Lab Markers, Health and Nutrition
Blood chemistry testing is an extremely effective tool to use as it screens and identifies imbalance in the body’s metabolism, assessing major bodily functions providing me, as a functional nutritionist, with sound recommendations to reach the individual’s health goals.
Patients are referred to me on a weekly basis seeking nutrition plans that help correct essential nutrient deficiencies and greatly improve or fully resolve their current signs and symptoms. As a functional nutritionist licensed in DC with a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, I help get to the root cause of an individual’s unwanted health concerns by navigating nutrition and lifestyle factors that helps them feel better - such as improving digestive concerns, brain function, joint health or lab markers.
While I'm finding many deficiencies and nutritional needs one of the common findings is a need for digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes help break down fats and proteins. If you can't digest and absorb properly you will have more nutrient deficiencies, inflammation and an imbalance of good and bad bacteria leading towards other chronic diseases. While we are addressing the underlying causes we often use digestive enzyme supplements to begin the "gut repair."
Functional Nutrition & Gut Healing
Food is medicine, there are certain foods that have the ability to work on digestion.
Let’s dive into digestive enzymes and how we can utilize food to support gut function and improve the health of the body.
Common causes of improper enzyme production:
In a nutshell, the major factors that impact the health of our genes and our body are nutrition and lifestyle factors – aspects you do every day!
Top Mother Nature providing foods that contain digestive enzymes:
*Note: Keep in mind, these 3 foods might not be best for everyone and depends upon an individual’s food allergies, food sensitivities, food intolerances, lab markers and signs/symptoms the body, is showing us.
Aside from being digestive aids, pineapple, raw honey and papaya further provide the body with tools to detoxify, heal wounds, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. The array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that accompany these foods allow for a better functioning body.
While it can be very important to consume digestive enzymes in foods or clean supplements, it is imperative to correct the production of digestive enzymes. For instance, the amount of saliva you have in your mouth, hydrochloric acid in your stomach and optimal functioning gallbladder, liver, pancreas and intestines, have profound impacts of your health and the rest of your body – from your head to your little toe, and everything between.
Stacy Peterson, MS, CNS, CHHC, CSCS
To celebrate February being Heart-Health Month and March Nutrition Month, I wanted to provide you a delicious, mouth-watering recipe from yours truly.
Wild-caught, not farmed, salmon is one of the more nutritious foods in the world. High in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, regularly consuming salmon can help reduce systemic inflammation and minimize your risk of cardiovascular concerns, such as atherosclerosis, hypertension and stroke.
How much salmon should you consume, you ask? About 3-4 ounces of salmon 2-3 times per week depending upon the individual.
Use this recommended serving size as a side dish to your favorite vegetables to provide your body with a balance of nutrients and health promoting fiber. Nutrient-dense foods allows your body to ward off disease and function more optimally mentally, physically and emotionally - giving your body the tools to enjoying life to its fullest.
Sautéed Salmon Recipe
Serves 2-3 people
Ingredients (amounts are estimates):
Just be sure to listen to your body and if you have any unwanted signs and symptoms. Address your health concerns with a qualified functional nutritionist that can help you reach your health concerns more quickly and efficiently.
…it could be time to take a look at your Thyroid.
In our body systems, hormones play a major role in switching organs and cells on and off. Now, imagine the processes of our digestion (churning of the stomach, metabolism, excretion of digestive juices and the movement, and contraction of digestive muscles that push food through our stomach and intestines - peristalsis).
These digestive processes are signaled by hormones produced by the Thyroid. If your thyroid isn’t functioning optimally, it is likely that your digestive system will be affected (and vice versa, but we’ll get to that in a minute).
First, let’s get to know your thyroid
The Thyroid is the small butterfly-shaped organ under your Adam’s apple that secretes very important hormones - T3 (triodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These hormones travel through the blood stream and signal all other cells to carry out their specific function.
T3 and T4 hormones signal a variety of cells essential to digestive functions, including:
Note - T3 is the active version of T4, which means that most of the T4 needs to be converted into T3 before it can be used by cells.
So, how does my thyroid go out-of-whack?
First, here is a simple diagram showing the pathways involving proper thyroid function.
Thyroid issues typically occur when there are problems with:
For those of you who would like more detail of the above pathways, let's dive deeper into the diagram discussing the unwanted issues that can arise with production, conversion and utilization.
