Take control of your health with nutritional therapy and a functional approach to wellnessDec 10, 2020
A year ago I was struggling with chronic fatigue, nausea, heart burn and extreme bloating. I spent most of my days in complete discomfort. It hurt to eat, it hurt to button my pants, I felt nauseous at times, and often just didn’t want to eat. When I did feel hungry, I’d eat a bite, and lose my appetite.
I woke feeling “hungover” every morning and had to talk myself into getting out of bed. The discussion in my head often went something like this… “you can do it, Heather, one leg off the bed, then the other, you can do it!” I literally had to rip myself from the sheets most mornings. While my mind was awake, my body just couldn’t physically move.
Over the previous 18-month period, I also mysteriously gain 10 pounds, even though I was exercising and hadn’t really changed my diet. Needless to say, I was frustrated and wasn’t feeling very confident in my skin.
I also was struggling through my workouts because the fatigue was so bad. It was hard to mentally allow myself to go easy on myself and just do what I could do. My workouts became more sporadic because of my low energy levels.
In the end, I’m honestly not sure which was worse, the chronic fatigue, the digestive discomfort, or feeling like the stay-puffed marshmallow lady in my clothes.
Getting to this place with my health hadn’t happened over night. I had been going down this path for the past 6 years. Struggling on and off with all of these issues (the weight gain being the most recent problem). I had been to my regular doctor, and even urgent care several times, and every time I was seen, they didn’t find any answers and offered few solutions.
If you’ve ever battled with health issues, you know how frustrating it is to feel terrible but have every lab test and procedure come back normal. To receive no action steps or solutions to relieve your symptoms. I wanted to know WHY I felt like this, what was wrong with me that I was having these symptoms. I wanted to get back to feeling like I used to and to have a plan to get there that didn’t involve harmful medications.
Fortunately, a few years earlier I had taken a six month course on functional wellness and nutrition through the Kalish Institute of Functional Medicine. I had learned that many of our common health issues are a result of our physiology being out of balance due to chronic stress, processed, poor quality foods, toxins in the environment and other lifestyle challenges. My awareness of this prompted me to look for alternate, holistic solutions for change.
I had decided to take control of my own health and began by ordering a functional diagnostic GI (gut) lab test through a partner company of mine. It was a simple at-home stool test designed to identify a wide range of pathogenic organisms.
When my results came back, I wasn’t surprised by the results. My lab indicated that I had an active H. Pylori bacterial infection in my stomach. I could go into more detail on H. Pylori’s impacts on our bodies, but I’ll save that for a future discussion. Briefly though, H. Pylori has been tied to stomach ulcers, gastritis and digestive dysfunction.
Here’s the craziest part about this…the three tests that I had completed with my GI doctor (endoscopy, breathe test and stool test) to test for H. Pylori (because I was convinced that I had it), all came back negative. Mind-blowing right?!? Not all tests are created equal when it comes to getting reliable information.
The good news about this is that I had an answer, and knew that I could follow a specific herbal protocol to reduce the H. Pylori and hopefully relieve the symptoms. I did wonder though, had I not known what I had known, would I still be struggling now with an active H. Pylori infection, and all of the uncomfortable symptoms?
As I got through my protocol, the burning “reflux” feeling in my stomach started to clear up. The bummer though was that my chronic fatigue got worse, and the nausea and bloating were still lingering. When I retested myself using the same GI lab test, I found out that while my H. Pylori infection was gone, I had another infection appear. Likely it was being “masked” by the H. Pylori or I picked it up somehow between lab tests. The tough news about all of this is that we are not limited to one infection in our gut at a time and until we improve the health of our gut, we are likely to continue to pick up pathogens.
The infection I found this time (cryptosporidium) is known to cause chronic fatigue, stomach cramps and nausea and was actually something my doctors hadn’t tested for. I knew that I’d need to complete a separate and different herbal protocol for this specific pathogen. As I prepared to dive into that protocol, I made the decision to hire a colleague in functional wellness to be my practitioner so that I didn’t have to continue on this journey alone. I was feeling exhausted from trying to figure it all out on my own, and just needed someone whom I trusted, and who believed in a functional approach, to be on my side.
At this same time, I had just begun my training as a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (FNTP) through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Having gone through my own health struggles for years and finally finding answers and relief through a functional approach to health, I wanted to bring this information and these protocols to others. Understanding our body’s foundational systems and our nutrition’s impact on those foundations, was the next step for me.
