Author Archive

Still Struggling to Lose Weight?

4 issues that might be preventing your weight loss

By Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Omnia Health

A number of patients come to our office, discouraged that they’re unable to lose weight. “I’m doing everything right,” they tell us. “I’m following my diet faithfully. I’m exercising every day. But the weight is not coming off. Some weeks, I actually GAIN weight. Help!” Of course, we start by talking with these patients to ensure they are actively addressing basic weight-loss strategies: 

  • Eating a whole-foods diet with organic foods, lots of fruit and vegetables, healthy proteins, and heathy fats
  • Minimizing or completely avoiding sugar, processed foods, fast foods, and alcohol
  • Exercising regularly, for example, a daily walk, swimming, or high-intensity interval training 

We often find that patients truly are eating well and exercising regularly. They truly are doing everything in their power to lose weight. But, clearly, something else is going on. Now it’s time to figure out what’s keeping them from achieving their weight goals. 

What can prevent weight loss or contribute to weight gain? In our experience, these 4 health issues often contribute to the inability to lose weight – or the problem on ongoing weight gain. 

  1. Food sensitivities – In our functional medicine practice, the 2 biggest culprits we see are sensitivity to gluten and dairy. This is surprisingly common! Other food sensitivities include corn, eggs, peanuts, and soy. But it’s very individualized – you may be sensitive to other foods – and this could be hampering your struggle to lose weight. 
  2. Gut dysbiosis – Gut bacteria play a large role in our overall health.  They can trigger inflammation, aid in digestion, and influence hormones that regulate hunger. Gut dysbiosis can be due to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast, or parasites in your gut. Another condition known as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is when bacteria end up in the small intestine where they are not supposed to be.  Low healthy bacteria (called insufficiency dysbiosis) can also be problematic. An overgrowth of bad bacteria, for example, can cause gut inflammation. Subsequently, this can cause overall inflammation throughout your body, which can make it difficult to lose weight. 
  3. Hormone imbalance – As noted above, those tiny bacteria can make a big impact on hormone production. Did you know…
    1. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can be impacted by physical or emotional stress. Stress creates more cortisol in your body, which can signal the body to store fat. This means your stress levels can directly impact weight! Keep in mind, lack of sleep affects cortisol levels too. If you’re experiencing an ongoing lack of sleep, your body is under stress, and it can be hard to lose weight.
    2. Gut dysbiosis can impact the thyroid hormone, which plays a big role in regulating metabolism. If it turns out you have a low-functioning thyroid, this can certainly contribute to weight gain.
    3. Most people have no idea their gut bacteria impacts sex hormones. It’s true! Gut bacteria contribute to your body’s balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. How does this impact your ability to lose weight? Here’s one example: Excess estrogen is directly related to excess fat and water retention. Another example: Men and women who take supplemental testosterone should be aware that this can contribute to weight gain through a complex metabolic process.
  4. Exposure to toxins – Our modern world can expose us to quite a few environmental and chemical toxins, at home and at work. Examples include pesticides, herbicides, fuel emissions, toxic molds, radon, and heavy metals. Without doubt, toxicity can contribute to weight gain.

My recommendations for you…

If you are struggling to lose weight – or are continually gaining weight – start by exercising regularly and eating a whole-foods diet. Be sure to avoid sugar, processed foods, fast food, and alcohol. In addition, follow these recommendations: 

  • Follow an elimination diet for 6-8 weeks to eliminate dairy, gluten, corn, eggs, peanuts, and soy. It’s helpful to know this is always our first step – our “gold standard” – when investigating the root cause of a patient’s health issue. 
  • Add fermented foods and foods rich in probiotics to your diet such as kimchee, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, and dairy-free kefir (this is similar to a drinking-style yogurt and contains beneficial yeast). 
  • Be sure to increase the amount of fiber you get from fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps our good bacteria grow. 
  • Do your best to minimize exposure to toxins. You may need to be tested for toxins and undergo Omnia’s detoxification program.
  • When you come to our practice, you can set appointments with Omnia’s health coach and brain coach. These pros will help you fine-tune your nutrition and exercise plans, so you can focus your efforts and improve your results. 
  • Try intermittent fasting. Remember, fasting is safe for most people if you eat within an 8- to 10-hour window. 
  • When you come to Omnia, we can conduct specialized lab testing to check bacteria in your gut, toxicity, food sensitivity, and all hormone levels. 

