Nutrition has long been a well-known factor in overall health, but only recently have researchers begun to uncover just how significant effect eating habits can have on the body. Certain habits, in particular, are linked with poor health outcomes, such as widespread illness. The Western diet is especially problematic.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a startling percentage of the population is obese: nearly two-thirds of adults and one-third of children. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including an increased intake of processed foods, less exercise, and inadequate sleep.
These statistics are cause for concern, especially since diet-related health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes are experienced by roughly half of the population. These chronic illnesses are serious, and in some cases, life-threatening.
Moreover, our diet directly influences our gut health, which plays a critical role in immunity. Thus, when we don’t have the proper balance of gut bacteria, we become more likely to get sick not only on a short-term basis but also later on.
The Trouble with the Western Diet
Research shows more than half of Americans’ daily caloric intake comes from heavily processed products. These foods have ingredients that can have a negative effect on health, including saturated and trans fats, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and sodium. Examples include potato chips, white bread, frozen pizza, candy, sodas, and snack cakes. These foods are often chosen due to their convenience and affordability.
Yet, there’s a tradeoff: over the long-term, the body’s systems become affected by these eating patterns. For instance, a high-fat, high-sugar diet will reduce the number of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead systems in the body such as the immune system to malfunction.
Hunter-gatherers, who get their sustenance from natural sources, have a far more diverse collection of microflorae than individuals who follow the Western diet. Without this healthy population of gut bacteria, individuals may be more likely to experience autoimmune conditions, in which the immune system misfires and mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissue.
If you want to find out exactly what your deficiencies and insufficiencies are to avoid any oncoming conditions, you will want to do a comprehensive functional medicine test. These are available to do simply at home and your results will show your exact health blueprint. Genova Diagnostics provides these tests and are available through Stemedix.
While research into the relationship between diet and autoimmune disease is ongoing, the following dietary changes can make positive impacts on your health and help you feel better:
- Eat more plant-based foods. Look for bread and pasta products made with whole grains, along with vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
- Reduce sugar and salt intake. Most Americans consume far too much sodium and sugar. Read the labels on packaged foods to make sure you’re not going over daily recommendations.
- Choose healthy fats. You don’t have to steer clear of fats altogether. In fact, there are health benefits to eating certain types, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Aim to get healthy fats from sources such as nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils.
- Shop wisely. Not all processed foods should be off-limits, either. Just because the food comes in a package doesn’t make it a poor nutritional choice. When grocery shopping, choose foods that are nutrient-dense and have undergone minimal processing. Some options include yogurt, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned beans, nut butter, and hummus.
Genova Diagnostics is a global clinical laboratory offering exclusive diagnostics to help providers offer highly personalized treatment plans for their patients. With the insights retrieved from their testing, patients can optimize their health with fewer doctors’ visits, and some tests can be in the comfort of their own home. Their testing kits provide a personal health blueprint of your specific health concerns, including deficiencies or insufficiencies from a functional medicine standpoint. In particular, here’s a look into Genova’s innovative NutrEval Plasma and GI testing.
NutrEval Plasma Testing
Genova’s NutrEval Plasma testing assesses genomic markers to provide personalized insights for the most effective therapeutic approaches to a broad range of conditions, including chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, and inflammatory conditions. This testing is especially advantageous for patients experiencing undernutrition or obesity, but it can also show deficiencies in micronutrients for any individual. There are several conditions and symptoms that can occur when nutrients are out of balance, including fatigue, mood disorders, cardiovascular disease, weight issues, malnutrition, and diabetes.
Comprehensive nutrition is essential to disease prevention. Every cell in the body thrives on nutrients, so testing your deficiencies or insufficiencies can help you understand which imbalances you need to address. This helps to promote optimal functioning at a cellular level.
Genova’s functional nutritional assessment looks at a broad range of biomarkers, including metabolic analysis markers, amino acids, vitamin D, oxidative stress markers, and essential and metabolic fatty acids markers, among others. In doing so, it paints a comprehensive picture of a patient’s nutrition.
GI Effects Comprehensive Profile
Genova’s GI Effects test is a stool profile that provides immediate and actionable data to help providers promote optimal gastrointestinal wellness in their patients. It looks into the digestive function, inflammation, and the health of the microbiome.
