Cracking The Code of Chronic Health & Life Challenges With The Emotion Code!

The Mind-Body Connection

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The field of pyscho-neuro-immunology has long proven that our mental and emotional states of being absolutely contribute to setting the stage for and keeping people stuck within chronic states of physical & mental health issues as well as many other life challenges.  

In both my personal and professional experience, I have observed this to be true!

I also wholeheartedly believe in and embrace the importance of bio-chemical & lifestyle interventions in restoring function to the body but I do not feel they are effective as a stand-alone approach in most scenarios.  If they were, I do not feel the rates of chronic health & life challenges would be near as high as they are. 

Because it is important to me to be a cutting-edge practitioner, I continually seek new, innovative healing modalities to add to my tool box for helping myself and my clients to restore their health and reclaim their life!

In light of this, I recently completed the Emotion Code practitioner training and am eager to weave it into my work with clients within my functional health consulting practice.

What Is The Emotion Code?

To understand the Emotion Code, it is necessary to first understand the following:

  • At the most fundamental level everything in the Universe is made of energy.  

  • Energy cannot be created nor destroyed; it can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. 

  • We are energetic/spiritual beings on a physical journey here on earth.  Our bodies generate an electromagnetic field known as the human bio-field; which radiates outside of our bodies and interacts with the bio-fields of others.

  • We have energetic highways running throughout our bodies; more commonly known as meridians where energy is transferred at the speed of light between cells and organ systems. 

  • The energetic bio-field, because of how rapid information is transferred within it, from a quantum physics point of view, is considered to be a governing force over biochemistry and physiology.

  • The thoughts we think, the intentions we set, and the emotions we feel are also energy.

  • Just as energy in nature can become trapped in various locations such as within a volcano or geyser, the energy from painful emotional states & traumatic experiences can become trapped within our bodies.

  • Trapped emotional energy within the body causes distortion within the bio-field; thus, causing disruptions within the body’s biochemistry and physiology.

  • Trapped emotional energy within the body emits a vibrational frequency that knocks the body out of homeostasis by placing stress on the autonomic nervous system, affects surrounding tissues, radiates outside the body, and because of resonance can attract people and experiences that emit the same or similar frequency.   

  • In light of this, trapped emotional energy can contribute to or manifest as physical and/or mental health challenges and various life challenges such as relationship, career, and personal success issues. 

  • Our conscious mind, which represents 10% of our mind’s power, is not aware of trapped emotional energy. Our subconscious mind, which represents the other 90% of our mind, is very aware it and the effects it is having on our health and/or our life.

  • Every experience you have had in your life is logged within your subconscious mind-body system; much the same way files are stored on the hard drive of a computer.

The Emotion Code is a modality, created by Dr. Bradley Nelson, that taps into the energetic realm of the human bio-field and the deep intelligence of the subconscious mind-body system to identify and release trapped emotional energy from the body.

When trapped, negative emotional energy is released from the body, the stress burden on the body and in a person’s life is reduced, thus creating space for more nourishing energy to flow in and balance to be restored. 

When & How Does Emotional Energy Get Trapped In The Body?

Great question! We are all born with varying degrees of stress resilience.  Part of stress resilience is being able to adequately process, move through, and release the energy of painful emotional states and traumatic experiences.  Emotional energy can become trapped in the body when:

  • The trauma is so huge or goes on for so long that it overwhelms the nervous system

  • We are run down and operating at reduced cellular energy (i.e.: vital reserves)

  • We are not living our lives from a space of integrity

  • We are not living our lives in alignment with our core values/being true to ourselves

  • We have a tendency to ruminate and worry

  • We absorb it from another person or animal due to being empathic and without stable energetic boundaries

  • It is passed onto us in utero from one of our parents

  • It is passed onto us at the time of conception from previous generations.  This is known as inherited trauma or family karma

What The Emotion Code Can and CANNOT Do!

As previously stated, the Emotion Code is a form of energy healing that taps into the intelligence of the human bio-field & subconscious mind-body system in order to identify and release trapped emotional energy that can contribute to or be a cause of health and life challenges.   

The Emotion Code CANNOT be used to:

  • diagnose, treat, or cure disease

  • predict the future or winning lottery numbers! :)

  • answer important life-changing questions such as: Should I have the brain surgery to remove this tumor? Should I leave my husband? Should I quit my job? Etc.

 What Might Cause the Emotion Code NOT To Work?

Seeing that the efficacy of the Emotion Code in helping a person to identify and release trapped emotional energy depends on the ability to connect with the energy of a person’s bio-field and subconscious mind, the following scenarios could inhibit this process:

  • If the person has no belief/faith in the process and thus creates the intention of “this is a bunch of bogus and will never work!”  Remember! Our thoughts and intentions are energy and energy creates our reality.  If your heart and mind are closed to this realm of healing, then that will be the reality you experience.

  • If the person has a spinal misalignment or is dehydrated; which both can interfere with connecting to the inner wisdom of the energetic bio-field and subconscious mind.

What Is A Heart Wall?

A heart wall is when there has been so much emotional pain that the mind-body system uses the energy of several different trapped emotions to create a protective wall around the heart.  The subconscious mind will often metaphorically “construct” the wall out of some kind of material such as wood, plastic, or metal that may or may not be symbolic in some way.

Heart walls, especially when hidden, can sometimes make it to where the subconscious mind-body system is not ready to communicate and thus connecting to the energy may be difficult or at least more challenging.  Always keep in mind, the mind-body system reveals and releases energy and heals at its own pace.

What Can I Expect After An Emotion Code Session?

Many times, NOT always, the release of trapped, emotional energy can create a healing response.  A healing response may look like the following:

  • An increase in fatigue, aches, or another physical symptom

  • Some sleeplessness

  • An increase in energy or creativity due to the release of “emotional baggage” (which would be a good thing!)

  • An “Aha” moment of some sort (which would also be a good thing!)

 Will I Need More Than One Session?

I would say it’s pretty safe to say that we have all had our fair share of heartache, adversity, and traumatic experiences in life as well as generational “baggage” to contend with.   In light of this, it is common for people to have a good amount of trapped emotional energy in their bodies.  And, the older one is, the more time he/she has had to rack up layers of trapped energy.  Per Dr. Nelson, 80% of adults have heart walls!

Additionally, we are always prone to accumulating additional trapped emotional energy; depending on what is going on in our lives.  For this reason, it is a wise idea to do a series of sessions at first in order to experience the most noticeable benefit and then do “tune up” sessions every once and awhile to keep the energetic meridians free and clear of emotional “road blocks.”

 Can This Work For Animals?

Absolutely! Animals can be adversely affected by trapped emotional energy and thus can benefit from the Emotion Code just as much as us humans can! :)

If this resonates with you and you are ready to step into a new realm of healing possibilities, let’s chat by booking an initial FREE Exploration Session below!

“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”

-Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

The Fall & Rise of Jessica: Part III

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Hello again faithful readers, welcome to the third installment of my fall and rise.  I rolled out the first two parts of my story on Instagram and FB but have since decided to turn it into a blog series to be able to include more detail.

My reason for sharing my journey with you is that we are living in dark, dark times.  There are people suffering all around us in every aspect of the word and chronic physical and mental health challenges are at an all-time high. 

Although you will see that I have had my fair share of suffering and major life challenges, it is my promise to myself, you all, and the Universe that I will not allow it all to define my future and I WILL heal my life!  

By reading this and my subsequent blogs you will learn exactly HOW I am doing this.  I will also share with you HOW I am going to make my life EXACTLY what I want it to be, and most importantly how YOU CAN TOO.

Crashing Health, Career Burnout, & Divorce!

To recap, Part I left off with the deterioration of my mental and physical health culminating in me crashing and burning out of my ten-year teaching career.  I also walked away from a dysfunctional ten-year relationship. 

Part II left off with me high-tailing it to Ghana, West Africa and marrying my wonderful husband Ian, after just three months of meeting him online.  Due to limited ways to make money in Africa, I then had to return to the US to a life in shambles. 

I had nowhere to live, was not on speaking terms with my siblings, and was also jobless with worsening health.  Good times… good times (if the sarcasm wasn’t detected please insert it now). 

The mental and physical health challenges I had been facing my entire life up until this point included ADD, anxiety, a Bi-polar 2 diagnosis, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic insomnia, and skin rashes I could not explain.

On a slightly positive note, I did find out I was never legally married due to my “husband” never mailing in the marriage certificate.  Because of this I didn’t have to go through any of the divorce procedures.  Thank the Lord!

I also moved in with my 84-year old grandmother to help her with daily life and was pursuing my substitute teaching license in Illinois.  One might think things were looking up?  Guess again comrades! 

I had just returned from three blissful months in Africa that I spent with the love of my life and where I was graciously accepted by his friends and family.  Whereas, my family here in the US had a MUCH DIFFERENT take on the matter.  So, as you can guess, I was at a LOW point and was living on my cellphone, messaging my husband, and yearning to be back there.

It goes without saying that this does not make the best recipe for caregiving and after two weeks at my grandma’s it was decided that it wasn’t working, and I agreed that it wasn’t the place for me. 

To Run or Step Into Transformation?

All this culminated in a huge fight between me and my mom, which her preferred solution was to slap my ass on a plane back to Africa to figure it out on my own.  Aside from having no financial prospects in Africa, I was actually very happy about this because it offered the escape I had become so accustomed to.  This is where I believe divine intervention stepped in.

My aunt Jennifer sent me a text message to express her disagreement with my return to Africa.  She invited me to come live with her and her husband and helped me understand that going back to Ghana with no plan would result in divorce #2 and in the worsening of my mental and physical health.  Instead, she explained I could turn my life around and build a foundation that would allow me to support myself and return sometime in the future with stability. 

I have always looked up to my aunt Jennifer as more of a big sister than an aunt.  I’d ransack her room as a teenager and find any way to annoy her.  I witnessed her own transformation from crashing and burning out of her own 20-year teaching career, healing from severe chronic illness, and transforming herself from a high school teacher into a dynamic functional medicine practitioner & personal success coach.  Both of us being former teachers, having had a boat load of health challenges to overcome, and a shit ton of trauma in our lives, we had a lot in common.

What was clear to me at that point was I could take the easy way out that would cost me a lot in the long run or I could take the more difficult route of total health and life transformation that could potentially have a huge pay off in the future.

To be honest… I just wanted to run back to Africa!  But… running is what I had been doing for so long, and where had it really gotten me?

I decided move in with Jen and her husband and undergo a complete transformation of my mind and body.  Now we would think that the clouds have finally parted.  Nope!  Not at all. 

Miscarriage, Emotional Wreckage, and More!

It turns out that I was pregnant!!  At 37, with no money and in poor health!   As this subject is still very raw for me, I will sum it up by saying that I miscarried at 2 months.  Anyone that has suffered a loss like that understands how devastating it is, and with infertility being at all-time high in this country I know that many can relate.

So, there I was, in an emotional wreckage but still knowing that I had MAJOR work to do.  That inner voice yelling “Do Something!” was only getting stronger.   It was right around this time that Jen and I had the idea of documenting my journey as a way to help and inspire others whose lives and health have fallen apart.  She has been consulting with people from all over the world for years to help them to overcome chronic illness and heal their lives, but I am her first live-in case! 

The Winds of Change!

