My Journey to Better Health: Part 2 of 3 – How Functional Lab Tests helped me Reclaim my Health and Vitality
After discovering the health benefits of a diet that supported my unique body, I wanted to continue digging deeper. Despite the improvement in my energy, weight and mood, I still had some symptoms.
(If you missed Part 1 of this series, please go here to learn about my personal dietary discoveries.)
One of my main health complaints was the pain and bloating I experienced in my abdomen. Once in 2003, I was actually hospitalized for the pain. The doctors thought I might have had appendicitis. After a CT scan, x-rays, bloodwork and numerous physical exams, the doctors determined that I didn’t need my appendix removed… but they also didn’t know what caused my intense pain. Over the next decade, I just dealt with the flares that came and went just accepting that my body was flawed and that was how life was going to be.
I discussed my digestive problems a few times with my doctor over the years. I had struggled with constipation (yes, I just wrote that – and a lot of my clients suffer with it too), and my doctor simply suggested fiber supplements and never really addressed the pain… or the reason why I had the symptom in the first place. Before I moved from Boston, I went to a naturopath who did a bunch of muscle testing and sold me $400 worth of supplements (which actually did help me feel slightly better). Yet, I still didn’t know what was causing the discomfort, and when the supplements ran out, the discomfort returned.
Upon arriving in San Diego and being freshly enrolled in nutrition school, I asked my new doctor for a food sensitivity test. I was actually hoping to have a sensitivity so that I would have an answer and an easy solution. He ran an allergy test (which is different from sensitivity), and of course nothing showed up. I found a new doctor that has more of an integrative approach, and he ordered an ultrasound, stool testing, and sent me to a gastroenterologist for additional medical testing. I actually had to be put under anesthesia for some of these tests! Afterwards, I was told that the results revealed absolutely nothing, except that “I was fine”… but I still had pain and bloating. Fiber was recommended along with removing dairy and practicing stress-reduction or meditation.
As my interest in nutrition and functional medicine grew, I enrolled in a certification program called Functional Diagnostic Nutrition®. During the program, I had the opportunity to run the lab tests I was learning about in the course on myself and two clients - as well as create comprehensive protocols to address the healing opportunities discovered through the results and the intake process. One of the main tenants in their approach to health is to look for the root cause of malfunction and imbalance. This actually took a little bit of a shift in mindset for me since I had always seen doctors who diagnose the symptom and prescribe a pill (whether pharmaceutical or herbal).
As I went over my functional lab results with my mentor for the FDN program, I’ll never forget the emotions and tears I experienced - I finally had some answers. After years of being told I was fine, I could see on paper, in black and white, that my body was not fine – I did not have a diagnosable disease (thankfully), but my body was over-stressed and I had a parasitic infection (which is a lot more common that you may think!).
While the initial change in my diet was an excellent first step towards improvement, becoming my own "health detective" and running these tests help me to dig deeper at the root of my abdominal pain. I spent more than a decade without answers, and undoing the damage that was done is still a work in progress for me. While dialing in my food through elimination diets and pure trial and error has made a big shift in the way I feel, there was still a missing piece to the puzzle.
Symptoms (such as my abdominal pain) are the final messages from your body that something is wrong. I think back to the years prior when these symptoms were just smoldering, being fueled by a poor diet, inadequate sleep, antibiotics and birth control pills. By making changes to my lifestyle and taking some targeted supplements, my abdominal pain has improved, my skin glows, I’ve lost weight, and I have more energy!
By utilizing the lab testing with my clients, we are able to gather more information that can link directly to their health complaints. The results can provide answers and point us in the right direction for developing a customized plan for addressing the imbalances or infections.
One client, Katie*, enrolled in my Self Care 90 program with concerns about her hormones, digestion, and energy. She suffered from painful, irregular periods, poor sleep that left her exhausted, and some mild digestive problems (that had gotten better with her 2 year commitment to a Paleo diet).
When her results came back, we could see that she was experiencing intestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”). This means that the lining of her small intestine was compromised and larger food particles, proteins and/or waste may have been passing through into the bloodstream and leading to other complications throughout the body.
We also discovered that she had a parasitic infection! After designing a protocol that had an extra emphasis on gut health, Katie’s symptoms began to improve. Due to the interconnected nature of chronic stress (from gut imbalances) on the hormonal system, she noticed improvement in her cycle as well. As an added bonus, she even lost those “last 5-10 pounds” that she had struggled with for years.
Functional lab testing adds a tremendous advantage in a health coaching program. You can see on paper the hidden stressors and infections your body may be experiencing and can pinpoint problem areas. Additionally, the results can guide you to further tests that help to reveal even more healing opportunities!
Are you interested in learning more about the ways functional lab tests can help you rebuild your health? Let’s set up a time to chat!
*name changed for privacy
I have suffered from numerous health challenges conventional medicine couldn't fix. This blog is a place for me to share my experiences and information with others who want to feel better again too. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I always look forward to supporting you to improve your health!