life once the food source is present again. By pushing down overgrowth, it may also be harder to kill off Candida with herbs.
Additionally, different diets work for different people. Some people may be able to simply cut out sugar to control yeast but other people may need a more comprehensive approach. Many people may fare better on a low FODMAPS diet or a Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
The bottom line is that no diet alone will kill Candida overgrowth. Sure, it will starve some of the bad guys and you may notice a reduction in your symptoms but to truly eliminate overgrowth you need to take anti-fungals, replenish beneficial microflora and heal your gut. This brings us to the next most common mistake
Mistake # 3: Failure to “Heal Your Gut”
The main reason why people fail to eradicate yeast overgrowth is because they do not address the reason(s) which allowed the yeast to overgrow in the first place.
Candida is a natural part of your make up. It lives in the large intestine but is largely kept in check by the other beneficial microflora that reside alongside it. When gut flora becomes depleted from food intolerance, inflammation, alcohol, leaky gut, poor diet, toxic overload or other pathogenic infections, the yeast can move beyond the large intestine and affect other areas of the body.
Yeast is opportunistic. If it has the opportunity to overgrow, it will. Many people diligently do their Candida diet, take their anti-fungal herbs but do nothing to address microflora imbalance or to repair the mucosal lining of the gut.
If you do not change the environment that allowed you to become infected in the first place then you will never get rid of the yeast. Period.
Healing Candida involves identifying food sensitivities, healing leaky gut, addressing inflammation, replenishing beneficial microflora, detoxing the liver and identifying other pathogenic infections.
Taking a close look at your lifestyle habits is important as well. Are you getting enough sleep at night? Are you going to bed at a decent time? Are you managing your stress? Do you exercise regularly?
All these things are important in maintaining total body balance and ensuring that yeast is kept in check.
To learn more about how to heal your gut. Click here.
Mistake # 4: You Aren’t Using the Right Anti-Fungals or You Aren’t Taking them for Long Enough
In order to properly address Candida overgrowth you need to be taking the proper herbs. Candida can become easily resistant to herbs so it’s important to take a variety of different ones. You may also need to rotate herbs to reduce resistance.
Most people don’t take their herbs for long enough. Most Candida cleanses I see on the store shelf involve taking herbs and eating a Candida diet for 2-3 weeks. If you think you can knock out Candida overgrowth in 2-3 weeks, you are sadly mistaken. In my experience, Candida protocols need to be done for 6-8 weeks at a minimum.
Your herbal Candida formula should contain most of, if not all, of the following herbs; olive leaf extract, caprylic acid, pau d’arco, grapefruit seed extract, zinc, biotin, oregano oil and berberine. Currently my favorite product is
Leaky gut syndrome is common these days. It is a condition where the barrier system that protects the blood from the digestive tract becomes dysfunctional.
When a person is healthy, this barrier prevents certain things from reaching the blood stream. These include viruses, parasites, undigested foods and toxins. When the lining breaks down, inappropriate things begin to enter the blood stream where they can cause an inappropriate immune response and lead to inflammation.
Leaky gut is involved in food sensitivities, allergies and autoimmune conditions. If you want to learn more about leaky gut, click here.
I discover unhealthy guts in almost all of my clients. Gut dysfunction is something I always test for because it is so common. When the gut is unhealthy it can lead to a whole host of issues including blood sugar imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, mood disorders, chronic fatigue and problems sleeping.
Gut health is a hot topic and people are always asking me how they can heal their guts. It isn’t always an easy task but success starts with having the proper information.
1. EAT AN INFLAMMATION REDUCING DIET
If you want to heal your gut, you need to reduce inflammation coming into the body. This starts with diet. Many foods we eat are inflammatory and can do some serious damage.
Some of the biggest culprits are refined and processed foods, gluten, polyunsaturated oils, alcohol, sugar, conventional meat and dairy products, grains and GMO foods.
Start by pulling these inflammatory foods out of your diet. Make sure to eat a diet that includes lots of organic vegetables, pastured eggs, free-range meat, healthy fats, herbs and spices.
The diet I most frequently recommend to my clients with gut issues is the Paleo diet. This diet omits much of the foods listed above and is high in protein which is critical for gut repair.
In situations where gut damage is more severe, I recommend the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) which goes further to eliminate nuts and seeds and eggs. This can be very therapeutic for people suffering from autoimmune conditions. Here is a great resource for the AIP diet.
2. IDENTIFYING FOOD SENSITIVITIES
When the gut is damaged seemingly healthy foods can actually be quite irritating. The more unhealthy the gut is, the more food sensitivities you will have. These sensitivities are different for each person.
They can be hard to pinpoint since reactions to are often delayed up to 7 days. If the Paleo or AIP diet isn’t giving you the results you need, I recommend testing for food sensitives.
Many practitioners use an IgG food sensitivity panel to look for suspect foods. Personally, I am not a fan of this type of testing. In my personal research, I have not found many good scientific studies validating this type of testing. There is a lot of debate between practitioners and I have yet to make a definitive opinion on the matter
3. REDUCE MENTAL & EMOTIONAL STRESS
Stress is one of the main causes of leaky gut. How? When you are stressed, your body moves all your energy from rest and digest processes and into the skeletal and muscular system. This allows you to fight or flight from a dangerous situation.
