For years conventional doctors told people that their chronic fatigue was all in their head. Finally two years ago an official diagnosis (with criteria) was created in the US. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is debilitating exhaustion, for no ‘apparent’ reason. The validation of this diagnosis is a huge step in the right direction, yet there is still no test or official treatment for CFS.
Those of us in the functional nutrition world have been successfully treating fatigue with diet and supplements. By targeting the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, we are able to boost a patient’s energy levels. Other treatments include improving the function of the gut and boosting the immune system, also by using diet and supplements. These approaches work wonders for most people with fatigue.
Now, new research is emerging that shows the people with CFS have a dysfunction in a certain cell receptor. There is a genetic alteration in the code for the TRPM3 receptor. This receptor facilitates the transfer of calcium through the cell wall. According to preliminary research, people with CFS have fewer functioning TRPM3 receptors preventing sufficient amounts of calcium from entering the cell causing depressed cell function. This discovery is in the early stages, and more research is needed, but this is a big relief to those who have been previously dismissed by conventional doctors and who are in desperate need of a new solution.
Magnesium is one of the most powerful minerals, responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Magnesium is a vital electrolyte, and among the biochemical reactions it regulates are protein synthesis, blood-glucose control, and blood pressure, insulin regulation, vitamin D metabolism, bone health, and detoxing. Magnesium also greatly affects heart function, digestion, and sleep.
But that’s all boring, right? What about the fact that Magnesium is a treatment for anxiety? insomnia? constipation? fatigue?
Just a few of the effects of Magnesium:
Magnesium slows nerve signals leading to a calming and relaxing feeling in the body and brain. This makes magnesium a wonderful natural treatment for those with anxiety, insomnia, and ADHD.
Magnesium is needed to make ATP. ATP is the energy molecule in the body (that we produce from calories, with the help of Magnesium).
Magnesium relaxes the muscles of the GI tract making it easier to go to the bathroom
Magnesium also draws water into the intestine, making it the most natural treatment for constipation
Your body needs magnesium to run the many detoxification pathways that your body uses to get rid of metals and free radicals (from normal metabolic processes, as well as pollutants in our environment)
Heavy metals compete with magnesium for entry into the brain cells and for absorption in the gut. If we have enough magnesium and vitamins/minerals, healthy metals such as aluminum won’t be absorbed as readily.
Studies show that Magnesium combats insomnia. People take it to promote getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Reflux and/or that full indigestion feeling
Magnesium relaxes the sphincter at the bottom of the stomach. This promotes stomach emptying, so food won’t sit like a rock in your stomach (which can lead to reflux).
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you might be deficient in magnesium:
Muscles cramps or twitching
Sensitive to loud noises
Additionally, research shows magnesium deficiency is common in those with these conditions:
In the United States, magnesium deficiency is a serious concern. The reason is simple: many of us eat a diet that contains very little magnesium. The Western-American diet is filled with highly processed, refined foods, white flour, meat, and processed dairy. None of these foods contain magnesium. In addition magnesium is decreased with the intake of alcohol, salt, coffee, profuse sweating, chronic stress, chronic diarrhea, diuretics, antibiotics, and other drugs. It is no wonder everyone needs more magnesium!
Foods high in magnesium include: Wheat bran, wheat germ, brown rice, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, rye, soy beans, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, dark leafy greens, and garlic.
But it is often a good idea to supplement. Magnesium glycinate is the best form of magnesium to get past your gut and into your brain and muscles. But if constipation is your challenge, than magnesium citrate or oxide is best.
Conventional medicine is very effective if you have an acute problem, which needs immediate treatment. Despite all the advances in science and medicines, chronic diseases are on the rise. Most people suffer from some form of chronic problem (such as IBS, high cholesterol, Diabetes, insomnia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, ADHD, etc). Conventional medicine doesn’t seem to be able to treat these problems successfully. At best, conventional medicine doles out prescriptions to dampen the symptoms. That isn’t ‘treatment,’ and it certainly isn’t prevention. The problem? Neither the individual nor the root cause of the illness is treated.
