Meet Your Autoimmune Nutritionist

Hi, I'm Vanessa Bond

BA, CNP, NNCP, AIP Certified Coach, Professional Advisor to IHN's Student Clinic

CEO of Bond With Health Inc, Founder of The Integrative Autoimmune Network 

 

Chronic inflammation and the root of autoimmunity + disease.

For the first 35 years of my life, I felt like CRAP. I pushed my way through chronic allergies, allergy-induced asthma, fatigue, constipation, IBS, terrible menstrual cycles, eczema that oozed, sinusitis, lower leg swelling, infertility, elevated rheumatoid factor, swelling and yo-yo weight.

I grew up in a medically-minded household and I followed what I had been taught throughout my early adulthood. My mom was an excellent nurse and we had access to the best doctors in the city. I saw allergists and  internists ... even an endocrinologist at one point. I had bronchitis, tonsillitis, mono and strep. I used antibiotics, anti-histamines, allergy shots, biopsies & additional lab work, prednisone, nose puffers ... you name it. They even tested me for celiac at one point (rare and radical in the 80s). 

All the doctors knew things were "off" but no one ever mentioned the word "inflammation" or discussed how my symptoms were all connected.

But the truth was my body was severely OUT of balance and playing whack-a-mole with medications didn't help.

The 30+ years of medications did nothing to improve my situation. I suffered from major allergic reactions, the topical steroids thinned my skin, swelling got worse when I started working in an office, I increasingly put on weight despite eating salad, fish and chickpeas for the majority of my meals, I developed fibrocystic breasts that prompted mammograms in my early 30s, I struggled with infertility, and my unpredictable belly & bowels would bloat and explode for no reason whatsoever.

 

My First Holistic Hell-Yes!

 

Everyone has a breaking point when they realize something needs to change. Mine was in 2007 with an outbreak of yeast under my armpits and on my chest. The doctor said the yeast was as a result of heat, told me to put some Canesten on it and go home.

It was January and not hot out. I said ENOUGH. I researched root causes, got professional help and it changed my life.

We tested stool, food sensitivities and hormones. We worked on lymphatic drainage & cellular health (a key part of the immune system). I followed a customized plan that specifically targeted the imbalances showing on my lab work. The process took six months, with some adjusting and revisiting the following year.

Not only did my eczema clear up, my allergies improved - I no longer reacted to EVERYTHING! My cycles regulated, I woke up not tired, my eyes were clear, my face, nose & sinuses were no longer puffy ... I felt better than I ever had in my entire life, and I was hooked on natural health.

I was inspired go back to college for my THIRD degree/diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition.

 

Functional & Holistic Nutrition: More Than Meal Plans

 

At the root of my issues for ALL those years (and for so many of my clients with inflammation and autoimmune) was candida overgrowth due to years of medications, antibiotics, birth control and constipation. 

So, when I went back to school, I selected a reputable college and I studied gut health, hormones, metabolism, pathology of disease, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, ayurvedic medicine, holistic culinary arts, plus all the biology, chemistry and science courses to support treatment, which is a huge part of my current practice to this day. 

After graduation, I first worked at one of Canada's top professional-grade supplement companies and then at naturopathic clinics where I specialized in digestion, metabolism and inflammation for seven years. Here, I wrote a medically supervised weight loss program and hosted group programs targeting various root causes (hormonal imbalances, inflammation, gut health, lymphatic health, metabolic health) using food, supplements and lab testing.

And while this was going on, I was raising my kids. My daughter had always had some concerning health indications that no one could pinpoint.

I took her to her pediatrician and naturopath. We did blood tests for celiac, allergies and food sensitivities (a;; negative). We even did stool tests like I had. Only slight, normal imbalances came up, which we addressed.

This is also why I was heartbroken when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare rheumatic condition called CRMO (similar to JIA or RA) in 2018 when she was 11 years old. It's a dire auto-inflammatory disease that has strong genetic influences, and often leads quickly to methotrexate and biologics as it can attack growth plates, vertebrae and jaw.

 

Why Did Autoimmune Develop?

 

Did "natural" fail us? Absolutely not.

For years, we had been doing MANY things right. These are reasons why we were able to quickly troubleshoot her diagnosis, why she was able to avoid really harsh medications and why she is in remission.