Our stress system does not differentiate between different types of stressors. There is only one stress response.
If you have a stress response and you have food in your intestinal tract, it stops being digested. It is left to sit in your intestine where it is acted upon by bacteria and is fermented. This fermentation can damage the gut and produce toxins which then clogs up the liver. And if your stressed your body isn’t detoxifying either. This can lead to toxic build up and more damage to the gut.
We have a lot of stress these days and learning how to manage it is paramount to healing your leaky gut syndrome.
4. IDENTIFY PATHOGENIC INFECTIONS
Ongoing chronic infections are one the biggest blocking factors in achieving a healthy gut.
Most people think they are immune to infections because they haven’t done any international travel but unfortunately you can acquire infections even in countries like Canada or the United States.
We are exposed to different types of infections from parasites, bacteria and yeast on a regular basis. These things come from food contamination, unclean drinking water (some types of parasites can resist chlorination) or from poor hygiene practices.
The majority of your immune system in your digestive tract. When your gut is healthy, your immune system works well. When the gut gets dysfunctional, opportunistic species can easily make their home in your intestines. Some pathogenic species can travel outside the gut to other areas of the body.
Unfriendly microorganisms can cause toxic build up, inflammation and can prevent you from absorbing nutrients from the healthy diet you are eating. Just keeping these organisms in check is stressful to the body. Your body works hard to control pathogens and it drains your energy levels.
Chronic infections also lead to elevated cortisol which can suppress your immune system, cause insulin resistance, inhibit weight loss efforts and deplete your sex hormones.
Even people who do not experience typical digestive symptoms may still have infections. I find them in over 90% of the people I test, even those who claim good digestion status.
If you do not identify and eradicate infections, inflammation will continue and will perpetuate the leaky gut situation. My favorite test for identifying GI Pathogens at the moment is the Diagnostics Solutions Lab GI-MAP. Find out more about my experience with this test and how it helped me identify some dangerous infections in my own gut.
5. STIMULATE DIGESTION
Undigested food promotes bacterial overgrowth and fermentation, both things will contribute to leaky gut syndrome.
During any gut healing protocol, I recommend high quality digestive enzymes. The enzyme you choose should contain a broad spectrum of enzymes. It should also contain HCL (for protein breakdown) and ox-bile (for breakdown of fats).
Currently my favorite product for gut healing is DSL GI-MAP I mentioned above since it measures levels of gut microflora.
If you do not know your status, I recommend using a high quality multi-strain probiotic. You should take these at bed time and make sure to take them 2 hours away from food and any supplements that contain anti-microbial, anti-fungal or anti-parasitic qualities.
Currently my favorite probiotic products are Megasporbiotic and
You haven’t been feeling your best lately. You are more tired than usual. You haven’t been sleeping very well. You seem to wake up at the same time every night. You gut feels off. You have been noticing some indigestion and bloating. You aren’t sure what’s going on but you know something isn’t right.
You make an appointment with your doctor and he/she sends you in for some blood work. You are excited to see get the result and see what’ going on. In your follow-up appointment you are told that all your lab work came back normal and there is nothing wrong with you.
You leave the doctor’s office feeling frustrated, confused and probably with a prescription in hand. You know you don’t feel your best but you have no idea what to do about it.
Does this experience sound familiar?
This experience is common. Why is it that lab tests come back normal despite you feeling like crap? It is because conventional lab ranges are meant to encompass 90% of the population. This means that as the population gets sicker and more unhealthy, these lab ranges get wider.
These tests are meant to detect end of stage dysfunction so that you can be diagnosed with some condition or illness. What is your doctor is really telling you when he/she says everything is normal is that you just aren’t sick enough, yet.
It is only once your condition (whatever that condition may be) has progressed far enough along the spectrum that you will finally fall out of the lab range and get a diagnosis. At this point the issue may have been going on for years, even decades and it has now progressed so much that healing it becomes problematic.
Symptoms are not normal. It’s true they are very common, but that does not mean they are normal. Your body is an incredible machine and it’s meant to work. All it wants is to be in balance and for you to be healthy.
For this reason, it attempts to compensate when things start to go sideways. By the time you experience symptoms, the imbalance has been going on for quite some time. If you have symptoms, you have dysfunction.
A study was done on Armed Forces Personnel who eventually were diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This is an autoimmune condition also known as lupus in which the immune system attacks the body’s tissues including kidneys, joints, skin, blood, brain, heart and lungs.
Blood draws are taken regularly from the armed forces. This study evaluated the blood of 130 men before they were diagnosed with lupus. It was found that SLE antibodies were present in the blood up to 9.4 years prior to diagnosis.
What does this mean?
It means chronic health conditions do not just occur overnight. They take years to develop but are often not detected until a significant amount of damage is done and reversal is difficult to achieve.
Functional medicine addresses the underlying cause of disease and seeks to find dysfunction even when it’s in its early stages. It engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. The patient takes responsibility for their health and is fully involved in the healing process.
