Meaningful Makeovers Part II

Meaningful Makeovers Part II

Last month you met Rob, a writer, and Toni, a costumer, who each want to become fitter and healthier. They\’ve begun their alive makeovers by undergoing a naturopathic assessment to discover what they\’ll need to work on to achieve optimal health.

Last month you met Rob, a writer, and Toni, a costumer, who each want to become fitter and healthier. They’ve begun their alive makeovers by undergoing a naturopathic assessment to discover what they’ll need to work on to achieve optimal health.

Rob and Toni’s naturopathic doctor gave each of them a clinical examination and a written assessment, outlining the individual adverse consequences of malnutrition. In addition, the assessment recommended nondrug remedies to prevent the development of more nutritionally associated conditions.

The clinical examination included weight, height, and body mass ratio; blood pressure; laboratory tests (blood, urine); and a bioimpedence assessment.

Neither Rob nor Toni were surprised to learn that they needed to improve their ratios of lean muscle to fat mass, but much of the dietary information they received from Dr. Sciortino about their health status was new to them.

Toni\’s Diagnosis

  • below normal lean muscle mass; above normal fat mass
  • essential fatty acid deficiency (shown as dry skin and hair)
  • hypoglycemia associated with headaches due to irregular eating habits
  • gastrointestinal difficulties

Toni\’s Directions

  • a multivitamin/mineral for general health
  • protein and fruit shake twice a day to address hypoglycemia
  • digestive repair formula (2x/day with meals) to aid absorption
  • magnesium (150 mg/1 at bedtime) for insomnia
  • melatonin (3 mg/1 at bedtime) for insomnia

Rob\’s Diagnosis

  • slightly high LDL (bad cholesterol) level
  • zinc deficiency (shown as white spots on fingernails)
  • below normal muscle mass; above normal fat mass
  • possible liver dysfunction

Rob\’s Directions

  • a multivitamin/mineral for general health
  • protein and fruit shake twice a day
  • vitamin C as an antioxidant (1,000 mg/2x day)
  • milk thistle for liver support (100 mg/3x day)
  • a digestive enzyme (3 x/day with meals)
  • essential fatty acids (600 mg omega-e + 300 mg DHA/2x day)

At the end of their six-month makeovers, Rob and Toni will receive another naturopathic examination and assessment to see what improvements in health–if any–they have made.

Toni Takes an Open Minded Approach

This month I consulted a naturopathic practitioner. With her friendly smile, Dr. Nigma T. Sciortino has great enthusiasm for helping people achieve and maintain optimum health.

When I called to make my first appointment, I was directed to their website,, for the evaluation form I could fill out in advance and bring with me to save valuable appointment time.

New Territory

After arriving at the office, my evaluation form was checked and I was weighed. Ugh! Dr. Sciortino gave me a thorough physical examination. I learned that my blood pressure really is too high–it’s not just my “white-coat” phobia, shooting the pressure up temporarily.

Then my body composition was measured using bioimpedance analysis. A non-invasive test sometimes used by naturopathic doctors, bioimpedence analysis measures the ratio of body fat to muscle, basal metabolic rate, levels of intracellular and extracellular fluid, and hydration.

The Bottom Line

Dr. Sciortino explained the results of the bioimpedance analysis. I am not only dehydrated, but I also have:

  • below-normal cellular health and integrity
  • below-normal lean muscle mass
  • above-normal fat mass
  • above-normal basal metabolic rate

It seems there is absolutely nothing normal about me! To achieve normal readings, I will have to completely adjust my current lifestyle, re-evaluate my approach to nutrition, and rethink my dietary misconceptions.


First of all, I had to bid farewell to my morning coffee and replace it with green tea, black tea, and rooibos. Sugar is now replaced with honey, maple syrup, or stevia. My much-enjoyed breakfast bagel, made with white flour, is also passing permanently from my plate. I shall miss it, but not the roll of fat around my middle it was helping to construct. The sprouted grain bread that has stepped in to take its place is very tasty, especially when topped with almond butter.

When Food isn’t Enough

I was hoping that changing my eating habits would be enough to set me on the right path; unfortunately, today’s factory-farm foods cannot provide all the necessary nutrients. So it is with some trepidation that I start this makeover with a variety of capsules and sachets to set me straight.

In the morning I now take a multivitamin and mineral capsule with a protein and fruit shake; with lunch and dinner I take a digestive aid; in the evening I have another protein shake; and at bedtime, it’s magnesium in a glass of water and a melatonin capsule. The magnesium and melatonin are to help me sleep. I only started this regime a few days ago, and although I haven’t yet slept through the night without waking, I do feel more rested when I start the day.

I promised myself I would approach this makeover with an open mind, take the advice given, and try all suggestions. I am bound and determined to take full advantage of this opportunity.

Rob: A New Direction for Health

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a doctor in the last five years; I’ve just dropped by my neighbourhood clinics.

I’ve experienced a sense of reckless freedom in not having a regular GP–I don’t go to the doctor regularly and I don’t have to take medication regularly. I thought this was acceptable. However, when I went to see naturopathic doctor Nigma Sciortino, I found out that my sporadic visits to various local clinics are not a good thing.

Weird Science?

The day I saw Dr. Sciortino started well–I was late. After I rushed in and disturbed the clinic’s peace, Dr. Sciortino’s assistant, Erin, gave me some filtered water. (I would discover its importance later.) She escorted me into an examination room where she took all of my preliminaries: age, blood pressure, height, weight.

Then she hooked me up to an odd little machine: a bioimpedence analyzer. This is apparently the same machine that Lance Armstrong uses to test his fitness level. Cool. The machine spat out a little piece of paper which went into my file. With all but one step of the data collection over, it was time for Dr. Sciortino to see me.

Show You My What?

This was my first experience with a naturopathic doctor. Dr. Sciortino’s examination was quite normal: eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth, tongue, fingernails. Fingernails? Yes, their appearance told her something about my health status.

Using the information sheet I had filled out before my appointment, Dr. Sciortino asked about my health and my parents’ health. We talked about my problem with swimmer’s ear, and she noted scar tissue in both ear canals. She drummed my abdomen, which told her that I have an unhappy intestine.

Two Parting Shots

Before I could leave, Erin had to collect one more thing. I shot back my last sip of filtered water, grabbed the discrete paper bag, and headed to the washroom to do my duty. When I came back from the washroom, Dr. Sciortino was waiting with a consent form for any recent blood tests. My sporadic visits to local clinics presented a problem–I had no medical files–and Dr. Sciortino wasn’t impressed.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, by her message: naturopathic doctors should work with traditional doctors toward a more holistic, complementary health care model. This sounds like a good idea; we’ll all be better for it.

Next Month…

Rob and Toni receive unique nutritional and dietary advice–from two different holistic practitioners–but a few common themes emerge. Is there a conspiracy between the two nutrition experts? Pick up the March 2007 issue of alive to find out.

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