We were able to quickly identify some medical and natural imbalances that had triggered her autoimmune. In her case it was puberty (hormonal shifts), a missed diagnosis of celiac (nutrition - genetic testing revealed celiac+ which trumped the false negative the regular blood test provided), a parasite and bacteria she had picked up from travel (gut health) and an acute trauma leading up to her first flare - witnessing me getting mugged + bullying (nervous system stuck in fight-flight).

This nutrition-gut-hormone-nervous system trifecta created the perfect storm for autoimmune to rear its ugly head. Using a combined holistic + functional pathway, I was able to map out a plan ... using the best of both natural and medical doctors, recommendations for disease, plus what was best for her ... the person.

 
An Integrative Approach For Better, Long-Term Outcomes

 

Previous to these events, I would have told you that improving autoimmune is all about gut health and food. It's not. Your nervous system is equally influential and for many women in particular, it's the icing on the chronic illness cake because it controls your digestion and influences your immune response.

And this is where most people need the most help because they're not getting the support they need to successfully make & sustain the recommended changes on their own ... to stay motivated when those around them are doing what they want, when they want.

Nutrition, lifestyle, digestion and nervous system practices are critical to building physical and mental resilience while living with chronic illness. 

Evidence? Check out my home page or testimonials in our membership. Personally, my daughter has been in remission for her CRMO for 4 years. She still has to work on her health, but she's living life on her terms.

Many of my private clients and members have some sort of rheumatic disease + additional diagnoses like IBD/IBS, MS or thyroid issues, which requires care and attention to ensure the work we do outside of the doctors office integrates seamlessly into their larger healthcare plan.

True to my roots, I use a combination of functional nutrition and lab tests to help my private clients create a customized roadmap, and in 2022, launched  The Integrative Autoimmune Network where I teach members how to become their own health detectives and advocates, nourishing body & mind in the right way.

It feels good to go back to the doctor with progress.

It's my personal mission to help bridge the gap between medical and integrative care for those with rheumatic & inflammatory conditions so no one is left wondering what they can do at home. I want every person to feel empowered in their health and hopeful for the future, no matter what.

Some quick credentials:

  • My diploma and certification as a Certified Nutritional Practitioner allows me to¬†work with clients across North America. I have additional professional training & certifications in gut health (IBS, IBD, SIBO, Candida, Parasites), endocrinology and nutrition, fat loss and blood sugar balancing, the Autoimmune Protocol, as well as functional lab¬†testing.
  • I am a professional advisor to the student clinic at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, helping students write their first client protocol. This is the school where I graduated with a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition in 2013, requiring 700 in-class room hours and coop placements.
  • I am a member in¬†good standing of the Canadian Association of Natural Nutritional Practitioners, which qualifies for many employee benefits packages for insurance claims. Maintaining¬†membership requires continuing education credits each and every year, as well as mentoring to new practitioners.¬†¬†
  • On graduation from IHN, I worked at CanPrev, one of Canada's leading professional grade supplements companies that manufactures nutraceuticals, homeopathics, herbal remedies.
  • My client-based training began in two of Toronto's top naturopathic clinics¬†(The North Toronto Naturopathic Clinic & Higher Health Naturopathic Clinic), where I supported clinic patients with a wide variety of conditions, including adrenal fatigue, weight loss, PMS, skin health, cancer, autoimmune and metabolic syndrome. The doctors also mentored me in lymphatic drainage and select homeopathy to address imbalances.
  • I currently collaborate with health care teams,¬†naturopathic &¬†functional doctors and other healthcare professionals, including fitness, chiropractic and mindset experts¬†
  • In my first career, I worked in corporate communications, helping research and launch the very first iteration of Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty and The Canadian Cancer Society's Relay For Life ... two amazing initiatives that continue today, 22 years later. My Bachelor's is in Political Science and French and I have an additional college diploma in Corporate Communications.
  • Personally, I've had a full life full! I grew up in small town Canada, lived in rural France in my 20s and currently live in a massive city (Toronto). I've climbed a mountain, flown a plane, and been spelunking and scuba diving. My first job was selling apples on a country roadside stand and I've won national awards for my work in corporate communications.¬†I learned how to downhill ski at 37 yrs so I could keep up with my kids, broke my knee skiing at age 38, and then moved onto hiking the hill instead. I'm a small town girl at heart, and I like to spend weekends in Collingwood, Ontario where we rent a part-time home and I know the farmer's market vendors by name. Pizza always has been and still is my favourite food, but it doesn't like me, so I eat it only on occasion (gluten free of course). I believe in having a positive relationship with food because you need it to survive ... who wants to feel deprived when you're working on feeling well?

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