Reed Davis: Functional Diagnostic Nutrition

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Reed Davis

Jonathan:Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Can I tell you? I’m excited about today’s show because I know I’m going to learn something because we are talking to a world renowned expert in an area that I’m not at all familiar with. The gentleman we’re going to speak today was referred to me as someone I should definitely get to know, whose work I should learn more about.

I figured, why not let everyone listen into that conversation. We’re going to have some fun. We have, basically, the world leader. I’m sure he’ll tell me to calm down if I’m over exaggerating but, in terms of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, he’s a clinical nutritionist, and his name is Reed Davis. Reed, welcome to the show.

Reed: Well, thank you, Jonathan. Glad to be here.

Jonathan:Reed, just obvious question here. What is Functional Diagnostic Nutrition?

Reed: That’s a phrase that I coined to describe what I do and what I was doing in a clinic where I acted as a clinical nutritionist but started developing more and more of the laboratory work that is behind the scenes, looking at underlying causes and conditions. No one seems to be doing it quite that way and I had to call it something.

It truly does work at the functional level versus just treating symptoms. We do use laboratory work, we’re not diagnosing disease but we’re diagnosing the way you diagnose a car or a computer, what’s really wrong with it and nutrition because we don’t use any drugs, no medication. Most of the people practicing FDN, who I’ve taught, they’re not physicians. That’s why we call it FDN or Functional Diagnostic Nutrition.

Jonathan:Someone comes in and they want to experience this. One; what are the types of people that are interested in this? What type of data are you gathering? This is a big question. What are you doing with that data to make your diagnosis, for lack of better terms?

Reed: As you know, I’m a teacher. I teach people how to do this. Don’t get me started. I can do go on for hours. You got to keep it kind of simple. What we do when a person comes in with a health complaint, it really doesn’t matter what it is because, again, we’re not physicians trying to diagnose and treat a specific condition. We’re not trying to label it. We’re not going to give you the medicine, surgery, options, and things like that. We want to know what’s really wrong. A person might come in with low thyroid symptoms, for instance. Let’s say their hair is thinning out, they have cold extremities, they’re gaining a little weight, and they’re fatigued quite a bit. That might sound like a thyroid problem to some people or some physicians, or someone doing it. They might actually run a thyroid test and go, “Look here, your thyroid is low. Your thyroid hormones are low. Here’s your prescription.” Now, we’re wondering why doesn’t that person ask the doctor, “Well, what’s wrong with my thyroid?”

They’re not like some sheep, here you go, take your prescription, go to the pharmacy and get it filled and you take your thyroid medicine. “Well, for how long? Is my thyroid going to get better?” Those are the kinds of questions that I was asking a long time ago that led me to doing the laboratory work. What is going on in the body? Where are the true dysfunctions? We work with laboratory testing, to answer your question. We’ll run labs on the hormones, immune system, digestion, detoxification, mucosa barrier, intestinal barrier, and things like that.

We find out, wow, look at all these opportunities for healing. Again, identifying these healing opportunities is the true nature of getting better, improving health. That’s what we do. Pretty much anyone can do it. Once we’ve identified the healing opportunities, you also ask, “Then what do you do?” Our protocols are not drug based at all.

If you just hold up your hand, you have five fingers. You could label them D-R-E-S-S. It spells dress. That’s Diet, Rest, Exercise, Stress Reduction, and Supplementation. It’s really a lifestyle based approach. Here’s what you really need to do to improve health. Forget labeling some disease and treating it with medication. That’s just not the way our clients want to go. It’s not the way we as practitioners want to operate. I think it’s a better system.

Jonathan:Reed, you made a really important, important distinction there, which, it sounds like a lot of us don’t always make, maybe not so much on people listening to the show but other individuals and that is, you go into a traditional doctor and say you have thyroid problems, you say, okay, thyroid problems. You don’t actually know that, they’re just symptoms.

They give you medication. You move on. Is my thyroid going to get better or am I just going to be on this medication? Are you going to give me, basically, crutches that I can use my entire life or are we going to put my leg in a cast so my bone heals and then I can walk around normally. It sounds like you’re going after more of the put leg in cast such that I don’t have to use crutches for the rest of my life approach.