We’ll investigate to uncover the culprit and answer this question: What is really going on? 

We have a lot of patients doing so many things right with diet and exercise, yet they still struggle to lose weight. Often, one of the 4 culprits – food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, hormone imbalance, or toxin exposure – is a significant contributing factor.

This is a good example of how functional medicine can dig in, investigate, and figure out what is really going on. We can clarify the issues, uncover root causes, and successfully treat those health concerns that traditional doctors often cannot detect or simply overlook. 

 

There is no cost for a quick phone consultation. Just schedule a call! 

Simple Steps Lead to BIG Results

Tips to successfully fulfill a “lifestyle prescription” to improve diet, increase exercise, or reduce stress

Katie Ozimek, Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach 

When you go to a traditional doctor to resolve an issue, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a prescription for a pill. It’s fairly easy to follow the doctor’s recommendation: Just take the pill once or twice a day. 

When you come to Omnia Health to resolve an issue, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a “lifestyle prescription.” Due to the type of issues we investigate in our functional medicine practice, patients are frequently instructed to make significant changes to: 

  • Improve what they eat – Now, follow a highly specific nutrition plan. 
  • Add or increase exercise – Now, commit to a regular exercise routine. 
  • Reduce stress – Now, adopt specific guidelines regarding sleep patterns, relaxation, and meditation. 

How do you successfully fulfill a “lifestyle prescription”? 

The key is simple modifications, step-by-step, to reach your ultimate goal. 

As the Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach at Omnia Health, I’m here to help patients successfully adopt new eating habits, exercise routines, and/or stress-reduction habits. I tell them, “I’m here to be your accountability partner. I’m here to walk alongside you on your health journey.” 

Because of the types of issues we treat in our office, patients frequently get a “lifestyle prescription” from Dr. Jacqui and Nurse Practitioner Gia. To clear up symptoms and fully resolve nagging health issues, patients are instructed to make significant lifestyle changes regarding nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. 

For example, patients seeking treatment for unrelenting GI issues may be instructed to go gluten-free or dairy-free (or both). This elimination diet may resolve their health challenge AND help them achieve an overall healthier lifestyle. However, when it comes to changing their diet, a lot of people struggle. If you’re instructed to be 100% gluten-free or dairy-free, it can be really hard!

As their health coach, I guide our patients along the entire path to fulfill their “lifestyle prescription” and achieve their overall health goals. I help our patients take a fresh look at their eating habits and, together, we identify modifications. We set step-by-step milestones and celebrate each step they make toward the goal. 

The following tips can help you take simple steps to achieve BIG results.

TIP #1: How to make significant changes to your diet (in a way that actually works). 

Let’s say you’ve been having serious, ongoing GI issues. Since gluten and dairy sensitivity are often the root causes of GI symptoms, you decide to adopt a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. For most people, this cannot be done overnight. So let’s take it step-by-step, starting with breakfast. 

  • Breakfast – Do you have toast every morning? No need to give it up; you can still have toast! Just swap your brand of bread with gluten-free bread. Can you reframe the way you look at your meal? One of my patients absolutely must have cheese in her “everything omelet.” When she’d order an omelet without cheese, it was always a disappointment. I asked her to take a fresh look at her meal. What if she orders a breakfast scramble with eggs, avocados, and green bell peppers? This has all her favorite ingredients, minus the cheese. Now, she enjoys her new breakfast favorite and doesn’t miss the cheese. 
  • Lunch – What does your typical lunch look like? Where can you make a feasible change? For example, let’s say you usually have a turkey and cheese sandwich, which contains dairy and gluten. Here are a few ideas: Switch to gluten-free bread and lose the cheese. Add lettuce, tomato, and spicy mustard to add interest to your sandwich. Or start making (or ordering) creative, colorful, and interesting salads that are healthy and satisfying.
  • Dinner – One of the best “tricks” to switch out dairy and gluten is to add more fruits and vegetables to your dinners. Also, preplanning makes a BIG difference. Make soups and stews on the weekends. And make extra tonight, so you’ll have a meal ready tomorrow night. Don’t hit the “default” button and order a pizza!

