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What's Functional Health - Interview with Sandra Olszowka Functional Nutrition Specialist


 [The Foolish Couple are founders of the Foco Academy, nutrition specialists and success coaches. We focus on teaching Jack Canfield’s Success Principles and applying the principles to the 3 areas of life that money can’t buy, that is, Health, Time, and Love Relationship.]

What's Functional Health?

Hi everyone – it’s Andy from the Foolish Couple, cofounder of the Foco Academy, nutrition specialist and success coach.

Today we’re chatting with Sandra Olszowka from Full functional Wellness.

We are both functional nutritional practitioners, and our respective practices are very complementary to each other. We’ve been friends for a while now but this is the first time that we do a formal interview of you.

So Sandra, it’s great to be chatting with you today:



Absolutely – thanks Andy. 

For sure it is lovely to be talking.  I like in Kingston, Ontario Canada, in between Toronto and Montreal.  It’s always wonderful when Andy and I chat because I get a much-needed glimpse of fabulous California weather, and this comes in handy, especially when we’re having a snowstorm.



That’s great Sandra – could you tell us a little bit about yourself?  Of how your focus in life became so involved with functional wellness?



I’ve always had a focus on my health and an interest in general about health.  For part of my high school, I worked in a health food store, I later became a vegetarian…which didn’t work out so well for me - I eat meat now!  But certainly, this is where bio-individuality comes in, where different dietary protocols are suitable and appropriate for different people.


But my studies and opening my practice in functional nutrition and wellness resulted from an intense desire to make peoples’ wellness journeys more straightforward, to take less time and be less frustrating than mine. 


I had a very long and convoluted journey to getting diagnosed. It seemed very difficult for me to even get a diagnosis, and when I finally did, it was because I had requested certain blood tests – to look at antibodies, based on research I was doing.

 And, for me, this unfolded over many years.  And all the while, having a zillion symptoms.  So certainly frustrating.  Going in circles really to move forward with getting help.  


I have 2 autoimmune conditions (including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), with a specialist telling me that knowing whether or not I have an autoimmune condition is irrelevant because there is no treatment for it, it only gets worse, so I just needed to get used to things and learn to live with it.


How really unfortunate that information is because through dietary and lifestyle changes, you can make a huge impact with how any autoimmune condition plays out. 


And to let autoimmune conditions continue unchecked, is very concerning.  Because there is huge systemic inflammation involved in autoimmune conditions, and it causes continued and needless suffering.  And sets the stage for potentially developing more or more serious conditions.

 Of course, this is where functional medicine and functional health is all about.    



That’s great that you mention functional health, because the whole ‘functional’ aspect is central to what we both do.  How would you best describe it?



I think this is great to talk about this because functional health, functional wellness and functional nutrition mean something very important, and it’s directly related to making a huge different in how we help people.


We don’t treat a disease.  We don’t treat a condition.  The important distinction of what we do versus other approaches to wellness, is that we peel the onion, so to speak, and look at the factors that are behind someone getting a condition. 


This is not about suppressing symptoms with medication or treatments.  This is usually what happens in allopathic, or regular, medicine, so that people can live more comfortably. 

The disease is still there, and it may continue to progress – because what is fuelling it is not addressed or removed.


With functional wellness, we remove the factors that even led to the condition or disease itself in the first place.  Meaning that the hope is that the symptom goes away. 


The joint pain.  The heart burn.  The brain fog.  The intestinal upset.  That these go away, so that there is no longer ongoing chronic pain, and the result is that the person lives a better life.



That’s for sure.  We absolutely are all about looking at the underlying cause for everything.  And we know the critical effect that inflammation has on the human body.  What are your thoughts on this?



The reality is that the longer someone has inflammation – in this case, we would call that chronic inflammation – then the more likely it is that they will go on to develop some type of disease or disorder. 


In fact, inflammation is linked to diseases such as cancer (by some research, up to 20% or more cancers are seen as having a direct link to inflammation), asthma, allergies, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and autoimmune disorders in general. 

Some studies show that someone can have chronic inflammation for a number of years prior to getting a diagnosis.


And this is where the importance of food and lifestyle choices – like stress, exercise and sleep come into play.


In terms of food, the best way to look at this is that food is powerful. 

There are foods that harm people. 

On a couple of different levels.  Either through food sensitivities, allergies – overall creating immune responses and inflammation. 

But there are also foods that heal and rebalance the body. 


