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Making it Click with Clinical Nutrition, with Nicole Sconzo    

| Episode 33

Our apologies, but we suffered from some technical difficulties this week! We think you’ll still enjoy this week’s episode and learn a lot 🙂
Today we’re speaking with Nicole Sconzo. She’s a Licensed Medical Nutrition Therapist, Board Ceritifed Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), and has a Master of Science degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition (soon to be Doctor of Clinical Nutrition!). She’s sharing how Medical Nutrition Therapy and a tailored diet can do so much more than just help you lose weight.

 Click the play button above to listen to our conversation with Nicole Sconzo.

Highlights from Today’s Episode

  • The role of Medical Nutrition Therapists and the importance of working with a certified and credentialed Nutrionist
  • The value in custom tailored diet plans and how it can help with disease

Industry Spotlight: Nicole Sconzo MS Clinical Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist

Nicole Sconzo shares her evidence based health information including recipes and diet plans.

Colon Health Podcast with Dr. Dac and Ariel Bridges

About the Colon Health Podcast

Co-hosted by Dr. Dac Teoli and Ariel Bridges, the Colon Health Podcast features guest interviews with expert physicians, leading researchers, nutritional scientists, integrative health specialists, and other foremost experts in colon health.

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Episode Transcript

Ariel: Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of the “Colon Health Podcast.” I’m your host Ariel Bridges. And today we have Nicole Sconzo with us. Nicole, how are you?

Nicole: Good. How are you? Thank you for having me.

Ariel: Thank you so much for being here. We’re so excited to chat with you. Can we just start off with you introducing yourself and sharing a bit more about what it is that you do as our audience?

Nicole: Yes, I am a clinical nutritionist. I practice medical nutrition therapy. I have a master’s degree in applied clinical nutrition. I’m board-certified in medical nutrition therapy. Soon, I will be beginning a doctoral program, a doctor of Clinical Nutrition. So basically, what I do with people is I can work on medical conditions, most medical conditions benefit greatly, as I’m sure that your audience knows from nutritional counseling, and it is diet. But we also use supplementation or nutrients in a medicinal fashion, like you would drugs, therapeutic, doses, things of that nature. So that’s really what medical nutrition therapy is. Yes, obviously, the entire world can benefit from diet counseling and from optimizing their diet, but it’s really around the nutrients. Most disease is rooted in nutrient deficiency. So we look for the deficiencies. We also look at the drugs that the patient is on, because a lot of drugs, there’s drug-induced nutrient depletion. So we also want to make up for the depletions of the drugs that the patient is on, we wanna optimize their nutritional status, and that is with supplementation.

Ariel: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I’m glad you shared that definition of medical nutrition therapy, because I think we’re all pretty familiar with a nutritionist, and a lot of people think about nutrition is as people you go to for help with your diet, and weight loss. But it sounds like you’re speaking about something that’s much more specific and tailored to you any sort of conditions that you may have, and any medications that you’re taking.

Nicole: Exactly. A lot of people misunderstand. And the reason for that is there are so many people out there that pose as nutritionists, and there are people on social media and blogs that have this certified holistic nutritionist and certifications. That’s completely different from advanced degreed, licensed nutritionists that can work in hospitals that are medical staff and hospitals. And people think of us as a weight watchers type of therapy. And it can be, it absolutely can be and more than the commercially available things of that nature, it’s all customized to the patient to your blood work to your body, because what’s going to work for a man who’s 6 foot 3, and 250 pounds is definitely different than a five 5’1 woman who’s 110 pounds. So it’s customized to you. And yes, of course, we can help with diet based on your individual blood chemistry, but more than that, medical nutrition therapy has to do with the disease process, the disease state that someone has, and the medicinal doses of herbs and nutrients for that particular patient dose-dependent. Like I said, Everybody’s different. We have different sizes, we have different tolerances, everybody’s on different medications. So this is all custom-tailored to the patient.

Ariel: To me, this makes a lot of sense. And I think it also has to help people get to the root of what’s really going on. We talk about avoiding Band-Aid treatments here on the podcast. And this seems like something that will help people go beyond just like, “Okay, why am I having difficulties with my weight and seeing, Oh, maybe I have some imbalances here that are affecting my energy or my ability to lose weight and process different nutrients and things?