It all started with diet under the belief of “using food as medicine”.  I had been following the Paleo way of eating for the last 5 years but only during the week.  On the weekends I let my sugar addiction reign supreme, not wanting to believe that I was undoing all the healthy eating I had done during the week. 

So not only was I going to start a stricter paleo diet, but we were going to be following the Auto Immune Paleolithic Diet.  For those that don’t know, the Paleo diet follows the diet we humans ate during the Hunter-Gatherer era.

So, with Paleo you’re not eating the bread, noodles, pizza, cake, and all the refined, processed, crap foods.  You eat meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables and I always included dairy and alcohol…. Which now that I think about it, really was a highly MODIFIED version (some would argue it was not really Paleo at all).

Auto Immune Paleo (AIP) takes Paleo a few steps further with no eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts, seeds, or legumes.  AIP in general terms, removes all foods that are known to fuel chronic inflammation in a body that has become vulnerable to disease as a result of leaky gut and impaired cellular function.  In addition to this I am also combining aspects of the Nemechek protocol within a comprehensive functional approach; of which is being guided by Jen.

What in the heck does all this mean, you might ask?

  • Eating a grass fed, humanly raised diet of protein, good fats, tons of veggies, and moderate amounts healthy carbs and starches such as low glycemic fruit, root veggies, and winter squashes.

  • Taking grapefruit seed extract and other anti-microbial herbs to clear unhealthy “gut bugs” living in my digestive tract that have been feasting on my sugar and carb cheat days.

  • Taking a well-rounded, multi-vitamin and multi-mineral complex that contains methylated B vitamins; which are super important for supporting methylation…which is SUPER important for mental health!.....more on that in a later post!

  • Consuming two shots of organic extra virgin olive oil a day and 3000 mg of DHA daily to help heal the brain & clear inflammation as a result of years of consuming inflammatory omega 6 oils in baked goods, vegetable oils, and improperly raised animal protein (think non-grass-fed!) 

  • Taking a prebiotic fiber each day to help support the growth of healthy gut bugs.

  • Reprogramming my mind for wellness!

The 4th and 5th bullets are part of the Nemechek protocol.  Dr. Nemechek’s work has supported the healing of autism in children and has made great strides in healing anxiety, depression, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and ADD in adults as well.  It all starts with the gut-brain axis and autonomic nervous system.

Truth, Inspiration, & Hope!

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For years I had been told my mental health challenges were due to chemical imbalances in my brain and the best I could do is manage the symptoms with medications.  Now I am seeing proof each day that mental and physical health challenges are significantly caused by gut-brain axis dysfunction, what you put into and on your body, how you treat your body, your daily habits, and how choose to perceive, believe, and show up in the world.

Although I still have difficult days, the infinite sadness, paralyzing fear, and the life altering fatigue has stopped overcoming me.  Every day I wake up and still can’t believe my health challenges are finally starting to go away after all these years!  Now, please understand that all these positive shifts go beyond just changing my diet and healing my gut.  I am also creating new neural pathways in my mind to write a new, more nourishing script for my nervous system and life to follow.

Changing the neural pathways of the last 37 years is not easy.  I am transforming every aspect of my being and shedding all that which is no longer serving me; which I will be sharing more about in part IV.  I will also be providing more detail about how to use food as medicine, supportive supplementation, and shifting the inner terrain of the body to create sustainable wellness. 

And this is where you come in, dear reader.  This is where I hope others can learn through my experiences and apply the knowledge I share about health and life transformation in order to make positive health and life shifts.  Jennifer and I work daily on implementing all that I have described so far and are now putting it all together in a group program designed around transforming the mind for wellness, greater stress resilience, and personal success.    

I never thought change of this magnitude could be possible.  I thought we are all handed cards and we have to play with what we were dealt.  Well my friends, what if you could find a way to not only get a new hand but ensure it’s a full house, or even a straight flush?  Would you go all in?  I have, and I promise you all that I am going to do everything I can to afford this opportunity to others that truly want it.

Stay tuned for part IV!

 

Why Inflammation is the NOT the Root Cause of Chronic Disease, What Is, & What You Can Do About It

It seems to be a popular consensus amidst both the conventional and holistic health arenas that inflammation is the foundation for chronic dis-ease states.

While I totally agree that inflammation plays a large role, I am now of the belief that inflammation is preceded by reduced mental, emotional, and cellular energy. And, here’s why and what to do about it!

“Where there is space, there is movement. Where there is movement, there is energy. Where there is energy, dis-ease cannot exist” -Dr. Henele, Energetic Health Institute

To begin, let’s first consider some important concepts:

  • Everything requires energy to functional optimally. A country. A company. A school. A teacher. A vehicle. A garden. A family. And, the list goes on. Our minds and bodies are no exception!

  • When we expend more energy than we take in, we become run down. When we become run down, we become vulnerable to poor health states.

  • Low energy states set that stage for impaired digestion of the nutrients that our cells need to operate, the bio-accumulation of infections, and the build-up of toxins in our body; all of these things then create “the dreaded” chronic inflammation.

  • Once chronic inflammation sets in, the body requires energy to remedy it.

  • Mental, emotional, and physical fatigue are the body’s first warning signs that something is not right, yet it is most often ignored and simply just chalked up to “normal” stress of daily life and therefor pushed through.

  • Healing requires energy. Processing medications and supplements require energy. Cellular detoxification and repair require energy. If there is not enough energy in the reserve tanks, the body and mind will not heal.

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Jennifer Ellis-Schuetz

As I ponder my own long, hellish journey with CFS/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (aka: what I prefer to refer to as Chronic Fucking Shit Syndrome), I now clearly see that it all began with aspects of my life that drained me on a continual basis and left me vulnerable to future dis-ease states.

For instance, I ate a Standard American, grain and sugar-based diet, I had a chaotic upbringing that lacked the teaching of healthy boundaries, I was very perfectionist orientated, I was a catastrophic / all or nothing thinker, I dated guys that treated me like shit, I often pushed myself beyond my own limits, and I made very poor choices in the name of always trying to lose weight.

In my adult-life I established myself in a teaching career that capitalized on my Type-A dysfunction and therefor ultimately sucked the life out of me. When I finally crashed and found myself deep within the rabbit hole of chronic illness, all of these patterns not only continued but some of them become more pronounced; particularly the catastrophic / all or nothing thinking patterns and unhealthy relationships with myself and others.

Furthermore, my desperate efforts to regain my health were hyper-focused on finding the “one” answer as to why I was so sick as well as the “one” magical treatment protocol that would bring me back to a state of health and wholeness. I spent countless years traveling around from practitioner to practitioner, taking handfuls upon handfuls of supplements, and engaging in all sorts of different treatment protocols that often made me worse.

I now understand the reason for this was because I simply did not have the energy in my body to make use of other things I was doing to get well. Since studying functional health, mind-body medicine, and bio-energetic applications, I now understand that we humans derive our energy through optimal exchange with the environment.

What does this mean? It means that in order to maintain health-promoting energy levels and prevent and/or heal from dis-ease we must do the following more often than not:

  • Eat a whole food, nourishing diet and drink plenty of clean water (note: identifying and eliminating foods that trigger an immune response is key!)

  • Get outside in the fresh air and natural sunlight

  • Move our bodies in nourishing ways

  • Breathe deeply (fast, shallow breathing is SO common in our stressed out, technology driven culture)

  • Balance our day and night cycles (aka: circadian rhythm); which means going to bed at least 2 hours before midnight and waking up with the sunrise

  • Challenge destructive thinking patterns and limiting beliefs

  • Be aware of our limitations and learn to say “NO!”

  • Create and enforce healthy boundaries and relationships

  • Allow enough downtime / alone time

  • Identify and remove sources of environmental toxins (non-organic food, fluoride & chlorine riddled water, household cleaners, personal care and makeup products, toxic air quality, dirty electricity, etc.

  • Limit the use of technology and screen time

  • Do work that we enjoy and are passionate about; work that fills us rather than drains us

  • Be KIND to ourselves

  • Have a growth mindset

  • Let go of blame and take full ownership of healing regardless of the shitty things that have happened in our lives

  • Engage is some sort of mindfulness practice that resonates with us

If I could turn back the hands of time, prior to spending thousands upon thousands on running myriads of labs and downing handfuls of supplements over the course of many years, I would have taken a long period of rest and focused primarily on incorporating these strategies into my life. I 100% believe that had I done so, things would have played out much differently for me and I would have saved myself tons of money and so much suffering.

In closing, regardless of where you are on your own personal health journey, I highly encourage you to take a hard look at your life and aspects of yourself that are draining your energy reserves. Remember, without energy, the body and mind cannot and will not heal! Additionally, no amount of medications or supplements can undue a life that is draining you.

Aside from the strategies mentioned above, another great way to up-regulate energy reserves and support the body’s ability to heal is to incorporate bio-energetic medicine into your approach. As a functional health practitioner that has also walked the path of disabling chronic illness, I know first hand, how difficult it can be to shift patterns in our lives when we have a bunch of trapped toxic energy in our bodies that we don’t know how to shed. Because of this, I continually seek additional modalities of healing that can help support myself and my clients with this aspect.

That said, as part of my comprehensive, functional approach, I weave in NES Bio-EnergetiX along side of functional lab testing, nutritional & lifestyle mentoring, and mind-body coaching. The best way I can describe this modality is that it performs a scan of your body’s energetic bio-field (this can be done remotely by the way!), indicates where there are blockages and stored trauma, and then makes recommendations in the form of infoceuticals based on what your body needs help with the most in prioritizing order. This is a perfect way to help up-regulate energy, help your body release the energy of stored trauma, and help anything else you are doing to be more effective.

If you are interested in learning more, perhaps you would like to book an initial FREE Exploration Session!













The Truth Behind Emotional Triggers & How To Better Navigate Them: Part I

Being Triggered is Physically, Emotionally, & Mentally Costly!

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If you stop to think about it, how many times on average would you say you get emotionally triggered in a day? And, how would you say these triggers affect your physical and mental wellbeing?

If you are anything like I used be and this article drew you in, then chances are your answers might be along the lines of “too many to count” and “they leave me feeling drained, powerless, and/or physically ill.”

The truth of the matter, however, is that if you are on a mission to restore your health and transform your life, you simply cannot afford to allow triggering events to level you.

By leveling I am referring to allowing the trigger to ignite your fight or flight response and then spiral you into a cascade of rumination, resentment, self-doubt, people pleasing and/or going above and beyond to prove yourself.

Emotional Triggers Perpetuate Victim Mode!

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From this space of stress-based thinking, it becomes virtually impossible for the body to enter a state of rest, digest, & repair and for you to cultivate the energy needed to move your life forward. This then lays the foundation for victim mode, anxiety, and depression to prevail.

I speak from up close and personal experience here. Being emotionally triggered on a regular basis for a large portion of my life was a key player in setting the stage for chronic health challenges to take hold in the first place and preventing countless interventions from moving me forward once I was already sick.

As a functional health health practitioner I now see this same pattern in many of my clients as well as in countless stories of chronic illness on social media. When it comes to unraveling chronic illness it is absolutely essential to identify and address bio-chemical imbalances such as impaired digestion, hormone imbalances, and chronic infections. At the same time, however, it is equally imperative to also identify and address sources of emotional distress that will undoubtedly prevent bio-chemical interventions from working and keep a person stuck in victim mode.