Functional Medicine and Nutrition is an entirely different approach.
Functional Medicine Nutrition Therapy is a personalized method for getting to the root of your symptoms and restoring balance to your system. It is about promoting health, not just treating illness.
Everybody’s different. We each have different genes, different microbiomes (which influence everything), and different lifestyles. In Functional Nutrition, all information is taken into account: sleep, diet, stress level, activity level, energy level, mood, sunlight exposure, time in nature, and other data. Additionally, using tests that actually reveal what’s going on inside your body down to the cellular level and tests for genetic influences, diet and supplementation can be very targeted.
As the Institute of Functional Medicine explains: “The current healthcare system fails to take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual and the ability of food, toxins and other environmental factors to influence gene expression.”
Treating the problem, not just the symptom:
If you throw drugs at a symptom, without addressing the root cause of the symptom, you are clearing the smoke but not putting out the fire. Left resolved, the cause will continue to persist, and therefore so with the symptoms. The drug will continue to be needed indefinitely (and possibly at greater and greater doses) to treat this symptom.
Chris Kresser articulates this: “In conventional medicine…they mostly focus on symptoms and diseases. If you go to a doctor and you have high cholesterol, you get a drug to lower your cholesterol…and there’s often little investigation into why your cholesterol is high in the first place. The intent is to just bring it down, and that’s generally the end of the story. In functional medicine… Symptoms are important in as much as they can give us clues as to what the underlying mechanisms might be that are contributing to the problem, but they’re not as important because when you focus on the underlying mechanisms and causes and you address those, the symptoms tend to resolve on their own, so you don’t have to worry about going after each and every symptom individually. You just address the root causes and the symptoms resolve.”
Dr. Mark Hyman, one of the leaders in Functional Medicine, articulates this point very well in the foreword he wrote for The Disease Delusion (a book written by Dr. Jeffery Bland, the father of Functional Medicine): “Depression is not the cause of misery, it is merely the name we give to a constellation of symptoms. The actual cause of depression may vary greatly from patient to patient…knowing the name of a disease tells us nothing about its true cause; nor does it lead us to the right treatment”
Conventional medicine has its place. It has saved my life more than once. However, in other instances, it also left me disappointed. I know my clients have felt the same way before coming to see me.
Dr. Fitzgerald, another leader in the field, sums it up: “Simply, functional medicine is an individualized, systems-based, patient-centered approach to care. We look at the whole person, their environment, diet & lifestyle and genetics/epigenetics. An individual’s history is carefully mapped to a timeline, which we use to gather clues to the cause(s) and promoter(s) of disease/imbalance. Sensitive laboratory assessments help us “look under the metabolic hood” for contributing biochemical/genetic/microbial/nutrient/inflammatory/toxicity issues.”
For all these reasons, I am very excited about Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy. I am a Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner and have been practicing it with my clients (and on my own health) for several years.
Turmeric (that bright orange spice that turns your cutting boards and dishes yellow) is amazing.
Curcumin is one of the phytochemicals (natural healthful plant chemicals) that is in turmeric, and curcumin is thought to be the reason for turmeric’s healthful benefits (see below). But don’t get too bogged down in this; the benefits of turmeric, which contains 300 phytochemicals, come from all the phytochemicals working together synergistically. Not only that but curcumin is not very bioavailable and turmeric is. Another example of that a whole food is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
You can buy turmeric in its whole form (it looks a little like a ginger root and can be found in that same section of the store) and then cut it or grate it. Or you can save your fingers, cutting boards, graters and plates, and buy it as a spice in a container in the spice section. You can also get it as a supplement, in pill form. This last option is particularly good if you want to use turmeric for health reasons and need a higher amount than just a few sprinkles on your chicken.
Why is turmeric so great?
Research has showed that turmeric is beneficial in the prevention and management of over 600 health conditions.
And turmeric has no adverse side effects (at normal doses), like most drugs that treat conditions.
Chronic inflammation is the reason for almost all disease states including heart disease, Diabetes, Crohn’s and Colitis, Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Inflammation is also what causes or contributes to those un-well diagnoses of IBS and Fibromyalgia.