Many health challenges are directly related to the health of the gastrointestinal tract. For example, indigestion, bloating, and gas can be a direct result of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Yet, it’s also suspected that many other diseases can result from an imbalanced gut microbiome. Assessing, and then addressing, gut health is therefore critically important to promoting overall wellness.
Genova offers a comprehensive assessment of gastrointestinal health, recovering live organisms, and looking into a vast array of biomarkers, such as inflammation, digestion and absorption, and the gut microbiome, among others. This then gives providers the information needed to guide strategic interventions.
Both of these Genova tests are only available through healthcare providers, like Stemedix. When a board-certified provider uses these blueprints to look into your overall wellness, they can promote effective treatments to optimize your health and energy. Genova also offers additional tests for hormones, environmental factors, and other realms of health to promote the most comprehensive possible approach to wellness.
Stemedix is excited to offer these exclusive diagnostics to their patients. We’re ready to help you start living your best, healthiest life. Ask us about Genova Diagnostic tests today!
Honey has long been hailed as a healthier alternative to refined sugar. But what exactly is it about this natural sweetener that makes it a better choice? Discover why you should consider adding the sweet stuff into your diet below.
Honey vs. Table Sugar
Raw honey contains trace amounts of key nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants, which lend themselves to honey’s higher nutritional value compared to granulated white sugar. It has natural antibacterial properties, thanks to the small amounts of hydrogen peroxide – a cleansing agent that is created in the hive when nectar is dehydrated. It’s, therefore, no surprise that honey has historically been used as a topical medicine for burns, ulcers, and other types of skin wounds.
Honey’s Healing Properties
Of course, honey’s use as an antibiotic fell to the wayside when modern antibiotics were introduced. Yet, researchers have begun to reassess the substance’s potential, looking into its possible applications for treating asthma, heart disease, fungal infections, inflammation, viruses, and gum disease, among other conditions. Future research will need to be conducted to determine dosing and efficacy, but it’s possible adding small amounts of honey into your regular diet could deliver some health-boosting benefits.
In particular, certain varieties of honey, such as manuka, are considered therapeutic kinds of honey. They help to minimize scar tissue and stimulate healing, and some traditional medicine practitioners even recommend them as a remedy for hangovers.
Honey is also commonly used as an ingredient for cosmetic products, as it can hydrate the hair and lubricate the skin. For this reason, honey works well in both commercial products, such as shampoos, lip balms, and facial scrubs, as well as home concoctions. Homemade honey-based face masks can leave the skin looking and feeling refreshed.
While people with high blood sugar or diabetes should be cautious about adding in new sources of carbohydrates such as honey, for most people, this natural sweetener offers plenty of benefits to consider.
If you are interested in learning more about a scientific option in finding what your direct deficiencies and insufficiencies are to potentially improve your overall health, please call a Care Coordinator about our home comprehensive tests at 727-456-8968 or submit a contact form today!
Each person has their own individual health history, lifestyle, and genetic factors, yet most of us are advised to follow the same general dietary guidelines. In functional nutrition, practitioners believe that approaches to eating should be as unique as the patient themselves. The overarching objectives of personalized nutrition are to restore wellness and reduce the risk of serious illness.
Functional nutrition is an important principle in functional medicine. Whereas traditional medicine approaches health by making a diagnosis and then treating that condition or its symptoms, functional medicine aims to treat ailments and prevent illness by addressing any underlying factors that can compromise health. In other words, while functional practitioners will still come to a diagnosis, they dig deeper to find out what’s causing a condition, looking at the body as a whole and assessing the interplay of its different systems. From there, they help patients rebalance by looking to optimize wellness in the areas of stress, sleep, movement, and diet.
Functional Nutrition to Promote Overall Health
Functional nutrition uses diet to promote gut health, achieve balance throughout the body, and optimize nutrient levels. It’s highly personalized and looks into factors such as genetics to come up with an individualized plan for eating that’s perfectly suited to your needs. For instance, you could have food sensitivities that are affecting your body more than you might imagine. Certain dietary choices could be triggering symptoms like bloating, fatigue, and other issues. By eliminating these sensitivities, you could feel better, prevent health issues down the road, and ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs to function its best.
