Melissa Trotman, owner of Vital You Functional Medicine based in Annapolis, Maryland, working at her computer.

The Vital You Collective

The Functional Medicine Blog and Digital Newsletter

The world of Functional Medicine is small. However, that means it’s also a close-knit and supportive community eager to share valuable information. In this newsletter, you’ll find helpful industry data, practical health tips, and lifestyle strategies to help you rediscover vitality and cultivate longevity.

Stay Informed. Be Healthy. Live Better.

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Signs Your Gut is Calling for Help

Most people don’t realize this, but gut health affects much more than just digestion. It’s a common misconception that the only signs of poor gut health are digestive problems like gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, or diarrhea. In reality, your gut plays a crucial role in many other aspects of your health, and imbalances can manifest in surprising ways. Beyond Digestive Issues: Hidden Signs of Poor Gut Health Here are some lesser-known signs that your gut might be in need of some attention: 1. Food Sensitivities Food sensitivities can develop when the gut lining is compromised. A leaky gut can allow partially digested food particles to enter the bloodstream, triggering an immune response. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including bloating, fatigue, and headaches. 2. Skin Irritations Skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis can be linked to poor gut health. An unhealthy gut can lead to increased inflammation, which may manifest in the skin. Healing the gut can often lead to significant improvements in these skin issues. 3. Food Cravings An imbalance in gut bacteria can influence your food choices, often leading to cravings for sugar and processed foods. Harmful bacteria and yeast thrive on sugar, and when these microbes are in excess, they can drive cravings that support their growth. 4. Mood Changes The gut-brain connection is a powerful pathway of communication between your digestive system and your brain. An unhealthy gut can affect your mental health, leading to mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Serotonin, a key neurotransmitter that affects mood, is largely produced in the gut. 5. Brain Fog Cognitive issues like brain fog can also be linked to gut health. When the gut is inflamed or imbalanced, it can lead to systemic inflammation that affects brain function, causing difficulties with concentration and memory. The Domino Effect of Gut Health While these issues can have multiple contributing factors, it’s essential to consider the domino effect that gut health has on nearly everything else in the body. An unhealthy gut can be the underlying cause of many seemingly unrelated health problems. Taking Action for a Healthier Gut If you suspect your gut might be calling for help, there are several steps you can take to improve your gut health: By addressing these factors, you can help restore balance to your gut and improve your overall health. Remember, a healthy gut is the foundation of a healthy body and mind. If you found this post helpful, be sure to like and follow for more tips on maintaining optimal health and wellness!

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The Essential Role of Sleep in Neuroplasticity

We all know that a good night’s sleep can leave us feeling refreshed and energized, not to mention its benefits for metabolism and weight management. But did you know that sleep is also crucial for something called neuroplasticity? What is Neuroplasticity? Neuroplasticity might sound complex, but it’s a fundamental concept that underscores the incredible adaptability of our brains. It refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. This capability allows us to recover from injuries like strokes or traumatic brain injuries and is also vital for maintaining cognitive function as we age. The Role of Sleep in Neuroplasticity During sleep, our bodies may be resting, but our brains are busily engaged in critical housekeeping tasks. One of the key activities occurring in our brains during sleep involves the microglia cells. These cells are the janitors of the brain, working overnight to repair damage, clear out waste, forge new connections, and support overall brain health and neuroplasticity. This process is not just about recovery; it’s about enhancement and improvement, allowing our brains to function optimally as we navigate the challenges of daily life and age. Why is This Important? Understanding the link between sleep and neuroplasticity highlights the profound impact of quality sleep on our brain’s health and ability to adapt and evolve. This isn’t just about feeling less groggy or getting through the day without a caffeine boost. It’s about enhancing your brain’s capacity to learn, adapt, and thrive for your life. How You Can Benefit Remember to prioritize sleep if you’re interested in optimizing your brain function and supporting your cognitive health as you age. Ensuring you get enough quality sleep is a powerful strategy in maintaining and enhancing brain function. It’s an easy, natural, and effective way to support lifelong brain health. Let’s Sum It Up Sleep is a powerful ally in the quest for a healthier, more adaptable brain, supporting processes that enhance and maintain cognitive function through the magic of neuroplasticity. So, the next time you consider skimping on sleep, remember you’re not just missing out on rest, but also on the opportunity to optimize your brain’s health and functionality. If you found this insight fascinating, don’t forget to like this post and follow for more intriguing updates on how simple lifestyle changes can significantly enhance your health and well-being!

