In one week, I am off to Portland, Oregon. I will be attending the 2013 International Conference on Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, which is being organized by Dr. Alex Vasquez. Because he is faculty for the Institute for Functional Medicine, I have been keeping watch on Dr. Vasquez’s work on the Internet since experiencing the effective results of implementing methods prescribed by my functional neurologist, Dr. Tom Culleton. I began seeing Dr. Culleton in February 2012. Less than a month later, through my explorations, I found a podcast that Dr. Alex Vasquez was featured in, on Dr. Lauren Noel’s show: Dr. Lo Radio. I have since met Dr. Lauren Noel at Paleo FX in Austin, which I volunteered for earlier this year, and she and I have become friends. Her show is one that I have been listening to ever since, and I never miss any of her shows!
Dr. Alex Vasquez is a brilliant man who is a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, and Naturopathic Medicine. He has spent thousands of hours researching the human body, has published over 100 articles in major journals, and has also published over a dozen books. Dr. Vasquez has been a total rock star, in my opinion, for over a year, but he has been a rock star for a long time before I became aware of him.
Earlier this year, I contacted Dr. Vasquez just to thank him for everything that he does and to share my website with him. He responded warmly, and later shared with me information about this conference which he is organizing. He was sure to emphasize that an entire day will be devoted to brain health, though research shows that brain health is dependent on the health of the entire body, so I am interested in it all! I looked at it briefly and saw that the price tag was close to $700. I remember thinking to myself “that is a little rich for my blood.”
Last month, I happened to be researching functional neurology when I saw that he had invited me to this conference via Facebook. I took a closer look. It appeared to me that this conference was intended for the continuing education of medical practitioners. I thought to myself that I have been invited to attend a medical conference, by a “rock star” doctor who I admire, and that is intended for much more qualified people, and that I probably need to go!
I then contacted Dr. Vasquez, asking how much it would cost for me to attend. He again responded warmly and told me that he had a student discount for a much more reasonable price for this five-day conference. It was a real possibility!
I called my mother and told her about it and sent her the details, asking if I could possibly attend. As an early birthday present, she was willing to pay for me to go! After getting permission from the brain injury rehabilitation programs that I am a part of, it was official. I AM GOING!
If you happen to be in the area, let me know!
I will be at The 2013 International Conference on Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine in Portland, Oregon, with my mother and John, from September 24th-29th, 2013! This is a dream come true for me. I am very excited to meet Dr. Vasquez. On Tuesday, September 23rd, I will take a flight out of Texas for the first time since my arrival in October, 2011. I will be “off to see the wizard!”
While attending the day of the conference that was focused on the brain, Alex pulled me aside and invited me to coffee. We spoke for a while, and on the way back he asked me, “What was the most effective therapy that you did for your brain?” I explained to him that I was in a severe brain fog until I healed my gut, and began to elaborate on my understanding of the gut-brain axis, or the intimate relationship between digestion and the brain. Dr. Vasquez responded, “We should have you speak… How do you feel about being on stage?”
The next thing I knew, I was standing in front of a room of hundreds of medical practitioners and students, speaking about brain-building nutrition, or, what I like to call “food for thought.”
Soon after walking off stage, I was approached by Andrea Nakayama. Andrea is a certified Nutrition Counselor, Certified Nutrition Educator, Certified Holistic Health Coach, and is an internationally-acclaimed functional nutritionist who provides, among other things, a comprehensive online curriculum to further students’ understanding of human physiology and nutrition. We exchanged information and began to follow each other’s work.
Andrea’s journey into the world of health and nutrition began in April of 2000–at seven weeks pregnant–when her husband, Isamu, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and was given only six months to live. In her powerful speech given at the KC Baker’s School for The Well Spoken Woman, Andrea explains her life-changing discovery about the pivotal role of nutrition to overall health and healing, and how she began learning to use food to help her husband and nurture her family. Contrary to his six-month prognosis, Isamu lived another two and a half years, affording him the opportunity to be present for the beginning of their son’s life.
Since learning of her story and work, I’ve felt a certain kinship with Andrea: We’re both passionate ‘artists-turned-survivors’, thrust into the world of health and nutrition in response to personal tragedy. I have a deep respect for her dedication to helping and empowering others, and her approach to nutrition as medicine mirrors my own, as eloquently stated in her speech:
“The key to nutritional healing has two parts; there’s the “key” which is the food we eat, and there’s the “lock” which is our physiology. And it’s the biochemistry between the two which truly allows for a deeper level of healing. This is where food is medicine.”
Andrea Nakayama’s Incredible HNL Program
Soon after announcing my keynote speech for the Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) in January 2014, Andrea asked me to present for the Neuro Intensive for her Holistic Nutrition Lab. In exchange, she granted me a scholarship to the entire HNL program!
Andrea’s Holistic Nutrition Lab (HNL) is a comprehensive online curriculum that includes month-long intensive courses for digestive, immune, urinary, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems. In this online forum and live classroom, hundreds of holistic health practitioners are able to collaborate to gain a deeper understanding of the physiology behind their work. Transcripts and recordings are provided to be heard over and over again.
Andrea is a master at providing tools, skills, and knowledge by simplifying complex physiology and creating a community of learning, through making herself available to students, and by hosting an online forum for the class. She truly believes in, and loves, what she does. It is her mission to change the face of healthcare by empowering her class with the knowledge that will propel them to be as effective as possible. Andrea even provides the entire following year, free of charge, to all FBS (Full Body Systems) Grads.
Since January of last year, I have been focused on each lesson, and I am now an FBS graduate! Whether you’re a health practitioner, student, or simply interested in the role of nutrition in healing and medicine, do yourself a favor and head over to her website, ReplenishPDX.com. And, if you sign up using our link, you greatly support our work!
Hope to see you there!