TIP #2: Start with just ONE meal, then address the others later. 

To further simplify this process (and help ensure success), start by selecting ONE meal such as breakfast. Determine how to make your breakfast gluten-free and dairy-free. Then get into the groove! Next, take a look at lunch or dinner. A lot of full-time workers have trouble with lunch, since they often eat out. These days, it’s fairly easy to be gluten-free and dairy-free in a lot of restaurants. So instead of ordering “the usual,” take a fresh look at the menu. Here’s an idea: If you’re going to a sandwich shop, get a lettuce wrap instead of a bread-based sandwich. 

Make simple modifications – and wise choices – to reach your ultimate goal. 

For most people, it just isn’t practical to make sweeping lifestyle changes overnight. Ultimately, reaching the 100% mark is the goal, and you can get there. The keys are making simple modifications, taking it step by step, and making wise choices. 

Are You Frustrated With Mysterious Symptoms?

It might be mold toxicity. Here are clues…

By Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Omnia Health

By the time some patients come to Omnia Health, they’re at their wit’s end. They’ve been struggling with a variety of symptoms. They’ve seen doctors and specialists. Their lab tests come back normal. They’re told “it’s all in your head,” and offered a psychiatric referral or antidepressants. Still, the symptoms persist.

Turns out, some of these patients have mold toxicity. Why is it so hard to pin down? Here are 3 reasons:

  • There are a LOT of different, random symptoms.
  • Traditionally trained practitioners don’t routinely ask about mold exposure.
  • Most standard lab tests cannot reveal mold toxicity.

Are you struggling with mysterious symptoms? If so, this article can help you gather clues, begin to solve the mystery, and help you determine if you may have mold toxicity.

First, let’s talk about mold exposure

On rare occasions, patients can readily pinpoint their exposure to mold, perhaps they recently cleaned out a water-damaged shed. In many cases, patients aren’t sure if they were exposed. Also, since Colorado is so dry, many people assume we don’t have mold. However, a sudden pipe burst or a slow leak that goes unnoticed can cause water damage. It only takes 24-48 hours for mold to start growing, and certain molds release biotoxins.

Not all molds produce biotoxins, and not everyone who is exposed is sensitive or allergic to mold biotoxins. Some people might suffer with a runny nose for a short time. Others are unable to clear the biotoxin, which keeps recycling in their body. Their immune system doesn’t know how to get rid of it, and symptoms persist.

Here’s something to consider: Mold toxicity can linger in your system, even if you were exposed many years ago. Think through your history. Did you work in a damp building? Did your home’s basement smell of mildew? Meanwhile, make sure you’re not currently being exposed. If you suspect mold, find and eliminate the source.

Symptoms of mold toxicity

Let’s look at the symptoms. As you can see, they’re all over the board! Our patients can present with a mixed bag of these issues:

  • Common symptoms: Coughing, wheezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, red eyes, itchy skin or eyes, sore or itchy throat, nosebleeds
  • Less-common symptoms: “Brain fog” or nerve issues such as numbness or a zapping feeling

How can you screen for mold toxicity RIGHT NOW?

You can take a FREE test! Click this link – www.VCStest.com – to test your visual contrast sensitivity. This eye test measures your ability to see details at low contrast levels, and mold toxicity is one of the health conditions that can affect contrast sensitivity. If your test is positive, it may indicate current or past exposure.  If you suffer from some of the described symptoms, it’s time to seek out a functional medical provider who is familiar with biotoxins.

