Hello, my name is Dr Dirk Farrell from Align Wellness in Seattle, WA.
When it comes to health, the thing I care about most is getting results; consistent and predictable results for you in your life and for me in my life.
That is why I’m sharing the following information. Keep in mind this is general information and not prescriptive or diagnostic for you, personally, in any way.
If you have seen some of my videos you likely know already that there are three Foundations of Health. These are; Structure, Condition and Nourish.
- Structure is your physical body in space – how the package called you is shaped internally and what impact that shape has on your health.
- Condition is how you use your physical structure.
- Nourish is what you put in your body. It is the food, beverages, water, and supplements which you eat and drink.
In this blog series, we are going to focus on the Nourish Foundation, specifically:
- Diet hacks
- Types of diets: paleo, ketogenic, vegetarian, etc.
- How we can help you get specific, objective answers when it comes to what type of diet (foods, drinks, and supplements) would be best to put in your body so that you get the nourishment you need.
In the previous blog, we talked about how the foods that you are eating, either through habit or through a specific diet, are providing your body what it particularly needs. This blog continues the discussion by focusing on how one can find out what exactly is going on within their body to most effectively help them with their nutrition.
I’ll tell you why I kept looking for this information.
When I was 27 I had open heart surgery for a congenital defect. I was born with a bad heart valve and so I had a mechanical heart valve put in. That was 28 years ago.
One year ago, at the age of 54, I had open-heart surgery again. The second surgery was partially because that valve wasn’t functioning quite like new and, more importantly, I had an aneurysm of part of my aorta. It was like a tube that had expanded to twice the size it should have been and thus was much more likely to leak blood and break. So, that part of my aorta was cut out and a piece of tubing was installed along with my new valve. While they were fixing things up, they saw that I had another valve that had some holes in it. So they patched those. Thank you!!
Western medicine is fantastic in emergency situations and for fixing plumbing issues like these. I’m a big fan of it and I might not be here talking to you like this if I hadn’t had that surgery.
However, the doctors had no explanation as to why a guy who is height and weight proportionate, who’s physically active, and who works reasonably hard at eating a good diet and not eating too much food (most of the time) had an aneurysm in the first place.
My consideration is, “If my body was in a condition to have one aneurysm in one location of my aorta, what will stop it from having another?” My own response to that was, “Nothing. Unless I find a way to know why I had that one in the first place and make changes to prevent future aneurysms.”
This question and answer are why I continued my search to find a way to objectively measure what’s going on in my body and make effective, pro-wellness changes. With objective measurement, I can then see the effectiveness of my efforts to resolve the situation that led to the aneurysm.
So, how does one objectively find out what is going on with the minerals within their body to most effectively help them with their nutrition?
The primary sources used are blood, urine, and feces. Unfortunately, none of these show what is inside your tissue cells. Blood is outside of your cells and is carefully regulated. It’s a transportation system. Using blood to determine nutrition needs is like using street traffic to determine what you need inside your house. Sure, you need traffic (even if it is of your own making) to deliver food, clothing, household supplies, and even yourself but the traffic doesn’t give you much information about the quality of your life within your house. Traffic can’t tell whether your house is packed to overflowing or pristine, how much of the things you’ve brought in has been used or not, nor whether everything is balanced in a healthy way or not.
Urine and feces are excretion products, they’re garbage. While somebody can certainly learn a lot of things from analyzing your garbage, they still can’t learn what life is like for inside someone’s house.
So it is with the body. However, if there was a way to capture in freeze-frame what was going on in someone’s house each day over some length of time, then a much truer picture would come forth.
Your body’s cells have nutrients going in and out of them constantly. The key to finding out what the status is within cells would be to take a sample of cells and analyze what is inside them. This could be done, and is done, with biopsy. However, biopsy can be painful and expensive.
Fortunately, about 40 years ago it was discovered that a device called a mass spectrometer could be used to analyze hair to find out what nutrients (specifically, the minerals) are inside a person’s hair. This window lets people trained in this science to see what is going on for an individual relative to well-established, healthy norms. This process is called Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis – HTMA for short.
With thousands of research articles and hours of people looking at HTMAs there is very good understanding of what different mineral levels indicate in the body. Hair tissue mineral analysis is used to find out what’s going on within the cells of your body so that specific changes can be made to your nutritional approach. Then, depending on your situation and needs, you can be retested in, for example, one, three or six months to find out how you are progressing.
From the test results you can learn so much:
- You will learn what your metabolic type is; fast or slow.
- You will learn about your cellular stress levels, your thyroid function, your adrenal function, your mineral levels, and what these things mean in regards to your experience of well-being.
- You will learn what foods are best to eat and which are best to avoid for you specifically. You can even learn what supplements may be good for you in the morning compared to the evening.
One of my favorite aspects of HTMA is that it is focused on wellness. It is not a diagnostic test. Rather, it is extremely helpful in that it finds areas of nutritional need and provides a guide for meeting those needs.
Whether you are on a vegan, paleo, keto, paleo-keto, mediterranean or any other diet, knowing what is going on within your cells (what they are lacking, what they have in excess) can improve your nutrition choices and, most importantly, your health.
So, I’m super happy that I am able to help people get access to HTMA using one of the two labs in the world that specialize in this.
If you have had hair samples sent out for analysis in the past, your naturopath or other provider probably did not get the same analysis whatsoever unless they sent the samples to one of these two labs. This is due in part to the handling, washing methods, and data presentation which leaves too much information missing.
In sum, you can’t really hack nutrition in the sense of there’s no magic food or bar that is going to solve your problems. There’s no quick smoothie mix that is going to solve all of your problems.
You CAN hack nutrition by finding out exactly what you need and ONLY doing that. That is, really, the ultimate hack.
When you understand that you are nutritionally unique, that no one has the same nutritional needs as you do, and what your unique nutrition needs are then you can simply tailor your food, your smoothies, your meals, and your snacks to your particular needs. By doing so, you are giving yourself a tremendous advantage for your future health.
If you decide to take action, my suggestion is to follow the phrase “First, do no harm.” The best way to “First, do no harm” is to get Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis to find out what’s going on with you, specifically, and then make food choices and supplement choices based on those findings.
Here’s one last example to demonstrate the usefulness of knowing:
Let’s say you’ve got a cold and you’ve heard many time that high dose vitamin C is the way to go. So, you start taking a lot of vitamin C. What you don’t know (because you haven’t been tested) is that you already have low levels of copper in your system. Vitamin C also lowers tissue copper levels. So, taking that vitamin C can decrease copper levels too far. Because copper is really important for fighting bacterial infections, for maintaining connective tissues, for forming hemoglobin so you can transport oxygen around your body, and many other functions, this could be very harmful IN A PARTICULAR PERSON’S CASE.
In another case for a person has far too much copper in their system, higher dose vitamin C may be exactly what they need. Of course, we are all much more complicated than simply vitamin C and copper and so more information and more interpretation is needed.
So, don’t guess. Know. Start with HTMA from Align Wellness.
Hoping this information shines a useful light on your path.
Interested in learning more? Contact us today to schedule your Nutrition Consultation today!