Dawn Phillips describes herself as “Carrot-pusher, voracious reader of health literature, refugee from the tech world, and nice person.” She is at the cutting edge of Integrative Medicine. As a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner she works directly with a medical doctor to provide natural healing methods to compliment the AMA style healthcare he offers.
Dawn is a holistic nutritionist who works with sugar-holics, vegan dropouts, and the “dietarily confused.” She believes that most chronic health conditions can be remediated or reversed by increasing nutrient density and by reducing toxins.
Through this integrative approach patients receive less drugs and more nutritional and fitness guidance, something many of us in the nutrition and fitness industry have been looking for for years.
Listen in to pick up great ideas to improve your own health and wellness, deal with inflammation, and avoid potential health pitfalls.
I’m not familiar with the holistic nutrition certification you have, “NTP,” what is it?
I was always interested in the mind body connection. So when my husband had some digestive issues, I started looking around for more information and I found the nutritional therapy association. I read about what a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner was and thought it’ll help my husband.
So I signed up, I took the course, I learned some of the amazing things, and I saw how powerful it was that you can use food as medicine, and use supplements to help people. And with the knowledge in nutritional therapy, I helped my husband solve a digestive issue within 2 months that he have had for years.
On being a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.
So NTP stands for “Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. We are taught by and certified by an independent certifying authority called the Nutritional Therapy Association, NTA for short.
Nutrition Therapy Practitioners need to continue their education every year to maintain that certificate. They also have to have a certain number of hours of education every 2 years, which means they didn’t have to go back to school for a four year nutrition degree.
This flavor of nutrition is different for several reasons… First, it does not condemn all fats as being evil, which much of modern nutrition does. Secondly, the NTA strongly believes in bio-individuality. So the advice given to one client may be very different than the advice given to another. There is no one size fits all nutrition.
Lastly, the NTA teaches a method for getting information directly from the body, called the “functional clinical assessment,” “FCA,” or just “functional assessment.” (Formerly called the “functional evaluation.”). That is a really powerful tool to get straight down to the issues that the particular body is having.
Listen to the podcast interview with Dawn Philips!
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Detail to us one at a time how modern nutrition condemns saturated fat as being evil, but the NTA does not?
There was a very long media campaign about fats after a particular study. Some of the three-letter associations hung their hat on the lipid hypothesis. Dr. Ancel Keys, an American physiologist, proposed the Lipid Hypothesis back in the 1950’s. His ‘Seven Countries” study basically says that there is a link between dietary cholesterol and the incidence of heart disease.
He started out with over 20 countries. But in his final study that he published, he only went with seven countries. The question is, did he cherry-pick countries that remained in the study because the data from them fit his hypothesis? So many people, including different associations, believed this and it took a long time for other studies to show up to contradict this.
Cholesterol is not, in fact, the devil.
Food science got involved as well. So you increase the sugar in order to make low fat taste better. Sugar and other sweet things, and even worse, artificial sweeteners started to take the place of something that was actually very satisfying in the first place, which is full fat.
Now, take into consideration that the basic ring structure of cholesterol forms the basis for the human sex hormones testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. Also, about 25% of the cholesterol found in your body is actually in your brain. So yes, cholesterol is really important. Every cell membrane in your body has cholesterol running through it, helping the membrane stay rigid yet flexible.
There’s been so much evidence about cholesterol not being dangerous that back in 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee actually had to reverse its previous stance and say that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for over-consumption.”
I think it’s important to look at what fats you are eating. Healthy fats like coconut oil, coconut, olive, and avocado are very important for a healthy system. And the fat for meat is saturated that back in the day when people used to cook in lard and tallow, which is the fat from a pig and the fat from a cow, they didn’t have as much heart disease. They ate real butter and ate full fat. It’s only when we went on this low fat that problems really started to occur.
Those Pesky Free Radicals.
The real danger is that cholesterol becoming lodged in the artery wall, or cholesterol patches in the arteries becoming oxidized. Free radicals cause oxidation of cholesterol, causing it to become brittle. It can then break off and cause a clot. Cholesterol building up in the artery wall contributes to hardening of the arteries. And guess what contributes directly to both of these things? Inflammation! So if we want to really look at the disease process, we need to start with looking at inflammation in the arteries, and what causes it.