Reed: Yeah, that’s exactly right. If there’s an opportunity there to heal and improve the function of an organ, or a system, or a group of cells, or whatever it might be, then we want to act on that opportunity and use natural remedies in lifestyle. We kind of count on the body having some desire to get better on its own, and it does. It has an innate intelligence, here and there. If you cut yourself on the arm with whatever, it heals if you keep it clean. It’s going to heal. You notice that the skin stitches itself back together, and so on.

There is that innate intelligence in a sense in ourselves, in our system, organs, and things. We play on that. Again, with the laboratory work, we’re zeroing in on underlying causes and conditions. I’d call them malfunctions. A better term is healing opportunity. When we focus on that, here you have a person who wants to get better, they don’t want to take medication for the rest of their life.

When you ask a doctor, ‘What’s wrong with my thyroid, with my adrenals or whatever it is, they say, “We don’t know. Here’s your prescription.” That’s the typical answer. I know there are lots of kinds of practitioners out there but people are tired of just the drugs and surgery. They are willing to take action. That’s kind of our job as practitioners to find out who will change and who won’t. Who will actually do a few things.

Jonathan:Reed, this approach of, correct me if I’m wrong, gather a massive amount of data about how the person’s body is working, gather as much data as you can. I’m sure there are tests that would cost millions of dollar that you can’t do but tests that are reasonably price, do all of them, and then make decisions based on that data. That approach seems quite, why wouldn’t someone who’s trying to take care of another person, gather as much data as possible before making any recommendations?

Reed: It’s really a good question. The answer in the medical world is that they’re not trained to do that. They’re trained to diagnose then treat according to what’s called a standard of care, which is largely pharmaceutical. It’s unfortunate that the system works that way because people are just chasing symptoms then. I can give you one of the reasons why it’s like that is that the science is years ahead of the educational process.

You have professors in medical school teaching what they learned. There are all these guys doing this wonderful research, development of the science, the laboratory work. They’re really good, well intentioned, sincere people that want to help. They want to get to the root cause. This whole world of functional medicine what I’ve called Functional Diagnostic Nutrition is just wide open. There are things, we just learn two weeks ago, four weeks ago, weren’t on the scope, weren’t in a radar. For that to get into the education system, the traditional one and then eventually down to the doctors, is going to take a long, long time.

Jonathan:It sounds like it’s a pretty cutting edge discipline. Are there journals or organizations that are trying to take this approach and make it more mainstream or more institutionalized, not in a negative way but possibly so it could affect more people?

Reed: There sure are. If you just research functional medicine, you’re going to come up with all kinds of things. There are physicians who are learning it. It’s not just me or sort of the lay practitioners that are doing this but we’re the grassroots kind of thing. I’ve lectured at National Association of Nutrition Professionals. I just had the course that I teach in this, approved for professional development credits on a national level for acupuncturist. We’ve got some States who approved this for chiropractic credits, and things like that. It’s just a long haul. It’s just work, man. It’s my life’s work.

Jonathan:There are a lot of people out there, always correct me if I’m wrong, there are a lot of people out there, if a person walks into their office and says, “I’m having these problems,” they will say, “Based on my knowledge,” their process is, “Based on my knowledge, I think you should eat this, or I think you should sleep like this, or I think you should exercise like this.” It’s sounds like your practice and approach just adds one step, which is, I’m going to gather a bunch of data about you, then I’m going to make those recommendations first.

Reed: That’s exactly right. Someone calls me up. My phone will ring and I actually answer it. I’d say hello and they’d start I’d got your name from so and so from some place, I heard your lecture, or whatever it is. It’s a referral and they want to tell me their story. I can ask six simple questions and decide if I can really help that person or not and tell them how I work. You can hire me to be your health detective and I can send you out some test kits. I don’t need 20 tests done. I need maybe five tests done.