When the thyroid produces and excretes hormones it does not just do so automatically, it is, in fact regulated by the Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland. The Hypothalamus secretes the hormone TRH (thyrotropin-releasing hormone) which stimulates the Pituitary gland to secrete TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone), and only then is the thyroid signaled to release hormones T4 and T3. Common blood panels will test for healthy levels of TSH to determine if the thyroid is being stimulated optimally - too much TSH means that the thyroid is secreting too little hormone while too little TSH means that the thyroid is secreting too much hormone.*
Because T4 needs to be converted into T3 before it can be used by cells, it is very important that conversion is happening and is regulated. Two of the main ways T4 is converted into T3 is in the Liver and the in the gut bacteria. If someone has a low-functioning liver or a bacterial imbalance due to stress, diet, or lifestyle, they may be over or under-converting their thyroid hormones.
If cells cannot uptake the T3 and T4 hormones floating around in the bloodstream, those cells will not be signaled to function properly. One-way under-utilization of thyroid hormones can happen is in estrogen dominance (a greater ratio of estrogen to progesterone hormones in the body). Excess estrogen from poor metabolism in the liver, diet, oral contraceptives, and environmental factors renders thyroid hormones ineffective.
*Labs: When looking a blood markers for optimal thyroid function, we are wanting to examine not only TSH, but T3, T4, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, thyroid antibodies TPO, thyroid antibodies TgAb, B12, Ferritin, 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
How can I support my thyroid?
Thyroid symptoms can be caused by poor digestion and vice versa, and so it more effective to treat the system as a whole instead of one specific symptom.
If you are struggling with digestion and thyroid symptoms, the 4R approach - Remove, Replace, Rinnoculate and Repair - can be a huge support in rebalancing your hormones and digestive system.
To learn more about the 4R approach, visit my previous post Healing Your Gut Utilizing the 4R Approach.
Supplementing and supporting the liver and endocrine system can also aid in rebalancing the thyroid. To be most effective, supplementation should be secondary to the primary nutrient-dense whole-foods intake.
Ultimately it takes awareness and patience in uncovering hormonal imbalances. A change in daily nutrition, lifestyle habits, exercise, thoughts, stress, and other factors can greatly influence our health for better or worse, therefore need to be taken into consideration equally.
PS – Know someone with an autoimmune condition? Too many people are misinformed about autoimmunity and what we currently know about it. Please read and pass along this short read to friends and loved ones: Debunking 5 Autoimmune Disease Myths.
For those of you who know me understand that I'm not a big fan of resolutions just around the new year time. I'm a big believer in self regular "check-ups" more often than once a year. Though, the new year can be a good time to reflect about this past year, what it has brought you and ponder what aspects of your life you would like to grow and improve in the year ahead.
I'm reminded time and time again how the health and function of our bodies are our most prized possession. After all, if we don't have our health what else do we have?
Individuals seek my services in nutrition to find their individualized path. After our sessions, they walk away with an understanding more than just the basics of calories in/calories out, carbohydrates, proteins and fats - there's so much more to nutrition, in addition to the function and health of our bodies!
Having health concerns linger is not a fun feeling. Maybe you can relate…have you experienced any of these unwanted feelings and concerns?
If you have experienced one, or more of the above, you are not alone! These are some of the most common reasons individuals reach out to me. They want to learn WHAT and HOW to improve their health. I’m a big believer in not only the what and how, but the WHY as well. I've found that the why we need to make adjustments in our nutrition or lifestyle helps the what and how stick - the act of not falling off the wagon. It opens our minds to allow new concepts to become a regular part of our life – so we don’t revert back to old ways that won’t keep us moving forward and in the right health promoting direction.
Give your amazing and wonderful body the gift of health in 2018 by carving out time to learn what, how and why foods and lifestyle factors are helping or impeding you from reaching your individualized health and/or fitness goals.
Here's to a healthy you!
The holidays are the perfect time of year to bundle up and enjoy time with loved ones. Though I've often missed the yummy, warm cup off eggnog in years past as the long list of ingredients in store bought eggnogs don't leave my stomach (or my health) feeling happy and nourished.
So, I've played around with my own homemade version over of eggnog over the years and found this combination to be extremely yummy and satisfying (and health promoting!). But don't just take it from me, let your taste buds and GI tract be the deciding factor.
Turmeric "Egg"nog (vegan)
This recipe is extremely easy to make in just 5 minutes. Make sure your eggnog this holiday season is packed with healthy anti-inflammatory ingredients, allowing you to better reach your health goals.
Hello, my name is Stacy Peterson, licensed Functional Nutritionist and Holistic Health, Wellness and Strength & Conditioning Coach with a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training to individuals around the globe.
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