Needham-based Holli Bassin is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, a graduate of the School of Applied Functional Medicine, a Top 40 Food Allergy Blogger, and the author of the book, From Anaphylaxis to Buttercream. Holli has helped clients with many health conditions including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hypothyroid, Multiple Sclerosis, SIBO, anxiety, allergies, and weight loss.
Before she founded her practice Holli was an accomplished HR professional and strategic adviser to senior executives. Holli says the skills she learned in corporate life enable her to help her clients cope with the challenges of health concerns.
In addition to attending events, webinars, and lectures to keep up with current trends in functional medicine, nutrition and health awareness, Holli also teaches interactive workshops on nutrition, stress management, holistic intervention and lifestyle topics. And, she writes a monthly newsletter about healthy eating. We were very happy to catch up with Holli…
Holli, what is a Functional Medicine Health Coach, and how did you get started on this career path?
Great question! As a health coach I work with clients to make positive sustainable change using nutrition, education, and holistic intervention. From a functional medicine lens I was trained to look at the whole person including previous lab work to puzzle piece and look for root causes of disease symptoms in the body.
It’s a Minimize, Maximize, Prioritize philosophy. We want to Minimize what’s harmful, (inflammation, toxins, infections, viruses, allergens, and stress). Maximize the raw materials the body needs to function and thrive, (nutrient dense food, oxygen, hydration, vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats). And Prioritize an environment for healing, (laughter, sleep, stress reduction, exercise and meaningful relationships). The problem is the average American is not good at doing these things, and the result is often chronic disease.
There’s way too much stress in our lives both in a physiological and an emotional sense. We eat too many non-nutritional sources of processed foods, instead of whole foods (the way it used to be). Our foods are hybridized, loaded with chemicals, and our bodies get very gunked up. Plus toxins are everywhere in our environment and our bodies know it. Another issue is that we have trouble absorbing the nutrients that our bodies actually do take in. So we are over fat and under nourished.
I am not a doctor, so always advise my clients to work with their personal licensed medical professional to seek professional advice for diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
But I work with a client to help empower them to ask questions. I encourage them to take charge of their own body. And I inspire them to live an optimal life instead of living a ‘normal’ life for someone their age.
I started health coaching in 2014 when my daughter underwent a non-traditional systematic desensitization program for her anaphylactic food allergies to eggs, dairy and mustard. I published my memoir From Anaphylaxis to Buttercream in 2017.
Many older women grew up around a lot of processed foods, and Alka Seltzer and Pepto Bismol were go-to’s for an upset stomach (probably caused by all those processed foods). What should we know about digestive health to become, and stay, healthier as we age?
Disease begins in the gut. So many people are walking around with intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’ this is because of stress, processed foods and honestly all of those NSAIDS (Advil, Tylenol, aspirin, etc..) that we pop into our mouths on a daily basis. This can eventually cause food sensitivities and inflammation.
When we have symptoms such as exhaustion, inflammation in our knee or high blood pressure for example, it’s often because something is imbalanced in the gut. And then the tight junctures break down our intestinal barriers and undigested food can get into the immune system.
So as we age, we need to make more of an effort to eat non processed foods (nothing from a box or a bag). Think about it. If it gets sprayed with chemicals, what are those chemicals doing to our bodies. If we eat processed foods it does a triple harm to the body. Not only are we not getting the nutrients it needs, but we are also feeding it toxins, and then our bodies need to detoxify to get rid of the substances it doesn’t want to have on hand. But it has trouble doing that because it needs the right nutrients to do so. It’s a viscous cycle.
I would encourage people to eat whole foods, more fruits and veggies, hydrate between meals, get at least 8 hours of sleep per night and move their bodies every day.
As we age, our stomach acid decreases, so we have trouble separating proteins from nutrients in our food during the digestive process. Drinking water with food dilutes the natural digestive enzymes. Chew thoroughly, take deep clearing breaths to release stress and do something every day that brings you joy!
Your private, 3-month health coaching program looks intriguing! What are the goals, and how does it work?
The first step to working with me is a free 30 minute discovery session to be sure we are a good fit for each other.
We then do a one hour detailed intake or health history session. There I map out a plan to find all root causes of stress, toxins, gut issues or dietary depletions that may be causing unwell symptoms in your body. There are often more then one. I ask about diet, exercise, daily stools, home environment, dental history. It’s very thorough. It all depends on individual symptoms and goals. I take an individual approach. Some people need to be more aware of dietary choices, others want to increase their energy, sleep better, improve their mood, or feel less anxious. I ask a lot of questions and spend time with the client to puzzle piece and look at the whole person. I also do research and give a complete set of notes and recommendations.
Then the 3 month program continues the process and involves coaching at your pace. We may do a food sensitivity or a stool test to see what is imbalanced or talk about hypothyroid or arthritis symptoms and how to resolve them without using drugs. And we work on healing the gut lining so the immune system works properly.
I’m also running my annual Spring Detox program from April 27 to May 13. This is an 18-day group program to reduce the burden on the liver while supporting its innate ability to detoxify the body. The first 4 days are prep. Then 7 days of eliminating most common allergens, toxins. Then the final 7 days are a targeted reintroduction of the foods. It’s amazing what happens when you live in your own body and pay close attention to what it says. Register for Holli’s Annual Spring Detox by April 16 and use the special code “Detox20” to receive 20% off the $125 registration fee, plus a free Best Foods for Anti-Aging Guide.
As Holli says, in good health!
Holli Bassin, Health Coach