My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 2

Today we venture into part deux of my journey to restoring good health. Since I last updated you, I’ve received the results of two things:

  1. the blood work that my medical doctor requested to investigate my level of fatigue i.e. I have had significant anemia in the past and he queried my thyroid function.  
  2. the results of my fecal test – my urinalysis results should be back next week.

I met with Dr. Binning earlier this week and I’ll update you on that in a moment.  

First, what I want to acknowledge first and foremost is that I genuinely believe that medical doctors all enter the profession with good intentions (to help people) and end up battling a system that doesn’t set them up for success. It’s not their fault that the system only allows for 11 minute appointments or that they only get paid for one concern so they only want to treat one concern per visit – which prevents a wholistic medicine approach.  1 issue per appointment isn’t conducive to treating someones HEALTH (in my humble, non medical opinion).  

I’m not against conventional forms of medicine – at all – I feel that there are things we absolutely need medical doctors – like acute/trauma care – that naturopathic or functional medicine cannot begin to address.  In this instance I’m addressing my non-acute, non trauma CHRONIC conditions.  

Ok, so now that I’ve addressed that, let’s delve into the results of my stool test shall we?   It feels rather personal sharing these results with you – and in doing so what I accomplishing is sharing not only the results – but also the information – because what I learned from these results essentially presents us with an opportunity – when we have information that we didn’t have previously we can create change – everything that I learn here is actually a positive (even if the results aren’t great) because that’s an opportunity for better health.

Results Of GI-MAP DNA Stool Analysis

Pathogens = none (yay!)

8 virulence factors for H Pylori = none (yay!)

Bacterial Flora:

IMG_4046

Most are low, one is high – indicating dysbiosis = so, there’s an imbalance in my gut.  So we want to look at can be driving that imbalance – which could be as simple as poor dietary diversity (vegetable fibre – which is odd because until last week I was vegetarian) or not enough or something can be suppressing the growth of healthy bacteria – these bugs all all live off these fibres and if they’re not getting them they can’t grow.  

Overview: insufficient levels of good bacteria and poor mucosal health – these bacteria are all there to protect us, they all serve a purpose, so important that these levels are improved — all of this leads to a healthy gut and healthy immune system.  My AKK MUCI (abbr) is just above the acceptable range.  Phyla Microbiota essentially again saying “Hello! Not bacterial enough growth!”  Is something suppressing that growth?  Is another bug coming in and screwing everything up and taking all the resources or are there really no resources to begin with?

Opportunistic Bacteria: 

IMG_4047

Streptococcus – remember that HUGE rash on my face that my MD diagnosed as peri-oral dermatitis and gave me an antibacterial cream and antibiotics for?  If you missed it – you can check out part 1 of this series here.  This makes a lot of sense!  This is something generally on skin and mouth – if there’s an overgrowth we need to start balancing this out.  

** I’ve left out some of the other results – which are within the normal range **

Intestinal Health:

These levels are look normal – and nothing can be further from the truth.  That’s where the benefit of knowing your patient inside and out, and basing it solely on them and not a “range” comes into play.  This I find interesting.

By way of background until last week, I ate a 95% vegetarian diet. So my steatocrit is at a 7 – the limit <15% – if someone is eating a lower fat diet – that number is high then – why would this be so elevated?  If they’re on a high fat diet that number might be ok – ideally we don’t want to see a number here – we want it as close to 0 as possible.  So what this is saying is that fat is leaking out of my digestive system, I’m not absorbing it and it’s showing up in my stool.  

Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 11.15.27 AM

Elastase-1 – is at 261 – results show “normal” however it should be in the 400-500 range – even higher.  What this is telling us is that my pancreas isn’t making the things it should and releasing them well (insulin and digestive enzymes).  

B-gluconatodase level is at a 2042 – which indicates normal here – and this can’t be further from the truth.  When your body is exposed to toxins, even the waste of the bacteria that live within you or event the waste of the byproducts of my own metabolism (of every cell) creates waste – my body has to detoxify these things through the liver – not going to lie here – I need to revisit that Dr. Binning sent me on this — something about binding, neutralizing and that that enzyme cutting those two things from each other and frees that toxin to go back into circulation and cause more havoc.  We’ll talk more about this at my follow up appt once I get the results back from my urine test. 

