Functional Biochemistry

I work using a technique called Functional Biochemistry.

What is Functional Biochemistry?

All functions of the body are performed by chemicals; whether this is to make a new cell, repair injury, create energy, maintain the mineral balance of bone and blood, fight infection, or make a baby. These chemicals are made from the nutrients in the food that we eat. So long as we are getting enough in the form that the body can use them we should remain well. For me symptoms of illness usually suggest that the body is not getting enough of the nutrients that it needs; resulting in a chemical imbalance. It can be a chemical imbalance that causes high blood pressure; certainly chemical imbalance is the cause of premenstrual tension, and bad symptoms of the menopause. In fact bad symptoms are so common that we now expect to have bad symptoms, we say we are suffering from the menopause.  Going through the menopause is natural we shouldn’t suffer; if you are then it needs investigating I’m sure a chemical imbalance will be found which doesn’t need replacement hormones, simply the right nutrients. That may sound over simplistic, but when you realise we are made from the food that we eat it has to be that simple.

Functional biochemistry is a branch of Applied Kinesiology and it is the practice of evaluating the levels of the body and brain chemicals. So long as there is a balance of all of the chemicals within the body we should remain well. When we get symptoms of illness it usually means that the chemistry is out of balance, that the body is not gaining enough of some of the vital nutrients that maintain correct levels. The balance is maintained by controlling the amount of a specific chemical made and the speed at which that and other chemicals are broken down for excretion.

To gain the nutrients we must eat the right stuff and then digest it so that it can be absorbed. Many of us are increasingly not eating the right stuff. The rocks of each region from which the soils are made vary in their mineral content; some regions within the UK are known to be deficient in iodine, others borderline in selenium, and the magnesium content varies from region to region. This means that the water that drains through these soils, and the animals and plants that live on these soils will mirror any deficiency in the soil unless it is corrected through supplements by the farmer. This has always been the case but the soils are actually becoming more deficient because of modern farming techniques. They tend not to mix arable and animal farming, or rotate land use; they use nitrogen fertilisers which makes the plants grow, increasing the take-up of minerals from the soil but they don’t put the minerals back and there isn’t an endless limitless supply. We don’t eat seasonally which means food is picked unripe, shipped and stored. Many of us eat pre prepared food which means it’s doubly cooked. The food industry frequently removes vital nutrients.  Removing:  minerals when refining sugar and flour (turning it into white); essential fatty acids, especially of the omega 3 group, to increase shelf life. This means that over time we are frequently not getting nearly enough of some of the individual minerals, it is very rare to be deficient in all. There are two groups of the omega fatty acids, known as omega 3 and 6, each with different functions. We need a balance between the two groups some say 1 for 1 but we are frequently getting 20 times more of the omega 6 group which can have serious implications for our health; (for more details read section on heart disease and or inflammation).

Just at the time when we are potentially getting less nutrients we actually need more because we are being exposed to so many artificial chemicals. All these chemicals have to be broken down by the body before they can be excreted. This breakdown requires minerals and vitamins. It is estimated that we have been exposed to 75,000 artificial chemicals since the 1930’s: food colours, preservatives, pesticides, flavourings, sweeteners, stabilisers, emulsifiers, antibiotics used in animal rearing, and that’s just in our food. Exhaust fumes, farm spraying, cleaning materials, are all absorbed through our lungs and our skin. Look at the additives in our toiletries and cosmetics; it’s not without reason the bathroom is described as the most toxic room in the house. Mercury, yes mercury used in vaccines, aluminium from tin cans and antiperspirants, nickel from jewellery and saucepans; all have to be mopped up and got rid of. Then there is chlorine, and fluoride intentionally put into water. But what about the effluent from farming and factory run off, the oestrogens and all the other drugs we take that are excreted in our urine and then re-join the water we drink. OK I drink filtered water but most filtration systems take out all the minerals as well as all the nasty’s.

What we eat has to be digested which is the process by which the meat and two veg, or the more exotic curry and rice, is broken down into absorbable portions. An absorbable potion isn’t a morsel, even a chewed mouthful, it’s a tiny molecule. To digest you need enzymes, to make those enzymes work you need specific nutrients. Digestion is about breaking the food up into its constituent parts such as proteins into amino acids, sugars into glucose, fats into fatty acids. Food isn’t any good until it has been digested and absorbed into the blood where it is then delivered to all the cells of the body to be built back up again into the stuff of us. It might sound a long winded way of gaining our nutrients but if we didn’t digest the protein we’d turn into a cow, chicken, leek, because we are eating protein that is in cow, chicken or leek form. We also need minerals, vitamins, water and fibre. The fibre is not absorbed it simply bulks out the waste so that we can eliminate it easier. In other words it makes it easier to go to the loo, prevents constipation. When you hear that you are made of around 55-75% water it probably makes you wonder how you stand and also may make you feel less unique than the guy next door. We need that amount of water to keep everything flowing, to enable the reactions in the body to take place; nothing happens without water. The minerals are absolutely essential, our body can’t work without them, and it can’t make them, so they have to be in our food. We need 18 different ones, some in much bigger amounts than others. We need a trace of chromium, copper, boron and iodine daily; we need much more calcium, magnesium and zinc. Calcium is essential for transmitting the electrical impulse along nerves as well as making the bones hard. Magnesium is essential to make energy, as a muscle relaxant, and it also plays a role in keeping bones hard. Zinc is required to rebuild those amino acids back into proteins to make the cells and the chemicals, it’s also needed to manage blood glucose to make energy. Magnesium, molybdenum, sulphur, and zinc are all required to breakdown the chemicals made by you and those artificial ones. In fact zinc is essential for about 250 chemical reactions and magnesium for 300.

