“All disease begins in the gut”
Hippocrates got it right, and in our modern day lives, digestive health is even more important now than it has ever been.
Ishbel’s signature Gastrointestinal Foundations Program brings together years of extensive experience helping people who are struggling with various gut-related health conditions from parasites, to hormone imbalances, to auto-immune diseases. This intensive program requires a strong personal commitment and a deep desire to heal.
This program is designed with you in mind! No one person is the same, and the approach to healing must be as dynamic as you are. One of the most important parts of improving your health and your gut is establishing a relationship with a care provider who knows you personally, knows your story and understands the speedbumps that get in your way.
The Gastrointestinal Foundations Program is designed to address your health from five different perspectives. Ishbel deeply believes that true healing requires a multi-disciplinary approach that melds science with conversations, empathy and education.
- Personal: Your personality, how you learn, and what motivates you are all incredibly important aspects of your healing journey. I want to get to know you so that I can support you!
- History: Your health history is a gold mine of clues that will help us to understand the journey your gut has gone through and will guide the development of your protocol.
- Symptoms: Symptoms are often what motivate people to get help, but oftentimes we need to look beyond them to understand the root cause of the issue.
- Functional Tests: A combination of stool, blood, urine, and saliva tests are chosen to better understand what is driving your symptoms. Read below about the tests most commonly used in the Gastrointestinal Foundations Program.
- Education: Ishbel deeply believes – and her experience has shown her – that education and empowerment are the bedrock of lifelong health. Expect to learn the in’s and out’s of how to take care of your gut and your health for the long haul. You’ll learn new ways to cook, shop and approach your overall wellbeing. By the time you are finished with this program, you’ll be educating your loved ones about how they can better take care of themselves!
If you’re struggling with any of these symptoms, the Gastrointestinal Foundations Program is for you:
- Chronic indigestion
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic constipation
- Stomach pain
- Bloating / Burping
- Yeast infections
- Acid reflux
- Inability to lose weight
- Chronic hormonal issues
- Immune system issues / Auto-immune diseases
The Gastrointestinal Foundations Program is a six month program. This program is multi-faceted and includes protocol development, one-on-one appointments, unlimited email support and incorporation of gastrointestinal and food inflammation testing.
This program includes ten one-on-one appointments where you can get the support and customized help you need:
Four, ninety minute appointments
- First Appointment: Health history, symptom review, gastrointestinal tutorial.
- Second Appointment: Protocol & test review; menu ideas; organizing tips.
- Third Appointment: Evaluate progress at end of protocol, retest if needed and begin the process of reintroducing foods that were eliminated due to the MRT food inflammation test.
- Fourth Appointment: Evaluate test results if applicable. Develop a bio-individual eating plan that you will continue after the program is completed.
Six, thirty minute appointments
These appointments are booked every two weeks throughout the six month program. Most likely, aspects of your protocol will need to be adjusted depending on how your digestive system is responding to both the supplements and the diet changes. We will also discuss how to keep your diet fun and exciting. There are times when you might feel discouraged or overwhelmed, and these calls are in place to provide you with the support you need to follow through on your commitment.
Unlimited Email Support: You’ll most likely have a lot of questions especially when you first start the program. Ishbel is only an email away!
When you enroll in the Gastrointestinal Foundations Program, you also gain access to Ishbel’s Nutritional Therapy Basics Online Program + Gut Healing Online Program. These programs will provide you with an invaluable education that will enrich your understanding of your healing process and provide you with the tools to be successful now and in the future.
Generally, two different functional tests are utilized in the Gastrointestinal Foundations Program to get a bird’s eye view of the gastrointestinal system: The Mediator Release Food Inflammation (MRT) test and the GI-Map DNA Stool Analysis test.
