Functional Diagnostic Nutrition: Testing, Detox, Nutrition & Supplements For Autoimmune, Autism, Pain & More

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition: Testing, Detox, Nutrition & Supplements For Autoimmune, Autism, Pain & More

Functional diagnostic nutrition is not something that people typically go to as a first resort. Often, they only hear about it when all other conventional methods have failed to truly get to the root causes of what they’re feeling. This is what Rachel Smith specializes in. She is a functional diagnostic nutrition and the owner of Natural Health Rising, an online holistic wellness company where she helps people naturally reverse their symptoms, autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance and chronic illness. Her process involves nutrition, lifestyle changes, nervous system work, healing, hidden infections and detoxing from environmental toxins. In this episode, she walks us through some of the tests that they do, their detox protocols, nutrition therapy, and supplementation for autoimmune, autism, pain and more. If you think you’re missing something in your diagnosis, then this episode might hold those key pieces you’re looking for. Tune in and find out!


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Functional Diagnostic Nutrition: Testing, Detox, Nutrition & Supplements For Autoimmune, Autism, Pain & More

Learn More From Rachel Smith Of Natural Health Rising

I'm thrilled to have with us Rachel Smith, who's a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner. She's been studying and working in health and wellness for many years with a background in healthcare administration, scientific research and fitness coaching and is the Owner of Natural Health Rising, which is an online holistic wellness company where she helps people naturally reverse their symptoms, autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance and chronic illness. Her process involves nutrition, lifestyle changes, nervous system work, healing, hidden infections and detoxing from environmental toxins. Rachel's on a mission to help as many people as possible rise to their healthiest happiest. Thank you so much for being here.

Thanks for having me on the show, Pamela.

You were traveling and working at the same time. You do so much. Tell us a little bit about your practice, where you like to start with people and who your target is. Tell us a little bit about all the wonderful things you're doing because it's a lot. You're helping a lot of people.

The main population that I deal with is typically people with autoimmune diseases. I also deal a lot with mold toxicity or surges. We have a small population of people whom I call mystery or chronic illness. We're searching when they don't necessarily have a diagnosis to understand what's going on. They have this slew of symptoms that they haven't been able to find a resolution to.

I do work online. I travel sometimes. I'm based in Arizona mostly but my clients are mostly in the US. I have some clients in Europe and Canada. There are not a ton of limitations on where we can work. A lot of the beginning of what I do is looking for the root causes. I have this whole framework that I've created to see what works with people. I call it the RISE framework.

R stands for Root causes and that's where we start with understanding what is truly triggering the symptoms and this manifestation of a disease. That's going to look like doing a lot of different functional lab testing, which we can talk more about that if you have specific questions. We then work into the Implementation phase, which is the I. In that phase, that's all of the different lifestyle changes that we're going to be making.

I have people go through a course a lot of times. I coach and teach them about everything from nutrition to exercise, sleep, stress management and all beyond for holistic health. The S stands for Supplementation and Support. Within that S, supplementation pieces are what move the needle to clear infections or balance out hormones or whatever we find on testing. The E is Evaluation. I won't get too far into that piece but that's the basic framework of how my business runs.

When people come to you that they've tried a number of different things and one of the folks might be willing to dig into something a little bit different, are there certain symptoms that you tend to find more than others?

I consider myself an investigator. I get excited when people trust me enough after they have been to many different practitioners. They're like, “I've tried 3 or 4 different people and all the things.” We can find some crazy hidden things. It might be a gut infection, mold toxicity, Lyme disease or something that was missed. We can uncover some deeper things and I am willing to go the extra mile. If someone hasn't tested for something, that's an opening for us to look a little bit deeper into what could have been missed in the past.

It also needs to be timely. You can't wait weeks to get the test results back. Tell us about the types of tests you do and how fast the results can come back so you can take action on things that are happening, particularly around things. The presence of any viral, bacterial or fungal, infections, any vitamin deficiencies and all these things can be a huge impact on your day-to-day health and how you feel. Present all these kinds of random symptoms.

A lot of times, it is at least one month before we get the lab results. It takes one week for the person to get the labs shipped to their house. Most of the labs we do at home, which is nice. Once they ship them off, it is typically a 3 or 4-week time span until we can see what's going on internally. To buffer that whole situation of waiting, I do two different things.

The first thing is I'll create what I call a rapid relief protocol for someone. I'll look at the intake forms they fill out. I look at all of their symptoms and depth and health history first. I'll recommend a few things that could potentially start to relieve some of their symptoms so that they like feel good. They have this little safety net to get them started.