So, what causes inflammation in the arteries?
Many things can cause inflammation in the arteries… smoking, environmental pollution, chemicals… but the worst and most frequent contributor is people eating foods that have been fried in oils heated beyond their smoke point. Every oil has a point at which it breaks down under heat – its “smoke point.”
This smoke point is lower for oils that are not saturated fats! In other words, vegetable oils break down quickly under heat. This releases free radicals, which do 2 things. One, they rough up and inflame the artery walls, which causes cholesterol to be released from the liver. Two, because they rough up the artery walls, they allow the artery wall to be breached by cholesterol. Cholesterol and calcium can now burrow into the artery lining, hardening it.
So, when doctors say “stop eating fried foods,” they really mean “stop eating foods fried in vegetable oils.” Foods fried in saturated fats are not as irritating to the artery linings. Our grandparents had it right, frying in lard and tallow! Those have high smoke points, don’t create as much free radicals, and don’t result in inflammation of the arteries like vegetable oils do.
So does the NTA teach you a set of dietary guidelines that you apply to all people? Where does the bio-individuality you spoke of come in?
I believe that a nutrient dense whole foods diet that has been prepared properly is the best way to go. For example, the flour from wheat actually raises your blood sugar then the whole wheat would. So I try to advocate a very low processed food diet, and whole foods, and the nutritional therapy association also advocates this.
NTA like the work of Weston A. Price, the dentist who discovered that traditional diets were actually better for people’s dental health than modern diet. Modern diets are high in sugar and processed foods. You’ll find a lot of nutritional therapy practitioners at the Weston A. Price conferences and meetings across the U. S. because they advocate a whole foods diet as well.
We also want all clients to be well hydrated, because a lot of processes of breaking down foods require several water molecules to be able to do it. And I see really frequently that people drinking a lot of sodas, and diet drinks instead of just plain water, have a problem with dehydration.
But the real magic of this flavor of nutrition is that the NTA teaches a method of assessing people that can be applied to every client, but that assessment could turn out recommending something completely different for each person.
The questionnaires and the symptom reports point us in a direction to investigate. We have powerful software that can match symptoms with potential nutritional deficiencies and health concerns. For those clients who know that something is wrong, but can’t quite figure out where to start, the software we have access to can really help put a name to the issue. The software can’t diagnose a client, but it can recognize groups of symptoms and associate them with potential nutritional deficiencies, or toxicities.
A client answers questions online about health symptoms they have, and the severity of those symptoms. The software sums up the symptoms, and allows reports to be created.
The Nutrition Therapy Practitioner uses these reports when assessing the client, and when determining a plan for the client to follow. After following the plan for a while, the client can then repeat these questionnaires to assess their progress, to show if their symptoms are improving over time.
Describe the “functional assessment.”
When I became a nutritional therapist, there were a couple of things in there that really helped me. And one was the functional assessment. What that is, is the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner press on the client’s body to find tender points. They are points in the soft tissues around the face, neck, ribs, spine, navel, pelvis, thighs, and feet. We just call them functional assessment points or sometimes we call them reflex points. .
It was discovered that if a point was tender and slightly painful when pressed, it indicated that a person had a toxicity or deficiency in that organ or organ system, or a potential imbalance.
In many cases, the practitioner was stimulating the point the client overcome the issue. However, Nutrition Therapy Practitioners don’t palpate the points as therapy, it’s actually an assessment tool. A scoring system is used to indicate the severity of the tenderness. And then we use it in conjunction with the, Lingual-Neuro testing (LNT), which is the feedback loop in your body between your tasting and your central nervous system to further assess that situation
The Secret Sauce.
How it works is, say I’m doing a functional assessment on a client and the liver point is very tender, an 8 on the tenderness scale. When I palpate it, the client winces. To help the liver, I can then put a supplement on the client’s tongue and wait a few seconds, then re-test the point. If the point is less tender, say a 4, it’s an indication that the body, on a subconscious level, has recognized that there is something in that supplement that will be a help to the liver. If the point is the same amount of tenderness or it is worse, then it is a sign to try a different supplement on the tongue.
In this way, we can establish a set of supplements to address the issues. And not only does the body recognize the tastes of supplements, you can also LNT foods, herbs and medications this way.