Seeking out cell-damaging free-radicals and neutralizing them, helps prevent or treat cell damage, fatigue, aging, Alzheimer’s Disease and Cancer.
Anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
Not convinced? Give me a call and I’ll tell you more 🙂
Do you suffer from any of these symptoms: fatigue, brain fog, pain, anxiety, insomnia, and don’t know why?
Inside every cell in your body, a complicated seven-cycle chemical reaction takes place billions of times per second. You need 20 enzymes for each step of this reaction to occur. You need the right genes in order to make those 20 enzymes. You also need co-factors, namely: vitamins and minerals, in order to enable those enzymes.
There are genetic variants, routinely called SNPs (snips) that influence our genes. One variant is MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reducatase). About 50% of the population has this genetic variant or chromosomal mutation. This enzyme is needed for methylation. Like all 20 other enzymes, MTHFR is needed or those 7-cycles get clogged up.
Why is methylation important? It is an essential process for optimal functioning of your body and your mind. Some processes it is involved in:
DNA repair and synthesis
keeping inflammation in check
Some symptoms of impaired methylation include:
pain and inflammation
infertility and miscarriage
intolerance to exercise
Unfortunately, the list of symptoms associated with poor methylation is somewhat nonspecific, in that the same list of symptoms could be explained by several other causes. In fact, most of those symptoms could be tied to one’s gut health!
But methylation and whether you have the MTHFR variant is a very important piece of the puzzle; one that is worth knowing, for there is no way to deal with this problem other than with proper specific supplementation. It is important to supplement yourself with proper guidance, because it is possible to overmethylate, which can lead to other problems.
And don’t forget about those co-factors, the vitamins and minerals. Different ones are needed for different cycles, and there is also a test to see if you are deficient in any vitamins and minerals.
There is a simple blood test, that I offer through Spectracell to find out if you have the MTHFR SNP. And there is a saliva mail-in test through 23andme to find out all your other SNPs.
For more information on MTHFR visit here, and here.
It is important to note that this is new science and while it is widely accepted in the functional medicine world, conventional medicine doctors are either unaware of MTHFR or skeptical of its importance. This area does indeed need more research. Hopefully that research will happen in time.
Feeling tired but doc says nothing is wrong? Might be adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a diagnosis used in functional medicine. Most conventional doctors only deal with adrenal problems if your adrenals are down to zero. But what if they are not at zero but are very depleted and you are not bouncing back? That’s a problem that deserves attention too.
Adrenal fatigue is caused by stress. Stress can be physical (infection, surgery), emotional (divorce, death), or environmental (poor diet, toxins). The adrenal glands respond to every kind of stress the same way.
Adrenal fatigue can be sudden, as in a terrible car accident or gradual, with smaller stresses that accumulate or come so close to one another that your body has no time to recover. I’m sure we can all imagine a time where a root canal, major job stress, family member major illness, and a month of binging on holiday candy and egg nog, all can happen at the same time.
Basically adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress is more than the body’s adrenals can cope with.
A short (not complete) list of symptoms:
-Continuing fatigue not relieved by sleep
-Increased effort to do everyday tasks
-Craving for salty foods
-Increased time to recover from illness, injury or trauma
-Skipping a meal causes tons of problems such as worse fatigue and irritability
Conditions associated with adrenal fatigue:
-Use of corticosteroids
-Chronic fatigue syndrome
Eating habits are very important in treating adrenal fatigue. Some tips:
-Eat at frequent intervals. The adrenal hormone cortisol is responsible for keeping our blood sugar at normal levels. You need to eat to keep your blood sugar up because your body can’t do it on its own.
-Avoid caffeine, it depletes the adrenals too, making matters worse not better
-Snack between lunch and dinner and snack before bed.
-Eat good quality whole food.
-Go ahead and eat salt. You need it.
Food sensitivities also play a key role as the offending food causes histamine and other inflammatory substances to be released. It takes cortisol to reduce that inflammation. That’s taxing on the already drained adrenals.