The healing process involves using different kinds of lab tests and careful analysis with functional lab ranges. Functional lab ranges are narrower then conventional lab ranges and are based on people who feel healthy.
Types of testing include looking at hormone balance, detoxification status, gut function, food sensitivities and for the presence of gastrointestinal pathogens. When all these things are in proper working order, you feel healthy.
As you know, I am a Functional Nutrition Practitioner. When I first heard about the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition training program, my health was in the toilet. I was really struggling. I could barely get out of bed and I was scared. I was scared for the future and I was scared that I wasn’t going to live very long.
I signed up for the program so I could learn how to heal myself. And along the way I realized that I wanted to help others heal as well.
As a part of the training I ran several different labs on myself. What I discovered was that I had the hormone levels of an 80 year old woman, my liver was congested and my cells were breaking down. I also had a parasite infection, a bacterial infection, yeast overgrowth, leaky gut and multiple food sensitivities.
By following the protocols I was taught, I was able to fix most of these things and get my health back. This was a few years ago now and since then I have turned my passion into a business that I love and that allows me to help people every single day. How cool is that?
These days I feel like my health is at about 80%. While I feel great most days, I know there is still work to be done. I have felt for a while that my energy should be stronger, my sleep should be better and that my athletic performance should be higher. I had also been noticing some mild digestive symptoms.
Maybe 80% health is good for most people but it’s not acceptable for me. I decided to run a couple of labs. I ran my standard GI Pathogen Screen and leaky gut test. Both came back clean. The standard GI Pathogen screen that I use relies on stool culture. If you have an infection, it needs to be able to grow in your stool and seen through a microscope in order to be detected.
This can work really well for some pathogens but not for others. My intuition was telling me that I had an infection so I decided to run the GI-MAP from Diagnostic Solutions Lab (DSL). DSL uses a new technology that allows lab technicians to analyze pathogenic DNA in stool rather than looking for pathogens through a microscope. This is an FDA approved technology and I have been hearing good things about it.
Here are the results I received earlier this week.
First of all, I have Entomoeba Histolytica. Histolytica literally means “tissue destroying.” This is basically the worst, most dangerous parasite you can get. When it comes to the parasite lottery, I just won (or lost….). This guy does not like to stay in the intestinal tract. It can move to the brain and the lungs. It also loves to travel to the liver and create abscesses. This can be fatal.
Unfortunately, this parasite does not respond to herbal formulas. I will need to take a potent dose of anti-biotics to kill it. Anti-biotics are something I avoid in all cases. This is clearly a case where they are necessary.
Second of all, I have Clostridium Difficile. This is a bacterial infection that is highly resistant to antibiotics. I am hoping that by taking the antibiotics for the E. Histolytica, it won’t cause this infection to flare up. This infection generally occurs because of antibiotic use and is rampant in hospitals. It secretes a toxin which basically poisons cells and kills them. It accounts for 29,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Not to mention I have Giardia Lamblia (another parasite) and Klebsiella, a nasty bacteria which can lead to autoimmune diseases. Clearly, my gut is a disaster zone.
The good news is that my immune system markers are good. This means that my immune system strong and is responding appropriately. If it wasn’t I probably wouldn’t be doing as well as I have been.
This is some serious stuff. I never would have imagined that I could have so much imbalance in my gut. All this time I have felt thatI was at 80% health but maybe it’s more like 50% or even 40%.
I can only imagine how amazing I am going to feel when I eradicate these infections and rebuild my gut. It’s exciting.
I am truly grateful that I ended up on this path with Function Nutrition. Without it my life would be much different. There is a good chance I would end up with a chronic illness or worse.
I will never know exactly how this happened. It likely has a lot to do with my past and how I used to live my life. I was often sick as a child. I was on multiple rounds of antibiotics. In fact, I can remember having these liquid antibiotics that tasted like banana and strawberry. I used to sneak them from the fridge and drink them. They tasted like candy!
I spent a lot of my life eating what I considered to be a healthy diet. Unfortunately, this consisted of low-fat processed foods and sugar. I also spent a good 10 years of my life partying like a maniac.
On top of that I once took a 3 month course of antibiotics for acne, I was on birth control pills for 8 years and I was emotionally stressed through my teens and most of my early 20’s.
All these things together deplete gut flora, depress the immune system and set the stage for infections to enter the body and thrive.
Symptoms are no joke. Many of us put up with them because everyone else has them and we think they are normal. Symptoms are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If you ignore them or mask them with pharmaceuticals, you are ignoring this important message.
You will either end up with new symptoms or they will come back with a vengeance in the future. You may even end up being diagnosed with a chronic illness and losing your quality of life.
I am not writing this to scare you. I am writing this to educate you and to help you avoid a nasty diagnosis down the road. You have the power to take control of your health. You have the ability to change what’s happening to you now and create a happier, healthier, more energetic future.
Be proactive about your health. If you are having symptoms, contact a Functional Medicine Practitioner or a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. Spend the money, run the labs and take responsibility.
If you want to contact a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner please schedule here.