Category Archives: Functional Nutrition

The New Fab 5

In the Functional Nutrition analogy of the Fab 5, Karamo is totally probiotics, Antoni is SCFA, but who would Jonathan be??

While most of us think of Queer Eye when we hear of the Fab 5*, in functional medicine nutrition model this refers to a different group of fabulous:

1) Omega-3 fats

2) Fat soluble Vitamins (A,D,E,K)

3) Glutathione (a master antioxidant and major component of liver detox)

4) Probiotics

5) Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA)

These five tend to be sorely lacking in the modern body and are best influenced by dietary intakes. Fatty cold water fish, cultured foods, loads of vegetables (esp. crucifers for glutathione) and organ meats can have you covered here, and exercise can also increase probiotic diversity, SCFA production in the gut and raise glutathione levels (who knew??)
While supplements are extremely helpful for those who are extremely depleted or chronically ill, starting with the foundation of a healthy diet and exercise is the cheapest, most impactful way to get you there. Here’s how:

A) Include organ meats 1-3 times a week; pate, heart, gizzards, mixing liver in meatballs or burgers, and drinking bone broth are great ways to do this. Organ meats are a great source of fat soluble vitamins and trace minerals. I FINALLY found a pate recipe that I really enjoy (I detest liver) after years of looking in Mickey Trescott’s Nutrient Dense Kitchen. It has been a total game changer.

B) Get a combination of high intensity, high impact movement and more relaxing, low intensity movement weekly. Walk as much as you can (our ancestors easily did 8-10 miles daily) and aim for short, high intensity intervals of 30 minutes or less 2-4 times weekly to boost glutathione levels and promote healthy gut bacterial diversity.

C) Consume cold water fish 3 times a week or supplement with omega-3 fatty acids (including a GLA to ensure appropriate balance of fatty acids when supplementing). Omega 3 fats preserve brain and heart health and keep inflammation at bay.

D) Consume cultured/fermented veggies daily from a variety of sources to easily introduce billions of probiotics into your body. Start with 1 tablespoon and work your way up to 1/2 cup depending on your needs. Kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kim chee, and many other options are out there! These foods promote healthy gut flora and crowd out opportunistic infections. Buyer Beware — if these foods are not refrigerated, they do not contain active, live cultures. They must be refrigerated to prevent exploding jars of ferments, so if you see a shelf stable kraut know it is a dead kraut.

E) Fat soluble vitamins are prolific in your cold water fish, organ meats as well as egg yolks. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Vitamin K is most abundant in green vegetables, so load those plates high! Check you levels of Vitamin D in both summer and winter so you can determine appropriate supplementation, if needed. These vitamins are crucial for immune health, bone health, cancer prevention and more.

F) Focus on vegetables! Population studies indicate that the healthiest people consume more vegetables, with 10 or more servings of produce daily demonstrating the greatest benefit. Vegetable fibers directly feed gut bacteria, and they in turn produce short chain fatty acids, which serve as fuel for the cells that line the gut wall. These cells directly impact immunity, gut health and brain health, but lack of integrity in the gut is associated with disease throughout the body, from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to heart disease and osteoporosis. 

A diet rich in fermented, raw and cooked vegetables, nutrient-dense organ meats and seafood, with appropriate levels of exercise can keep you strong, energized and vibrant for all the years of your life. Increased levels of environmental and social stressors coupled with decreasing nutrient density from poor soil and increasing carbon dioxide rates have loaded extra demands upon the body, requiring even more attention to nutrient density to maintain health than was needed just 20-30 years ago. 

That said, increasing demands upon our time and energy can make it even harder to accomplish this. Lack of familiarity with foods like organ meats, or poor experiences with vegetables growing up make it incredibly difficult to bring these foods back into regular fare, even when we know we should. My generation experienced a great deal of gym class trauma and soggy canned spinach that turned many of us away from the very things we needed to thrive. But now we are all adults, and it is up to each of us to overcome our history to serve our future. It took me five years to find a way to eat liver that I enjoy, so don’t give up! Where there is a will there is a way.(A special thank you to Dr. Eric Dorninger for introducing me to the power of the Fab 5!!)

Need help making the changes you want to? Book a Complimentary Discovery Call to see if Vibrance can support you!