Functional nutrition experts can also make tailored dietary recommendations based on your lifestyle. For instance, if meals that require time-consuming prep just don’t fit into your schedule, these wellness professionals will help you find alternatives that you can maintain regularly.
While functional nutrition does aim to get your body more of the sustenance it needs to function well, the benefits extend far beyond nutrition alone. Since functional medicine practitioners understand the remarkable ways in which the body’s systems work together, they can help you uncover the bidirectional effects at play. For example, stress and poor sleep can worsen the symptoms of digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but lack of proper nutrition caused by IBS can also be a stressor that affects sleep quality. Functional medicine practitioners like to get the “big picture” of your health, which allows them to analyze important interrelationships and determine the far-reaching impact a tailored diet can have on your wellness.
How do I start?
To make these tailored recommendations, practitioners need insight into your individual makeup. For this reason, Stemedix offers Genova Diagnostics tests, including the Matabolomix+ test, an analysis of nutritional biomarkers, and the GI Effects® comprehensive profile for insights into gastrointestinal health. Results can reveal details about the digestive function, the microbiome, underlying inflammation, and nutrient deficiencies which could otherwise go unnoticed. With this information, detailed, tailored dietary recommendations can be made to fine-tune your health.
For more information on how these comprehensive tests can benefit your overall wellness, contact us today!
Functional medicine analyzes the entire body and its imbalances or deficiencies which contribute to health issues. Conventional medicine, on the other hand, aims to diagnose specific conditions and treat their symptoms.
Every health condition can benefit from functional medicine, as it offers a comprehensive, whole-body approach that examines underlying factors. With that being said, there are certain conditions that may benefit more than others. This is especially true for complex conditions for which there is no one easily identifiable cause or treatment.
With functional medicine, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach as there sometimes is in conventional medicine. Instead, personalized treatment plans are established to improve a patient’s condition and overall health while taking into consideration the unique circumstances that affect them, such as health history and lifestyle factors. Explore some conditions for which functional medicine can benefit below.
Characterized by widespread muscle pain, fibromyalgia remains a mystery to many modern medical practitioners. Within functional medicine, fibromyalgia is understood to be a result of chronic inflammation. The source of this inflammation may be leaky gut syndrome, vitamin deficiencies, or other medical factors which can be identified through testing and then addressed through targeted treatment or lifestyle changes.
Chronic fatigue syndrome goes far beyond ordinary tiredness. Patients experience extreme exhaustion, brain fog, and sleep challenges. While traditional medicine often fails to recognize the legitimacy of the condition, functional medicine not only recognizes but aims to understand the causative factors behind it. Underlying chronic infections, hormonal imbalances, and adrenal issue scan all contribute to this complex medical issue.
Although diabetes has been exhaustively researched and is well understood by the medical community, the same approach to care remains unchanged: monitoring and controlling blood sugar. While this may indeed be necessary, functional medicine helps patients establish behaviors to help the body naturally stabilize glucose and insulin levels. For instance, diet and lifestyle modifications could prevent the need for diabetes medications entirely.
In patients with autoimmune conditions, the immune system has an overactive response, attacking healthy tissue instead of just foreign invaders. Conventional medicine aims to suppress this immune response, but functional medicine seeks to uncover the root causes of widespread inflammation and autoimmunity. In so doing, it identifies the factors which can be modified to regulate the body’s immune response.
Obesity is a widespread epidemic caused by a variety of contributing factors. Genetics, lifestyle choices, and diet can all prompt weight gain. Because this health concern requires a comprehensive approach, it’s well-suited for the principles of functional medicine.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The gastrointestinal tract is the powerhouse of the immune system, with nearly 70% of immune cells residing there. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a result of compromised gut microbiome. From stress to yeast overgrowth, there are many factors which can impact intestinal health. From thorough testing to an assessment of lifestyle factors, functional medicine doctors can uncover the causes behind IBS and develop a targeted treatment plan.
There are several contributing factors behind depression, including inflammation caused by infections, enzyme deficiencies, and micronutrient imbalances. Instead of just addressing symptoms through medications, functional medicine doctors help people with depression address the condition’s underlying causes for a more comprehensive and effective approach. If you would like to learn more about a comprehensive nutritional and molecular test that may help your overall wellness and symptoms, please call a Care Coordinator at 800-531-0831. You may also visit stemedix.com/blog for helpful health awareness blogs.