top of page
  • balancedbodyga

Why Functional Medicine Testing Should Be Part of Your Resolution to Get Healthy!





The New Year is a time for resolutions, and many of those resolutions tend to be health-related. One of the most popular of these resolutions is to embark on a diet, usually to lose weight and improve health. Whether you celebrate the New Year on January 1st or another time of year, this holiday is important because it’s seen as a time of new beginnings. This celebration of renewal often galvanizes a person to embark upon a diet with a bit more willpower to stick to it. 

 

But what happens as the New Year’s holiday recedes to the background and time ticks on? If your diet has been a success, you may continue to stick to it and accomplish real results, but if there have been setbacks….you may give it up completely. After all, it’s hard to continue to be motivated if you don’t see positive results. Why do so many people fail with their diet resolutions?


While for some it can be from lack of commitment, poor planning, or the psychology of one setback leading to abandonment of the whole plan, for others, there may be other health factors interfering with their weight loss. Endocrine imbalances or other issues can cause weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. Hormone testing should include:


Comprehensive Adrenal Testing- The adrenal glands can impact weight loss through stress. A healthy adrenal system regulates cortisol throughout the day and night so that levels rise in the morning as you wake up, allowing you to be productive throughout the day, peak in the early afternoon, and then begin to fall throughout the late afternoon and evening to help you prepare for sleep. When this system is disturbed, and the curve shifts, you may be tired in the morning and wired before bed. Not only does this sap your willpower for dieting, it disturbs your sleep (which further hinders weight loss), and can increase gluconeogenesis, which means the liver makes more sugar- which also can inhibit weight loss.


Stress hormones can also inhibit the pathways that come on when you exercise, meaning that the workout is likely to be less productive. Additionally, too much cortisol or a cortisol imbalance can also contribute to inflammation- which can cause the body to store more fat. All reasons to test the adrenal system when on a diet. When you test, it’s important to choose a test that looks at cortisol levels throughout the day to plot the curve of how cortisol rises and falls correlated to time. The Adrenal Stress Index Test (ASI) includes this feature- which also means it is self-collected by the patient using saliva, which makes the test very convenient as well as more accurate.


The ASI is designed to measure saliva levels of cortisol, DHEA, and other hormones. We use Diagnostechs for this test, and there are others out there.


Above is an example of a normal ASI cortisol rhythm(above). This presentation may only require a general adrenal adaptogen to help mitigate the acute low-grade stressor the individual is experiencing.


Normal Cortisol output should be elevated in the morning, and lowest in the evening/night times.

Cortisol is inverse to Melatonin, our sleep hormone. Melatonin is derived from Serotonin, our feel-good neurostransmitter.



Example #1 :Below you will see a chronically depressed cortisol output.




These can occur in individuals with super chronic stress for many years, think work, relationship, infection, emotional traumas etc. This result shows how chronic stress, anxiety, toxicity or infection, blood sugar dysregulation etc can affect this rhythm. This could be considered “adrenal fatigue” although some say it doesn’t exist, the functional outcome of someone feeling better is more important than what it’s called.


The LOW cortisol patient requires a full overall, a comprehensive evaluation of labs including, gastrointestinal health, systemic infection, leaky gut barriers, full neurological workup and brain-gut therapies in addition to nutritional and lifestyle support to help increase cortisol levels in the morning, and bring them into normal levels in the evening.


Example of nutritional support for patient with Low cortisol – Exercise HIIT in the morning to boost cortisol output, Adrenal stimulating products, as well as waking as the sun comes up and exposing yourself to sunlight immediately in the morning. – Example wakeup early and go for a brisk walk mixed with jumping jacks. This activates your CAR or Cortisol Awakening Response.



Example #2 Severely elevated cortisol levels are considered more of the acute response to stress, anxiety, infection, trauma. The approach to improve this is different than the “adrenal fatigue” rhythm. This is an individual in an acute stress situation (work, relationship, infection, emotional traumas etc.) which will show a cortisol rhythm like the one below. It will often be elevated to an extreme level, and the individuals symptoms will correlate.






Example nutritional support for patient with high cortisol values are: decrease overall exercise load, maybe replace with isometric movements, yoga, pilates, stretching, meditation, tai chi, decrease all alcohol and caffeine intake, change dietary consumption to keto-tarian ie keto dominant with vegetarian focus. Cortisol lowering supplementation, utilizing specific light filtering from devices specifically screen use, limiting screen time to at least 1-2 hours before bedtime (shortly after dark ideally).(keep in mind, this assumes you’ve already addressed all issues found in a comprehensive blood analysis)


The HIGH cortisol patient requires a completely different support system than the LOW cortisol patient. This individual also needs acute evaluation of history, infection, inflammatory foods, look into relationship and work status, and probe into previous emotional traumas. This individual will require nutritional and lifestyle support to bring down cortisol throughout the day, and this will likely take cognitive behavioral training (CBT) as well as prefrontal and brain-gut axis therapeutic intervention.


Thyroid Panels- The thyroid can impact weight gain and the ability to lose weight. While an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) might lead to weight loss, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) can lead to weight gain, or the inability to lose weight. Most patients who present with thyroid issues tend to present as hypothyroid and therefore can have trouble dieting without addressing thyroid issues first.


Even mild thyroid issues can impact weight gain or loss, and many patient complaints can be dismissed because their results are “subclinical”- meaning too low for a full dose of synthetic or natural thyroid. Not only might some of these patients be helped by treatment, but psychologically a patient can have more success with dieting if they know it’s not just a lack of willpower on their part that makes it difficult to shed the pounds.


Thyroid dysfunction can impact weight gain through the crucial role that thyroid hormones play in metabolism. When thyroid hormone levels are low, metabolism slows down, often leading to weight gain. When testing thyroid function, aside from making sure that an expanded range of thyroid function is being assessed, it’s best to go beyond just measuring TSH and include other markers including antibodies and reverse T3 for a more complete assessment of thyroid function. The FULL thyroid blood panel paints a thorough picture of how a patient’s thyroid could be interfering with weight loss.





Checking hormone levels and balance and a diet regimen can ensure that the state of hormone health is not hindering weight loss, and that the diet itself is not causing a hormone imbalance.If you or anyone you know falls into any of these categories, please send them our way so we can get them some help.

5 views0 comments
bottom of page