When one is in victim mode, the psyche will naturally oppose and resist forward thinking. Instead, the psyche will seek people, thinking, and experiences that match the vibrational frequencies of victim mode. When this happens, people then have a tendency to succumb to defeatist thinking, ignore self-care, and participate in destructive behavioral patterns. For instance, one may choose to engage in thoughts such as “Fuck it, why bother!"?” or make choices such as staying in bed all day, obsessive social media use, chronic video gaming, chronic complaining, and/or lashing out at others.

As somebody that clung to victim mode for decades of my life, trust me when I tell that THIS WILL NOT SERVE YOU! I was motivated to write this article by what my own life journey has illuminated for me and what I now see my clients and so many others struggle with in their life journeys.

The First Step In Developing Greater Stress Resilience

To give yourself a fighting chance to break free from the stress-pain-illness cycle that victim mode perpetuates, you will need to learn effective tips and strategies for disengaging with triggering events and calming the fight or flight system. And, the first step in this process is cultivating awareness of the underlying reasons behind why you were so triggered in the first place.

The reason this step is so important is that awareness of what is truly happening is always the first step in shedding all that no longer serves us so we can move forward. That said, when you find yourself triggered, one of the following has taken place:

  • An unhealed trauma is being re-activated

    In this scenario, a painful memory causes one to look and react to the present moment through the lens of the past. For instance, I was a high-school classroom teacher for two decades. I know, first hand, how stressful teaching is, how much work goes into the profession, and how undervalued teachers are in our society. To this day, when I hear remarks such as “Teachers have it so easy with having summers off”, “How hard can it really be to spend your day with a bunch of kids?”, and/or “Those who cannot do teach.” Even though I walked away from my teaching career years and ago and have since established myself in a new profession as a functional health practitioner, comments such as these never fail to evoke a strong emotional response within me because the wounds have not fully healed.

  • A core value is being undermined or challenged

    Using the same example as above, a core value of mine that is being undermined in this case is that I strongly value education. Additionally, I wholeheartedly believe that those that commit their lives (as I did) to public service and the shaping of future generations should be highly revered and treated with utmost respect.

  • A personal boundary is being violated or compromised

    To illustrate this point I have yet another story for you. A few years ago, I hosted the annual Ellis family Thanksgiving Dinner. At this time I was going through many personal and professional hardships and my physical and mental health were at an all time low. I had upwards of 30 guests in my home and every step I took was a major struggle. As I was frantically trying to be a good host and get dinner served to all these people, one of my relatives began to go through all of my kitchen drawers and cabinets in an effort to find a bowl to mix her special mashed potatoes. In doing so, she opened the cabinet where I store all of my supplements and medications.

    Anybody that knows anything about digging one’s way out of the trenches of complex, chronic illness knows how quickly the bottles of pills can pile up. There were many people standing in the kitchen at this time. Instead of closing the cabinet upon seeing the contents, this relative then proceeded to take each bottle out one by one, reading the labels, placing them on the kitchen counter, and saying “look everyone at how Jen is using her body as a science experiment.”

    At this juncture I asked her to stop, put them all away, and close the cabinet but she kept going. Everyone in the kitchen got a good laugh out of this and it served to fuel the invalidation often associated with chronic health challenges that I had endured at the hands of my family since I first fell ill in 1997. This, my friends, is a perfect example of a personal boundary that was horribly violated. Coincidentally, this relative is no longer in my life. More about this is and the importance of removing toxic people from your life in a subsequent blog article. Stay tuned!

  • A light is being shined upon a truth that needs to be revealed

    This is by far my favorite of all the reasons for being triggered. When considering this reason, it is important to understand that the truth being revealed could be one a few different scenarios.

    #1: A truth about a pattern within yourself or aspect of your life that needs to be shifted in some way.

    #2: A truth about somebody in your life in which the relationship needs to be re-evaluated

    #3: A truth about a situation or circumstance in your life (such as a job or a marriage) that is no longer serving you but that you are too fearful to change.

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Ok, so there we have it. You now have a starting point from which to cultivate awareness of the reasons behind the people and events in your life that trigger you. This awareness will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your surroundings and is the first step in making necessary shifts in your life.

Stay tuned for part II of this blog series, where I will be discussing tips and strategies for disengaging and how to better navigate triggering situations.








A Missing Link In Many Functional-Based Health Restoration Programs

Hindsight Truly is 20/20!

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As Todd and I both look back on our journeys with unraveling complex, chronic illness (long before we met each other), we can now clearly see that we were missing half the equation.  Despite HUGE and NECESSARY biochemically-based efforts in the form of diet & lifestyle changes, detoxing, pathogen eradication, etc., we were able to move the needle forward in some areas of our healing yet remained very stuck in other areas; particularly when it came to mindset and emotional healing.  At the time neither of us had reached a high enough level of consciousness to embrace this aspect of healing nor had the knowledge to implement it.  

A Partnership and Signature Approach Is Formed! 

In September 2017 the Universe must have known that we both had evolved to a higher level of consciousness and were ready and willing to implement bio-energetics into both our life journeys and our work as functional health practitioners.   At this time is when we met at a Bio-Energetics Practitioner Training Conference on the shores of Clearwater, Florida. 

We both knew the other was attending the conference but we had no other connection to beyond some casual correspondence via the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® practitioner Facebook forum.  We met at the registration booth the morning the conference started and were inseparable the rest of the weekend. 

What started out to be solely plans to join forces in a podcast to help support the growth of our respective health practices soon transformed into the decision to form a partnership, functional health practice that combined state-of-the-art functional labs, functional health interventions, bio-energetics, and mindset/personal success coaching into a signature approach to help others heal their lives from the grips of chronic health challenges and reach their full potential.  

To date, we have spent a significant amount of time talking about the testing we use and the various functional health interventions we implement to help address bio-chemical imbalances but we have not spent near enough time helping our followers understand the role that bio-energetics plays in the journey and exactly why we feel it is the missing half of the equation.  I have been wanting to create a short and sweet synopsis of bio-energetics to help others understand the amazing benefits of this healing modality for a long while now but kept allowing other tasks to be more of a priority.  Today I finally decided to force myself to sit down and write it!  So here it is! I hope that by reading this "nutshell version" you gain a better understanding of how this may be an integral component missing in your own health and life journey.  

 Bio-Energetics in a Nutshell! Particle Versus Wave

  • All cells (which are particles) within the body generate electromagnetic energy (waves) which interact and communicate with all other cells as well as the surrounding environment - both the environment inside the body and the world around us.  A key point to remember here is that "While genetics may load the gun, environment pulls the trigger."  The electromagnetic frequencies that we generate play a significant role in influencing our environment and vice versa.  Basically everything in life is interconnected!  
  • Cells continuously emit and respond to oscillations and vibrations of other cells.
  • There is a distinct difference between the oscillation and vibrational pattern of healthy versus diseased cells. 
  • The structure, function, and vibrational frequency of a cell burdened with harmful substances such as pathogenic microbes, environmental toxins, mental/emotional toxins and unresolved trauma, foreign proteins etc., will undoubtedly have a distorted vibration when compared to a healthy cell.
  • If a cell is in a good health its signal will be harmonious and resonate in a free manner with other cells.  If a pathogen (toxin, virus, parasite, emotional toxin, etc) attacks a cell then the signal coming from the cell becomes distorted. The distortions within the electromagnetic frequencies of the cells are measured via a remote, in-home scanner and then displayed via the software in a visual manner that is logical for the human brain to understand.

How Bio-Energetics Can Help to Up-Regulate Energy Production and Support the Recovery From Challenged Health States.

  • The scan itself is therapeutic on the short-term in the fact that distorted electromagnetic frequencies are inverted and returned back to the body as therapeutic, corrective information. The corrective energetic information then helps to cancel out the distorted signals and thus stimulate the cells to oscillate in a healthier mode.

  • A bio-energetic scan uses the bio-feedback from the body to prioritize the areas in which the body needs the most support and then makes recommendations to provide that support in the form of infoceuticals. Infoceuticals are created from structured mineral water that has been imprinted with corrective, electromagnetic information that support the body’s ability to return to homeostasis.

  • All chronic health challenges; regardless of the diagnosis, are multi-faceted and rooted in imbalances of body, mind, and spirit.  I will go as far to say that I now believe with all my heart, based on my own experiences and what I have learned through countless clients, that chronic illness begins in the energetic realm before it manifests in the bio-chemical realm.  

  • The relationship between the cell (particle) and the electromagnetic frequency (wave) is bi-directional and symbiotic.  They each depend on and influence one another.  And, one would not exist without the other.  Therefore, a truly comprehensive health-restoring protocol needs to address disturbances at both the bio-energetic and bio-chemical level.  Addressing one while ignoring the other can often leave many important factors unaddressed and thus result in the ever-so-popular phenomenon that Todd and I became quite familiar with of “trying many different protocols with little to no success”.

  • A bio-energetic scan of the body enables both practitioner and client to see (in real time) the interplay between the environment, disturbances within the mind-body system / subconscious mind, and each organ system of the body.  

  • Bio-energetic applications can assist in stimulating the body’s self-healing mechanisms, produces NO harmful side effects, is most often the missing half of the equation in the journey to help jumpstart the body's innate healing intelligence, and represents the next stage in the evolution of health optimization.

If you would like to explore what a bio-energetic scan would reveal to you and how it might fit into your healing journey, you can try it out with no commitment by booking a FREE Bio-Energetic Scan Review Consult for the purchase of the in-home, remote scanner.   

Retail value of $310.00! Your's today for $110.00 plus shipping costs.  

 

 

 

 

Harnessing the Power of Neuroplasticity to Overcome Chronic Illness: NeurOptimal

Game Changer For The Central Nervous System

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In today's fast-paced, LED lit, and technologically driven world we live in, it is easy to understand how one's CNS (central nervous system) becomes easily overwhelmed. Throw in some rough life occurrences such as losing a loved one, the stress of an overbearing/toxic job or relationship, and some hidden water damage and you have the perfect recipe for one stressed out, hairline-triggered person with little to no ability to properly regulate mental and emotional states; thus paving the way for chronic health challenges to ensue. 

From this space, one is easily frustrated by daily life events, often succumbs to destructive thinking patterns, and finds themselves overtaken by painful emotional states such as anger, resentment, and despair.  These states of being not only prime the body for illness but they also make healing one's life from the grips of chronic health challenges difficult if not impossible. 

This was me just 8 years ago.  I had no understanding of how I arrived at such a frazzled, roller coaster-like state of being but I definitely knew something was wrong - and I was deep within the trenches of Fibromylagia and CFS.   I even used to call my body a "meatsuit" that I was just riding in for the time being.  I would often joke about looking toward the future where maybe one day I'd have the opportunity to trade my broken "meatsuit" in for a brand new one! Now, of course, all of this was in jest.

The reality is, however, that we are not able to trade our "meatsuits" in for new ones nor "download" calmer states of consciousness into into our minds the way we would a software program into our computers.  Because of this, it becomes imperative to our health to implement modalities and techniques that allow us to harness the power of neuroplasticity.  By tapping into the healing capacity of neuroplasticity, we arm ourselves with the ability to re-write destructive and health blocking "scripts" that our nervous systems may be "reading" from.  It is scripts such as "I am doomed to be sick forever" or "The Universe is against me" that hijack the present moment, trigger the stress response system inappropriately, and ultimately keep us stuck in a vicious stress-pain-illness cycle.   

Fortunately, there are a wide array of strategies and tools available which can help us to "reprogram" our minds and thus nervous systems to new, more nourishing ways of responding to the world around us.  By doing so, we can prune back the neurological networks that are reinforcing patterns of illness and entrain our minds to rehearse new scripts - scripts that will allow our biochemistries and bio-fields to return to a state of coherence and health.   One such tool/modality is a very cool exponential tech system known as NeurOptimal. 

Brain Hacking With NeurOptimal

In just 5 weeks of experimenting with this system, I have already experienced some profound shifts which have helped me shed more layers of destructive patterns from my nervous system.  This process is often described as "defragging" your mind, similar to what you would do with a hard drive of a computer, and that description is spot on.  Check out my review and hear the bio-feedback while I describe my experience with this incredible neuro-hacking tool in the video below. 

 

To recap here is a quote from NeurOptimal:

"Every time you use NeurOptimal® your brain receives information about what it has just done, microsecond by microsecond.  It works with you wherever you are in that instant.  So there is never any evaluation to do ahead of time, no decisions to make and no settings to change. You don’t have to worry about doing anything wrong, and neither can you overtrain.  If your brain gets tired it just ignores the information, just as you might ignore a television that is on in the background.  Safe, and effective." 

I hope you enjoyed this review!  Stay tuned for future reviews of many more amazing technological advancements that are revolutionizing health and making it more and more possible for people to overcome complex, chronic health conditions. 

A Top Mistake People Make on The Journey to Heal From Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia Syndrome

CFS = Chronic F$#&ing Shit Syndrome! 

My journey with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or what I feel is more appropriately called Chronic F&%#$ing Shit Syndrome, has indeed been a long and surreal one.  My first crash was at age 26, just three months after being married.  At this time I had no idea that this was the beginning of almost 2 decades of truly unbelievable hell. 

By unbelievable hell I am referring to the survival mode one ends up succumbing to while trying to keep up with daily life amidst unfathomable and unrelenting flu-like fatigue, pain, and brain fog; of which conventional medicine has no "medical textbook" explanation for and thus chalks it up to mental illness and/or hypochondriac syndrome.  The destruction to one's life caused by the disabling effects of this condition are much like you see in the image above; total destruction! 

Between the ages of 26 and 41, I experienced many long periods of disability where I was bed or housebound much of the time combined with periods of seemingly high functioning but nonetheless still very sick and in survival mode.  I became a "master" at pushing through incredible pain and fatigue to achieve career and academic success but then would spend all my personal time attempting to recover.   My final CFS crash came at age 41 in the form of a severe nervous breakdown that forced me to walk away from my career as a high school teacher.  This breakdown served as the necessary catalyst for me to finally take charge of my health and life.  

The Gift of Wisdom Within CFS

I am now 46 years old and have healed more in the last 5 years than I did in the previous 15.  I am grateful for the fact that I am highly functioning, living a quality life, and running my own functional health consulting practice.  That said, I am also still on the healing path in many ways; especially as it relates to gut health.  I would not have reached this point, however, had I not taken matters into my own hands and delved into learning all I could about this extremely complex and misunderstood condition and what it takes to unravel it. 

It has surely been a painful, scary, and overwhelming journey but at the same time it has blessed me with wisdom that I now can share in an effort to help others heal their bodies, minds, and lives.  Most of this wisdom, however, was gained through making many mistakes and going down countless rabbit holes. My hope with this blog series is that somebody, even if just one person, can learn something valuable from the mistakes I have made and use it to move the needle forward in their own healing journey.  With that, I present to you this video blog where I present my experiences with the TOP mistake I made: Underestimating the Effects of Psychological Stress, Unresolved Trauma, and Repressed Emotions.  

Video Recap

Ongoing psychological stress, unresolved trauma, and repressed emotions all have potential to cause us to be hyper sensitive to the world around us and keep our stress response stuck in the “on” position.  This can be compared to walking around hooked up to a slow drip of intravenous stress hormones: cortisol and adrenaline.

The stress response, also known as fight or flight, is meant to be a short-term, life-preserving mechanism ONLY.  It is meant to activate when we need it most, such as maneuvering our car to avoid a deadly collision, fighting off an attacker, burning the candle at both ends of the stick to meet an important work deadline,  or even pushing hard in the last mile to win that marathon.

After such events it should subside so our bodies can return to a state of rest and digest. When this mechanism is chronically activated by non-emergency situations such as a toxic relationship, a soul-sucking job, destructive mental patterns such as catastrophic thinking, or a painful memory that we keep reliving in our mind's eye, the body’s main stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are continually bathing our organs, cells, and tissues.

Overtime, these hormones will break the body down and cause issues such as lowered immunity, muscle tension, headaches, chronic inflammation, impaired cognitive function, decreased detoxification capacity, anxiety/depression, and much more! In this state, the body does not stand a chance against factors such as environmental mold exposure or vector borne illnesses; both of which were huge factors for me.  

Key Take Away!

Implementing bio-chemical interventions without addressing this component is like trying to fill a bathtub up without plugging the drain.  Doing so will be nothing more than time, money, and energy down the drain.  The body and mind CANNOT and WILL NOT heal from a space of worry, fear, anger, resentment, victim thinking, etc.

 

  

VIOME: At The Forefront Of Unraveling Chronic Health Challenges

Change is Constant

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For those that have done the Viome test, you may be aware that Viome recently updated their app and changed the content within their reports.  Many of you have probably noticed massive changes to the names of microbes, microbes that were on your first report are no longer there, new microbes appearing, and various changes to the bio-individualized dietary recommendations. 

Our recent meeting with the Chief Medical Officer of Viome shed light on many reasonable explanations for these changes.  Distilling the vast amounts of data that Viome collects and transforming it into tangible information that we can all view within the reports is an immense and ever-evolving undertaking.  In light of this, we encourage everyone to please bare with Viome as they continue to tirelessly work through technological challenges that can come with a new launch of any cutting-edge product and service.   

There have been rumblings within social media circles of some microbes completely missing on the new report instead of being re-classified.  We have been assured that all previous data is still there and that there are currently some rendering issues inside of the app; which will be resolved in time.  

Having said this, we would like focus everyone's attention on the amazing advancements that Viome has made and will continue to make within the health and wellness arena.   Viome is arming its users with powerful information, beyond that of any other lab that we know of, that will allow for a much greater understanding of what the body needs to restore optimal function.  

Most Comprehensive Microbial Database Around!

The metatranscriptomic technology that Viome utilizes came from scientific research done by Los Alamos National Laboratories.  They brought with them the database the government was using for their research.  This is what Viome used to match all of the microbial RNA sequences inside of peoples' guts and make sense of all the data.   For as good and up-to-date as this database was in its time, it no longer holds up to what has developed from it. 

This just goes to show that new microbes continue to emerge and scientists are constantly changing names of and re-classifying organisms.  The mega database now being utilized by Viome is comprised of all microbes that have been sequenced to date and published within government databases.  They also make updates to the mega database when changes occur within these databases.    

Identification Versus Function

The continued refinement of the Viome mega database allows for greater preciseness in identifying and categorizing microbes.  For instance, this greater preciseness allows for a group of microbes that were once considered to be one strain to actually be broken up into three different strains.  The more that is learned about how microbes function, the more scientists continue to rename and reclassify them in greater detail. 

The microbe lists are based off of matching the RNA sequencing to the genomic databases of all known microbes that have sequenced to date.  While names and classifications of microbes are indeed important for labeling and discussion purposes, the recommendations made by Viome are NOT based on the names of organisms. 

Identification of the microbes is actually a very small part of the data being collected by Viome.  When trying to understand a microbe, it is more important to analyze what the microbe is actually doing inside of the gut versus determining what genus it belongs to.   

Knowing if a microbe is producing highly inflammatory lipopolysaccharides is much more important than knowing if the microbe is from the salmonella or e coli genus.  This is no different than hyper-focusing on a particular diagnosis.  The name/label of an illness, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or Hashimoto's, does NOT matter.  What matters is the underlying dysfunction causing the symptoms and the factors that created the dysfunction in the first place.  

The dietary recommendations are based off of a separate section of the mega database where all the metabolic functions of gut microbes are analyzed with extensive metabolic pathways databases.  By looking at all microbial metabolites (byproducts), Viome is able to see exactly what all of the microbes are doing and how they are interacting with one another.  This means looking at what microbes are consuming, what they are producing based on what they consume, and how what they produce influences other microbes. 

Understanding all of this is what allows Viome to provide such bio-individualized dietary recommendations.  Without this, this would be like practitioners, such as us, trying to help somebody unravel chronic health challenges and only knowing their name.  A person's name without past medical history, nutritional status, current lifestyle, environmental exposures, etc. would be of no use in this process.  

Viome utilizes extensive metabolic pathway databases that have been curated by years of pharmaceutical research.  As you can imagine, when bringing a new drug to market, researchers need to know exactly how it will be metabolized by the body in order to determine safety and efficacy.  Viome has licensed access to such databases with which they use to train the AI (artificial intelligence).  

We know it can be very confusing and overwhelming for users to keep up with and understand the ever evolving nature of cutting-edge, exponential technologies such as Viome.  That said, one does not need to fully understand the expansive amounts of data to reap the benefits of the recommendations within the report.  Simply following the bio-individualized dietary recommendations minus any know food allergies or intolerances for as little as three months can provide profound benefits to the state of one's microbiome.  

New Insights Driven by Artificial Intelligence

Almonds Spiking Blood Sugar? Really!?

There are studies that support the ability of almonds to help reduce the rise of blood sugar and insulin after meals (1).  This, however, is not always the case.  Viome's blood sugar case studies have further developed our understanding of glucose responses to a wide variety of foods.  This has revealed that foods, such as almonds, that are commonly "known" to help stabilize blood sugar can absolutely cause blood sugar spikes in one person but not the next. 

This shows us that not everything is as black and white as once previously thought to be and why bio-individualized food lists based on microbiome data are so important.   During these blood sugar case studies, participants wore continuous blood glucose monitors and tracked their blood sugar in response to everything consumed. 

This data was then correlated with the vast amount of Gut Intelligence data from the participants.  Everything learned in these studies, is now utilized by the AI to understand one's metabolic responses to foods using only the microbial data.  Therefore, the sugar challenge and monitoring of blood glucose levels inside of the metabolic intelligence test is no longer required for Viome to get a high resolution look at one's metabolism.  Being able to correlate such data is yet another one of the many benefits of having an AI. 

News Flash! Candida Not Near As Prevalent As One Might Think

As practitioners that review Viome reports on a regular basis, we noticed that candida and other fungal overgrowths almost never showed up.  Many questions came from concerned Viome users who had been told by their practitioners/doctors that they had fungal overgrowths such as candida based on the findings of organic acids and/or stool tests, yet they did not show up on their Viome results.   As you can imagine, Viome had just as many questions and concerns surrounding this issue.   

To figure all this out, they took samples from those that were medically diagnosed as having candida overgrowth and ran both metagenomic (DNA) and metatranscriptomic (RNA) analyses.  The combination of these analyses gives a much deeper look than ever available before.  The studies showed no active candida in the majority of the samples tested.   

A recent study has shed light into why these fungal organisms are not showing up in a large number of Viome results (2).  This study revealed that the fungi being identified via OATS and other testing methods were often a direct match for the levels of fungi found in the oral cavity and on the foods consumed near the time of completing the tests.  "Many of the fungi most commonly detected in stool samples are also present in food or in the mouth," said lead study author Thomas A. Auchtung, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "To recognize which gut fungi are likely to have a sustained influence on human health, there is a need to separate transient members of the GI tract from those capable of colonizing." 

By looking at RNA, Viome is looking at the microbial activity of these organisms, therefore only picking up what has colonized the gut to a level of clinical relevance (one script per million scripts analyzed).  This compensates for the false positive rates that this new study illuminates in reference to other types of testing around fungi in the GI tract. 

So that is a wrap for this discussion about Viome.  We hope that this article has shed light on some of the confusing advancements as of late.  Stay tuned for future articles as we will surely be keeping up with all new developments and sharing it with our followers.  

REFERENCES:

(1):  https://www.metabolismjournal.com/article/S0026-0495(10)00128-9/fulltext

(2): http://msphere.asm.org/content/3/2/e00092-18

Top 10 Mistakes When Healing From Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Health Challenges; Our Greatest Teacher

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Navigating the world of chronic health challenges is indeed an overwhelming and often daunting journey.  I understand how difficult it is to have one's lifestyle become altered due to symptoms such as pain, fatigue, digestive distress, and more.  I also understand the desire to resist these types of symptoms and seek solutions that will make them go away as quickly as possible.  Avoidance of pain and discomfort is hardwired into us and also enforced by cultural programming and the medical community at large.  

This mindset about health challenges, however, is not conducive to long-term wellness.  One will not make the best decisions from this mind space.  The desire for symptom suppression can often cloud one's judgement and lead to quick fix interventions that don't yield long-term gains and ultimately can cause harm.  From my personal and professional experiences with chronic health challenges, I know that this mindset often leads to succumbing to many health-blocking roadblocks and pitfalls on the road to wellness.  Here is a list of the top 10 pitfalls that I faced and learned strategies for overcoming on my individual healing journey.

#1: Skipping Foundational Work and Jumping Into Running Expensive Labs and Treatment Protocols

I made the mistake of investing huge amounts of time, money, and energy into pursuing in-depth testing and complex healing protocols without first creating a solid foundation for health.  By solid foundation I am referring to the day-to-day lifestyle habits and choices that dictate the trajectory of one's life and wellbeing.  All the best nutritional IV's, ozone treatments, state-of-art functional lab testing, therapeutic-grade supplementation, etc., will not help one move the needle forward in the presence of destructive habits such as eating crap foods, too much screen time, staying up till wee hours of the night, using toxic personal care products, unmanaged stress, and more.  Cleaning up all of these aspects of one's life lays the foundation from which a successful functional health journey can be built.  

#2: Self-Identifying With Illness and/or a Specific Diagnosis

I spent many years of my life where the words “I, Jennifer” were almost always followed by "I have Chronic Lyme or CFS".   This lead to an extreme state of a victim mindset and dysfunctional thinking patterns.  Outside of my conscious awareness,  I used my condition as a means to elicit like-minded thinking from people around me and on social media.  Beyond this, I also used it as a rationalization (also outside of my conscious awareness) to not take 100% full responsibility for my role in the negative things that were occurring in my life.  Until I did the deep interpersonal work required to understand "the self" and my role in the world, I remained stuck in the stress-pain-illness cycle that my dysfunctional mindset was fueling.  

#3: Underestimating the Power of Invisible Environmental Toxins

It seems to be human nature to not concern ourselves with things that cause us harm that we can't objectively and easily see with the human eye.   The factors that I am referring to are things such as EMF's (electromagnetic frequencies), toxins within food, water, household products, and personal care products, hidden environmental mold, and excessive blue light exposure from TV's, computers, cellphones, and tablets.   

It has been scientifically proven that these things all cause incredible damage to the body at the cellular level yet so many people pay little attention to them.  Some people even completely dismiss them as possible factors in their health challenges.

I was no different at one point.  It was not until I reached a point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired did I take serious measures to begin learning about and addressing hidden environmental toxins.  The truth of the matter, however, is that all this should have been one of the first steps in my healing journey because it is part of laying the correct foundation for health.  All the best detox protocols in the world won't yield favorable results until all sources of toxic input have been eliminated or at least greatly reduced.  

#4: Underestimating the Power of Thought and Limiting Beliefs

Up until the point where I read the book "Biology of Belief" by Dr. Bruce Lipton, I resisted any notion that our thoughts and beliefs influence our health and greatly contribute to creating our lives.   Prior to getting sick I continuously engaged with destructive, stress-based patterns such as perfectionism, worry, catastrophic thinking, and rumination.  These mental patterns kept my body and mind in a perpetual state of fight or flight, which over time primed my body for illness to take hold.  

After becoming ill, all these patterns then became even more prevalent.  Couple the non-illness based dysfunctional thinking patterns that depleted me, with the new self-limiting beliefs around illness such as "I have chronic Lyme and I am doomed to be sick for ever" and you have a recipe for a mindset that perpetuates a neurology that negatively influences biology.  Bottom line, what we focus on and how we choose to respond to life events truly does dictate our outcomes.  

#5: Hyper-Focusing On One Aspect of Health at a Time

I first did this by simply chasing symptoms and taking RX drugs to control them.  Once I realized this was no longer serving me and the impact they were having on my body, I did move away from the conventional, drug-based model.   Once doing so, however, I continued to make the same mistakes; albeit with natural measures (aka: handfuls of supplements). 

Whether it was trying to go Vegan after hyper-focusing on toxic, industrial-farmed meat or thinking that a combo of D-ribose & serrapeptase alone was the answer to resolving CFS, I was missing the complete picture.   By complete picture I am referring to looking at my situation in the context of ALL factors that create dis-ease and thus taking a comprehensive, holistic approach to address ALL aspects of one's life; not JUST illness/bio-chemical imbalances.  

#6: Continuing to Seek Answers From a Broken Health Care System That Focuses on Symptom Management

In an ideal world, medical insurance would cover health-care services that provide the support and expertise needed to help somebody overcome chronic health challenges.   Sadly, as many of us find out the hard way, this is simply not the case.   It took me many years to understand and accept this reality. 

For the first 7 years of suffering with chronic health challenges, I bounced around the conventional medical arena in hope to find the "one" doctor that would find the "one" cause and thus "one" solution to all my woes.  And, when this did not happen, instead of embracing a growth mindset and seeking alternatives, I became angry and resentful.  I engaged with thoughts such as "It is my doctor's responsibility to figure out what is wrong with and then fix me" or "I should not have to pay anything beyond my copay to get the help and support I need."  

As unfortunate and "unfair" as the state of affairs of our current medical paradigm is, it is a reality we all must navigate accordingly.   If you desire results beyond what the current medical paradigm can help you achieve, then you must be open and willing to step outside of the box and accept the financial responsibility of doing so.  Choosing to remain in a state of anger and resistance to this, will only serve to keep you in disempowered state.  

#7: Not Addressing Life Dysfunction That Fuels Illness

When it comes to health challenges, it is very easy to get wrapped up solely in the bio-chemistry of the illness.  In other words, "What is the bug that is causing this infection and how do I kill it?" while completely ignoring the aspects of our lives that prime us of illness.   These aspects can include toxic relationships, unfulfilling careers, lack of passion and joy, approval seeking, and more.  

Even though I was well aware that my career as a high-school teacher had become more depleting than fulfilling by the 7-year mark, I proceeded to stay another 13 years!  I did this because I was paralyzed by fear and self-doubt.  The comfort zone of sticking with a steady-income, a pension, and health insurance took priority over my happiness, health, and general well-being.  In doing this, I ended up burning out and ultimately suffered a nervous and physical breakdown that caused immense damage to my mind and body of which I continue to dig my way out of to this day.  Lesson learned, NO job or relationship is worth sacrificing one's physical or mental health.  Without health, we have nothing! 

#8: Running Labs In Which the Results Do Not Translate Into Action Steps to Move the Needle Forward

This is something that I did not become aware of in my healing journey until after formally studying functional health and nutrition.  I spent many years and thousands of dollars running countless labs that ultimately did not yield useful information nor change the approach. 

As a practitioner, I now see clients that come to me with numerous labs that have not translated into actionable steps to move them forward in their health.  Sometimes these labs can provide small nuances that can help one better understand how the dysfunction is playing out but for the most part, the results often do not change the approach in addressing the dysfunction.  

To be clear, I am by far anti-lab work.  I absolutely utilize lab testing in my practice but I make sure that labs are chosen based on their ability to inform the path forward.  Prior to deciding on labs to run, I encourage you to ask yourself the following: 

1.   How will knowing this information better inform my healing journey?

2.  How will the results change my approach?

3.  Is running this lab the best use of funds?

4.  Can I achieve the same results without running this lab?

At this juncture, the labs/assessments that find I find most useful in informing the path forward are:

  • Comprehensive Blood Lab Testing; which is where I begin with all clients and use to perform a thorough, functional blood chemistry analysis. This is useful in helping to determine if there are imbalances that require medical intervention and thus referral to an MD, to identify which bodily systems are the most stressed and how best to support them, and to guide the path forward for creating the foundation for health.

    Some Deeper-Level Investigations Include:

  • Gut Zoomer, Wheat Zoomer, and Neural Zoomer tests from Vibrant Wellness Labs. These labs take a deep look into the gut and brain-gut axis to help determine exactly what is triggering inflammation.

  • OAT (Organic Acid Testing); which helps to identify how active dysbiotic gut bugs are as well as imbalances in metabolism, digestion, energy production, neurotransmitter synthesis, and more!

  • GI-MAP and/or VIOME; which are both stool tests that assess the microbiome and digestive integrity. Each uses different technology and provides a different view into the digestive tract.

  • DUTCH (Dried Urine Total Comprehensive Hormone); which provides a deep look into hormone imbalances, liver detoxification, methylation of toxic estrogens, neurotransmitters, circadian rhythm, oxidative stress, and more!

  • Nutrition Genome; which is a comprehensive assessment of genetic strengths and weaknesses as well as how to best support them via a functional approach and lifestyle interventions.

  • And lastly, I LOVE NES Bio-EnergetiX Assessments which provide a view into trapped energy and interference within the human bio-field; which is the master control center of everything else that happens in the body. This modality is very much in support of the role that subconscious programming is playing in continued states of illness.

    Note: This list is not all the lab testing I use to help identify and reduce stress in the body. The labs I suggest for each client really do depend on that client’s bio-individual presentation.

#9: Spending Way Too Much Time On Social Media, In Chronic Illness Forums, Ruminating, & Commiserating!

When going through any troubling and life-altering situations, it is 100% normal to want to seek the support of others going through similar experiences.  While online support groups can be helpful to some degree, most of the time they end up only perpetuating victim mindsets and dysfunctional thought patterns.   

I found the majority of conversations within these forums to focus on complaining or symptom management with Rx drugs or even supplements.  Rarely ever do people initiate conversation about causal factors and those that do are often persecuted or removed from the group for being unsympathetic, too radical, or some other dysfunctional assumption.  I strongly encourage you to choose your support groups wisely.  Make sure that you are not spending time within dysfunctional support groups that would be better spent on engaging in productive self-care strategies to help you achieve your wellness goals.  

#10: Allowing Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

At one point in my journey I engaged in the habit of constantly second guessing everything and looking for answers from multiple practitioners at the same time.  I thought "if I implement numerous protocols at once, I will increase my chances of getting well."  This, however, could not have been further from the truth.  By engaging in such a practice, I only increased the amount of stress, confusion, and overwhelm on my mind, body, and spirit. 

As a practitioner I now see the same pattern in some of the clients that come my way.  They sign up for a consult with me yet they are also working with numerous other practitioners.   When I consult with them, I can clearly see that their decisions are being driven by fear, self-doubt, and lack of understanding of a holistic approach and what it takes to cultivate sustainable wellness.  The success of any healing protocol is 100% reliant upon the level of belief and intention put into it.  Giving 33.33% of your intention to 3 different practitioners and their protocols will never yield the same level of response of 100% intention on a truly comprehensive approach.  

If you have doubts in a protocol and/or a practitioner, it is best to explore the source of where those feelings are coming from.  If it is apparent that a protocol and/or practitioner is not working for you or you don't resonate with it, then by all means, it is time to move on.  If your doubts, however, are being fueled by limiting beliefs and other destructive patterns mentioned in this article, then it is time to focus on self-growth and mindset.  

In closing, I hope that this article provided you with some useful food for thought and prevents you from making the same mistakes I made in my wellness journey.  

 

 

The Empowered Mindset Series: Roadblocks, Truths, & The Stress Response

Can You Relate?

We have both had long, hellish journeys with complex, chronic health challenges.  Because of this, we have first-hand experience with how difficult and overwhelming it is to cultivate a healthy mindset in the face of such immense struggles.  We know just how maddening and despairing it can be to:

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  • realize that conventional medicine has little to nothing to offer for resolving chronic health challenges
  • be invalidated and told that symptoms are all in our heads or perhaps all we need to do is exercise more
  • not receive the support we hoped for from friends, family, colleagues, and society - and thus feel very alone! 
  • realize all the lifestyle changes that need to be made yet too damn tired, in pain, or unmotivated to make them
  • spend thousands upon thousands on countless different protocols with little to no success
  • lose jobs/careers, relationships, sense of identity, and confidence
  • be overwhelmed by the complexity of chronic illness and not know where to begin unraveling the web
  • be discouraged by not seeing results we hoped for or that logic dictated that we "should" get by doing a specific healing protocol
  • address one condition or level of illness only to have a new or different one emerge
  • feel as if life is unfair and the universe has cast a block cloud over your life
  • live in a constant state of fear and impending doom as if nothing will ever improve
  • feel shameful and as if you are a burden to others and society for not being able to be as productive as "healthy" people
  • to lose hope and succumb to anxiety, depression, and despair
  • and the list goes on!

You are NOT Crazy!

First off, chronic illness F'ing Sucks BIG TIME.  No doubt about it.  In fact, we feel a more appropriate label for CFS or any chronic illness for that matter is Chronic F'ing Shit Syndrome.   It is absolutely NORMAL to feel angry, overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed when chronic health challenges rob you of the vitality, joy, and life that you deserve.   Because of this, the mindset component of restoring one's health and regaining one's life is undoubtedly one of the most challenging aspects of the healing journey.   

Three Hard-To-Accept Truths

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That said, our personal healing journeys continue to inform us that mindset creates the foundation of any successful healing path.   The first often hard-to-accept truth is that without the right mindset, one will stay stuck in a perpetuating stress-pain-illness cycle.   The second truth is that despite how shitty things can get, we ALL always have the power to choose how to respond to the events in our life. 

The mindset ball is 100% in all of our courts at all times.  Nobody can make mindset shifts for us.  Others can surely guide and mentor us but for real change to occur, a shift in mindset must come from the self.  One must reach a point where they assume 100% responsibility for their health, healing, and life.  A BIG part of this is doing whatever it takes to keep the mind and body in state of rest and digest more than in fight or flight and victimhood thinking.  

The third truth is that chronic health challenges, in many ways, are a divine tap on the shoulder by the Universe saying "Hey, it's time to take a look at all aspects of yourself and your life that are no longer serving you and make some serious shifts.".  Sure, there are contributing factors to illness and catastrophic events that take place that are 100% out of our control.  On the other hand, there are numerous contributing factors such as lifestyle habits and mental patterns (such as perfectionism and people pleasing) that are 100% in our control  

 Neurobiology of the Stress Response

Bottom line, deep healing will not happen from a space of stress-based thinking, destructive behavioral patterns, and unresolved trauma.  The way we see it, it is easy to run labs, take supplements, do detox protocols, etc.  Cultivating a healing mindset around all those things and letting go of patterns that no longer serve us, however, dictate the effectiveness of everything we do to heal our biochemistries.  

Research in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, which is the study of how mental and emotional states impact the body’s physiology, has confirmed that repressed, painful emotions and habitual, stressful thought patterns activate a chronic stress response.  

This protection mechanism, commonly known as fight or flight is meant for short-term, emergency use only.  Chronic activation of the stress response is directly and measurably linked to a weakened immune response, inflammation, musculoskeletal tension, anxiety, depression, impaired higher cognitive function, and ultimately dis-ease. 

Without the right mindset and thinking patterns, bio-chemical interventions ALONE are often ineffective in helping us to create sustainable wellness.   We are living proof of this as we did not begin to truly heal until we made the mind-body connection a top priority in our healing journeys.   

Shifting Mindset Can Be a Daunting and Impossible Task Without the Right Support

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Getting the mind to work for us instead of against us can often be an insurmountable and overwhelming task.  Many people, ourselves included at one time, do not know where to begin with this aspect of healing.  It is not something that is readily taught within our culture - although it certainly needs to be.  Because of this, we have both realized that we needed help and therefore sought out the support of various influential mentors in the form of books, seminars, mindset-based coaches, and certification programs. 

We are now such strong proponents of the mind-body connection, that we have made it a fundamental component of the work we do with clients.   Our most recent endeavor in this area has been to invest time and finances in becoming Jack Canfield Success Principle Coaches.   

Empowered Mindset Group Program

In order to make mindset support and guidance available and more affordable to a larger population, we have created a group mindset program.  This group program is designed to help you:

  • Understand the basic neuroscience behind the stress response and how it factors into keeping you stuck in a stress-pain-illness cycle
  • Learn and implement tools and techniques for down regulating the stress response
  • Break free of a victim mindset and destructive thinking patterns that trigger the stress response
  • Increase your confidence and self-compassion that chronic illness is known to strip away
  • Cultivate a healthier relationship with self and others
  • Create and enforce healthy boundaries and learning to make yourself a priority
  • Evaluate what you truly want in this life and learn to live with passion and purpose
  • Learn tools to better navigate your world and tackle daily challenges 
  • Realize your true potential and identify opportunities for self-improvement and self-efficacy
  • Empower yourself to take action in the face of fear and/or adversity
  • And More!

Stay tuned for the next article within this series where we will be taking a deep dive into resistance along with tips and strategies for rolling with it and overcoming it.  

 

 

Gut Dysfunction From Hell Yet Unremarkable Medical Findings: Part I

So Much Dysfunction, So Little Answers!

As functional health practitioners we speak with clients on a regular basis about their health and life histories.  Within the narratives, long histories of gut distress seem to be a commonality.  Clients from all walks of life tell the tales of how they recall mild to moderate gut issues such as bloating, stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea, and poor digestion from a very early age.   They go on to explain how their parents may have taken them to their primary care physician for routine medical workups yet no real answers were uncovered.   

With no answers one often falls into the trap of thinking "this is just how my body is and I need to learn to live with it".   Others may experiment with trying to make correlations on their own and avoiding lifestyle factors and foods that they know to be symptom triggers.   

Through this process, one's symptoms may resolve to a point where the urgency to identify root causes is no longer there.  In other words, life goes on for people and without major life altering symptoms there is little motivation for further investigation.  This often does not mean, however, that root causes have been addressed solely because symptoms have been mitigated.  Quite the opposite often occurs.

You see, symptoms and chronic health complaints are indeed common nowadays but they are not normal.   Symptoms are our body’s alarm system, signaling that there are imbalances that need to be addressed.  Just as turning off a fire alarm in a building without finding and extinguishing all the fires will lead to an inferno, suppressing symptoms in the body without identifying and addressing the root causes will lead to metabolic chaos® and ultimately dis-ease.

The lack of addressing true root causes often allows dysfunction to proliferate insidiously beneath the surface.  The child that was once experiencing mild to moderate gut issues is now an adult suffering with a wide range of chronic health challenges such as fatigue, poor libido, unstable moods, pain, lowered immunity, autoimmunity, and the list goes on.  Or, it could be a specific diagnosis such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or something more foreboding as in waking up one day to a cancer diagnosis.   

With years of hidden dysfunction, it is easy for life events such as job stress, death of loved ones, mold exposure, head injuries, major acute illness, divorce, etc. to be the catalyst that lights the match and allows the inferno of chronic illness to roar.   Making correlations between past histories of mild to moderate health challenges and major life events is what is necessary to identify true root causes.  This gives one an explanation of how health conditions that seemingly come out of the blue are actually the result of dysfunction that has been brewing for many years.  

The Status Quo of Gut Dysfunction and More!

If the above paragraphs describe you please know that you are not alone.  We fully relate to this trajectory of experiences and all the frustration, loss, and fear that ensues.  We both have had our share of booking consults with many gastroenterologists and other specialists in hopes of identifying the cause of our woes only to be disappointed by unremarkable findings and an RX for a drug to hopefully help manage the symptoms.  

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Within the world of Conventional Medicine, the standards for investigating gut dysfunction most often begin with routine blood labs, upper endoscopies, and colonoscopies.  These measures are important and wise to take to rule in or out serious medical diagnoses such as obstructions, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and more. 

The frustration comes in, however, when these invasive investigations do not provide answers or action steps beyond trialing various meds in hopes they will help provide relief.   And, even if one of the before-mentioned investigations did reveal a medical diagnosis, they do not provide clarification of true root causes.   Furthermore, obtaining one of these diagnoses most often results in managing symptoms with drugs versus addressing root causes, balancing the matrix and inner terrain, and helping the body to return to homeostasis.  

What Are The Root Causes of Gut Dysfunction?

In both our personal and professional experiences, we see the root causes presenting in a hierarchy with the first rung of the ladder being a perpetually engaged stress response and the last being metabolic choas© - with several factors in between. Also please know that we will not be listing every single cause but rather giving an overview of the main ones.  

Perpetually Engaged Stress Response

The stress response, also known as fight or flight, is meant to be a short-term, life-preserving mechanism ONLY.   It is meant to activate when we need it most, such as maneuvering our car to avoid a deadly collision, fighting off an attacker, or even pushing hard in the last mile to win that marathon.   After this it should subside so our bodies can return to a state of rest and digest. When this mechanism is chronically activated by non-emergency situations such as a toxic relationship, a soul-sucking job, or a painful memory that we keep reliving in our mind's eye, the body’s main stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are continually bathing our organs, cells, and tissues.  Overtime, these hormones will break the body down and cause issues such as lowered immunity, muscle tension, headaches, chronic inflammation, impaired cognitive function, anxiety/depression and much more!   Typically, the first bodily system to be adversely affected by a chronic stress response happens to the be the digestive system.  

Low / High Stomach Acid

With the digestive system being the first organ system that takes the brunt of stress, natural stomach acid production slows ways down or possibly even comes to a halt.  This is because when the body is preparing for an emergency, it is not concerned about digesting one's last meal.  Low stomach acid often presents as symptoms of acid reflux/GERD,  These symptom often spur people to visit their doctor and be handed a script for acid reducers or proton pump inhibitors such as the infamous purple pill, Nexium. 

While we observe low stomach acid to be a common trend, it is important to realize that too much stomach acid can also happen.  Just as too little stomach acid can cause a disruption in gut motility so can too much.  Additionally, hyperacid production can also lead to gastritis and put one at risk for ulcers and other erosive conditions.  Three common causes of high stomach acid are diet, a perpetually engaged stress response, or an acute trauma such as surgery or an accident.

Seeing that supplementing with hydrochloric acid supplements (which is a common practice) could cause further issues in one does not truly have low stomach acid, it it always wise to test stomach acid levels.  There used to be a test that was once readily used by GI docs called the Heidelberg Test that could accurately assess HCL levels.  Unfortunately now there are only handfuls of doctors using it and it can be difficult to find access to it.  But, you may be one of the lucky ones and have a doctor in your area that uses it.  

Dysbiosis and Chronic GI Infections

Our stomachs are meant to be highly acidic in order to kill opportunistic, pathogenic microbes that hitch a ride on food, water, and air.  Without optimal levels of stomach acid, it is only a matter of time before microbial overgrowths or pathogens take a foot hold and become a source of hidden stressors on the body.  Microbial overgrowths refer to when a bacteria, yeast, or fungus that is a normal part of the human microbiome are no longer kept in check and balance.   Pathogenic infestations on the other hand involve the presence of microbes that are not ever part of the normal human microbiome.  Examples of such organisms would be parasites such as giardia or cryptosporidium parvum, bacteria such as salmonella or campylobacter, yeasts/fungus such as microsporidia, and viruses such as norovirus or rotavirus. 

Leaky Gut

With low stomach acid production, microbial overgrowths, and pathogenic infestations, the epithelial lining of our digestive tract becomes inflamed.  This lining is our first layer of defense against the outside world in which we interact with via ingestion and respiration.  The inflammation then causes the lining of the gut to become overly permeable and allow undigested food particles, microbial metabolites, and possibly microbes themselves to leach into the blood stream.   This in turn triggers the immune system to mount a response which then cascades into a widespread inflammatory response to a molecule that should have remained and been properly assimilated within the digestive tract.  Widespread inflammation can manifest is a various ways such as fatigue, headaches, acne, hives, depression, and much more. 

Food Intolerances

When the gut goes awry, pathogenic microbes have taken hold, and the lining becomes leaky, it is common for the immune system to begin hyper reacting to a variety of foods we were once able to eat with no issues.  This can include even the healthiest of foods.  To be clear, food intolerances are not a root cause but rather a symptom of everything already mentioned.  

Celiac Disease / Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance

Two other points that we need to mention at this juncture are gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease.  While Celiac Disease is a genetically based, autoimmune issue and gluten intolerance is not, the two can be equally as damaging.   For the longest time we embraced the research that supports the inflammatory effects of gluten and we made a point to avoid gluten however, we failed to be strictly gluten free. 

We thought, “How much could a little bit hurt us, especially if we eat sprouted and organic sources of it or only consume "very small amounts" as can be found in some organic salad dressing from time to time?”.  

Oh boy, were we wrong!  We failed to understand (or shall we say accept and embrace) that even a small amount of gluten (as little as one crouton) is capable of creating lasting inflammation for up to 6 months; especially in a body where metabolic chaos® is well under way.  And then, through a series of labs, scans, and an intestinal biopsy during the time leading up to a SIBO discovery, Jennifer found out she had Celiac Disease.  This had caused significant damage in the form of villous atrophy throughout the midsection (the jejunum) of the small intestines - where the majority of digestion, absorption, and assimilation occurs.  

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)

SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is just that—an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, the part of your digestive tract where the nutrients from food are absorbed for your cells to use as fuel.  The small intestine should be relatively sterile in relation to the large intestines.  SIBO is a condition of dysfunctional motility and then gut microbes that belong in the large intestine and colon become translocated into the small intestine.

Symptoms of SIBO can include bloating, especially after meals, gas, indigestion, gastrointestinal reflux, constipation or diarrhea, abdominal cramping or pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety or depression, widespread pain, fatigue, and more. 

Most conventional doctors don’t recognize SIBO as a real condition and instead, they diagnose patients with “IBS” and send them off with a prescription for anti-nausea aids, proton-pump inhibitors, and/or antibiotics—the worst offenders when it comes to gut health—or laxatives. Even among the doctors who do acknowledge that it exists—usually functional medicine doctors—they often don’t explain to their patients that SIBO at its core is a product of system-wide imbalance and a fractured brain-gut connection that has persisted for many years, and ultimately has impaired gastrointestinal motility.  

To read an in-depth reference study about how PPI's (Proton Pump Inhibitors) are a large contributor to SIBO, click HERE.

 Widespread Metabolic Chaos©

When all that has been previously discussed goes on without resolve, the end result is widespread dysfunction, down regulation of cellular energy, and suboptimal organ function.  Within this state many epigenetic changes occur in the body.  The genes of health turn off and the genes of illness turn on.  Overtime symptoms morph into illness and eventutally dis-ease states.  

Unraveling Gut Dysfunction!

Stay tuned for part II where we will be providing a description of a comprehensive, functional investigation into gut dysfunction and how we go about unraveling it and other corresponding health challenges.  

 

Unleash Your Potential With Nutrigenomics: Overview

Genes Are Not Our Destiny!

Up until approximately 10 years ago, it was commonly held belief that our genes dictated our destiny.  In other words, if one had a long family history of a specific health condition such as diabetes or heart disease then it was almost guaranteed that this would have been the reality for generations to come.  The recent emerging field of epigenetics, however, has completely debunked this deterministic perspective. 

Epigenetics has shown us that genes, instead of dictating destiny, are merely warehouses of genetic potential.  Whether this genetic potential becomes a reality is contingent upon the complex interplay between genetic expression and environmental stimuli. Environment stimuli includes ALL influences such as diet, exercise, light, air quality, stress, environmental toxic influences, relationships, career, mental and emotional patterns, and the list goes on.   

With having said this, if one does have a family history of diabetes and they then engage in the same lifestyle patterns as their predecessors, then the likelihood of developing diabetes and/or heart disease is high.  Granted, genes do continue to play a role in the development of dis-ease, but we all have the power to heavily influence the extent of the role they play.  Bottom line, if we desire better health than those that went before us, we need to live our lives differently than they did.  Our daily habits truly do define our health and lives.  With good daily habits and supportive environmental stimuli, one can surely gain the upper hand and become empowered in the face of genetic disadvantages.  

Nutrigenomics: What It Is and Why It's Important

To review, Epigenetics is the study of how environmental stimuli influence genetic expression.  Another way to explain this is that whether a gene will express health or dis-ease depends on the input from the environment.  Nutrigenomics, on the other hand, is a much broader level of inquiry which encompasses the following:

  • Biochemistry (study of all bio-chemical processes in the body)
  • Physiology (study of the mechanisms and interactions within a living system)
  • Nutrition (study of how food and nutrients interacts with the body)
  • Genomics (study of genes and their expression)
  • Proteonics (study of all proteins that can be expressed by a cell)
  • Metabolomics (study of the end products of cells and microbes)
  • Transcriptomics (study of RNA expression)
  • Epigenomics (study of all epigenetic modifications)

Modern medical science has shown us that by looking at genetic SNP's (single nucleotide polymorphisms), which are variances in the genetic expression of genes, we can evaluate genetic potential for health challenges.  This gives us insight into the interaction between our genes, diet, and environment.  This is hugely empowering because it helps to inform therapeutic interventions in the areas of specific foods that can be beneficial or harmful, macro nutrient ratios, lifestyle choices, environmental exposures, targeted nutritional supplementation, and medications.  By having this information, we now have much greater power to influence our health and our lives. 

To expound upon the previous point let's take a look at folate as an example of how Nutrigenomics plays an integral role in health.  To begin, let's first define what folate is and why it's important.  Folate, which is vitamin B9, is a universal donor for  methylation.  Methylation is one of the most fundamental functions of life and plays a role in every biochemical process within each bodily system.   It happens upwards of billions of times each second.  Because of this, it regulates inflammation, helps maintain stable mental and emotional states, and is heavily involved in the synthesis of necessary compounds for optimal cellular detoxification.  

Without sufficient folate to meet our daily, bio-individual requirements, we become prone to dis-ease states because DNA integrity is now compromised.  We feels it's safe to say that everyone understands the implications of radiation exposure on the body.  Deficiencies of many micronutrients including folate have been found to result in similar level of DNA damage as the before-mentioned radiation exposures.  Such deficiencies can result in the rupture of DNA, oxidative stress, and the eventually lead to the development of cancer.  

So, when and how does Nutrigenomics come into play when it comes to folate?  Nutrigenomics helps to identify genetic variances that put one at risk of folate deficiencies.  One such variant is MTHFR.   The two commonly known variances for MTHFR are 677T and 1298C.  If one has variances on either one of these, the capability of one's body to assimilate dietary folate into methylfolate (which is the bio available form) decreases.  That said, simply taking methylfolate in supplement form is not the answer to creating sustainable wellness.   In some instances and depending on several factors, this can run the risk of creating more imbalances elsewhere in the folate pathway.  A proper approach is one that takes a comprehensive look at the totality of one's genetic potential.   Such an approach will correlate all genetic variances not only with each other but also within the context of one's history, lifestyle habits, and presenting health challenges.  

Genetic Variant Reports: Status Quo

If you have been dealing with chronic health challenges for awhile you are most likely well aware of genetic variant reports and the role they might play in helping you move the needle in the direction of improved health.   That said, however, you are probably also aware of how overwhelming the data can be and how easy it is to fall down the dreaded rabbit hole of endless genetic SNP's (single nucleotide polymorphisms).   We both vividly recall the days of first plugging our 23andme raw data into some of the more popular genetic readers and being utterly overwhelmed and asking "Now what?".  The data that was provided to us never translated into tangible ways for us to help us dig our way out of the chronic illness hole.   

As practitioners, we have come a long way from the formative days of saying "Now What?".  Clients now come to us with a variety of genetic variant reports that we use to help us formulate on overall clinical picture and help them to create bio-individualized healing protocols.   Even with our greater knowledge of Nutrigenomics, however,  these reports can be very challenging and overly time consuming for both us and our clients.  Even after hours of explanation, we find that clients still often feel overwhelmed and confused about the reports and what the data means to them in the context of their health and life.   This overwhelm often results in falling deeper into the rabbit hole, which then only serves to perpetuate the stress response.  

Nutrition Genome Enters the Game!