At the same time, they start going through a course. The first thing they start doing is going through nutrition changes. A lot of times what happens is we reduce much inflammation that they will start to see some improvements, whether that's with brain fog, energy levels or digestive improvements because we're reducing so many inflammatory foods, which is then going to have that side effect.

We'll also start to move into preparing the body for detoxification. This is a sometimes misstep with people where they don't open up the drainage pathways before they pull parasites, metals or anything like that. That's something that we start talking about in the beginning before we even get the lab test results back so that we can start to prep the body to properly go through this. There's a little bit of lag time but there's work that we do in the meantime.

You had some questions about what lab testing we do. For most people and especially autoimmune diseases, we do want to look at the gut. A leaky gut goes hand in hand with autoimmunity. We will look at a GI map test, which is a stool sample. That way we can look for hidden infections, digestive function and immune system function in the gut. We will look at a hair tissue mineral analysis test. I love this test so much because it's a hair sample. It's easy to take and it looks at three months’ worth of data on minerals and some metals.

ENW 4 | Functional Diagnostic Nutrition


This is different from blood testing. If we look at our magnesium, zinc status or something in our blood, our blood's always doing homeostasis. It's always trying to make sure that everything is leveled out in the blood and we're getting that to where it needs to go. We can see so much more in the hair, like how much we're expelling it, what rate and when we can see the metals and everything.

That gives us a good idea of, “Is somebody deficient in something or is there a massive imbalance that's triggering something like let's say, mood swings, mood imbalances, brain fog or neuropathy?” For another test, that will depend on the specific person. A lot of times, I'll do organic acids, which we can see more of fungal overgrowth, candida, molds and weights. If somebody is experiencing a lot of pain in their body, they could be having these crystal-like deposits within their tissues.

I do see a lot of pain with my clients. Maybe we do a DUTCH test, which is going to look at adrenal and hormone function. If somebody has PMS issues or they're fatigued all day long and no matter what they do, they can't get out of bed without having five cups of coffee. Those are some of the basic ones that I like to look through.

On the testing front, sometimes people are nervous to even consider doing stuff like this because they don't understand the cost or they think it might be cost-prohibitive. Can you talk a little bit about if you wanted to get a baseline of where you're at and what that would look like? If you wanted to do the fancy complete version, what that might look like for someone? When you do testing to find out what's going on, how much does it cost somebody, maybe a range that it typically would cost if you were going to do a baseline of where you're at or a complete testing panel on everything?

Let's say you do the GI map test, a DUTCH test or organic acids in the mineral test, three of those, you're looking at somewhere roughly around $1,000 or a little bit more. It is out of pocket most of the time with me and a lot of different functional or naturopaths and all that stuff. I do take HSAs and FSAs credit cards. People sometimes do payment plans. There are options to make things a little bit more flexible for people. When you do functional medicine, you're probably going to be spending at least $1,000 if you want to get a few tests ran. I do encourage you to, at least, get 2 to 3 because we have more data. We will be able to make your protocol more appropriate and help you the best.

If you're looking at doing a full program of 4 to 6 months with me at least and you're getting a lot of hand-holding, my clients have access to me daily. Monday through Friday. They ask tons of questions. They get hundreds of recipes, handouts and courses. They meet with me all the time. There is a lot of stuff that they get and training. That could cost more upwards in the $4,000 to $5,000 range depending upon testing and everything that's going on.

Do you find that there are different tests for folks that are at different periods of their life? I don’t know if you treat teenagers with so much anxiety and depression. Maybe we ran more tests on some of these growing teens and might find some things that are triggering some of this and it might help them with the underlying infection. There are so much different needs in people that are trying to get pregnant or people that are going through menopause. Do you find that you've got packages based on age types, desires or goals? There are so many different things that you potentially touch.

There's a baseline program of 4 to 6 months. Within that, everything is always customizable. The testing is customizable. The way that we approach their coaching, nutrition and everything starts to get customized as we meet on our calls. That will be tailored to that person if they're trying to get pregnant, have an autoimmune disease or are a growing teenager. That's going to look slightly different for some of the nutritional and lifestyle stuff.

Testing-wise, for pregnancy and hormone stuff, the DUTCH test is important. We have to see what's going on with the hormones and make sure that we can prepare the body for being able to be fertile and have a baby. You mentioned teenagers. I've worked with babies, 2 or 3 years old, kids and some teenagers as well. A lot goes back to the gut mineral status. Even on the organic acid test, we can see some neurotransmitters. Fungal overgrowth in kids is big because they like to eat a lot of sugar, processed foods and all these different things that are feeding candida and fungal overgrowth. That's a pretty big one for them.

