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It was just over two years ago when I was rejected for life insurance and got the biggest shock of my life.  I had abnormal liver function tests and consequently did not qualify for life insurance.  As a full time single mother, this weighed on me as I contemplated what would happen to my 10 year old son in the event of my death.  I was starting to think along these lines as I had just lost my mother to her battle with metastatic breast cancer.  When you lose someone very close to you, you start to question your own mortality.

Having abnormal liver function tests was significant for me as I had always been well and never had any issues with my health.  Ironically as a young Medical Scientist working at the Alfred Healthcare Group in Melbourne many years ago, we were often testing our blood and my pathology indicators were always spot on!  So I started to question, what had gone wrong in my life to cause my liver function tests to become so abnormal?  I kept seeing my general practitioner and quizzing him on what could be wrong.  We did a number of other pathology tests and diagnostic imaging tests to try to understand what the cause could be.  Worst case scenario, in my mind, I had liver cancer!  They were quite abnormal and I was really concerned.

This event started a series of events that has since transformed my life and the path that I have chosen to take in my life.  I knew that I had to get “healthy” to be able to stick around for a while yet to be able to take care of my young son.  Interestingly, up until that point, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to be tested for life insurance, I would not have suspected that there were any issues with my health.  I felt quite well, with the exception of a bit too much work and emotional stress.

I became super obsessed with trying to get my liver function tests to return to normal.  I researched and researched and researched.  I kept going back to my general practitioner and asking questions.  He kept saying that it was probably a viral infection and that eventually they would return to normal.  After twelve months of this, this response just did not seem good enough to me!  I also had a very high mercury level at 59 nmol/L (normal range is <50 nmol/L) but he did not seem to think that this warranted further investigation even though I had been complaining of being overly stressed with brain fog being a key indicator that something was not right.  He referred me to a Gastroenterologist / Hepatologist who subsequently diagnosed me with Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).  He advised me that given that I had put on 10 kilos over the course of the past two years, that it was more than likely due to a build up on fat in the abdominal area.

NAFLD describes a range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat within liver cells. It is very common and in many cases is linked to being obese or overweight. Most people with NAFLD do not develop serious liver problems. In some people, the build-up of fat in the liver can lead to serious liver disease. However, all people with NAFLD have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and stroke.

I had been struggling with a very hectic lifestyle, working full time and full time single parenting.  This meant that I was not exercising as much and was starting to cut corners on my nutritional health and wellbeing.

I was committed to regaining my health.  So I took a leap of faith and left my job two years ago to start my own health and wellness business.  My key focus was to get back to my original level of health and to bring the balance back into my life.  Within a year, I had lost the 10 kilos, qualified as a Personal Trainer, cut out alcohol out of my diet and was eating a predominantly pescatarian diet.  I was living the healthiest lifestyle I had ever lived!  I kept retesting the liver function tests, but they were still abnormal.  I knew then and there that there was something else at play other than the NAFLD.  It was just not making any sense to have these persistently abnormal liver function tests.

The second year of my journey has entailed me training in nutrition where I am currently undertaking a Certified Health Coach qualification through the Institute For Integrative Nutrition (IIN).  It’s been a great course that has allowed me to widen my nutritional understanding of food and lifestyle factors that impact on health.  I am loving the IIN Health Coaching course very much and have started to document my journey on my web page here (http://www.rickivinci.com/?page_id=178).  I recommend the IIN Health Coaching Course to anyone that is looking to increase their nutritional health knowledge and / or looking for a career change.  If anyone requires further information on the IIN Health Coaching course, feel free to email me on admin@rickivinci.com for further information.

It’s been an interesting journey and one that has made me more committed than ever to take the power back and have control of my own health and never rely solely on one practitioner to guide me with respect to my health.  I have a number of practitioners now that I draw my information from, but ultimately, the end result of my journey has been a result of my own research, determination and persistence to never give up and to keep questioning what was playing havoc with my liver.  I am now a researcher and spend hours and hours researching this stuff for the benefit of my family and my clients.

I undertook a series of different functional pathology tests earlier this year and started a vitamin supplementation program that was specifically based on addressing the vitamin deficiencies that were highlighted in my pathology tests.  I was on the vitamin protocol for about 3 months and recently had my liver function tests retested and they are the lowest that they have been in 3 years and almost normal.  My mercury levels have also returned to normal levels and are at 9 nmol/L.  I believe that the key thing that has attributed to this result is the targeted vitamin supplementation protocol that is made up of a number of diffident vitamins specific for my own deficiencies including Vitamin D, Zinc and Magnesium deficiency.  I then added a chelation protocol to address my mercury toxicity.

It’s been a rather long journey, but I now understand that health starts at the cellular level.  We are all exposed to different levels of toxicity in our food and environment, but when something goes amiss at the cellular level, it results in a predisposition for things to change in our bodies and this change may be the ability to clear metals and toxins from our system.  My preference is to get all my nutritional needs from real wholesome food.  However, if there are vitamin deficiencies at play, these must be addressed.  Vitamins play an essential role in the dynamic mechanism by which they affect a number of different pathways within the body.  If certain pathways are not working properly because essential vitamins and minerals are missing then your body’s natural response mechanisms to detoxify can be impacted.  This can have a direct and proportional effect on your mood and behaviour.  It’s a very specific and defined process that takes place and this is why you have to be very skeptical of generic brand products that claim to “detoxify the body of toxins”.  It’s so much more complex than taking a powder and clearing out the toxins.  We need to get to the very basic level of human biochemistry and see what is going on in our own individual bodies in order to understand how to address our own unique and specific health issues at hand.  Unfortunately, a “one-size fits all” approach does NOT work when it comes to managing your health.  This is why I promote a bioindividual protocol with my clients when it comes to them managing their health.

I am happy to say that I now feel fantastic, I radiate health and I am mentally better equipped to face my life.  My vitamin deficiencies which have been playing havoc with my mental health all my life, have caused me from time to time to be out of balance emotionally.  Part of my vitamin protocol addresses this and I am now better able to control and manage some of the ADHD traits that have affected various parts of my life and at times caused me to emotionally out of balance.  Life is great and it’s hard to believe that being able to get lifestyle factors, emotional stress and essential vitamin formula right can have such a marked difference on the life you live and the life you look forward to exploring and living!

I look forward to sharing my journey with others for the benefit of helping other people improve their lives and wellbeing.

I am available for health coaching consultations and look forward to helping others on their own health and healing journey!

Yours in health, wellness and mindfulness,

Ricki Vinci