In this report, you’re going to learn:
"The Way to Get Started is to Quit Talking and Begin Doing" Walt Disney
You’ve come to this point with some questions that you’re still needing answers to, haven’t you? Perhaps unmet goals, perhaps unsolved problems? It’s my hope that I can shed just a little light on those issues, and empower you to put some new tools to work as you try to get your answers and meet your goals. With that in mind, this is a good point to identify your goals: what is your particular goal? What do you need a strategy to accomplish?
Solve a health problem that has eluded you and your doctors so far. An example might be joint pain, or skin rashes, low energy, poor moods, or a neurologic problem such as a tremor or numb area.
You’re trying to provide your body with every reasonable way possible to slow down the aging process and reduce the way aging affects your ability to enjoy life.
C. Weight gain or weight loss:
You’re wanting to help your body to either gain or lose weight, and to help improve your metabolism ability to provide the energy you need for activity without too much or too little energy.
You’re trying to achieve greater fitness or strength as an athletic goal. Perhaps to train for an event, or as part of the other strategies.
These health strategies can have significant overlap and many of us are working on more than one at a time (or would like to!). For example, working on increasing strength through weightlifting (a fitness goal) can also help preserve mobility and strength in senior years, as well as improving bone density (both anti-aging goals). It’s probably a good idea for you to write down your answers, and define which of these examples applies to you.
Functional Labwork means labwork that is part of "functional medicine". That means that instead of testing individual lab values in an attempt to diagnose a disease, asking the question "are you sick yet, and with what?"
Functional labwork seeks to ask the question "how are your body's systems working, and what abnormal patterns exist that I can help improve?". An example would be a regular lab test that looks at your A1C, and the doctor says "well, it's elevated, but you're not a diabetic yet. Let's repeat this next year."
A functional practitioner might also test your fasting glucose, your triglycerides, your gut bacteria, and look at your diet and movement. Then the functional doctor could recommend a combination of an eating plan, supplements, probiotics, and an exercise plan, so that you don't become a diabetic but instead get healthier.
“But, I don’t want to get started with yet another doctor!”
This is very understandable, as after over 30 years working at this I’ve met many patients who have a long list of practitioners that they signed up with and went through their program. Sometimes those programs cost over a thousand dollars for an initial visit, and often patients had spent tens of thousands of dollars on programs of care.
So, what’s different here?
The difference here is that you’re now able to access all of the functional tests that I use, and all of the supplements that I use. You can choose and order those tests or products as you see fit! You might want or need some experienced advice, either in the beginning or to help interpret a test, and that help is available.
The help is also available without committing to long-term care in any way. You’re now able to book a visit to review test results, and leave it at that, or book follow-up visits, or not. It’s entirely up to you!
There are several reasons that I’ve chosen to go this route! The biggest is that we now live in an era of information availability, and patients can and do go online and research their symptoms and issues. It may be just Googling symptoms, or it can be as in-depth as doing literature searches in the National Library of Medicine to see what published research is available on a topic.
While a practitioner such as myself has education and experience, patients close to the same access to data as I do. I can offer my help to get past certain points, and sometimes to help choose what direction to go in. For many patients, the only thing they need from me is access to a test that they would like to do. Gluten sensitivity is a good example, as many mainstream medical providers have a binary way of thinking that’s essentially “either you have Celiac Disease, or you should be OK with gluten consumption” despite the plethora of research articles from researchers documenting the realities of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. So, it’s quite common that a patient wants to do a detailed, peptide-level gluten sensitivity test and their provider won’t order it. Now, the patient can get that answer easily!
Another reason for my decision to “open source” test/supplement/consultation availability is that I believe that it’s the next wave of healthcare. After 2020, Covid lockdowns, and clinics not booking appointments until months in the future, patient care evolved and it may never return to the “controlled by the doctor” model. Personally I think that’s not entirely bad, and as long as serious conditions don’t get overlooked, patients have access to enough information in many cases.
I also firmly believe that the future of healthcare, from diagnostics to treatment and even surgery, will evolve into the realm of AI and robotics. But, that is a subject for a different day! I think patient-directed care, and patient access to diagnostics and natural interventions, is an in-between that holds significant promise.
The need for supplements as part of a plan to meet any of the goals mentioned earlier really needs to be emphasized. Food supplements are useful in several different scenarios:
A. Filling “gaps” in your diet, preventing nutrient deficiencies that result from your diet lacking sufficient bio-available nutrients of one type or another, or possibly poor absorption as you digest said foods.