Nutrition Genome is a comprehensive, client-friendly genetic variant report that has done a fabulous job of removing the overwhelm and the question of "Now What?".   The Nutrition Genome report helps both practitioners and clients to become better familiar with all the genes, how they interact with one another, and how to apply the results in a practical and successful manner for improved health.  

As we touched upon earlier, genes are not our destiny!  The medical community, however, seems to continue to blame many health issues that can't be explained by diagnostic testing on genetics.   

Genetic variant testing brings a level of understanding to genetics that helps to remove the fear of the unknown and factors that we don't yet fully understand.   Cultural programming has lead to commonly held fears that certain health conditions that run in our families will automatically happen to us.  Nutrition Genome translates complex genetic data in such a way to remove the fear, arm the individual with knowledge, and help create a successful plan of action within the context of epigenetics.  The report reveals significant healing opportunities and bio-individualized, therapeutic interventions in the areas of:

  • Digestion and Colon/Intestinal Health
  • Hormone Balance
  • Neurotransmitter Synthesis
  • Inflammation and Anti-oxidant Protection
  • Detoxification Capabilities
  • Methylation Cycle
  • Mental Health
  • DNA Protection, Damage, and Repair
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Diet and Nutritional Supplementation
  • Athletic Performance
  • Drug and Toxin Interactions
  • Additional Lab Work

In addition to all this, you will also receive a bio-individualized food list to better help you navigate the dietary recommendations within the report.  

Stay tuned for the next article in this series where we will take a deeper dive into genetic SNP's, Navigating the Report, Digestion, Micronutrient Intake, and More!


Get Your Nutrition Genome Report With a Customized Multi-Vitamin Formulation Here!

 

 

    Viome: Making Chronic Illness an Option

    Revolutionizing the Functional Health Space!

    We recently launched our new functional health practice, this is our first blog article ever as partners, and we felt that a discussion about Viome would be the best way to kick off our new endeavor.  Thanks to Dr. Helen Messier, Chief Medical Officer of Viome, for extending us a private practitioner consult, we now have a much deeper understanding of this wellness assessment and how it compares to other technology.  

    Before we delve into the ins and outs of Viome, we would first like to thank you for joining us on our journey in creating Empowered To Heal.  Our mission is to help you empower yourself and unleash your full potential.  Our motivation for this work came from our own journeys with healing from complex, chronic health challenges.  Additionally, we both have our own private practices but decided to join forces as to pool our talents, diversify, and ultimately enhance the scope of our work.  Our goal is to play a part in revolutionizing the functional health space.  Enough about us, now let's delve right into the ins and outs of Viome. 

    The Current Status Quo for Gut Testing

    Before talking about specific advantages of Viome we first need to touch upon the current status quo in functional-based gut testing, which is PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction).  PCR technology specifically sequences DNA as a means to identify gut microbes.  As practitioners we have known, respected, and used this technology to assess gut health in our work with clients for a long while now.   We have come to learn, however, that PCR technology, even with as advanced as it is, has some limitations that we feel Viome does not fall short with. These limitations are as follows:

    • DNA sequencing can pick up not only the alive and active microbes, but also dead and transient organisms passing through the GI tract within food particles, water, and air.  This can result in many false positive results and unnecessary interventions that can further disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome.  
    • PCR testing is super useful when the goal is to identify specific pathogens that are suspected to be causing issues.  The problem comes in, however, in that it looks at specific microbes solely in isolation versus within the context of the complex interactions amongst the entire microbiota.  This can result in not providing a comprehensive enough picture from which to form an accurate clinical perspective.  For example, some microbes in isolation can absolutely be harmful but yet these same microbes, within the context of the entire microbiome, may actually end up being a benefit in some way.  To help illustrate this point Dr. Helen explained that there are specific, potentially pathogenic microbes that produce endotoxins (inflammatory metabolites) that some beneficial microbes consume to make useful by-products such as butyrate.  Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that intestinal cells utilize as a main energy source.  Moreover, bacteria able to synthesize short chain fatty acids such as butyrate have been found to be critical for gastrointestinal homeostasis, and their imbalance has been documented in diseases such like IBD (See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837688/). For this reason it is crucial to make sure the presence of potentially harmful microbes are evaluated within the context of the full ecosystem of the microbiome.    
    • PCR technology also varies from lab to lab due to varying methods and primers used.  This can lead to inconsistent results that create confusion for both practitioners and clients.  
    • PCR technology often uses 16S sequencing.  This can be problematic because the 16S gene is only a small segment of microbial DNA and can result in a substantial amount of false positives.  A recent paper published by Robert C. Edgar pointed out that 16S sequencing can often result in a false positive rate upwards of 55% to 88% (See:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5631090/#ref-16).
    • Lastly, PCR methodology does not assess the metabolites produced by microbes, which are end results of microbial activity.  This can be an issue because microbes are not always in a pathogenic state.  Evaluating the metabolites allows one to assess what microbes are doing in the gut, how their activity may be influencing downstream bodily functions, and whether or not they are causing harm.  

    Viome: New Kid on the Block!

    Viome, however, uses meta-transcriptomic technology.  This method sequences all microbial RNA from the microbiome. Viome then matches these sequences to an extensive database of all sequenced organisms, that has been curated to remove false positives.  This technology offers an unprecedented visibility into the eco system living inside all of us.  Meaning, it is able to identify every alive and active microbe (bacteria, parasites, fungus, virus, and mycoplasma), how those microbes are interacting with one another, and the metabolites they are producing. 

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    It is also important to know that Viome only needs nanogram amounts of RNA to get an accurate picture of what is truly happening within the context of the microbiota.  This gives a much deeper look into what these microbes are doing inside of the gut, not just their presence.   Comparing meta-transcriptomic data with 16S data is like comparing apples to oranges.  It is not applicable.  Furthermore, Viome is constantly developing and continues to make additions to what the report will reveal. 

    Soon to come, there will be markers indicating virulence factors as well as how microbes are specifically influencing life-sustaining functions such as detoxification, energy production, neurotransmitter and hormone synthesis, and much more.  Even without these soon-to-come markers, we find that the information provided by a Viome far surpasses any other gut testing on the market today.  

    With our deeper understanding of Viome, we feel that meta-transcriptomic sequencing of all RNA (microbial and human) is vastly superior to the technologies we referenced as the status-quo.  To be clear, DNA is a set of genetic instructions that can be identified from both dead and alive organisms.  RNA, on the other hand, is what is produced by the expression of DNA.  RNA is only produced by alive and active organisms whose DNA is being expressed.  As we see it, the main advantages of meta-transcriptomics are as follows:

    • It compensates for transient organisms that can often be detected via PCR but yet are not inhabiting the GI tract or causing issues.  This is true because there is simply not enough time for those organisms to produce enough RNA to qualify as relevant.  
    • It looks at the entire microbiome and the complex relationship between microbes versus looking at pathogens in isolation.  This a plus because possible pathogenic microbes are not always bad and don't always need to be addressed with heavy duty anti-microbial protocols.  Obtaining a complete picture allows us to understand the relationships between microbes so that one can make better informed, personalized decisions when it comes to therapeutic interventions. 
    • Because Viome has exclusive access to this technology, there is no potential for varying results from different laboratories.  This technology was created at the prestigious Los Alamos National Lab, originally designed for national security.  Viome is now the sole owner of this technology and uses it as a highly calibrated and customized tool against chronic and age-related conditions. 
    • By looking at all the genetic expression and metabolites of alive and active microbes, the potential for false positives that can come with PCR methods has been significantly reduced.  Gathering the amount of data that Viome does is actually a constant check and balance on itself.  Moreover, for this test to miss a microbe, it would not only have to miss the genetic expression of the microbe but all the metabolites produced as well.  The possibility of this happening is extremely slim. 

    A Window Into Intestinal Permeability and Metabolism

    Another HUGE benefit of Viome is that by looking at RNA, we can look at human RNA that is being shed from the gut lining into the stool.  This can serve as a marker of intestinal permeability (aka: leaky gut).  Within Viome results, human RNA is reported as a percentile.  Dr. Helen carefully explained to us that ideally one would want to fall somewhere within 20% - 50% with some leeway for bio-individuality.  Scores above 50% can be indicative of inflammation, significant amounts of intestinal lining shedding, and slow motility due to factors such as pathogenic infections and bacterial dysbiosis.  Results below 20%, on the other hand, can be an indicator of improper cellular turnover within the gut due to poor nutrition and/or an over abundance of biofilms.  These two factors can prevent the proper recovery of intestinal cells.  

    Moreover, Viome is NOT just a gut test.  It is also a dynamic metabolic assessment tool.  It allows us to learn how the microbiota and the rest of the body (outside of the GI tract), after digestion and absorption, process and assimilate the nutrients taken in by the foods we eat.  This is achieved via the glucose challenge portion of the test. 

    This well-established methodology gives us insight into energy production, blood sugar regulation, and insulin resistance.  This information, combined with the microbiota data, allows Viome to provide the user with the most bio-individualized food list available to the general consumer today.  As clinicians, we can utilize the in-depth microbiota data combined with these bio-individualized food lists to bootstrap our healing protocols with clients.  Furthermore, this allows for much more accurate healing protocols.  

    Unprecedented Amount of Data

    This level of insight results in an amount of data that far surpasses human capability to synthesize and comprehend.  For this reason, Viome recruits the assistance of deep machine learning AI (artificial intelligence) to make sense of all this data.  The AI utilized by Viome contains all of the microbiome research that has been completed to date and they continue to add more each day.  This means that this AI has evaluated almost every piece of microbiome research that humans have conducted already.  It also learns by analyzing its own internal data that it gathers with each and every sample submitted for analysis.  Viome's model of yearly testing with optional retesting for reduced rates within the same year allows the AI to analyze multiple samples from you overtime.  This is helpful in identifying long-term patterns and trends within your gut health and metabolism.  Seeing patterns ahead of time awards us all the potential to proactively address dysfunction and metabolic chaos® long before it turns into dis-ease states.  

    To wrap up all that has presented into a succinct list, Viome's benefits can be highlighted by the following:

    • Comprehensive look at every alive and active microbe and its metabolites
    • Identification of microbes to the strain level and the activity of those microbes
    • Soon-to-come virulence factors and analysis of how metabolites are influencing all bodily functions
    • A self-checking and continually evolving methodology that uses deep machine AI learning
    • Serves as an assessment of intestinal permeability and integrity of the epithelial lining of the gut
    • Bio-individualized food lists to help optimize the microbiome, boost overall health and wellness, and bootstrap healing protocols 
    • More accurate and targeted healing protocols
    • Significant reduction in the potential for false positive results
    • Means to track efficacy of probiotic use, diet, and other health-promoting interventions
    • Available to everyone without the need for an order from a doctor

    Viome is a wellness assessment versus a medical diagnostic test.  This holds true so they can provide the service to everyone without the need for a medical doctor's orders or the massive overhead costs of FDA approval.  Having said this, the data presented on the Viome report does require the ability to understand the nuances in relation to a person's health history and current challenges.  This is where the role of qualified, functional practitioner comes in.  For instance, Viome does not provide gut pathogen eradication protocols and accompanying therapeutic support as that is something that should always be overseen and guided by a qualified practitioner.  

    In our practice, we offer a wide array of services that can assist our clients with understanding their Viome results as well as implementing targeted healing protocols. If you are interested in a more comprehensive approach, please see our "Work With Us" tab to review all options.