Secretory IgA – 90% of your immune system exists in your gut — this # should ideally be at around 1000 – not high enough – the decrease in this number can be caused by chronic infections or chronic stress – they will just deplete this.  The anti-gliadine is at 55 showing some insensitivity to gluten.  
 
Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 12.03.04 PM
 
Zonulin – marker for leaky gut — so I’m pretty close at 99.1 – definitely don’t want this number going up and higher that’s for sure!  
 
So, that’s a really great first step with Dr. Binning – I’m super happy about getting these results – because now I know where we can move forward in the betterment of my health.  We have an appt scheduled for December 27, 2019 to go over my urine results and then we can overlap all of the results to come up with a treatment plan that’ll be aimed at getting me back to good health and function.
 

Results Of Anemia and Thyroid Testing

My interim GP had requested blood work at my request last month as I had asked him to refer me because I was dragging my butt.  I have those results and my Hemoglobin and Hematocrit levels are low and my ferritin is at a 5 (which his the low end of normal reference range (5-272 — how is that even a realistic range??). My Thyroxine Free is at a 10 – and the “normal” reference range is from 9-19 – which again is at the low end of norm.  
 
 
Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 11.29.27 AM
 

I have an follow up appointment scheduled with my interim GP to go over the results – he’ll likely recommend that I recommence iron tabs.  As an aside, have you ever taken iron pills?  When I was severely anemic a couple of years ago, I had to take 4 at a time and it wreaks havoc on your GI tract, if you know what I mean 😉  

As an aside, I had a brief conversation with a medical doctor I know, last week about these results, and his response was “you’re barely anemic!”.  This is what frustrates me about the medical profession at times.  That statement hit me in the gut.  I’m barely anemic?  That may well be based on these results – however, why am I dragging my arse?  Why can I hardly function?  Why can I hardly make it though a day without napping?  I know my body, I know what normal for me, I know how I’m feeling and I know where I’m struggling – I wish MDs would put more emphasis on their patients words (I know this is not true of all MDs, I’m just pointing out that this is a common theme I hear regularly throughout the course of my job as a disability claims specialist).  

 

Conclusion

I won’t be commencing anything until I get my final results back from Dr. Binning and together we come up with an appropriate plan.  My body is clearly deficient of other nutrients so I want to balance out my who body and gut biome.
 
All of these tests are starting to come together to give me a clearer picture of what’s going on in my body and why I’m feeling how I am.  
 
I can already start noticing little changes in how I feel just by eliminating gluten and dairy and reintroducing meat to my diet (organic).  Some days I don’t have the need to nap (although it is a bit of a struggle still). 
If you’re interested in reading my first blog in this series you 
can find it here:

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/01/on-health-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-1/

For the last post in the series, you can click here  —>

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2020/01/11/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-3/

Recipe: All Day Egg Muffins

These egg muffins are loaded with all your breakfast favourites! Perfect for busy mornings and quick on the go snacks …

I’ve been eating a lot of eggs lately and was looking for a way to change up the ways I’m cooking them, and decided to go back to an old fan favourite.

Recipe makes 6. I  cook for one, so I’ve decreased the amount to 6 rather than a dozen.

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • arugula
  • mushrooms (your favourite) – I used white common mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup cheese cubes (I used old cheddar)
  • hot salsa (to taste)
  • salt/pepper (to taste)

I don’t drink milk – but feel free to add milk to your recipe.

IMG_0257

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large (glass) mixing bowl, combine eggs and whisk well.
  3. Stir in cheese, arugula, salsa, salt, and pepper.
  4. Divide mixture evenly among 6 greased muffin cups (mine are square)
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until centers are set and muffins are beginning to brown.

IMG_0254

These make breakfast fast and easy OR a quick on the go healthy snack and they’re soooooo good ♥️

Enjoy!