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Five Habits to Quit for Better Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for everyone. Quality sleep leads to increased energy, aids in weight management, enhances mental clarity, and makes you feel great overall. However, certain daily habits can significantly impair your ability to sleep well. Before turning to sleep aids, consider whether any of these five common behaviors might affect your sleep quality. 1. Alcohol Consumption While a glass of wine or a cocktail might seem like the perfect way to unwind before bed, alcohol is a known sleep disruptor. It may help you fall asleep faster, but it adversely affects the quality of your sleep. Alcohol disrupts the stages of your sleep cycle, particularly the REM stage, which is crucial for memory and learning. As the effects of alcohol wear off, it’s common to experience disturbances that prevent restful sleep. 2. High Sugar Intake Consuming sugary snacks or beverages close to bedtime can wreak havoc on your sleep. Foods high in sugar lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, followed by crashes that can occur during your sleep. These fluctuations can pull you out of deep sleep, reducing overall sleep quality, and can lead to wakefulness or a less restful night. 3. Late-Day Caffeine Caffeine is a stimulant, and its effects can linger in your body longer than you might expect. It can take up to 10 hours for caffeine to be completely metabolized and cleared from your system. Drinking coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages late in the day can keep you from falling asleep or disrupt your sleep cycle, leaving you restless throughout the night. 4. Lack of Physical Activity Regular physical activity is crucial for good sleep. It helps to regulate your hormones and supports a healthy circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock that signals when it’s time to sleep and wake. People who spend most of their day sitting and do not engage in physical activity often have a harder time falling asleep and experience poorer sleep quality. 5. Exposure to Nighttime Screens In the modern world, it’s common to end the day by scrolling through social media or watching television. However, the blue light emitted from screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone that signals your body it’s time to sleep. Exposure to blue light in the hours before bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Making Changes for Better Sleep If you find your sleep is less than satisfactory, take a close look at these habits. Try adjusting one or more of these behaviors and observe whether your sleep improves. You might find that these simple lifestyle changes have a significant impact on your sleep quality. Remember, achieving better sleep is a key component of overall health and well-being.

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Calorie Restriction & Aging

Some people believe calorie restriction will help them live longer because it works for laboratory mice, worms, and flies.  But now?  🎉 We finally have research in humans!! The study was done at Yale University with 200 volunteers. For the 2-year study, some participants were asked to restrict their usual caloric intake by 14% while others were not.  Here’s what happened to those who restricted their calories:  ➡️ Their thymus glands had less fat and more functional volume—effectively regenerated for better immune function.  ➡️ They had dramatic changes in the gene expression in their fat tissue—suggesting a benefit to metabolic and inflammatory responses.   ➡️ They had lower production of a protein called PLA2G7 that is produced by immune cells known as macrophages—suggesting protection against age-related inflammation. Basically, the research found mechanisms at play in humans that are very similar to what they have observed in mice. Mechanisms that may protect against some of the metabolic and immune changes of aging.  Does this mean that calorie restriction is the holy grail for anti-aging?  No ❎ But it means there might be something to it, and we’re one step closer to understanding it! 

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More Protein, Fewer Fractures?