How does Omnia Health test if you have mold toxicity?

  1. First, we order a lab test for specific immune markers. These markers may be elevated or depleted, signaling an immune system on “high alert.”
  2. Next, we conduct a biotoxin urine test to look for specific biotoxins in your body.
  3. Sometimes we ask patients to undergo genetic testing, because some people have certain genetic variances with a decreased ability to detoxify biotoxins.

If tests are positive for mold toxicity, what are the next steps?

The first step is to identify whether you are currently being exposed to mold toxins. If so, eliminate the source – if that’s possible – or move yourself away from or out of the exposure.  

A foundational step is looking at your body’s ability to detoxify. At Omnia Health, our approach is to:

  • Heal the gut – The gastrointestinal (GI) system is the body’s major source of detoxification. As functional medicine providers, we’ll guide you to heal your gut via testing (if necessary), identifying dietary requirements, and determining a treatment protocol.
  • Provide essential nutrients – It’s important to replace key nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your system. These are necessary for the body to detoxify itself.

Next, we start the actual detoxification program. This is an extremely individualized program that may take 6 months to 2 years, depending on your exposure. If you were exposed over the period of several years, the biotoxins will have settled into your cells, and it takes time for the cells throughout your body to replenish. The good news is, you’ll start feeling better within the first few months of your detox program. Of course, we’re here to guide you every step of the way!

If you think you may have mold toxicity, give us a call. Let’s get started on your path to good health.

5 Things You Need to Know About Sunscreen

Here’s how to choose safe, effective sunscreen

By Jacqui Pariset, MD, founder of Omnia Health

Is sunscreen good for you? Is it bad for you?  

With the arrival of spring, many of us are biking, hiking, gardening, and enjoying other outdoor activities. Recently, several patients have asked me this question, “What do I look for when choosing sunscreen for me and my family?”

Here are 5 things you need to know about sunscreen – including two toxic ingredients you need to watch out for.

First, some words of wisdom from Grandma.

Your grandmother may have told you, “Go outside and get some sun – it’s good for you.” Guess what? Grandma was right! We keep hearing “stay out of the sun” but, in reality, getting a little sun is perfectly safe. It’s sunburn that causes problems, not sunshine.

Plus, our bodies need sunshine to produce vitamin D. Recent research links low levels of vitamin D to risks of cancer, obesity, depression, high blood pressure, and much more. Taking vitamin D supplements is not nearly as effective as good-old-fashioned sunshine.

Of course, we live and play at high altitude, and we can burn more quickly. Here’s my rule of thumb: For most outdoor activities (hiking, biking, gardening, yardwork, etc.) spend about 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen to get that beneficial vitamin D, then apply sunscreen (and wear appropriate clothing). If you’re skiing or boating, spend about 5 minutes in the sun without sunscreen to get your “dose of D,” then put on sunscreen and long-sleeves before you start to turn pink.

I tell my patients, “Sunshine is nature’s medicine! Get outside, get some sunshine, and take precautions to protect your skin from sun damage and sunburn.” Keep reading for more advice – the 5 things you need to know about sunscreen.

#1. Choose mineral sunscreens over chemical sunscreens.

Mineral-only sunscreens have different ingredients than chemical-based sunscreens. The Environmental Working Group notes, “Mineral-based sunscreens using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to rate well in our analysis. They are stable in sunlight, offer a good balance between protection from the two types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA and UVB – and don’t often contain potentially harmful additives.”

Mineral-based sunscreens contain larger particle sizes of ingredients. This means your skin doesn’t readily absorb these ingredients into your blood stream. Clearly, we want to apply sunscreen on our skin – not in our body. This is a key reason why the Environmental Working Group gives a favorable rating to mineral-based sunscreens.

#2. Watch out for these worrisome ingredients.