I could get by if your budget was really low. If you let me run some saliva, urine, blood and stool testing, then that’s enough data along with the subjective, which are some forms. I have some really neat well developed question and answer forms to fill out. When I get the test results back if you engage me, you hire me basically, I send you the test kits. I’ll get that data and I get your answers to some questionnaires that I have. We get together and now we’re cooking with gas. We’re not going to treat the symptom. I’m not just going to say, for your fibromyalgia you need to take some allicin and up your fish oil, this sort of allopathic nutrition approach. We’re going to say look, here, again it’s D-R-E-S-S. It’s always the system. It’s always the process of eating right and exercising right. Some people need to exercise more, some less and then getting to bed on time, sometimes you need to bring in discipline. Sometimes there are other issues going on with this like circadian rhythm. Stress reduction is huge, some people suffer from environmental pollutant, environmental illness.

Others have allergies and sensitivities and you can have parasites, bacteria, fungus’s, viruses. There’s all these hidden stress. When I say diet, rest, exercise, people get that but with the stress reduction, that’s huge. That’s where these lab tests come in powerfully to say here is the hidden stressor, here’s the hidden malfunction. The last test is supplements. Those are very therapeutic. I don’t own and any stock in any supplement company by the way.

I don’t have my own brand or label but I can recommend things that have over time, shown to be very effective to help with their digestion or the mucosa barrier or balancing hormones or stimulating the immune system and supporting a person and their organs systems in a way that food alone just can’t do, the quality of food just isn’t that good anymore. Supplements are a part of the program.

Jonathan:Reed, you’ve been doing this for many, many years. You’ve done this for over 11,000 individuals. I start to think about the move Matrix where they just look at that screen with all the numbers. You see the woman in the red dress and this numbers. What kinds of women in red dresses have you found? What I mean by that is after looking at all this data, what has surprised you in maybe trends you’ve seen?

Reed: Oh, wow. That’s a really good question. I have to think real quick about that one. I’ll say that I started off back in the late 90’s. I was actually in environmental law, so I came to this from a position of scientific, realities about people getting sick because of things in the air, water, food, or whatever but, I went to nutrition. My main group at the time to work with was women over 45. I was working in a chiropractic wellness center where we had numerous types of practitioners there.

I worked there for eight years as a clinical nutritionist, also what you might call a nutritional therapist, working hand in hand with a chiropractor. It’s mostly women. When you say women in red dress, I can figure like so many cases, very early when I was still learning. By the way, I’m always learning, still learning. I’m as much as a student as I’m a teacher. I had some miraculous cases, where a lady, check this story out real quick. A lady comes in, it was maybe her fifth or sixth visit to see the chiropractor. I was just walking her back to get her treatment and I did some body work on most of the patients, talk to them about nutrition and things. I’m taking her back, she’s going to heat packing and adjustment. I could tell something was wrong. I said, “Susie, what’s going on? You seem really down today.”

She said, “Yeah, I’m really down.” I go ‘why?’ She goes, “Because I’m overweight. I’m 40 pounds overweight.” I’d go, “Well, why 40 pounds overweight?” She says, “Well, because I’m on medication. I’ve been on it for 2 years. Now, I’m 40 pounds overweight. I’m really getting depressed. I told my doctor I’m getting depressed. He says, ‘You either take the medication, which is for the hives by the way, or you get fat. You’re going to take the medication or you are going to get hives. You’re going to get fat or you’re going to get the hives, take your pick. Be fat or get the hives.’ It’s really depressing and now he wants to put me on anti-depressants.”

Jonathan:Oh no.

Reed: What do you think I said to her? I said did anyone ever tried to figure out why did you get the hives? She looked at me and kind of like what? There you go. Did anybody try to know? Anyway, I sent her home with a test kit, again this is way early on, this is 13-14 years ago. We got the results, it was a food sensitivity test for some environmental things in there too. We got her off a handful of foods and within nine days, she quit the medication and did two things she hadn’t done in two years.

One was take a hot shower because even on the medication, that give you the hives and the other was she exercised to the point of perspiration, which she couldn’t do because even on the medication, she still got the hives. In nine days, we turned her life around. Three to four weeks later, she’d lost 13 pounds because it was inflammatory fat. It accumulates because she was on medication, she was on a steroid and inflammatory and you know the whole story. That’s how it works. I’ll never forget that.

Jonathan:Reed, it seems when we tell these stories, when you look back, it seems obvious. Did anyone ask you why you got hives? I think if we all step back in our lives we’ll see instances of that, where we just assume things have to be the way they are. We have to take a step back up and ask why? It’s like the old story, you go to the doctor and say “My arm hurts when I raise it. They just say. “Well, stop raising it.” No one says why does it hurt when you raise it in the first place?

Reed: Yeah, exactly. People want relief, that’s why they go to the doctors. People go to doctors because they have to. You’ve never heard anyone say, I can’t wait to go to the doctor tomorrow. They always say, I have to go to the doctor. I have to take off work to see a doctor. They always say, I have to take off work to go to a doctor. What we’re saying to people now Jonathan, is you can opt in to this self cure model, taking care of yourself. Learn what it takes. Learn what’s really wrong. Work on the underlying causes and condition.

You can opt into that self cure model now or you will be forced in to a disease care model later. No one has to come and see an FDN, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. I’ve trained over 1,000 people in 40 different countries. No one has to see anyone but they may need to see doctor later on if they don’t do this. Of course we’re in the mix there with the things that they’re complaining about. They wouldn’t come and see us if they didn’t have a complaint.

There isn’t anything wrong with a little bit of what we call intelligent allopath, a little relief care. If you can help someone out for now, that’s okay as long as it’s not drugs that have bad side effects and weird things. If you can do a palliation, relief care, that’s okay as long as they’re in the whole game, let’s look at the underlying causes, conditions, and do what it truly takes so you don’t need that allopathic care, relief care.

Jonathan:Reed, your entire practice and approach is predicated on this extreme customization of lifestyle recommendations, it sounds. The question I’m about to ask you is going to be a bit oxymoronic, which is what have you seen to, is there anything that’s kind of universal? What are those?

Reed: Let’s start with hydration. No matter what people need to be well hydrated. You can just drink more water. That’s going to make your bio flow. With bio flows, your body is detoxifying better. You’re also making your blood a little bit thinner. You don’t want sticky blood. It’s going to carry more oxygen. You’re going to oxygenate your brain and organs. Just hydration is really critical, so is elimination. You need to be going to the bathroom very regularly every day. This is an old joke among nutritionist, you ask the lady are you drinking lots of water? Are you eliminating regularly? She goes, “Oh yes, every Tuesday.”

Hydration, elimination and therefore detoxification are going to be much better and assimilation. You need really good digestion. It’s one thing to lay out a platter, here’s the foods that would work well with your type of person. Some people are more protein, some people are more carbs and these kind of things but if you’re not breaking it down and absorbing it, then it’s not going to be working for you. That’s one of the critical tests we do in everybody is that idea of digestion and assimilation of foods. If that’s dysfunctional, you’re not going to be healthy. There are a lot of new approaches to like that.

Jonathan:What have you seen in terms of from a nutrition perspective? What have you seen, because there is a lot of controversy, it seems in the mainstream media about this is good, no, this is bad, no this is good this is bad. How much of that is just, well, this is good for this person in this context and it’s bad for this person in this context. How much of it is that?

Reed: I think almost all of it is that. There’s food that’s bad for everybody like sugar and alcohol and you can say trans fatty acids and chemicals in the food and pesticides and herbicides so, that’s bad for everybody. If you’re talking in that context then you’re pretty accurate. Now, everybody’s going to have different defenses and mechanisms in place, so some of those things are going to be harder on one person than on the next. Some people seem to do well with fast food and junk and stuff. It’s going to catch up on them sooner or later, depending on the person.

We find a lot of dysfunction just based on those things but is there a good food for everybody? Are apples great for every single person on the planet? You’d have to honestly say no. Most frequent common example would be the Eskimos. They don’t need apples. There are no apples up there for them to eat. Their diets consist mostly of fat and protein, sometimes at certain times of the year, exclusively fat and a little protein and they do perfectly fine. They have no heart disease. They have no cancer and none of that stuff.