I know that so many of you are likely experiencing the same struggles that I went through. I know how important it is to have guidance and support on the journey. I wanted to bring to you a functional “food as medicine” approach to your health. No more feeling stuck and living with uncomfortable debilitating symptoms that keep you from living your best life!
During the FNTP program, I learned more about how chronic and extreme stress leads to hormone and digestive system dysfunction and that inadequate digestion can lead to nutrient depletion and gut dysbiosis. The chronic and extreme stress I had experienced 6-8 years earlier when my mom had passed, and I was a new mom fighting to keep my fitness company afloat during the 2008 recession, had led to an unhealthy gut. It was a welcoming home, and breeding ground, for foreign invaders. Until I managed my stress and improved my digestion, I would continue to struggle with dysbiosis and resulting symptoms.
Ladies and gents… this is huge!! When you know more about how your body works, and how the food you choose and the lifestyle habits you practice can impact your body systems, it gives YOU control over your health. You get your power back! Don’t leave it to genetics, or life circumstance, or our medical system (although I do believe you need a balance of holistic and modern medicine – it’s always good to involve your doctor). You can take control of your own health by finding support from others who will listen to you and are willing to make you a partner in the process.
My story continued, but I’ll sum it up quickly. After clearing the cryptosporidium infection, I had some healing to do in my gut (from the damage) as well as some rebalancing to do (I had SIBO and a candida overgrowth). My body was in "metabolic chaos" and needed healing and a reboot. So in addition to cleaning up my microbiome, I had to get my digestion working better, which included supporting breakdown of the foods I was eating and supporting the digestive organs (like the pancreas, gallbladder and liver). I also incorporated targeted foods to support both as well as increasing my fat intake and reducing sugar. Removing gluten and diary has been supportive as well.
I’m still a work in progress but I’m feeling so much better. I rarely deal with bloating or heart burn, and the nausea is pretty non-existent. My energy levels are up and I’m back to crushing my workouts! I’ve lost that stubborn 10 pounds, and actually lost a total of 15lbs! The inflammation in my body has decreased, and I’ve noticed my skin has cleared up. I don’t wake up feeling hungover in the mornings anymore, and I actually get up feeling more refreshed.
If you look at my “before” pictures and compare them to my current photos you will see not only see the weight loss but also the reduction in bloating and inflammation. It’s amazing what you can do to feel better when you focus on creating a healthy internal system using foods, healthy lifestyle practices and functional diagnostic assessments.
If you are curious about Nutritional Therapy and a functional wellness approach, here is a quick high-level…
Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioners (FNTP) help you to empower your body’s natural biological processes to support healing and optimal health using whole, properly prepared and properly sourced foods, therapeutic supplements, and restorative lifestyle practices.
We take a bio-individual, client-centered approach to nutrition because not all bodies are identical, nor do they need the same type of support. We focus on supporting the five foundations of health: Digestion, blood sugar regulation, fatty acid balance, mineral balance and proper hydration. By addressing these foundations, we can impact your foundational and “consequence” systems and organs such as the adrenals, thyroid, pituitary, male/female hormones, immune system, detoxification system, cardiovascular system, kidneys and more.
If you’d like to learn more about Functional Nutritional Therapy, and how it can help you bring your body back into balance (and even help you lose weight), watch my “Eat Your Way Back to Health” presentation that I gave at a recent corporate health fair. You can access the 30 minute recording here: https://vimeo.com/489178231
If you are ready to take control of your health and feel amazing in your body again, and want guidance and support on the journey, let’s connect! Whether you decide to work with me through my personalized nutritional therapy coaching programs or through my virtual group fitness and wellness programs, you can start to feel alive and energized again. No more feeling like a walking corpse!
The first step you’ll want to take for us to work together is to book a complimentary discovery call with me to discuss your specific goals and needs. This will help us determine if we’re a good match and can help us find your starting program: Book Discovery Call Here
In a time in our world where so much has been out of our control, take back control over what’s controllable… Your Health. I hope to chat with you soon and can’t wait to help you find that spicy, energetic and joyful person who is waiting to come back to life and thrive!
To Your Best Health,
Heather Glenn, FNTP, HHC, CPT, BCS