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  • vanessavanderhoek

‘Bio-Individual Approach’ – What Does It Mean?

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Having a health professional take a good chronological health and family history is an essential step in you regaining your health. Functional testing can be used to help unpack some of the causes of your symptoms and learn more about where your gut health intersections with your genetics and biochemistry BUT this should only be used an adjunct to a detailed case history (i.e. a health professional taking your health and family history in detail).

This is where you come in. Never underestimate your own ability to understand your body. Many clients have been dismissed by health professionals and never had anyone join these dots. You know and feel when something is not quite right in your body. I ask my clients a lot of questions, and the conservations we have often provide me with insightful clues.

Prior to meeting new clients, I request them to complete a few forms including a Client Intake Form. I want to start to learn about your health history from birth until now. These details are not trivial – it helps me to get a solid understanding of what has led to your poor health up to now.

In our first appointment I will ask you more questions about your health and family history. I will also get an understanding from you about your current goals and commitment levels. I’ll ask you if you want to take a mild, medium, or hot approach and keep this in mind when developing your bio-individual plan. I can’t create you a plan that you’ll stick to if I don’t spend the time understanding your dislikes/likes, family commitments, enjoyment of cooking etc.

Through our initial consult I’ll be looking for clinical signs of leaky gut, SIBO, dysbiosis, gastritis, reflux, yeast overgrowth, parasites, methylation challenges, hormonal imbalances and more. I’ll gauge if there is a need for further investigation through functional testing. Whilst you might hear me say “test don’t guess”, this may not be the first thing we do if there’s basic gut health work to do, especially if we need to clean up your diet. If this is the case I’ve got recipes and menu plans to help you – so you’re not alone!

In saying this, in my clinic I mostly see people who have long-standing symptoms and are at the end of their tether. They’ve tried lots of things and seen many people – they just want answers and a plan. Most of the time they’ve already spent a lot of time, energy, and money on their health, but unfortunately not in the right places.

I partner with my clients, join their ‘health team’ (or cheer squad as I call it) helping you them to regain their health. I always keep your current symptoms and health / family history at forefront, engage with you in the development of your bio-individual plan (as you know your body best), and use functional testing (“test don’t guess”) to provide specific information if and when needed.

Here are some of the functional tests that I commonly run for clients which help them tremendously in regaining their healthy by learning more about what’s going on in their body.

GI-Map test is useful for people with chronic gut issues - bloating/abdominal distension, gas, cramping/pain, bowel irregularities (constipation, loose stools) etc. Often people also have fatigue, brain fog, aching joints, headaches, migraines, multiple food sensitivities, IBD. It gives a comprehensive microbiome feedback including gut permeability aka ‘leaky gut’, opportunistic bacteria, autoimmune triggering bacteria, digestive markers, markers associated with mucosal inflammation. It is not ideal for people who’ve had symptoms for a short period of time and have a poor foundational nutrition base (we will work on this first).

SIBO test is useful for people with short to chronic gut issues, including immediate bloating/distension after eating (up to 2 hours), reflux, heavy PPI / antibiotic use, FODMAP sensitivity, past gastroenteritis (food poisoning). Often people have these gut symptoms along with fatigue, brain fog, aching joints, headaches, migraines, multiple food sensitivities, IBD. The SIBO test is not ideal for people who’ve had symptoms for a short period of time and have a poor foundational nutrition base (we will work on this first).

OMX test provides a ‘metabolic snapshot’ and is useful for chronic and multisystemic health issues when information is needed to unpack where the problem is coming from – cellular energy, nutrient deficiencies, neurotransmitters, oxidative stress, dysbiosis, yeast/mould etc. It is also useful for people with autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue, resistant weight loss, long COVID and more. By doing this test we learn more about your biochemistry and where you need specific support.

We are all unique – you and I both know that! And these tests show that.

By assessing you thoroughly (taking your health and family history in detail) and adopting a “test don’t guess” mindset where appropriate, I will develop you a bio-individual plan that helps YOU rather than your symptoms. I’ve found this approach gets the BEST (!!) outcomes for my clients.

Vanessa Vanderhoek is a functional medicine nutritionist specializing in the gut microbiome, biochemistry and nutrigenomics. She helps people to regain their health by taking a “food as medicine” approach that's unique to their body.

Whilst based in Canberra (Australia), Vanessa sees clients around the world in her virtual clinic. To get started book an initial consultation by clicking here.


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