And so we tried this out on my husband who had some problems, he was all kinds of messed up basically. But what got him out of this was testing supplements that would help digestion, his small intestine, his liver. Within a couple of months he had no more problems with the belching. The combination of the LNT and the functional assessment is very powerful, especially in unwinding multiple concurrent health issues.
Over time, that issue will resolve and it’s possible another issue will surface, ready to be addressed. You address each issue until you have reached a place of balance in your body. Isn’t that beautiful?
What are those basic supplements that you would recommend to everyone whether they’ve had a test or not? Are there any or you really ought to be tested before you take any? What’s your take on the basic supplement regimen most people ought to be doing?
One of the things that we do in the nutritional therapy association is if a person has a problem, we start at the top and work our way down. So if somebody has a problem in their stomach, we will test some things to see if they need a nutritional supplements. They might need some digestive enzymes and we help them overcome that problem. But then if they also have a problem in the lower intestine, then we work on that maybe with probiotics. So we start from the top and we work our way down through digestion, because digestion affects everything.
So I think digestive enzymes and probiotics are awesome, especially if you have things like gas, bloating, and so many people do. It helps your gut microbiome, your flora in your gut to get a good balance, kind of put the odds in your favor and have more of the good bacteria then the bacteria that can cause problems.
On Working With an Integrative Doctor.
I like working for an integrative doctor because we can do tests that will tell us if you’re absorbing your nutrients properly or not. They have a lot of intestinal permeability tests now that will let you know if you have the leaky gut or if you are not absorbing your nutrients as you could. For people that have problems absorbing their nutrients we look at digestive enzymes, pancreatic enzymes. And for people who have the leaky gut, we figure out how to seal up their leaky gut with foods, bone broths and other supplements as well.
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How long does this process take? Or how long you think they have to do this new protocol for before they see you again?
Well, it does vary in length to work with somebody to get to the end of their problems. Some of these problems they’ve been working on for decades. So it may take a year to unwind at all. Nutritional therapy association teaches you a method for helping to focus on the most urgent thing to focus on at that time. So the reason why you retest somebody is because the body unwinds the issues in the reverse order that they began. And certain conditions can mask other conditions. So you work on one thing, you get that settled down, their symptoms go down. We have a questionnaire that we often give people to find out. You know, it’s a very lengthy questionnaire, but it really gets into the nitty gritty of rating your symptoms.
Peeling Back the Onion of Health
And so we can see the symptoms are going down, the person’s feeling better about this particular issue. Well, something else might actually crop up because the previous issue which you have now solved, has allow the body to show this other symptom. And so it’s kind of like peeling back an onion. And some people have a lot of layers to the onion and some people just have a few.
With my husband, we started with his digestion, the small intestine, and then wound up doing a liver cleanse. And after the liver cleanse that he did, he went a really, really long time without any negative symptoms. He really felt his best health after the liver cleanse.
So it’s very individual and Nutrition Therapy Practitioners allow the client to determined when they come back. But we may want to see them in four weeks because we know they have an issue that we really need to stay on top of. And of course after they start taking a supplement we check with them to see if the symptoms are reducing, that type of thing.
But if there are symptoms that get reduced really quickly in a matter of a week, we would then work on the next thing, or some other symptoms that showed up. Typically we see them twice or once a month. But for people that have chronic issues we may have to see them weekly for a little while and then nothing at all for a month. So it really does vary.
Do I have to be in the same city to work with Nutrition Therapy Practitioners to get a functional assessment?
To do the functional assessment requires meeting in person. If an Nutrition Therapy Practitioner is courting clients, they will register on the NTA site. (I’m not currently registered because I’m not looking for new clients right now – I’m working for a doctor so I see clients in his office.) You can go to www.nutritionaltherapy.com and click on “Provider Search” to find someone near by. Or, you can call the NTA’s 800 number and inquire about Nutrition Therapy Practitioners in your area.
Many Nutrition Therapy Practitioners do practice remotely, without the functional assessment. I teach some classes entirely online, and have had remote clients. Next year I will be teaching Food Healing classes! I’ll be certified by Jeff Primack to teach a class about how to use foods as medicines! It’s such an awesome course. I plan on teaching these in person and remotely. Watch my website for dates.