Hip fractures pose a significant risk to women with osteoporosis and can lead to long-term consequences. However, a recent study published in Clinical Nutrition sheds light on a potential preventive measure – increasing protein intake. The study analyzed data from the UK Women’s Cohort, including women aged 35-69 years, over a 15-year period. Data collection involved questionnaires and hospital records to determine hip fracture rates among participants. Key findings from the study are as follows: out of the participants, only 3% experienced a hip fracture during the study. Significantly, an inverse relationship between protein intake and hip fracture risk was observed. For every 25g per day increase in protein, there was a reduction in hip fracture risk. Even more promisingly, underweight women saw a 45% risk reduction. Interestingly, the source of protein – animal or plant – did not impact the results. However, the study did not explore extremely high protein intakes and their effects on hip fracture risk. Understanding the role of protein in bone health is essential. Protein is crucial for the collagen matrix in bones, which undergoes continuous remodeling. Adequate protein supply is necessary for maintaining strong bones. Considering the recommended daily protein intake of 0.8 grams per kg of body weight, it is evident that a higher intake may be necessary to maintain healthy muscle mass as well. The study suggests a 14% reduction in hip fracture risk with every 25g increase in protein. To help visualize what a 25g protein portion looks like, here are some examples: • 3 large eggs• 85g of chicken breast• 170g of Greek yogurt• 200g of tofu In conclusion, it is advisable for women to assess their protein intake and consider tracking it. This new research demonstrates the potential benefits of increasing protein intake in reducing hip fracture risk. By focusing on adequate protein consumption, women can take active steps towards maintaining strong bones and reducing the severity of osteoporosis-related complications. Book a discovery call to begin your journey towards a more vital and healthier you.

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Elevate Your Energy Levels with B Vitamins: Tapping into the Energy Amplifiers

In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining optimal energy levels isn’t just a luxury—it’s a necessity for staying on top of your game. Amidst the myriad of strategies to combat fatigue, there’s one powerhouse solution often overlooked: the energizing prowess of B vitamins. These tiny nutrients wield immense power in our body’s energy production, and in this article, we’ll delve into how they can supercharge your vitality. B Vitamins: The Dynamo of Energy Picture B vitamins as the dynamic team working behind the scenes to transform the food you eat into the fuel your body craves. These water-soluble wonders are the unsung heroes of metabolism, ensuring that carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are efficiently converted into energy. Turbocharged Energy Production Among the B vitamin lineup—think B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin)—each member plays a pivotal role in the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cellular currency of energy. By fine-tuning metabolic pathways, B vitamins streamline ATP synthesis, resulting in a noticeable uptick in energy levels and endurance. Optimized Nutrient Absorption Some B vitamins, like B12 and B9 (folate), go beyond merely boosting energy production. They act as facilitators, ensuring that other essential nutrients are absorbed and utilized effectively. For instance, B12 teams up with iron, a key player in oxygen transport and energy generation. By optimizing nutrient absorption, B vitamins guarantee that your cells receive the fuel they need to thrive. Sharper Brainpower A sharp mind is indispensable for navigating life’s challenges with finesse. B vitamins, especially B6, B9, and B12, are staunch supporters of brain health. They aid in the synthesis of neurotransmitters—think serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine—that govern mood, motivation, and mental clarity. By fostering neurotransmitter production, B vitamins promote heightened alertness, laser-sharp focus, and overall cognitive prowess. Stress Resilience and Mood Boost In a world filled with stressors, maintaining equilibrium is key to preserving your energy reserves. B vitamins, notably B5 and B6, step in as stress-busting allies by regulating the synthesis of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. By bolstering the adrenal glands and fostering a balanced stress response, B vitamins help stave off fatigue, uplift mood, and fortify your resilience against life’s curveballs. Heart Health and Oxygenation Efficient energy levels hinge on optimal oxygen delivery throughout your body. B vitamins like B6, B9, and B12 contribute to the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for ferrying oxygen. By nurturing cardiovascular health and ensuring adequate oxygenation, B vitamins lay the groundwork for sustained energy production and vitality. Revving Up Mitochondrial Function Meet your body’s energy powerhouses: the mitochondria. B vitamins such as B2, B3, and B5 are instrumental in bolstering mitochondrial function, particularly in the electron transport chain where ATP is generated. By fine-tuning mitochondrial efficiency, B vitamins rev up energy production and combat fatigue at its source. When it comes to elevating your energy levels and banishing fatigue, harnessing the potency of B vitamins could be the game-changer you’ve been seeking. These essential nutrients serve as catalysts in the intricate web of energy production pathways, supporting metabolism, nutrient absorption, and overall vitality. Whether you opt for B vitamin-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, and lean meats or explore supplementation under the guidance of a healthcare professional, tapping into the energy-boosting potential of B vitamins is an essential step toward a vibrant life filled with vitality and sustained energy. Book a discovery call to begin your journey towards a more vital and healthier you.

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