The vitamins can be divided into two types: the fat soluble and the water soluble.  The fat soluble vitamin A, D, E and K need the fat digestive enzymes to release them from the fat so that they can be absorbed. If we eat a low fat diet then we are restricting the amount of these vitamins that we are getting. The water soluble vitamin B group can’t be used in the form they are in food they have to be “activated”. This process of activation occurs inside the cells of the body, not in the gut, and is controlled by enzymes. To activate each B vitamin different enzymes will need minerals and other activated vitamins. This means that if we are deficient in a mineral we cannot activate a vitamin, which means we will not be able to activate another vitamin, which can create a cascading problem. As each of the activated B group vitamins plays an important role within the body a simple mineral deficiency can lead to a many different problems, resulting in many different symptoms. Zinc and magnesium are required to activate vitamin B6, activated B6 is required to activate B5 for energy, it is also required to build those amino acids back into chains making protein for all the chemicals and cells. Iodine is required to activate B2 and activated B2 is required to activate B6. Activated B2, B3, B6 and B12 are all required to activate folic acid. Activated Folic acid is essential to build amino acids into proteins and to prevent mutations in the rebuild, so plays an important role in foetal growth and in the prevention of cancer. Maybe you can begin to see why so many symptoms can arise from a few mineral deficiencies.

Nutritionists talk about a daily requirement the RDI recommended daily intake, what used to be called the RDA recommended dietary allowance; quoting figures for children, men and women, as if all who fit into those categories need the same. There is no such thing as the average person we all have different needs. We might start out in life with a deficiency because our mother was deficient; the older the mother or the more pregnancies the greater the chance of her being deficient. We might not digest our food or absorb it as well as others. We may have a lower renal threshold than  the average person, which means we lose more minerals and vitamins in our urine. We are all born with enzymes that don’t work as well as they should and to make them work these sluggish enzymes will use more minerals, more activated vitamins. We don’t store most of the minerals so we need a constant daily supply, but if that supply is less than the body needs we quickly fall into deficit and the body will not be able to activate specific vitamins and the enzymes will no longer work effectively, this will result in symptoms of disease. The earlier symptoms start the greater the deficiency. These enzyme faults can be inherited which is why diseases tend to run in families, such as my family’s difficulty with activating the omega 3 fatty acids resulting in asthma, eczema, high blood pressure, dyslexia and co-ordination problems.

As you can see it’s all very complicated. Illness for me does not require a drug, it requires the nutrients that the body naturally uses to make the stuff of whatever we are and what makes us tick; it’s deficiency of those nutrients that causes us to be sick (sorry about  the rhyming couplet it was completely unintended). You really don’t have to understand the biochemistry I’ve only written about it so that you can get a picture of how I work. Just leave the biochemistry to your body and me because Functional Biochemistry is simply a way of finding out from your body just what it needs to make it well. I know, that sound odd and witchy, but we don’t question that our body knows how to cure a cold, heal a wound; it just mobilises all the right resources in the right place and gets on with it. When it can’t that’s when we become ill. If you’ve ever had a dog it knows instinctively what it needs; after smelling it’s urine it will go off and eat a different type of grass medicinally. Birds eat different foods by colour and the colour changes by the season. When we grew a big intelligent brain we lost touch with many of our instincts, but those instincts are still there. They sometimes make themselves known as the driver for the cravings in pregnancy, the sudden fancies that we have. Though sometimes our body gets it completely wrong and we are driven to eat stuff that is bad for us because it gives us a kick, allergies can be perpetuated because eating foods we are allergic to can result in an adrenalin high. Eating chocolate because it helps serotonin cross from the blood into the brain making us feel more cheerful. Alcohol because it acts as a relaxant.

Functional Biochemistry is a branch of Applied Kinesiology and is both the art and science of getting the body to reveal what it needs to make it healthy. The diagnostic tool is changes in muscle tone. Something the body likes will leave a strong muscle strong. Something the body doesn’t like will weaken a strong muscle. Something the body needs will strengthen a weak muscle. I have been taught how to recognise and measure these changes. Again, I know, sounds witchy, but if we think about it, it is actually something we know. It’s sunny, you’re going on holiday, somebody has sent you a nice big cheque; you’re happy, you stand up straight, smile, head held high, your muscles are really toned and strong. It’s raining, you’re not going on holiday, and you have a really big bill; you’re really not happy, your shoulders droop, your mouth droops, your muscles are not toned and raring to go. In fact the really depressed have very low muscle tone. Negative thinking and stress is the biggest user of nutrients that there is so if you’re still feeling negative after my tale of doom then quickly reset the mind and think of something positive.

As I said to somebody the other day; I started out as a general nurse, then psychiatric nurse, then a nurse teacher and, then….. …a witch.  But you know technically witch simply means wise woman, so anybody who likes can call me a witch.