FEATURE — Jason is a 35-year-old fitness enthusiast, the father of two children, a CPA and an entrepreneur. When I met Jason, he had just started is own CPA practice, and by all accounts, he was on top of the world.
But Jason hadn’t felt right for quite some time.
Jason has always looked after his health, and as I mentioned, he is someone who loves to go to the gym; it’s his stress reducer and his chance to shift his energy from the mental to the physical. As a health-conscious individual, Jason is knowledgeable about health-specific diets and is aware of the benefits of amino acids when it comes to a pre- and post-workout regimen.
Don’t ignore your symptoms as a passing fluke
Jason had been experiencing symptoms of low blood sugar for quite a while. Ignoring these symptoms was putting great stress on him, both physically and mentally.
For him, these symptoms included:
- Feeling shaky after eating, especially after breakfast.
- An inability to focus.
- Stress headaches.
- Inconsistent sleep patterns.
- Body and joint aches.
- Stomach aches.
- Mood swings.
- Body temperature fluctuations — cortisol reactions to stress.
- Feeling “hangry” — irritability or anger because of hunger.
He mentioned to me that the constant fluctuation of his physical symptoms were exhausting, and he was fearful that either a major medical event or serious injury were just around the corner.
He had found himself falling into a “vicious cycle” of reaching for sugary drinks for extra energy and ibuprofen for the body aches. Please don’t misunderstand, over-the-counter pain relievers have a place for temporary relief. However, using them on a consistent daily basis can cause nutrient deficiencies and even damage to your vital organs.
Jason’s physiological symptoms are not uncommon for highly active people. These personality types are able to function and even thrive by taking on a multitude of stressors and typically prefer to follow a disciplined schedule to feel balanced. Highly active personality types like Jason often push through and ignore physical symptoms to maintain the balance.
Jason’s amino acid test
While Jason was already supplementing his diet with amino acids in the form of his meal replacement choices, it was clear he was experiencing some nutrient deficiencies.
We started with a non-essential amino acid naturally created within the body to address the low blood sugar symptoms and sugar cravings and a supplement for easing the impact of stress. Both of these supplements also addressed his headaches. We also addressed his sleep, mood and focus with an additional essential amino acid found only in food sources and combined it with another nutritional supplement.
As for his stomach aches, we addressed his gut health by initiating the “Five R’s” approach: remove, replace, repair, restore and rebalance. The removal of the most common foods is how most people get started, but since Jason wanted to keep his meal replacement routine, we looked at the quality of his meal replacements and how he should go forward with the aforementioned initial gut health protocol.
I have found that the consistent use of meal replacement shakes or bars can alter gut health and even create serious nutrient deficiencies. Please know that meal replacements are not complete meals and can lack in the daily required fiber, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids found only in whole foods.
Common initial protocols: A holistic approach
Typically, the initial protocol is to “upload” the body with the recommended amino acids as much as possible during the day within the first month. This can include supplementing up to four times a day in some cases. This approach helps to repair the body from previous nutrient-depleted stressors while replenishing it and allowing it to adjust to a new normal.
Amino acid protocols can and will change from the initial protocol. This is why we also teach people how to adjust on their own.
At the time of this article, Jason had been using his amino acid protocol for about 18 months. He explained that while he continues to use his core group of supplements almost every day, he is able to self-regulate and is aware of what his body is needing when certain symptoms begin to come back.
Before he started taking amino acid supplements, Jason described feeling shaky and unable to focus until long after lunchtime. Now he no longer feels shaky after eating breakfast. His sleep quality has improved as well as his mood. He also commented that he is able to handle stress much better.
Jason is drinking more water and no longer craves sugary soda drinks. His body aches have also subsided except for the common aches from working out, of course. He also commented on how he lost a few pounds. His weight loss wasn’t a goal, but he says it happened naturally and attributes it to not craving sugar.
Now that Jason has been supplementing with selected amino acids for some time, he realizes that his meal replacement shakes, while they are of good quality, aren’t enough to support his physical activity and the mental stresses of his professional life.
As for his overall experience, Jason says he is grateful for Fusion Pharmacy’s help, and he feels great! He loves that he was able to understand what his body was lacking and that he could tackle his symptoms without experiencing a “major medical event” and without going on prescription medication.
As a pharmacist who has seen people get additional illnesses when increasing their prescription medications, I am grateful that I have patients who are willing to look at their nutrient deficiencies and allow me to help them. So, thank you Jason!
This case is a good example of how we as consumers are using meal replacements as an alternative means of amino acid sourcing. While this typically isn’t harmful, it can cause great confusion about amino acids and their role in your overall health.
Written by KOBY TAYLOR, PharmD, Fusion Pharmacy.
This article was first published in St. George Health and Wellness magazine.