On Health: Update – Whole Food Plant Based Diet

A bit ago I posted a blog called On Health: My 30 Day Trial of the Whole Food Plant Based Diet, I’ve long since completed my 30 day trial of a whole food, plant based (WFPB) diet. I promised you all an update ….

So, here are a few of my take aways from that trial …

(1) Because I eliminated processed foods which are usually loaded with sodium, and oils I found food a lot more bland.  The pro is that I’m learning to cook with a lot more spices and use fresh herbs (I love BASIL and CILANTRO).

(2) It’s hard to be social and be out with friends – food is a HUGE part of our society, culture and the way we bond.  Although there’s definitely a growing population of vegans and people who follow WFPB lifestyles – the food industry is a bit slow in catching up – although it is growing.  However, for the time being – it’s hard to go out dinner and stick to your basic salads – it gets boring after a while – and let’s be honest – when you’re vegan / WFPB most of your friends aren’t willing to compromise and go to that type of restaurant to eat – I literally had a friend say “if I’m gonna spend money to go out and eat, I’m gonna eat meat!”  – well ok then!

There were some options at most restaurants that I could eat – the one restaurant had baked brussel sprouts as an app, Les Enfants Terribles in Montréal had a grilled cauliflower but it came with squid ink (so instead of sending it back I ate the parts that weren’t covered in ink – which as an aside, I’m not particularly fond of).  I usually gravitated toward a salad or quinoa dish – less the cheese – which was hard for me because I LOVE cheese!

IMG_3686
Cucumber, cherry tomato, bocconcini and basil salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  I eat cheese from time to time now.

The restaurants I went to that focussed on this way of eating were my favourites — Rawlicious and Pure Juice Bar + Kitchen.  For quick eats I usually grabbed a naked burrito from Fat Bastard, rice paper rolls from my fave Viet / Thai place or some kind of bowl from Freshii.  And, yes I did eat at home as well – but being an empty nester now – I tell you it’s NOT enjoyable cooking for ONE ☹️.  Even A&W is hopping on the band wagon —  they landed the popular vegan Beyond Burger at nearly 1,000 A&W Canadian locations on July 9th – I haven’t tried it yet – if anyone one has – can you comment below how you liked it?

(3) The other thing I found was that I literally needed to eat meat.  At the time I was participating in the WFPB trial I was severely anemic and was taking iron supplements, but I didn’t seem to be getting enough through plants, legumes and beans.  So, my Naturopath asked me to reintroduce beef into my diet for the iron (I went on to eat 2 Sweedish meatballs per day).

(4) To be successful, you need to be planful – you need to make time to meal prep your lunches and dinners.  Most of my breakfasted consists of either an Ezekiel 4:9 bread with homemade almond butter, banana, crushed mixed nuts and hemp and a bit of agave nectar OR a homemade carrot cake oatmeal bowl.  Also, instead of allowing myself to get overwhelmed by all of the reductions to my menu, I kept it simple by just continuing to make the things I liked which are already WFPB or modified them in ways that they can be made into WFPB.

(5)  I drank a lot more water than I ever did – I inched my way up to the 72 oz per day – I still drink this about of water per day.

My Fave Cook Books …

I had a few staple cook books that I turned to time and time again — they are: Forks Over Knives (Spring Edition), Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck (this is actually quite entertaining) and Rawlicious.  

Conclusion …

I haven’t stuck to the WFPB diet 100% – but I do eat wayyyyy less meat than I used to.  Which is a step in the right direction …

I have cut other things out of my diet all together and have started making a lot of my foods now – fresh – with my Vitamix (blessing – yes, it’s worth the price of a small car!).  I make my own homemade almond butter, fresh strawberry jam, and my own hummus – to name a few.   I gave up dairy milk and switched to coconut or almond milk and I don’t buy wheat bread – I eat sprouted grain bread.

So, despite not being 100% WFPB yet – because of my participation in this trial, I have made much better changes to my diet – and it helped kickstart my eating habits back to the way they once were.  So, I would consider that a SUCCESS!