Nicole: A zillion percent. And I was functionally trained functional medicine trained. So I always look for the root cause. What is causing either this disease process or like you said, why can’t this 47-year-old female lose weight? And a lot of that is hormonal.

Ariel: I have some more questions about this. But you mentioned your functional medicine background, and I would love to know, because I always start off the podcast asking people about their journeys, because I think it’s very helpful for our listeners who may be navigating their own journeys. But can you share a bit about what made you pursue nutrition and functional medicine in the first place?

Nicole: Yeah, okay. It goes way back, and I’m going to completely date myself, it goes back in the 80s. Precisely, I will tell you that it was the summer of 1988. I was 18. And I don’t know, I just had this intense interest in fitness. And that somehow parlayed into diet. I mean, they go hand in hand. It somehow parlayed into diet, and I started reading about nutrition. And back then we didn’t have an internet. We had to go to the library. And I would go to the library. And I would go into the aisle or the sections that had all the nutrition books. And my aunt was a librarian. And I would go into the library and I would spend hours. I would sit in that aisle, I would take out all the books, I would go to the table, I would read, I would bring the books home. And I started to experiment on myself with different foods. I was eating seaweed in the late 80s. And my family, who’s Italian and, you know, was eating pasta and bread would look at me and say, “What are you eating?” Oh, [inaudible 00:06:22] “Like, how can you eat that seaweed, who eats that?”

To this day I love seaweed. Whenever I go to an Asian food restaurant, I ordered seaweed salad every single time. There was a point in time I would crave it, as strange as that sounds. I may think it was probably the dressing and the sesame seeds. But I developed this interest back in the 80s for nutrition and fitness. And then I started to get certified in exercise back then what we did teaching exercise, it was a lot of aerobics. It was bootcamp classes, but then we didn’t call it that. So I was actually doing that full-time in my early 20s. And it’s funny because that was the infancy. And people would make fun of us. And we would walk around town in our outfits, you know, which back then were you wouldn’t walk around in that today. But back then, you know, that’s what it was. It almost looks like remember the thing flash dance and the old dancer or think of chorus line. Right? So now you’re…

Ariel: Oh, yeah. The leg warmers?

Nicole: Yes, yes. It’s so great. Right? And so…

Ariel: Oh, yeah, I love it.

Nicole: So we were walking around in those outfits. So if your audience is young, and they wanna look up a chorus line, or flash dance, take a look at those outfits. So we were, you know, around town and that. And there was no such thing as athleisure the way there is today, and nobody wore leggings the way they do today. So we stuck out like a sore thumb. And people would make fun of us. So when I said to my parents, you know, in your early 20s, when your parents like, “What are you going to do with your life?” I said, “Well, this is what I want to do.” And they said, that’s not a job. And we laugh now, but this was 30 years ago, and it wasn’t. So I had to go into something that was more of a job.

So I went into the beauty industry, because I was raised in that. I went into the beauty industry. And I said, you know what? I’m gonna wait until this evolve. And it’s been a really long wait. So I went into the beauty industry. I did really well in that, I was actually a director in New York for Bloomingdale’s and Sax [SP]. And it was a great career. And I loved every second of it. And then somewhere in my early 40s. I said, okay, I think we’re around the time where I can pursue this. So I went back to school. I got my master’s. I was still in beauty. And then, you know, very slowly, I decided to get my board certification and start my practice, and sign up with the insurance companies, which is no easy feat. And anybody in medical knows this. And then I decided to move to Florida. South Florida is the mecca of natural health. It is literally everywhere down here. And it’s really the only place, because I come from the New York metropolitan area where we have it, but it’s nowhere near what it is in South Florida. So I’m in the process now of opening a practice down here and getting a website and doing all that. So it’s been a really long journey

It took a lot for mainstream, if you will, because I still don’t think that we’re there. It took a lot for mainstream to get on the bandwagon. And while there is a lot of misleading information on social media, and in blogs and on TV and that it really did contribute the people out there really have contributed to bringing awareness of the subject to the masses. And in that regard, we have to thank them. But again, everything has stages and phases, right? So always look for the credentials, if you’re a healthy person, and you just want to improve your diet, by all means there’s plenty of information out there that can help you clean your diet up, and men and women online that have these fantastic online coaching, where you can pay a certain amount of money every month, and they’ll help you with your workouts and your basic nutrition. And by all means, I think that that stuff is great.

