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:

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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: 

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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.  

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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.  
 
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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.  
 
 
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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

On Health: My 30 day Trial of the Whole Food, Plant Based Diet

Last week myself along with about 19 other colleagues started a trial whole food, plant based (WFPB) diet.  The trial is for one month, and we are to stick to the diet with a rule 28059422_10156014712985168_2262040742645808080_nof 80/20.

8 days in and I am starting to believe more than ever that so much of what we eat and how we think about eating and food is far removed from food’s primary purpose: which is to nourish our bodies.  I used to think of food as an event (going out for dinner), or a fancy smancy new place to try, or to be honest a pain in the a$s because I really detest cooking – but not for what it’s truly supposed to do.

I think most everybody has watched the documentary on Netflix called Forks Over Knives (FoK) by now – if you haven’t I STRONGLY recommend you do.  Even if you don’t do the WFPB thing – it will at least help you make better food choices going forward and cause you to pause before you eat. The best we can hope for is to make more informed decisions about what we choose to put in our bodies.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past little while FoK essentially talks about how researchers explore the possibility that people changing their diets from animal-based to plant-based can help eliminate or control diseases like cancer and diabetes.

What To Eat and What Not to Eat, That is the Question!

The WFPB lifestyle (I’m not calling it a diet, because this is not a fad, this is a lifestyle change … for the better) means that for the next 3 more weeks we can not eat:

Animal products

  • no meat (red, white or fish) – the doctor monitoring our program says to eat nothing from anything that had a pulse or parents
  • no dairy products

No (or minimal) processed foods

  • oils
  • and pretty much most things in the middle aisles of the grocery store – which I already tried to do anyway

So, what do I eat?

  • It’s pretty simple: whole, unrefined plants. That’s it.

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Why Did I Agree to the Trial?

Each of us in the study group decided to participate for our own varying reasons.  Mine was to lose weight, get out of this general feeling of unwellness/malaise that I have been feeling and to kick start my metabolism – the way I used to feel – full of life and energy to burn.

The documentaries and research I’ve watched/read were information insofar as the benefits to living this lifestyle.  Some of the documented benefits to a WFPB diet include:

  • an increase in energy and alertness, weight loss
  • decreased pain, inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol to name a few

And most importantly a reduced risk of:

  • Some cancers, coronary artery disease, type II diabetes as well as proven reversal of: inflammatory bowel disease, Coronary artery disease and Type II diabetes

Armed with this information, I was eager to get started – I headed out to pick up some new cookbooks.

My 3 faves 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.    

I re-watched all of the documentaries on Netflix such as: FoK, Fed Up, Food Inc, Sick Fat and Nearly Dead I and II.

Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.- Hippocrates

So, What Are My Findings to Date?

A week in and this is what I am finding so far:

1- Because I have eliminated processed foods which are usually loaded with sodium, and oils I find food a lot more bland now.  Pro is that I am learning to cook with a lot more spices.  My taste buds are adapting and I am enjoying the natural taste of the food as they were intended not drenched in olive oil etc.

2- I haven’t had any headaches or anything from the detoxing effects – this is probably because I gave up coffee about 6 months ago and turned back to green teas.

3- Dining out while eating plant-based can be wholesome and enjoyable – said no body in their first week of this diet!  Many restaurants now offer vegan options, but mainstream menus aren’t yet created with WFPB diets in mind.  So when I’m out I mainly stick to salads or veggie sides.  There’s actually a great restaurant where I am from called Rawlicious – it’s a raw vegan restaurant – there are locations across Ontario and New York, I believe.

4- To be successful, you need to be planful – you need to make time to meal prep your lunches and dinners.  Most of my breakfasts 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.  Instead of allowing myself to get overwhelmed by all of the reductions to my menu, I am keeping it simple by just continuing to make the things I like which are WFPB or modify them in ways that they can be made into WFPB.

5- I am drinking a lot more water than I ever have – I’m not yet at the recommended 72 oz of water per day, but I’m at about 60 oz, I’m inching closer to that goal.

6- Any “sweet tooth” I have, can usually be cured by my new fave – dairy free – ice cream and it’s super simple.  Frozen strawberries, frozen banana and a bit on homemade cashew milk.  Ta-da!

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I will keep you posted as the remainder of this trial unfolds – I am anxious to get to the end to see if I actually can see and feel a difference by putting the right kinds of foods into my body and to see if there’s a difference both on the scale and in some of my blood work.

Have any of you tried the WFPB diet yet?  Any recipes to share?