If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue you should get assessed by a functional doctor or nutritionist and get a personalized plan. Click on this website for more resources and information.
Are you struggling with IBS and pulling your hair out because no matter how careful you are about what you eat, you still have diarrhea? You might be deficient in vitamin B12. Did you know that zinc helps you concentrate and studies show that zinc deficiency is very common in people with ADHD? Did you know that being tired might not be a sign of needing a nap, but rather magnesium deficiency?
have muscle cramps?
have skin conditions?
have digestive problems?
have low libido?
These are all signs of micronutrient deficiencies. And they all have a simple easy solution-supplementation of the nutrient you are deficient in. But you don’t want to just wildly take supplements. Perhaps you do just need a nap. Additionally, too much of a good thing is dangerous. You want to discover what your unique deficiencies are and how much of specific nutrients you would need to reestablish a healthy level.
How? How to figure out what’s going on in your body without all the guess work? Through a simple micronutrient blood test. Keep reading for more details.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are extremely common in people who have chronic health problems. Do you suffer from:
Crohn’s or Colitis
Micronutrient deficiencies are also very common in people who are on medications such as:
Cholesterol lowering drugs
I am pleased to offer micronutrient testing to my clients through Spectracell. Their exclusive and comprehensive micronutrient test measures 35 essential nutrients INSIDE your cells (not just in your blood serum). This will give a much more accurate and long term picture of your health (compared to conventional blood testing you can get at your doctor’s office). Vitamins and minerals are so crucial to your health and the symptoms of deficiency (some are listed above) can be easily overlooked or worse, mistaken for other health problems. Imagine getting a slew of tests and medical treatments (to no avail) when the solution is supplementing a specific nutrient you are missing.
So many of us go along with our lives, taking a multivitamin and assuming that everything is fine. But wouldn’t it better to be aware of what’s going on in your body?
Please contact Dianne with any questions or for more information. Check out my tests page for this and other tests I offer.
Most of us are rushing around all day. Squeezing in eating and checking it off the schedule. If you have kids, meals can be even more rushed. The kids are hungry and want the food now, and then you all have to zoom off to school or an activity afterward.
Here’s the problem: when we are in stressed-out-rushing mode our digestive systems are too. This means we digest and absorb less of our food and our body doesn’t receive all that it needs to function well. (And the kids don’t get all they need to grow!)
The cortisol that is released when you are stressed (any time you are not relaxed, you are stressed) causes all kinds of damage to your body.
But what it does to your digestion? It basically switches it off. Less stomach acid and digestive enzymes (necessary for digestion), and less absorption of vital nutrients.
So, here’s what I suggest. Before each meal: REST, For 20 seconds. What you do in that 20 seconds is up to you. Breathe and meditate. Say Grace. Doesn’t matter, as long as you are STILL. Set your body into relaxed-mode and you will get tons more nutrition out of your meal.
Image courtesy of khongkitwiriyachan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Snacks are an important part of a daily diet for most people.
Snacking can keep our energy up so we can better focus and be productive. It also keeps us from becoming over-hungry and subsequently overeating and/or making poor food choices. But if we are eating chips or candy every day at 3pm, we will suffer the consequences (weight gain for one).
I have compiled a list of snacks for eating at the office. Some are suitable only if you have access to a refrigerator. Hope you are inspired and stop visiting that vending machine!
Cottage Cheese (w/fruit and/or nuts, or by itself)
In honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, I have a different type of post.
He is the author of one of my favorite quotes: “Darkness can’t drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that”
Well, how many of us hate our bodies? It is not only unfair to your body, it is counterproductive to your goals (assuming your goals are to improve your body in some way).
So, today, and everyday, try to be kinder to yourself. Think of all the ways your body is an amazing machine. Your body serves you every minute of every day. It carries on tremendously important functions without your awareness or effort. It gets you from here to there. It allows you to see, hear, taste, feel. Every single thing you do is done by or with your body. You’d be nothing and nowhere without it. Cherish it.
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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net