When you have a disease state, when you want to treat a disease state, when you are looking for a higher level than the introductory, let me clean up my diet, let me start to exercise. When you wanna graduate from that, always look for the credentials. And there are a lot of physicians out there that I love that are doing phenomenal. My favorite is Dr. Mercola for years and years and years, that are doing phenomenal work, bringing this information to people. But by enlarge, the doctors that are out there with a really good information on nutrition, they’ve re-educated themselves, because we all know that basic medical curriculum, also basic chiropractic curriculum, I went to a chiropractic school for my masters does not cover nutrition.

They get the same kind of an intro course that you get in high school or the first two years of college. So you always have to look for the credential and you want an advanced degree, and preferably the board certification, which is CNS, that’s the highest board certification in the world for Clinical Nutrition, you want that. And when you go to a hospital, the doctor isn’t gonna give you medical nutrition therapy. They’re always gonna call in the nutritionist.

Ariel: He said so many great helpful things. Thank you for breaking it down, because something else that we’d love to chat about on the podcast is making sure people know the importance of just meeting yourself where you’re at. So maybe you’re just getting started. And you can take advantage of those online programs to help you with diet and exercise and things like that. But if you’ve been struggling for a while on your journey, and you are like what am I not doing correctly? Maybe it is helpful to take it to that next step and look for someone who can help you with medical nutrition therapy and has those special credentials that you are mentioning, because like you said, with more people becoming aware of this industry, and health, and wellness, and functional medicine. I do think it’s been brought to the forefront. But I think we do still have a long way to go. As you said, there’s so much information and misinformation out there. So I think it’s so important for people to know where they can actually go for answers that they can feel confident are safe and correct.

Nicole: Right. And another thing I want to mention on that wavelength is when you’re seeking somebody with the proper credentials, understand that you do not need to pay $1,000, $1,500 for an office visit. That to me is not ethical, because I will tell you what. When you are credentialed nutritionist insurance covers us, whether it be in-network or out of network, particularly if you have a disease state such as diabetes, where they know that we can help you. For instance, in New Jersey, I was covered 100%, no calendar year maximum. So for certain things, insurance will always cover, like for instance, they won’t cover bioidentical hormones, but they do cover your labs. And it’s not crazy expensive.

So that’s a red flag to me. If you have a $1,000, $1,500 office visit fee, or something even in the high hundreds, keep going, keep looking look for that specific credential, and with bioidentical hormones it’s very, very important to look for the credential. Very important because we all including medical doctors have to go back to school and back for certifications, specifically in…they call it anti-aging in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. If there’s no credential, don’t go, because hormones is a tricky, tricky, tricky topic. And any honest physician and gynecologist will tell you that, it’s very tricky. They don’t learn anything about menopause in medical school. And we have doctors go back to school, they do modules for this to earn the certifications that enable you to be able to practice it.

Ariel: So can you share what bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is? Like what does it help with and who should seek out this kind of therapy?

Arise: Well, who should seek it out is everybody, every human. In fact, I read a lot of blogs from functional veterinarian. Of course, there’s not this for animal but they talk a lot about the importance of hormones with animals. And, you know, when you should spay and neuter your animal and things of that nature. Hormones govern everything in the body, everything, and I want to give credit where credit is due. And where I first learned about this was Suzanne Somers was on “Larry King.” This had to be 20 years ago. She was on Larry King. And she writes books about this. And she’s been writing books about this for about 20, 25 years. And I went out and I got her book. And I didn’t learn any of this in school, which I really want to drive home. We don’t learn this in school. Doctors, they learn a very rudimentary kind of a thing on this. They don’t learn bioidentical. So, the difference is, and I have this all the time, people say this, “I can’t take hormones.” Okay, women, “I can’t take estrogen. I’ll have a heart attack or I’ll have a stroke,” or, okay, you’re a woman, which means you’re made up of estrogen.

Ariel: Hey, everyone. Ariel jumping in here. We had some unfortunate technical difficulties this week. So our episode was cut short, but please be sure to check out the show notes for more information about Nicole and some of the things we talked about today. We’ll see you next time on the “Colon Health Podcast.” Bye.