 
 

Vitamin D Insufficiency and Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop on the uterus and are the leading cause of hysterectomies in reproductive-age women. They often lead to long, heavy periods, back or pelvic pain, constipation, back pain or leg pain, and even difficulty with or incomplete urination. The incidence of fibroids is increasing among women of child-bearing age.  They can be painful and debilitating and surgery is a commonly recommended solution. However, a far-less invasive and less costly option can spare many women from surgery!  Multiple studies in vitro and in animals show the benefit of vitamin D supplementation to reduce fibroid growth and development. A human clinical trial demonstrated that in small fibroid tumors, bringing participants to lab norm status (ie, 30 ng/dl) caused a cessation of tumor growth, while those unwilling to be treated with vitamin D experienced a worsening of symptoms and increased tumor growth after 1 year. Ideal serum levels of Vitamin D are still up for debate, but suffice it to say, making sure you have enough Vitamin D may prevent a hysterectomy down the road if you have fibroids or a strong family history of them. An hour of sunlight a day is also associated with reduced risk of fibroid development, confirming a strong relationship between Vitamin D and fibroid tumors. (Sources here and here.)

Why I Aim for 10 a Day

My goal every day is to get 10 servings of vegetables.

I know – that sounds insane, right? Especially if, like 87% of Americans, you aren’t meeting the government recommended 5 a day for vegetables and fruits.

When I began studying nutrition over 25 years ago, it was to justify my position as a vegetarian to concerned family members. It was the first time the concept of ‘food as medicine’ had ever been presented to me. I was blown away that this was not common knowledge, not discussed, and that so much suffering (both animal and human) could be avoided.

While I am no longer a vegetarian I have never wavered from my interest in how we can use food to prevent, mitigate, and recover from disease. Food is still the most potent medicine we have available to us, and yet it is still the most overlooked for much of the population. Whether or not one is a vegetarian or vegan, plants remain the most potent, healing foods available to us.

Researchers who study populations are now saying that the 3-5 a day that is recommended is not enough if our goal is to be healthy and vital for the duration of our lives. They are now recommending 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. The populations who regularly consume this much are the ones who have the least risk of disease and live the healthiest into their elder years. While the industrialized nations have looked to science and technology for sustaining life, those in traditional, poorer cultures have maintained what we long for by consuming abundant produce. Once you get past the challenge of clean water, proper sewage and the immediate dangers of war, the key to a long, happy life is community and a diet rich in vegetables.

A study published in 2010 demonstrated that just 4-6 servings of produce reduced your risk of stroke by 32%! So if you get your 5 a day, as recommended by the USDA, you are doing very well! You are making a definite impact in your quality of life, and probably feel that benefit. These same researchers also looked at folks who consume 6 or more servings of produce daily. Their stroke risk was reduced by 69% over those who consumed less than 3 servings a day. There’s similar, consistent evidence for vegetables preventing 9 of the top 10 causes of death in the United States (the exception being unintentional accidents). The more produce we consume, the less chances we’ll die from Alzheimer’s, heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, even pneumonia and suicide. The research is there.

None of us know how much time we have on the planet. I want as many years as possible to be vital, mobile, alert, and pain-free. The diseases that knock out most of us are expensive, chronic, and take decades to finally kill us off. Those last 15-30 years are not easy ones….and the new generation is being diagnosed with some of these diseases (like type 2 Diabetes) before they are even old enough to vote. I’d rather avoid such diseases altogether, and like my great-grandmother, remain active and engaged in my community until mere months before I pass.

Do I get 10 servings of vegetables a day? Sometimes. When I am aiming to, I reliably get between 7 and 10 servings. When I get caught up in life I get about 4-6. However, before I committed to seeking out 10 a day getting caught up in life meant I only managed 1-2 servings in a day. The difference I personally feel maintaining a minimum of 4-6 instead of 1-2 is remarkable. My clients express the same outcome. It shows up differently for different people – most of us find our digestion to be more regular and, dare I say it, delightful. Some also get the added benefit of improved moods and better energy. Some find chronic pain disappears. Others are able to come off blood pressure meds and find their blood sugar back within normal limits. One of the adventures of taking people on a journey to increase their veggies is that we don’t know what the outcome will be – only that it will be good. It’s a fun trip to take!

 

Regardless of whether you ascribe to a vegan, paleo, Mediterranean or even ketogenic diet, you need an abundant of produce to thrive. And nearly all dietary modalities attributed to reversing chronic disease, such as heart disease or multiple sclerosis, have their root in a diet high in produce. Vegetables provide antioxidants that protect cells from pollution as well as the wear and tear of daily life. They provide fiber to help regulate bowels and feed the beneficial bacteria that produce certain vitamins as well as help regulate the immune system, mood, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

 

 

Park, Y. (2010). Intakes of vegetables and related nutrients such as vitamin B complex, potassium, and calcium, are negatively correlated with risk of stroke in KoreaNutrition research and practice4(4), 303-310.

Aune, D., Giovannucci, E., Boffetta, P., Fadnes, L. T., Keum, N., Norat, T., … & Tonstad, S. (2017). Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studiesInternational journal of epidemiology46(3), 1029-1056.