Two-thirds of sunscreens offer inferior sun protection and worrisome ingredients – chemicals that can show up in our blood, urine, and even breast milk. The two major offenders in chemical-based sunscreens are:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate

These known hormone disruptors are estrogenic, which means they act as estrogen in our bodies. They also have potent anti-androgenic effects, which essentially equates to “anti-testosterone.” And here’s a frightening statistic: Oxybenzone has been detected in the blood of 96% of Americans! More bad news: Marine biologists are discovering that these chemicals damage coral reefs and affect marine life.

#3. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen, offering protection from UVA and UVB rays.

Did you know the SPF rating is linked only to UVB rays? In fact, the FDA says that high-SPF products may mislead consumers. Since many products don’t adequately block UVA rays, you may be getting significant UVA exposure even though you’re not getting sunburned. Therefore, choose a broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen that won’t contain the toxic ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate.

#4. Take steps to protect your skin and prevent skin cancer.

Don’t depend on sunscreen – it does not protect your skin from all types of sun damage. Also, the Environmental Working Group notes, “People who rely on sunscreens tend to burn, and sunburns are linked to cancer.”

Here are tips to protect your skin and prevent skin cancer:

  • Don’t use tanning beds – No indoor tanning, ever.
  • Wear appropriate clothing – Going on a long hike? Spending the day in the garden? A wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and long pants help protect your skin.
  • Take care not to get sunburned – Since UV radiation peaks at midday, plan to spend time outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower. When possible, stay in the shade or under an umbrella.
  • Regularly apply sunscreen – Apply a broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen every 2-4 hours when spending time outside.

#5. Find out if your sunscreen is good or bad. Here’s how…

The Environmental Working Group offers great information on sunscreens, including an online guide to sunscreens, little-known facts about sunscreen, and a list of “Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens.” Check out the list of 243 sunscreens and see how your product rates: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/

Do You Turn to Comfort Food When Stressed?

(Hint:replace it with new foods and flavors)

By Lisa Marini, Brain Health Coach, Omnia Health

Sugar is toxic for your brain. Here’s how to cut back on this culprit.

Like every other part of your body, your brain can be strengthened and even healed to function properly. One of the keys is proper nutrition.

The latest science tells us that sugar is toxic for your brain, and here’s why: Sugar can move us into a fight-or-flight response, releasing chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, chronic amounts of these hormones will damage cells. This can create inflammation, which provides a “welcoming” environment for disease to develop.

Excess sugar in our system can create “brain fog” and affect our personality. We exhibit traits we would never list on our resume or dating profile! We can be judgmental, short-tempered, withdrawn, impatient, and snippy. Worse, new studies are linking sugar to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Here’s an easy way to reduce sugar: Simply replace it!

As a brain health coach – essentially, a “personal trainer for the brain” – I read a lot of science, medical, and health journals about how the brain works. Here’s food for thought:

Our brain doesn’t like to give something up. If we want to give something up, we need replacements to fill that void, so our brain will be satisfied.

Let’s look at an example…

My fictitious client Bryan decides to give up ice cream for various health reasons, including weight loss and lactose intolerance. He quits cold turkey, and he hates the whole process!

  • He feels resentful when someone else orders ice cream.
  • He misses the sheer enjoyment of eating ice cream: the taste, texture, and social context.
  • He continually thinks about ice cream, with negative thoughts like: “I can’t eat ice cream anymore, but everyone else can. It’s just not fair.”

Notice that Bryan is focusing on the loss, not the gain. Plus, he’s dwelling on negative thoughts around the thing he cannot have.

No need to quit cold turkey! Instead, replace sugar with something new.

Here are 5 things you can do right now:

  1. Swap a sugar culprit with something refreshing and satisfying.
    Example: Replace soda with carbonated lemon water.
  2. Have a healthy alternative handy. Don’t leave it up to will power.
    Example: Say “no thanks” to the coworker’s donuts and, instead, reach for the mixed nuts and beef jerky in your desk drawer.
  3. Engage your senses when you eat healthy comfort foods.
    Example: Replace brown sugar in your oatmeal with cinnamon and nutmeg. The warm, inviting aromas and flavors are satisfying and comforting. Engaging your senses helps to build a new association and reprogram your brain. You won’t miss the brown sugar!
  4. Take time to build a relationship with your new treat – and create a new habit
    Example: Avoid the snack machine and satisfy your afternoon craving with a cup of hot herbal tea. Take time to enjoy the aroma, the natural sweetness, the warmth and relaxation. Instead of mindlessly munching a candy bar, you’ll create a wonderful new habit.
  5. Give your brain something different. Our brains love novelty!
    Example: Replace candy or chewing gum with cinnamon-dipped toothpicks.

