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Evan Brand is a board-certified Holistic Nutritionist, certified Functional Medical Practitioner, nutritional therapist and personal trainer. He is the host of the podcast “Not Just Paleo,” and the author of The Everything Guide to Nootropics, REM Rehab, and Stress Solutions. He works with clients from a functional medical perspective and offers a customized combination of nutritional supplements, botanical herbs, and lifestyle changes to address them. His work is deeply rooted in his issues with depression, IBS and skin issues which he has greatly recovered from through his own research and strategies.
I struggled for many, many years with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and depression, and went the conventional route by going to the doctor, and got the same pseudo-diagnosis that everyone gets—that I had IBS and gut issues as was prescribed medicine that just masks the symptoms and doesn’t get to the root cause. It took me several years to figure out how to change my approach to nutrition and stress mentally, and to figure out how to help others remove gastrointestinal problems from the equation. Millions of people are taking acid-blocking drugs like Prisolec, Zantac, etc. and setting themselves up for disease further down the line because they’re sacrificing their bodies’ natural operation by taking pharmaceuticals. The goal is to eat good protein, digest those, then take the amino acids from that for your neurotransmitters to make brain chemicals. You’ll never hear that from a conventional doctor. They’ll tell you that you’re depressed and you need an SSRI or some other type of prescription med for the brain, but that doesn’t get to the root cause. My goal is to get to the root using lab testing and customized supplement plans.
Results can be limited with some people because there’s deeper infections going on, like parasites. I start with the lab testing to eliminate the guesswork. Nearly every client takes four tests. First we look at your adrenal glands by using a salivary test which measures cortisol; you want this to be high in the morning and low in the evening, like a cell phone charge. The second test is a stool test which looks for various infections and parasites and bacterial problems. 1 in every 3 people has some type of parasite or bacterial infection. Test 3 is an organic panel which is a urine test to look at anything from candida overgrowth to bacteria problems to mitochondrial energy problems. The fourth test is a GPL-TOX, and it’s a urine test as well that measures about 100 different chemicals —pesticides, fungicides, benzine, gasoline fumes you breathe in when you’re driving, etc. This detects someone’s chemical load. I bought a sauna after I found all of the carcinogenic chemicals that were mysteriously in my body. Sweating is the best way to rid the body of chemicals. You don’t have to buy a sauna but everyone should be in some type of detoxification protocol. Different techniques help mobilize the toxins in different ways however.
These tests are used to create the supplement programs for clients. If someone has adrenal problems we look at those, if there’s a parasite, etc. we address that. There’s a certain order to doing things for each person though. If you are on a paleo diet for example, and you start to detox right out of the gate, you’re going to make yourself sick because you might not have the right foundation to build upon. Mild detoxes like apple cider vinegar and lemon, etc. are one thing, but really trying to flush all chemicals out of your body—you have to make sure that your gut and adrenals can handle it first or someone will feel worse.
Humans evolved in a world where stress was rare—a bear, for example. 1% of the time a bear would come into your camp, and you could either kill it and have a great dinner, run from the bear for 3 minutes and escape, or run from it and get eaten and it was all over. This ancient wiring has come with us over a couple of centuries, but the problem is we’re not designed to withstand chronic acute stress, like constant cell phone notifications. Those stresses can’t be removed, but we can improve the body’s response to them.
The first and most important step to improving your stress response is to buy as much produce and food organically grown as possible. Working during the day and sleeping at night is key; working at night is a Class 2 carcinogenic. Epsom salt baths are very helpful for stress relief as well. There are hundreds of lifestyle components that can be brought in.
What do you prescribe to your clients regarding sleep?
5 minutes of meditation in the morning and 5 minutes at night can help improve sleep quality. Getting everything out of your brain via a journal or dream board also helps. A nighttime ritual with epsom salt baths, essential oils, chamomile tea, magnesium for example. Typically if you investigate the root causes of sleep interruption, it can be taken care of by addressing your body’s cortisol production, blood sugar, nutrition, etc; the sleep issues often fall by the way side by taking care of these issues first.
Adaptogenic herbs (rhodeola, etc.) have no side effects or risk of toxicity, they don’t react negatively with medications and they improve the way your body responds to stress.
Visit notjustpaleo.com to explore Evan's functional medicine clinic, and to find links to his podcast.