Episode 094: Creating A Solid Nutritional Infrastructure for Health
Continuing the mini-series on the Functional Nutrition Framework, after building a solid foundation for health in Tier 1 (Episode 093), this week, we explore what to do if your health concerns aren’t fully resolved after working in Tier 1.
In Tier 2, the next step of the framework, we move into deeper work through assessing and tracking to determine the best course of action to create a solid nutritional infrastructure that’s built on the foundation you established in Tier 1.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
Personal stories on how I to do more advanced work in Tier 2 as I navigated through IBS, SIBO and the Low FODMAPS diet
How to systematically assess and track
Where lab tests and supplements fit into the framework
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Welcome back to The Live FAB Life Podcast. I’m your host, Naomi Nakamura.
And today we’re continuing our mini series on the Functional Nutrition Framework. In the last episode, Episode 093, we talked about Tier 1 of the framework where the focus is placed on addressing common non-negotiables around your diet and lifestyle, as well as identifying what some of your personalized non-negotiables might be, and how taking care of all of these things are essential to building a solid foundation for health.
For some people, simply doing the work in Tier 1 is enough to resolve their health concerns and they’re able to reach whatever goal they’ve set for themselves.
But then there are others, like me, who see some improvement and progress in Tier 1 but their complaints aren’t fully resolved. And this is where some of the more advanced work begins, in Tier 2.
So think of what you do in Tier 1 as making a clean slate. Removing things that cause inflammation and starting over, making a fresh start.
One frequent question I get is how long should someone be in Tier 1 and the answer is, “I don’t know.” That’s really such a personalized thing that there is no one right answer. It really will depend on each individual person.
But when you feel that you’ve put in the work to “creating a clean slate”, then we assess to see where you’re at. How are you feeling? How is your body functioning? Are there still symptoms that haven’t been resolved?
If there are, then we really get serious with assessing and tracking because we will want to identify what areas you may still have a deficiency in and how can you bring it to a sufficient level, because your body can’t fully function if its still dealing with deficiencies.
For example, say you’re eating a really healthy but you might still be having problematic symptoms.
Perhaps, even if you are getting fairly clean, your gut may still have some things going on so your body isn’t able to absorb the nutrients from the super clean food you’re eating, in which case you’ll need to focus on doing some serious gut support work.
Another example is one that I personally experienced. As a long distance runner, I’d spend hours and hours a week outdoors in the sun and we know that sunshine is one of the best sources of vitamin D. I even had a really nice tan to prove it!
But I was having major fatigue, feeling super tired all the time. My integrative doctor ordered a number of lab tests for me, including a vitamin D test. I commented to her that I didn’t think it was necessary since I spent so much time outdoors but she said that if my gut was in as bad shape as she suspected, it wouldn’t matter how much vitamin D I was getting, my body wasn’t absorbing it. She suspected that I had a lot of malabsorption going on and she was correct - my vitamin D levels were in the teens, which is super, super low, even by conventional ranges.
That’s just a couple of examples but think of it this way:
Where Tier 1 is all about building a solid foundation or base, Tier 2 is about creating a strong infrastructure that sits on the foundation.
There can be deficiencies in nutrients, but there can also be deficiencies or rather, dysfunctions on how different systems in your body are working together - or rather not working together.
And sometimes, even that special diet you’re on, say for example, a Low FODMAP diet, which is a popular diet for those who have poor gut health, because it is so restrictive, can also cause deficiencies.
I’ve shared this story before, so bear with me if you’re heard it already.
The Low FODMAP diet is one of the go-to protocols for those who have IBS aka Irritable Bowel Disease. It’s also ideal for people who have SIBO.
While many have had much success with the Low FODMAPS diet, making it highly effective, its never recommended that anyone follow it for a prolonged period of time because it is so restrictive of even healthy, nutritionally-sound food.
I made the mistake of following the Low FODMAP diet for a year when I was battling SIBO, which I documented in great detail in Episode 087. Progressively throughout that year, I felt weaker and weaker, more fatigued than ever before.