B. Altering some aspect of your physiology to help achieve a goal. For example, the amino acid Arginine is useful in that it has vasodilatory properties. That means it helps relax your blood vessels. Why would you want to do that? Relaxing blood vessels can help reduce your blood pressure. It can also help with erectile dysfunction, working as a less potent and far more accessible version of Viagra. Dilating blood vessels can also improve some types of headaches.
As another example, the herb Tribulus terrestris can raise Testosterone levels, which makes it easier to gain muscle mass and bone density. So, the point is that supplements can be used to “hack” our physiology to improve something.
It's important to also realize that the modern diet is quite likely to be deficient in some nutrients, due to farming practices or poor food choices. If you don’t believe that, check on what commercial fertilizer is made of and you’ll see that it adds three minerals. Three. What about all of the other minerals and biologics in fertile soil? What about the microbiome of fertile soil that helps plants to incorporate important nutrients? Well, you’re not going to get that from most purchased food, unless you’re at an organic farm stand.
We are also at a point in time where there actually is not a consensus opinion on what the ideal diet is for the human organism. We have people claiming that the ideal diet is vegan, and people claiming the ideal diet is carnivore, and many opinions someplace in between those two.
As a way of moving forward toward health, I believe in looking to the body and sometimes labwork for answers. If you can find a diet that makes you feel amazing and your physiology echoes that feeling in appearance and lab values, that’s likely a good diet for you! But beware that there are also fundamental differences of opinion about some items, such as…cholesterol.
The opinions are evolving, and as a functional practitioner I try to stay as up-to-date as possible on what scientists and researchers are learning-and I recommend that to patients as well.
I’ve found it’s best to not go into a period of learning when burdened with the belief that one already knows the answers! In this regard, some labwork, some knowledge, and a little help from an experienced functional practitioner can go a long way toward meeting health goals.
Your eating program can be used as yet another tool to help you achieve your health goals. I may choose some silly examples but I think you’ll get my drift.
If your goal is anti-aging, and your diet consists of a lot of sweets, donuts, and sugary breakfast cereal…you’re not likely to live as long as your genetics could allow you to.
Similarly, if you want to be a competitive bodybuilder or weightlifter and your diet is protein deficient because you only eat salads and smoothies with little protein content, you’re unlikely to succeed as much as would be possible with a high enough protein intake.
There are several factors to potentially consider when looking at what your “ideal eating plan” might be:
1. You have to be able to digest the foods you’re eating, or they won’t do you much good.
2. Your foods should provide the fuel and nutrients your body requires to both get through the day and rebuild or heal, while creating all needed hormones and other proteins required for peak function.
3. Your foods should feed your beneficial gut bacteria, while not feeding non-beneficial bacteria. Some categories of foods consistently feed bad bacteria-most notably sweet foods. Beneficial bacteria require certain nutrients. How would you know? A combination of observations (how is your bathroom experience, for example!) and labwork, such as looking at your gut bacteria with labwork that identifies all the relevant microorganisms and provides dietary guidance as well as advice on probiotics (yes, that’s available).
A common example that I’ve seen countless times in clinic as well as in my circle of friends and family: a person who is somewhat overweight, cannot go without eating for very long without feeling weak or “hangry” (hungry + angry), and whose blood pressure is rising. Physicians might be telling this person that their triglycerides and cholesterol are high and they should be on statin drugs. While society may be accepting of the “Dad Bod”, physiology is far less forgiving and these characteristics are the highway to heart disease.
The elements of this journey are insulin resistance, weight gain, elevating blood pressure, and inflammation as they work together to cause atherosclerosis and eventually a heart attack. A stop along the way involves insulin resistance, “pre-diabetes”, and then Type II Diabetes. Today’s research authors are considering atherosclerosis as “type III diabetes”, as insulin resistance is such a big part of what triggers heart disease.
This Dad Bod person, whom we’ll call Jim for purposes of this example, has some goals:
How this plan might come together for Jim:
To review, Jim put these strategies into place:
Hopefully this example shows how these different pieces fit together. It’s just an example though, and different situations might have more of one of these issues than another. Some tests are easier to interpret than others, and some patients have more of a science background than others.
It’s OK as help is available when it is wanted or needed!
If this makes sense to you and you’re ready to take control of your health and make changes, here are the steps to take:
What we've discussed so far: