Why I Decided to Become a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner

Back in February 2014 I found it hard to get through the day and found it very hard to get through my workouts.  I was short of breath during my workouts and found teaching boot camp and HIIT classes near impossible.  I was unusually exhausted and felt weak.  So, I went to the doctor and had labs run. 

Long story short, I went from having labs run to having a bone marrow biopsy because apparently the test show that I do not have enough red blood cells since my body is killing off and destroying my own red blood cells.  They were ruling out all sorts of blood cancers, autoimmune disorders, etc.

My doctor at Duke Hematology said to me, “You are the first case that I cannot figure out why you are hemolyzing. I have never NOT solved a hemolysis case.”

So, I went on to Duke Integrative Medicine to doctors who specialize in functional and integrative medicine which is aimed to find the root of a problem and the underlying causes for symptoms or disease.

Dr. Nedlow from Duke Integrative was very educational informative and she did have a suspicion of what was going on – but only because her son had something similar to my issue many years ago.  Apparently my red blood cells has a band on it called an IGF band that is not supposed to be there and my body sees it as foreign….attacks it…..and kills it.

Way to go!!! I need those red blood cells!!!

But, my body is killing them.  And they don’t really know how to stop it other than putting my on some sort of chemotherapy drug which does other damage to the body.

So they suggested I be monitored since I am still able to function but Dr. Nedlow suggested I have a cortisol test done.

Cortisol? What? Me?  No way.......

Cortisol??  Me??  I, as a trainer, know all too much about cortisol.  I can spot clients who have cortisol issues or adrenal fatigue a mile away.  I am not like them.

I don’t have they typical weight gain around the middle, lack of muscle density, weight gain issues, etc.  I am not sick with colds all the time and I can get up out of bed in the morning and I can stay awake during the day. 

I have to admit, I was offended!!!!  But she explained to me that since I had a major stressor on my body because my body is killing my red blood cells and my body has to work extra hard to keep up it will have an effect on my cortisol levels.

Dr. Nedlow and I continued to talk and she learned about what I did for a living as a personal trainer.  I told her I went back to school for nutrition and then she told me about learning to do Functional Diagnostics where I would better be able to help my clients…..and myself.

What is Functional Diagnostic Nutrition?

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® (FDN) is a holistic process that employs functional laboratory testing and assessments to identify malfunctions and underlying conditions at the root of most common health complaints. FDN embraces metabolic individuality and provides a step by step method that allows our clients to achieve repeatable, consistent and successful outcomes. FDN can help to uncover and resolve digestive issues, food intolerances, parasite and fungal infections, hormonal imbalances including adrenal fatigue, menopause, andropause, and thyroid issues. 

So I decided to go for it.

I decided to get educated and certified so I can better help my clients.  Especially those that come to me and say:

“I swear I am committing to my foods, portions, workouts, etc. and I still cannot get the scale to budge.”

“I am doing everything right and I cannot get the pounds off.”

Now these clients are not common…..but they are real.

And I want to know why and I know the answer lies in hormones, food allergies and detoxification issues.

Part of the program I have to run these laboratory assessment on myself.  I have to run hormone tests, cortisol tests, food allergy tests, gut dysfunction and liver issues.  

This is where I was shocked....

My cortisol levels came back that I have late Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue.

My adrenal glands are burned out. 

Bottomed out.

Now it was starting to make sense. 

Interestingly, adrenal issues also can cause issues with red blood cells and the “lack of them”. Right now I am in the process of healing my adrenals and finding out how if this is affecting my red blood cell hemolysis and my body’s ability to not kill off its own red blood cells. 

I am working with my hematologist and Dr. Nedlow to further investigate why my body is attacking itself. 

I had a host of other symptoms that were so unrelated – I was constipated, losing hair, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, etc.  

Adrenal Fatigue??

So many unrelated symptoms but they are all related to adrenal fatigue.

  • Weight gain and unable to lose it, especially around the waist
  • More frequent infections and symptoms tend to last longer than usual
  • Trembling when under pressure
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Lightheaded when rising from a horizontal position
  • Unable to remember things
  • Lack of energy in the morning and between 3-5pm
  • Feel better suddenly for a brief period after eating a meal
  • Feel tired from 9-10PM but often resist going to bed
  • Need coffee and stimulants to get going in the morning
  • Cravings for salty, fatty and high protein foods such as meat and cheese
  • Increased PMS symptoms (period may be heavier than usual for the first 3 days, then stop or they seem to stop only to start again in a day or two)
  • Pain in the upper back or neck for no apparent reason
  • Difficulty waking in the morning
  • Lightheaded

Other symptoms include:

  • Mild depression
  • Food or environmental allergies (you may have been able to eat certain foods and now suddenly you cannot tolerate them)
  • Lack of energy
  • Take a lot more to get through the day
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Low body temperature
  • Nervousness
  • Palpitations
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition does not diagnose or treat disease but it helps to find clues as to why we are struggling with symptoms or inability to lose weight or just sick and tired of feeling sick and tired!!  Often the cause of the symptoms is not always a clinical disease but rather because of hidden stressors on the body (such as food sensitivities, doing workouts that are not appropriate for you hormonal balance at that time, etc.) that we can control if we knew we had them!

The reason this is so important is because whenever you have some sort of stressor on your body – whether it be internal or external – it has an effect on your adrenal health. 

My adrenal health affects my overall well-being (as you can see from the list above).

We know what the external stressors are:

  • Work stress
  • Family issues
  • Financial issues
  • Divorce
  • Death in family
  • Etc.

But we are not always aware of the internal stressors:

  • Food allergies
  • Gut dysfunction
  • Blood sugar issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Etc.

What this means for you.....

If we can find out what the internal stressors are and if we can address and alleviate them – then we can take a step towards true health and better protect us against disease which is often caused from constant internal stressors.

But for my clients who are struggling with weight loss - having the ability to test and not guess is huge.  I am so excited to be able to pinpoint why my clients are not responding to diet and exercise.  I will then be able to know if it is hormonal, food allergies, gut dysfunction, etc. and be able to better direct them so they can help themselves heal and continue on the road to optimum health.

I believe my clients when they tell me they cannot lose weight no matter what they are doing.  

I believe them when they say they are doing everything they should be doing - eating right and exercising and the scale doesn't budge.

Now my clients will be able to solve their main complaint – which is usually the inability to lose weight!!

Test……don’t guess!!

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