Mediator Release Food Inflammation Test
The MRT food inflammation test is considered to be the gold standard of food inflammation tests. This test has excellent accuracy (Sensitivity 94.5%, Specificity 91.7%) and reliability (split sample reproducibility consistently exceeds 90%). This is also an “endpoint” test which measures outcomes of all non-IgE hypersensitivity reactions which is quite different from a traditional food sensitivity/allergy test. The most common food sensitivity tests are RAST and ELISA which do not test for IgM or complement reactions, will not measure T-cell mediated food reactions, and do not measure chemical reactions but they are useful for measuring IgE and IgG food reactions. Also, in order for an IgG food reaction to be measured, that food needs to have been consumed within 21 days of testing. This makes it difficult if you’ve been avoiding a food – it needs to be consumed in order for the test to be accurate. Both the RAST and ELISA are considered about 60% accurate, but there again, these tests aren’t measuring the body’s complete immune response to food which can leave out a lot of information.
The MRT food inflammation test is Ishbel’s food sensitivity test of choice because it tests Type 3 and Type 4 hypersensitivities which are typically delayed and are not immediately obvious. Symptoms can appear up to three days after the consumption of a trigger food which makes it very difficult to figure out on your own. Most food inflammation tests monitor a handful of immune responses, while the MRT looks at the big picture of how the immune cells are functioning as a whole.
The MRT test reports findings using a gradient, color-coded graph. Green foods have a low immune response; yellow foods have a moderate immune response; red foods have a severe immune response.
GI Map Test
The GI Map test is on the cutting edge of science and utilizes the technology developed over the last few decades in DNA analysis which has transformed the field of microbiology. The National Institute of Health has continued these fascinating studies with initiatives like the Human Microbiome Project which characterized the microbiome from over fifteen habitats of the body in more than two-hundred human subjects using DNA analysis. Increasingly, our understanding of the relationship between health benefits or disease risk is directly correlated with the microorganisms that inhabit the human body. The GI Map is a direct result of this science and has eliminated a lot of the human error that convoluted test results in the past.
The GI-MAP is different from other stool tests in that culture techniques which were previously the standard, left up to 50% of bacterial species essentially invisible. When next-generation methods revolutionized this field, it allowed the identification of tremendous numbers of previously unknown organisms. Anaerobic bacteria make up a large part of the human microbiome and can be opportunistic and cause illness. Previous stool testing only reported a positive or negative finding but did not quantify pathogens, and unfortunately traditional stool tests can miss up to 50% of bacterial species due to the small stool sample used. In addition, the chemical agents used in traditional stool tests can render the results incorrect. Some microorganisms, especially yeast, bacteria and parasites may not be present or viable for viewing or culturing in that one little sample of a sample, and as a result, many pathogens are missed.
The GI MAP gives quantitative information about many pathogens. It is important to note that not all pathogens cause disease if they are present. Knowing how much DNA is present gives critical information for making better decisions about the protocols developed. The GI MAP uses quantitative qPCR, which stands for quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. This technique combines amplification and detection into one step. It’s considered one of the most powerful and sensitive gene analysis techniques available and is capable of quantifying gene expression, analyzing single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. It determines genotypes, detects pathogens, and provides prescriptive drug direction for certain positive markers which can be helpful when working with a physician.
Creating a protocol around these tests is an art and must take the full person into account, not just the test results. Symptoms can point to any number of pathogens/imbalances. These tests help to focus the work on the areas that need it most.
Often, the first month of a protocol is the hardest. Your body is going through a massive transition. There are a lot of details to organize and habits to change. It’s not uncommon to experience an increase in the very symptoms you’re trying to resolve.
This can be really discouraging when you’re working so hard, but it’s important to remember that your immune system is getting stronger (and more communicative!) day by day. As pathogens die off, they can release toxins into the bloodstream causing some uncomfortable side effects. This is exactly why you’ll be taking a dynamic supplement protocol to ensure your body is equipped to detoxify quickly and move pathogens out of the body before they build up and trigger an immune response.
When you enroll in the Gastrointestinal Foundations Program, you’ll receive an education on what is happening in your gut. One of the big topics we will discuss are biofilms. Biofilms are essentially mucus-like masses in the intestines that act as a fortified apartment building by housing and protecting parasites, fungi and bacterium. Multiple species can live together and can actually change the environment around them to be more resilient to antimicrobials and the immune system.
When the epithelial lining of the intestines is damaged, it is an ideal location for biofilms to take root. These opportunistic organisms create biofilms around themselves with a network of sugars, proteins and nucleic acid (such as DNA) and in turn prevent the digestive system from functioning by stealing nutrients – especially minerals – and creating a profluence of uninhibited population growth.
