Here is a myth you may be tempted to believe about Functional Health practitioners:
We have it all together.
I'll let you in on a secret. We don't.
We came to this space largely due to our own issues. Most practitioners have an origin story. Kind of like Wonder Woman, but without the goddess-like body.
In my other job, I get to run the graduate association at Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, a group of brilliant, curious, and functional nutrition coaches.
We've got a thriving, passionate Facebook group where we are always asking each other for insight on each others' cases. It helps to have a community. I usually tell my private clients that when we work together, they aren't just working with me- they have a whole team of crazy smart practitioners who can advise me when things aren't progressing the way we want them to progress.
But I also see a lot of posts in that group from my fellow FDNs that say something like, "I'm still suffering from X- please help!".
Even with all of our knowledge and resources and clinic hours, we still aren't in perfect health.
FDN's are trained to use functional lab testing to help clients get to the bottom of their chronic health issues. The labs won't lie. They provide hidden healing opportunities that can be systematically addressed. This is a slow process and is continually a work in progress. I've never run a lab on anyone and gotten results back and immediately thought, "Eureka! We have found the problem!"
That is because there are usually like 1,362 problems. Our western lifestyles provide a veritable cesspool of inflammation, pent-up detoxification pathways, estrogen dominance, and gut dysfunction. There is no one thing that fixes that dysfunction.
Progress is the goal, not perfection (though let's be honest, perfection is always the pipe dream, even for those of us who know better).
Here are some ways that functional lab testing has helped my chronic health issues:
Gut testing showed that my gut was infected with parasites (ew). This is why I was having to switch to yoga pants every afternoon around 2 pm and why I felt like I couldn't eat very many foods at all.
Hormone testing showed that I had very low levels of cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. This was one of the reasons I was exhausted all of the time and was experiencing panic attacks.
Hair Tissue Mineral testing showed that my calcium levels were too high for hormones to attach to the receptor sites of the cell and my potassium levels were extremely low. This is why increasingly higher doses of thyroid hormone were not making a difference in my body.
Nutrient analysis testing showed that my Vitamin D levels were still ridiculously low, despite regular time in the sun and moderate levels of supplementation. This is why my psoriasis continued to spread- eventually showing up on my face: oh. hell. no.
So when I realized that my sleep had been getting less and less restorative, I tried a few supplement and lifestyle interventions, but then I remembered what we always say at FDN:
Test, don't guess.
I used this as an opportunity to try a new test, a micronutrient analysis. I do all of the things I tell my clients to do. I eat well 90% of the time. I get to bed by 10. I take my baths, exercise appropriately, and try to manage my stress (I fail at this last one a lot).
But my supplement routine had kind of fallen off. I bought a few rounds of random things that had worked for other people, lazily assuming that they would be beneficial for me as well.
I wanted to see exactly what nutrients my body needed.
So I ran a micronutrient analysis, a beast of a test that frankly was a pain in the ass to run. It involved blood, spit, and urine. I wanted to start running them on clients too, but needed a first hand look at what the process looked like.
I ran it and opened the results like an 8 year old on Christmas morning.
Holy B's, Batman!
I was lacking in pretty much the full spectrum of B vitamins (plenty of biotin makes my hair strong and good levels of thiamin help me get energy from my starches and fruits).
The rest of the B's were pretty low. Cobalamin helps energy production, as well as folate. Pyridoxine mimics progesterone in the body and helps mood and sleep. Niacin helps blood flow, maintains proper cholesterol levels, and keeps mood even. riboflavin helps metabolism and digestion (low levels can lead to SIBO!).
My magnesium was low. Makes sense. I can't poop without it (you're welcome).
I also saw that my SNPs correlated with my symptoms:
My methylation and detoxification pathways are genetically slightly impaired.
So I addressed these healing opportunities, fine-tuning my B vitamins, magnesium, and detoxification pathways.
The result? I am sleeping like a baby, every night. No more waking 2-3x/ night. Not even to pee.
I love not guessing. The labs don't lie. Addressing deficiencies and working slowly on healing opportunities is deeply satisfying, and I am so grateful to be waking up in the morning, refreshed again.
These labs are a huge part of what I do as an FDN. If you're interested in learning more, set up a complementary call with me here:
We are all just works in progress. Hugs :)