One more, there is a difference between children and adults. You probably have noticed I haven't mentioned food sensitivity testing yet. With adults, a lot of times what I do is say, “Save your money on that one. We're going to do an elimination style protocol.” With autoimmunity, it's a fantastic option. With people outside of that, it could still be a good option. We get them to a point over the course of a few months where once we slowly introduce foods, their body is so in tune.

They have some doubt in the beginning but once they start to do their reintroduction, they're like, “I feel so different. I can notice when I eat this grain, vegetable or something that comes into my body, I immediately know or at least within a few days I know.” It's cool to have someone understand how to utilize their body as a tool.

It's cool to have someone understand how to utilize their body as a tool.

For children, I don't think that's the healthiest option because they're still developing. We don't want them to have any fear development of food. It can be very stressful for them to do something like that. That's where I do food sensitivity testing with kids and help identify things quickly so that we can say, “Here's the evidence. Show them that.” They're also more likely to change their diet because that can be hard for them.

Talking about nutrition, it's all the different research and opinions even among nutritionists, doctors and practitioners. I still believe that based on our genetic makeup, there may be different ideal diets for different people. I'm not sure that we've necessarily come up with a great way of testing that. Do you have any thoughts about how you help guide nutrition and help people listen to their bodies and how to best optimize that?

That is always the biggest questionable topic of nutrition. Nobody can agree on it. Everyone has their opinions. The research never matches up. We've got one study saying meets bad and another study saying meets good. I go off of the things that I've seen work and how the body physiologically works. For example, we do need certain amino acids to properly function. We need certain amino acids for phase two of our liver to detox and work properly. I could go on and on about amino acids but that's going to come from protein. I am a big proponent of animal protein sources as long as it's clean, grass-fed or wild-caught fish because the opposite of that, all the conventional forms of those things are going to have toxins, inflammatory things and hormones.

I do typically not work with vegans or vegetarians. It's not my specialty. If somebody wants to make that decision, that's amazing. If they have specific reasons they're doing it, I caution that it's important to truly understand how to combine food properly, how to supplement properly and make sure that you are getting in all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the right forms. It makes it so much more challenging when we're not having animal protein sources.

Beyond that, it's most widely agreed that vegetables are good for us. We do have people saying, “Vegetables are bad, only eat meat,” like the whole carnivore thing. They're amazing. We have different antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals we can get from fruits and vegetables. I love talking about cruciferous vegetables and sulfur-based vegetables because they support our liver. Many people have congested livers because of how toxic our environment is.

If we're getting in broccoli and cauliflower, as long as our body can handle it right because some people cannot but if we're getting those things, we're going to help support the phases of detoxification. Half your plate with vegetables, some fruits, maybe lower sugar fruits, especially if you're somebody who hasn't worked on candida or fungal overgrowth yet and then have some healthy fats in your diet too. We can't make our hormones. We need cholesterol to physically make our testosterone, estrogen or progesterone. It's great to have grass-fed butter, eggs, avocados and coconut products, all these things that can give us more of the “healthy fats.”

Cleaning into detoxing is a huge topic. What are ways that you like to help drive the detox process? There are so many different ways to go about it. I would imagine you've got a certain protocol that you'd like to start with and guide through. I love to talk about that.

I don't love the word detox but I love getting people to get into that stuff physically. You can do things with nutrition. I talked about some things and supporting the liver. You want to do something daily that's going to move around the lymphatic system. The extent of that might differ depending on the situation you're dealing with. I can go more into that but this could look like dry brushing, rebounding or doing something like jogging that's going to move the lymph system.

This can look like making sure you pass stool every day. That's part of it. If we're constipated, we're holding stuff in. We're not taking out the trash daily so then stuff's going to build up and it's not going to be good for our bodies. Making sure we get stuff through the skin. Sweating. I love using the sauna with people. This is big. If they have any kind of heavy metals, mold or fungus in the body and allow that to escape as they're taking their supplements to help push that through, then we can also excrete that stuff through the skin. Get in the sauna frequently. I also sometimes use coffee enemas depending on the client and if they need it or not and if it's a good idea. Another thing I like is castor oil packs to also support the liver.

Get in the sauna frequently. It helps heavy metals, mold or fungus in the body escape.

What's a castor oil pack?

Castor oil has been used for a very long time. It has some different acids in it. I believe it's called ricinoleic acid. The fatty acids can get into the skin. If we place the castor oil on some sort of organic cloth or pack, over the liver and we sleep with that on and that gets into the liver area, it reduces inflammation. It can improve the immune system function. Some studies are showing this and supporting detoxification.