Don’t try to eliminate sugar altogether. Instead, gradually replace it with new foods and flavors.
I believe the key is awareness – this is what makes change possible. You can start on this path RIGHT NOW by paying attention to what you eat and how you feel. Plus, I encourage you to read more about this topic. Be educated. As they say, knowledge is power!

5 tips to reduce & replace sugar

(Hint:replace it with new foods and flavors)

By Lisa Marini, Brain Health Coach, Omnia Health

Sugar is toxic for your brain. Here’s how to cut back on this culprit.

Like every other part of your body, your brain can be strengthened and even healed to function properly. One of the keys is proper nutrition.

The latest science tells us that sugar is toxic for your brain, and here’s why: Sugar can move us into a fight-or-flight response, releasing chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, chronic amounts of these hormones will damage cells. This can create inflammation, which provides a “welcoming” environment for disease to develop.

Excess sugar in our system can create “brain fog” and affect our personality. We exhibit traits we would never list on our resume or dating profile! We can be judgmental, short-tempered, withdrawn, impatient, and snippy. Worse, new studies are linking sugar to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Here’s an easy way to reduce sugar: Simply replace it!

As a brain health coach – essentially, a “personal trainer for the brain” – I read a lot of science, medical, and health journals about how the brain works. Here’s food for thought:

Our brain doesn’t like to give something up. If we want to give something up, we need replacements to fill that void, so our brain will be satisfied.

Let’s look at an example…

My fictitious client Bryan decides to give up ice cream for various health reasons, including weight loss and lactose intolerance. He quits cold turkey, and he hates the whole process!

  • He feels resentful when someone else orders ice cream.
  • He misses the sheer enjoyment of eating ice cream: the taste, texture, and social context.
  • He continually thinks about ice cream, with negative thoughts like: “I can’t eat ice cream anymore, but everyone else can. It’s just not fair.”

Notice that Bryan is focusing on the loss, not the gain. Plus, he’s dwelling on negative thoughts around the thing he cannot have.

No need to quit cold turkey! Instead, replace sugar with something new.

Here are 5 things you can do right now:

  1. Swap a sugar culprit with something refreshing and satisfying.
    Example: Replace soda with carbonated lemon water.
  2. Have a healthy alternative handy. Don’t leave it up to will power.
    Example: Say “no thanks” to the coworker’s donuts and, instead, reach for the mixed nuts and beef jerky in your desk drawer.
  3. Engage your senses when you eat healthy comfort foods.
    Example: Replace brown sugar in your oatmeal with cinnamon and nutmeg. The warm, inviting aromas and flavors are satisfying and comforting. Engaging your senses helps to build a new association and reprogram your brain. You won’t miss the brown sugar!
  4. Take time to build a relationship with your new treat – and create a new habit
    Example: Avoid the snack machine and satisfy your afternoon craving with a cup of hot herbal tea. Take time to enjoy the aroma, the natural sweetness, the warmth and relaxation. Instead of mindlessly munching a candy bar, you’ll create a wonderful new habit.
  5. Give your brain something different. Our brains love novelty!
    Example: Replace candy or chewing gum with cinnamon-dipped toothpicks.

Don’t try to eliminate sugar altogether. Instead, gradually replace it with new foods and flavors.
I believe the key is awareness – this is what makes change possible. You can start on this path RIGHT NOW by paying attention to what you eat and how you feel. Plus, I encourage you to read more about this topic. Be educated. As they say, knowledge is power!