I finally got so sick of having to eat that say, I said, “screw this, I’ll suffer the consequences” and decided to eat garlic and onions, which are two foods not allowed on the Low FODMAPS diet.
I distinctly remember the moment I ate both garlic and onions, I had an immediate jolt of energy that just spread throughout my body because I had deprived it of the sulfur and other nutrients from those two very healthy foods. My body was deficient of those things and I almost immediately felt the effects of bringing it back to sufficiency by bringing those foods back into my diet.
One frequent question I’m asked is how long should someone spend in Tier 1 and the answer is, “I don’t know.” I don’t have a definitive answer for you because it is such a personalized experience, there is no one right answer. The experienced will be unique to each person.
That being said, you don’t have to wait for your symptoms to be fully resolved in Tier 1 before moving on to Tier 2.
My personal philosophy is to spend some dedicated time, 3-4 weeks, truly dedicated to Tier 1, and then, if Tier 2 is necessary, start to bring in that scope of work at that point. You can work in Tier 1 and Tier 2 concurrently.
One key element that is critical in Tier 2 is to assess and track and we do this by using the tools of Functional Nutrition. I touched on this in Episode 027, but this is where keeping a Food Moop Poop Journal or using an app like the mySymptoms app, which I’ll link to in the show notes, is really, really useful.
You’ll want to track what you’re eating, how you’re feeling and how your body is functioning, then assess that data and see what correlations and conclusions you can draw from it to identify what deficiencies you might be having and most importantly, WHY.
While this is where lab tests can be handy, let’s be honest, lab tests are expensive. Take it from someone who has excellent insurance, really, better than most, and has still spent thousands of dollars on lab work that didn’t necessarily tell me things I didn’t already know.
Now, I’m definitely not anti lab tests, but I just want to emphasize that there’s a lot of free and less expensive options that you can try first and then if you still aren’t getting any answers, then try the more advanced lab work - it’s always good to test rather than guess, but maybe assess and track and it won’t be as much of a guessing game.
Once you have a good sense of what your deficiencies might be, this is where supplements can come in. Of course, you always want to make dietary and lifestyle modifications to address your deficiencies but supplements can instrumental in bridging any gaps.
Like I said in Episode 093, you can’t supplement you way out of a bad diet, but they can be extremely helpful in complimenting a good, nutrient-rich diet!
So to quickly recap, Tier 2 is where we build an infrastructure upon the foundation you established in Tier 1.
This is where you really get into the nuts and bolts of using the tools of Functional Nutrition to assess and track to identify where you’re still deficient, then deep dive into gut healing, gut support and additional dietary and lifestyle modifications, as well as supplements to bring those deficiencies back into balance.
And that’s it for Tier 2. I know it sounds fairly straightforward, but this is deep work and can take time to tease out. You really can’t put a timetable on this work, because like I said, there’s so many factors that come into play that each person’s experience will be so different.
Next week, I’ll be back with a new episode where we’ll discuss Tier 3 and my personal add-on to the Functional Nutrition Matrix, Tier 4.
And don’t forget, that my next 21-Day Sugar Detox group coaching program is still open for registration and will be until Sunday, September 1st. Registration will close that evening at 11:59 pm Pacific and coaching begins on the next day on Monday, Sept 3rd.
You can check out all the details for that at www.livefablife.com/21dsd, and reach out to me directly if you have any questions.
As always, you can check out the show notes for this episode at www.livefablife.com/094 for Episode 094. That’s all that I have for you this week and I’ll see you right back here for the next episode!
Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Coach who helps women in tech who struggle with everyday health concerns that if left unaddressed can add up to big problems. She teaches them how to identify and address the root causes of their conditions. By taking practical actions towards improving diet and gut health, and reduce exposure to environmental toxins she helps them bring their body back into balance.
Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an avid fan of Bay Area sports, and can often be found exploring the Bay Area with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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