The “good guys” can’t compete and digestive dysfunction gets worse and worse.
The good news is that once these biofilms are collapsed, the antimicrobials can actually go to work at killing off the parasites, fungi and bacterium. This is often when people experience herxheimer reactions like headache, rash, belly aches, digestive issues and fatigue.
Multiple factors go into curating effective supplement and dietary protocols. One of the leaders in the gut healing world, Amy Myers, who specializes in gut health and autoimmune diseases, simply states the process of GI rehabilitation as “remove, restore, reinoculate, repair”. Each supplement in a protocol targets one of these priorities.
Depending on what the results are of your GI Map test, you can expect to take between four and ten different supplements per day. Some people decide they want to “go all in”, and in that case a larger supplement program is often called for, while other people decide to work on one piece of their health journey which would involve a smaller array of supplements. Every person is different, and no protocol looks the same. Some protocols are focused on restoring the gut flora while others are focused on eradicating an infection.
Because this is such a bio-individual process, the GI Foundations Program is designed to have a lot of one-on-one time so that we can work together to trouble-shoot the issues that come up, make adjustments where needed and ensure we are moving at a pace that supports your body’s healing process.
TOOLS FOR SUCCESS
Embarking on a gut healing journey can be a very emotional process. First and foremost, changing one’s diet can be both liberating and confining, stressful and relaxing. You’ll most likely have to give up foods that you love and learn how to cook new (and absolutely delicious!) recipes. You’ll need the support of your loved ones, and you’ll have to develop the coping skills to continue forward even when people don’t support you. You will need a great deal of self-discipline, organizational skills and stress-relieving practices that are not food-dependent. You will need to be creative, open-minded and most importantly – solely focused on your big why.
Why do you want to heal your gut? What tangible results will this provide you in your life?
The most important part of any healing journey is nailing down your “why”.
What does this mean?
Wanting to lose 10lbs because you’re going to look better in your jeans is oftentimes not a lasting “why”. Aesthetic goals must be translated into emotions.
Wanting to lose 10lbs because you know you’ll have more energy is a lasting “why”.
Why is this? What’s the difference between these two “why’s”?
The first “why” is aesthetic and can at times be motivated by society. Often, this desire to be a certain size infers that you are somehow less than if you don’t fit into this mold. Is wanting to look better in your jeans a bad thing? Absolutely not! Go to it! But soften that goal with self-love, grace and a deep understanding that your desire to look better in your jeans comes from a place of healing and not of shame.
The second “why” is about your ability to show up in the world. You know that if you had more energy, you could be more present with your spouse, and have more patience with your children. You know that if you had more energy you could workout a few days a week which is a major stress-reliever for you. This “why” is truly motivated by self-love.
One of the most important parts of Ishbel’s job is to support you physically and also emotionally. Figuring out how to make your favorite nacho dish, for example, in a way that supports your gut could be a total game-changer for you and determine your success in the program. Other times, you’ll need help organizing your days so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by your supplement schedule or by getting food on the table. Ishbel will help you with this too. A few tweaks here and there make the impossible, possible. Ishbel is here to help you get out of your own way and think outside of the box so that you can not only complete this program successfully, but enjoy the process!
“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
To stay focused on your ultimate goal – feeling better – you must stay organized, proactive AND creative. Ishbel will be right there with you giving you the tools and know-how to stay on track and enjoy yourself along the way!
You’ll have homework assignments to complete after your protocol is developed. Creating a three day meal plan as well as a daily supplement schedule are “must do’s”, and Ishbel will help you to gently work these changes into your life so that you feel empowered and excited.
FOOD & FEELING LOG
Keeping a daily journal of what you’re eating is an important part of the Gastrointestinal Foundations process.
BUT writing down how you feel in relation to the food you are eating is the key step.
There is no cookie-cutter approach for any of us. The only way we can truly understand what our body needs is by writing it down.
Ishbel will ask you to write your food and your symptoms down every day as well as pay attention to the patterns.
Listening = Healing
- Do you feel moody after eating a certain food?