With a lot of people, it helps with constipation. It's another cool benefit of it. That's the main way I use it. You can also use these in different parts of the body, like women who have polycystic ovaries or something going on like fibroids, you can put this over the pelvic region or if you have thyroid issues, they have somewhere you can put them over your thyroid and reduce inflammation. It's a cool tool.

It seems like that was something that was on the old-time television shows you don't hear about. You see the prevalence of all these IVs popping up. What do you think about IVs? Are they helpful or not? Is it a short-term thing? Does it help long-term?

IVs are amazing. They're good for some more serious conditions. Let's say I have a client with stage four cancer. Things like high-dose vitamin C IVs are amazing for cancer. I was looking at a study on autism and something was talking about the difference between supplemental B12 and the IV vitamin B12. The IV vitamin B12 was so much more effective at improving language communication, cognition and attention. That can be powerful for that. It depends on what is the current state of the disease and what's going on for that person.

What about folks that may have autoimmune disorders, autism disorders, anything that comes to mind around testing or supplementation or anything that you'd like to look at?

I did list all of this stuff for autoimmunity in most of the clients that I run. With autism specifically, I would say the number one test in my opinion is the organic acid test. It's super foundational. Mostly because of seeing the fungal overgrowth, which is pretty common with autism. We can see clostridia bacteria on there, which is problematic for the nervous system. It promotes a lowered immune function, behavioral problems like hyperactivity, repetitive behaviors and neurological issues.

Some studies show that people with autism typically have more clostridia overgrowth too. It's something that you can check on there. We have oxalates. Oxalates are organic compounds that get stored within the tissues in the body. It's like crystal deposits. They can be sharp and painful. They can deposit in the eyes, heart, kidneys and different parts of the muscles.

Someone could exhibit eye-poking behavior or behavioral problems or feel like they're in chronic pain and even leading to things like kidney stones. This is also big in fibromyalgia too if we want to talk about the autoimmune side of that. Mitochondrial function is on there. People with autism typically have trouble making energy with their mitochondria. We can see neurotransmitters, fatty acids, nutritional markers and all the things that can give us a good foundational ground for what's going on and what's triggering some of those problems.

What about any genetic testing? Do you ever get into anything like that or not necessarily?

I don't. I have friends who do it. I love them. I'm happy to refer if someone comes to me and they're like, “I want to do a genetic test.” I'll send it over to them.

Anything else that I forgot to touch on or that we're missing?

You did mention supplements at the end. I didn't say anything about that. I feel like a lot of that is always based on testing. Test don't guess. What I do see people doing wrong is taking a bunch of vitamin D, zinc or vitamin C consistently. Therefore, they start to throw off the delicate balance of their minerals. That's one reason I love the HTMA test to make sure that we can maintain that balance and properly supplement. We can target everything specifically. If someone thinks that they need a probiotic but they have no clue what's going on in their gut, for example, they might be throwing things more off of balance there too. There are a lot of different levels to supplements or it's always a good idea to double check on that first.

ENW 4 | Functional Diagnostic Nutrition


How do you monitor progression? Do you do subsequent tests once a quarter or every six months?

I do evaluations throughout the time with me and we do self-evaluations. I have this giant form. It's eight pages long. It probably takes people ten minutes to fill out though. It's all different symptoms. They'll fill that out when they first start with me and then we'll periodically send it throughout the program. It's self-reported but it's great because we can see shifts. I like to use that because I'll bring it up halfway through the program and I'm like, “Your symptoms improved by 50% already.”

Sometimes we forget as we're progressing how bad things were before. We'll do that. I do a lot of other reflections and check-ins with people. In the end, I recommend retesting if there was a major infection found or if there was something big that we want to make sure is gone, then we can do that. Otherwise, a lot of people will feel pretty good and then they come back to me as needed, “I'll see you in 6 months or 1 year.” We'll then do an annual or biannual checkup.

How can people find you?

My business name is Natural Health Rising and that is my name everywhere. I have a big presence on TikTok and Instagram. I have the Natural Health Rising Facebook group. I have a podcast. It’s anywhere you want to go find me. Also, on YouTube. Type that in and I will be there. I do respond to all of my messages on Instagram if anybody wants to do that or send me an email through my website.

Thank you so much, Rachel.

Thank you. This was fun.


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About Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith has been studying and working in health and wellness for over 7 years. She has a background in healthcare administration, scientific research, fitness coaching, and is a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. She is the owner of Natural Health Rising, which is an online holistic wellness company where she helps people naturally reverse their symptoms of autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance, and chronic illness. Her process involves nutrition and lifestyle changes, nervous system work, healing hidden infections, and detoxing from environmental toxins. Rachel is on a mission to help as many people as possible rise to their healthiest, happiest selves.


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