And the concept of bio-individuality plays a key role here because what is harmful to one person may be beneficial to another.  This is played out as simply as being at the dinner table where one person eats a spicy meal and thinks it’s incredible; while another person eating the exact same meal gets heartburn, cannot sleep and has huge intestinal problems for hours.



Yes, bio-individuality is what’s so important behind what we do.  It is not a one-size fit all approach, because it is clear that each of us has our own biological strengths and susceptibilities.

 To have a look for a moment about people in your practice, based on your experiences, what would be a misconception people may have about healing?



That’s a great question and there certainly are some misconceptions.  But one main one is definitely the role people themselves think that they can play in making themselves better. 


Many people believe that their fate is sealed about their health – by genetics and other factors, and that there is nothing they can do to change this.  But it is very important to know that genetics determines only about 30% of a person’s health.  What this means is that the remaining 70% - a huge number, is directly influenceable by the decisions a person makes.  Decisions about what they eat – and lifestyle factors like stress, sleeping, exercise. 


And this is where we come in as functional wellness practitioners because we are able to identify those bio-individual elements – specific to each person – that will help them optimize their wellness journey, and to help strengthen and rebalance their bodies.


And this is also where we come in because we help identify a person’s most direct route to wellness.  So that it’s not this long drawn out convoluted process of unknowns and dead-ends.



For sure.  It is always exciting when we make such important differences in peoples’ lives and their wellbeing. 

It’s interesting that you talk about peoples’ personal wellness journeys. 

What are some findings that you can share about what you find about peoples’ health in your clinic?



I have two things that stand out.

The first relates to an intriguing discovery that I made where almost everyone in my clinics has the exact same #1 nutritional deficiency.  It’s an essential fatty acid deficiency.  EFAs is an unsaturated fatty acid that is essential to health, but it cannot be manufactured in the body.  This means that it must be ingested (by either food and/or supplement) in order to get this nutrient.  So, this is interesting, because it really gives some insight into the diets we all are eating and the quality of food that we’re eating when so many people have the exact same deficiency – and again, when I look at all their deficiencies, this is the one ranked first.  (and for detail, this is found in cold-pressed oils, from cold-water fish and certain seeds).


The second item reflects some of the wonderful success stories at my clinic.  It was a big health turnaround I’ve had is with someone who experienced IBS daily for many years.  Full on symptoms and this was definitely disruptive to their life.  There was a major diet and lifestyle overhaul – and I added some supplements that are particularly powerful in helping  - like bromelain, pre- and pro-biotics, and bone broth.  The person is now symptom free and living a very different life than they were able to live prior to him being helped.  It is exciting as it really illustrates the power of using a functional health approach.



I have experienced IBS for many years myself in the past and yes, that must have been a great relief for that person to be able to reclaim so much of their life.

So, thanks Sandra for our visit today.  It is great to share our work with everyone and our approach to healing.



Thanks Andy – it was really wonderful to talk with you today!



Absolutely.  And I’d like to share a great announcement. We are collaborating on a very exciting program together called Health is the New Normal. You created a new Facebook page and you can find it here. We are going to kick it off with a 4-part series on ‘what makes people vulnerable to illness’ – all the different factors.  We feel that this is a very timely, important, and useful topic, because this really is the time to ensure that our bodies are as strong as possible.


We’ll not only be looking at the factors but also providing solutions.  Our first topic is about what we eat – all about food.  So, we’ll be looking at how food can make us ill, and again, we’ll look at some real action items about how to not only minimize it making us sick, but to actually strengthen our bodies, and our immune system.


Each Friday we will be releasing an episode, starting in August. 7th at 1:00 pm Pacific, and 4:00 pm Eastern.  And we will be available to answer questions ‘live’!  We’re very much looking forward to this and to seeing you there!


Join us to our page Health is the New Normal Now.


Thanks for tuning in to today everyone – stay well!  Bye for now, from Andy and Sandra


We can help you. We have created a 7-part mini-series on boosting your immune system. It is our gift to you for a limited time only. So if you want to change direction, and work on your health, follow the link here and register. You will get instant access to this 7-part series, free of charge and full of valuable information. We even throw in some bonuses for you. 

So click here to  get started on your optimal health.



Until next time, love what you live, and live what you love. 


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Watch this webinar to learn how high toxicity in your body causes inflammation and lowers your immunity against viruses, making you sick and Tired. Learn about the three simple tests to measure how toxic your body is.