- Do you have digestive issues after eating a certain food?
- Does your energy wane/expand when you eat certain foods?
- Did that fight you had with your spouse lead you to dive into the candy drawer?
- What kind of habits can you develop to deal with stress in a healthy way?
Your food & feeling journal is a GOLD MINE for you and for Ishbel to understand you from the inside, out and create a healing approach that meets you where you are.
Here’s an example of a Food & Feeling Journal:
3 DAY MENU
One of the biggest concerns new clients have when they start this program is that they will be subjected to a flavorless diet devoid of any fun and enjoyment. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and we all know that deprivation is the key to failure!
Ishbel has a lot of big goals for her clients who enter into the Gastrointestinal Foundations Program, but her biggest goal is that her clients are happy, and she’s keenly aware that good food is one of the joys of life.
Ishbel has a treasure trove of great recipes and cookbooks to recommend, and she will help you to adjust these recipes so they fit into your protocol. One of the first pieces of homework you’ll get in this program is to develop a 3 Day Meal Plan for yourself that’s full of dishes you’re excited to try.
Here’s an example of a 3 Day Menu Plan:
Breakfast: Egg frittata w/ pesto and heirloom tomatoes
Snack: “Cutie” Blueberry Muffins
Lunch: Chicken & Romaine Salad, flaxseed oil & miso vinaigrette
Snack: Apple w/ walnuts
Dinner: Lamb w/ asparagus
Dessert: Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Breakfast: Chocolate Protein Shake
Snack: Lemonade Jello Bar (sweetened with stevia and monk fruit)
Lunch: Tuna salad romaine boats w/ paleo mayo, dried apricots and olive oil vinaigrette
Snack: Cinnamon cassava flour muffin w/ grassfed butter
Dinner: Chinese beef w/ broccoli
Dessert: Keto Tapioca
Breakfast: Turkey sausage, sweet potatoes and bell pepper stir fried in coconut oil
Snack: Primal Kitchen Protein Bar
Lunch: Carrot soup, Elk Burger wrapped in collard greens “bun”
Dinner: Salmon w/ Cauliflower Rice, green onion, peas stir fried in ghee
Dessert: Almond flour snickerdoodle cookie
Are you interested? Let’s chat!
Book a Complimentary Wellness Consult with Ishbel to discuss whether or not this program is a good fit for you. This is not a sales call. This is a time for Ishbel to listen to what you’re struggling with and to share how she can help. If Ishbel doesn’t feel like she can help you, she’ll tell you.
One of Ishbel’s clients wrote her this email when she was considering whether or not to do the Gastrointestinal Foundations Program, and it perfectly reflects the different aspects of the decision-making process:
Ishbel Cavaleri and I have discussed my health concerns for years. I was struggling with a number of issues – migraines, gut discomfort, fatigue, brain fog, depressive moods, irritability, hormonal irregularities and post baby weight that wouldn’t budge. I began her Nutritional Therapy Program in June of 2020. After doing the blood and GI testing, I was shocked to find out that these microscopic things in my gut could be reeking such havoc on my entire body! Ishbel walked me through every single detail. She took the time to make sure I understood the science behind her recommendations.
Ishbel genuinely cares about her clients. She made me feel heard and understood. I completed her GI protocol and I can honestly say that I feel better at 36 than I did at 28. My migraines have decreased significantly from daily to monthly (I’m currently doing her Hormone Therapy Program to understand this piece further). My gut issues have all but disappeared and if I do have a stomach ache, bloating or gas I know exactly why and how to make better diet choices next time. My brain fog is gone. My unexplained fatigue is also gone. I lost 8lbs and nearly have my pre pregnancy body back! I also have found the energy to get up in the mornings and exercise (something I never thought I’d do). I found that my diet really affects my mood and when I’m strict with what I eat I feel less irritable and happier. I’m really looking forward to working with her on the hormone piece to my health puzzle. I cannot recommend Ishbel enough.Emily Bruton
For the last twenty years, I have helped people take charge of their health and feel better. I have been in your shoes - sick, tired, and overwhelmed by how to actionably care for myself. If you want to feel better, but don't know where to start, you've come to the right place. Learn More >
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