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 3.46.11 PM.png
Homemade vegan pho 🤩

Do any of you have any favourite WFPB or vegan dishes I could try?


Some people think plant-based diet, whole foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.

~ Caldwell Esselstyn

Welcome to My Life

It’s been awhile since my last blog.  I’ve started and stopped so many different blogs but for some reason or another never brought myself to finish them.

images

Today, I invite you on a little journey … Like so many of us, I started strong this past January with the New Years resolutions and the “2017, get ready to be owned!” mantras, but like so many others, mine fell apart shortly after declaring my owning 2017.  It’s no surprise that ONLY 9.2% of us who make resolutions in some way, shape or form feel they are successful in achieving their resolution (weight loss topped the list of 10 at #1 btw).

A year and a half ago I did not struggle with body image issues or self esteem issues. I liked going out and dressing up.   I was 5’6″, 122 lbs and I had boundless amounts of energy.  I loved life and was always up for taking on new challenges.  I ate pretty clean (but definitely wasn’t too hard core), I worked out occasionally (I’ve never been a huge gym person) but I was definitely always active.

We moved West around that time and likely as a result of adjusting to new surroundings,  dealing with life circumstances and making poor food choices I began to gain weight.  At first it was like 1 lb here, 2 lbs there – my attitude was like “well, when in Rome”.  At first I didn’t really notice the weight gain, I mean I work from home and I live in leggings and Lulu Lemons.  I knew my clothes were getting tighter, but that just depressed me even more, so I just said “hey wanna grab some wings and pints?” – see WRONG choice lol .

“Your attitude determines your altitude!” ~Denis Waitley

None of my clothes fit and the few that did were pretty darned snug (thank you leggings!).  I had no energy, like it was zapped and this was after my severe anemia had resolved itself with 9 months of iron supplements.  I started getting depressed about the amount of weight I had gained. I didn’t know how much cause I wouldn’t dare hop on the scale.

I finally decided to give my head a shake and get my self together, start treating myself better and taking responsibility for my life …. MAKE ADJUSTMENTS NOT EXCUSES!

Unknown

So, I ordered what I refer to as my “superfoods” and joined a 16 week body transformation challenge to hold myself accountable. The day I took my measurements and weighed myself for the first time in a year and half, I almost started to cry,  literally –  ok, to be totally truthful, I cried and not only did I cry – I sobbed – uncontrollably – it was worse than I thought. I had gained 35 lbs!  Count them …. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35!

Ok, so I gained 35 lbs, it’s not the end of the world – I gotta make changes, and work hard.  But, this is DOABLE – anything worth having is worth working for.  If it were easy, we’d all fine specimens.

I made changes in things like my coffee. I switched from a large Tim Horton’s double double (280 cals) to a product that is healthy and frankly tastes waaayyy better and is less bitter – and contains green tea extract, trace minerals, and coconut oil – I can even drink this one black so buh-bye sugar and cream.

I’ve also switched from taking a caffeine pill or pop/soda (synthetic) to an energy shot (drink) that is full of adaptogens (ideal for combating stress, providing clarity, and promoting physical performance, energy) and it contains a naturally sourced caffeine derived from green tea and yerba mate.  I did a lot of research before choosing – when shopping for caffeinated beverages, here’s a useful tip: If you see the word “caffeine” on the ingredient list, that means it’s synthetic. If natural plants containing caffeine are added, you will see the actual name of the botanical, such as guarana, yerba mate or green tea.

In the 1.5 weeks that I’ve chosen this superfoods regime and made small, but important choices, I’ve lost 5 lbs.  This is not water weight either, because I drink 1/2 my body weight in water daily (so three of my 24 oz water bottles).

How many of you out there are experiencing this right now and wanna do something about it?  How many of you feel like you’re not living your best life and wanna do something about it?

I’ll keep you updated as I progress in my journey …and hope you follow along.  Whatever excuses you may be using to avoid losing weight and getting healthy, get rid of them! There’s always something you can do and something is always better than nothing. Make some simple adjustments and get back in the game.

Namaste

T xo

Chalkboard-Weight-Loss-Quotes