The only carbohydrates they get are seasonal. Things come in to season, seaweed and things that, maybe among that population, there’s still some individuality. I can’t say every Eskimo has the exact same diet. Some are metabolically a little bit different so they might do better eating more seaweed but it’s not going to vary a lot. Let’s say, just for arbitrary numbers, 80 percent fat and protein and 20 percent carbs.

Some are going to do better at 90 percent protein and fat. There’s going to be some sliding of the scale, within each, you can say, racial group if you want. It actually boils down to genetics and all these complicated things but, I’ll say that in general terms about your question, that would be my sort of broad answer.

Jonathan:Does that put to rest, in your opinion, high carbohydrate diet, low carbohydrate diet, high fat, low fat. Is the real answer, whatever makes you feel great and helps you further your goals? Is it too obvious to be true moments? Why are we arguing about, it’s this way, no it’s that way. Why can’t it just be, is it helping you or not? If it is, keep doing it. If it’s not, stop.

Reed: Yeah. People are usually selling something if you will. I don’t want to be cynical about it. I think there are a lot of people with great intentions and they actually do some scientific researches and things, yet they still shape something up as an answer and the more they pursue it and market it, it becomes the answer for them. If you break it down, there’s no one diet right for everyone. Ask the author of any well known diet book, Atkins isn’t around to ask anymore but there’s lots of these really huge, very popular diets.

It’s because they work for some people. Atkins is actually something I used to try. I read all of his books. I think he’s a hero. He definitely stepped out of the box and wasn’t afraid to go up against the establishment and for that reason, I really like him but it is not the right diet for everybody. Yes, you do want to feel good. This is something you can take home with you. How do you know if a diet’s right for you? How would you feel when you say you feel good? I’ll give you three criteria that you can pretty much take to the bank. The number one thing that a meal should do for you, let’s say you ate breakfast.

If that’s the right breakfast for your type, then it should satiate your hunger completely and thoroughly. You should not be hungry. In other words, an hour later, you shouldn’t be craving anything. You shouldn’t have your blood sugar going way up or way down. It satiates you. It causes satiation or satisfaction, you’re not hungry, you’re not craving. You don’t feel like you need to snack. You don’t feel like something is missing. That’s one criteria, satiation. The next one would be energy. Do you have long lasting, consistent energy?

I’m not talking about you’re hyper or you’re kind of bubbly buzzing with some fatigue underneath. We’ve all felt that feeling. You’re really tired but you just drank two cups coffee, not that kind of energy at all. It’s a solid I feel kind of great, kind of energy. I can vacuum the floor, do your work whatever it is. Do your exercise or something like that. That’s the next criteria. First, we have satiation of hunger, complete and thorough. Next we have energy, which is deep and solid and consistent for hours usually.

It’s kind of like the more you fill up the tank for hours, the more hours you have to get out of it up to a point. The third thing, people leave this out a lot, is a sense of well being and good mood. You should not feel irritable. You should not feel something is wrong, no anxiety and those kind of things. If you use those three categories to dictate or determine, at least, they’re good signs that you’re eating right. If you have complete satiation, no cravings, good solid energy for a few hours and happiness, a sense of well being that you’re on it, you can think clearly, you’re moving forward in a positive way with a bright outlook on life. If your meals are doing that for you, I’d say you’re doing pretty well.

Jonathan:Reed, that is just an excellent ending point. I appreciate you giving that gift to not only me but also the audience because I really, really like that criteria. Folks, if you want to learn more about Reed Davis, today’s guest, you can absolutely do so. There’s a bunch of information up at Again, that’s We’ve been joined by the awesomely passionate man. You can tell it from his voice and I love it. Reed Davis, thank you so much for joining us today.

Reed: Thanks so much, Jonathan. Anytime I’m happy to talk to you about anything.

Jonathan:Thank you so much. Listeners, I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did and, please remember this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
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