Hello. My name is Julia Leitao da Cunha van Opzeeland.
Here's my personal journey into a happier healthier life.
I'm originally from Brazil, I currently live with my husband and daughter just outside of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
I grew up eating a crap diet and believing that disease was completely unrelated to food or lifestyle. During my teenage years I used pharmaceutical formulas (pills) to help me lose weight and not feel hungry all the time. Every time I tried to stop or ran out of the pills, I would quickly gain weight at an amazing speed so I returned once more to taking them. It was a vicious circle.
When I got married and my husband and I decided to have a child I stopped taking the pills. To my utter dismay I found out I couldn’t get pregnant. I was devastated. Nobody told me it was due to a hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance.
I went down the path of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) doing 6 rounds non-stop until I finally got pregnant. Little did I know the side effects and problems this would cause; a high cost on my hormones, my mental health and my physical health as well. While giving birth I had a hysterectomy. I was in pain and I was exhausted.
Shortly after this we moved to the Netherlands and it wasn't long before I started feeling horribly depressed. I developed hypothyroid symptoms, I was tired all the time, my brain was in a constant fog and my memory started failing me. I could not remember anything.
Finally the day arrived where I decided to change all those feelings of being down and depressed, I simply wanted to feel good again. I asked my Dutch doctor for a pill to heal everything, but there was no pill. He did not give me anything at all to help me get better. This is where my path into nutrition and learning about my own body began. I used my investigative skills to dig into this fascinating new world and it all finally started to make sense. I fell in love with what I was learning and how I was beginning to feel.
I continued to deepen and enjoy my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), where I graduated in 2017 and became a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I initially studied at the IIN to take care of my own health. However I soon felt I could be of help to other people who wanted assistance on how to live a healthier life, just like I was now doing.
In my training at the IIN, I studied a variety of dietary theories and practical lifestyle coaching methods. I got to know what Functional Medicine was and I fell into it straight way.
I undertook more studies this time at the School of Applied Functional Medicine (SAFM).
Functional Medicine looks for the root cause of illness, it is an investigative process in which you have to dig into what is causing the body to react in certain ways:
- Why is disease happening instead of wellness?
- What is causing this constant state of tiredness?
- Why can't you remember anything and why is your memory failing?
All of this completely resonated with me. As well as my wish to understand the imbalances I had in my body, I could actually pinpoint what needed to be corrected.
SAFM completely changed my life. I now totally comprehend the pathways through which "dis-ease" occurs within the body plus what we can be done to minimise it effects, or in many cases, reverse it.
Personally for me with all my new found knowledge, I rebooted my eating habits, rejected certain foods and added some essential supplements to my diet - the results were amazing; the brain fog, constant fatigue, sleeping problems and memory loss all disappeared!
Never one to rest when I'm excited about something I love, I have also finalised a course on epigenetic and nutrigenomics at Epigenes.
The course aims to analyse genetic test data and apply nutritional strategies according to each individual genetic risk on developing (certain) diseases. With this approach I learned the specific genetic variants I carry and how to let those genes be inactive so I can have better health.
Genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger!
This means that our genetic risks to develop diseases does not mean we will develop those diseases!
Again, personally for me, I found out I had a genetic variant that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s so I embraced changes in my lifestyle to leave those genes dormant and not activate the disease in my body when I get older.
Combining all this self-examination, self-experimentation and deep knowledge, I completely changed my own health and wellbeing. It enabled me to live & act according to my genes, to make all the "lab tests" I wanted, to understand what was out of balance and to correct it; bringing vitality and health into my body.
Each and every day I eat, digest and do everything I can, knowing I will live a long and healthier life close to the ones I love.
I've never felt so good in my own skin as I do now.
I am loving my own journey and I am ready to help you in your own health journey as well. In the end, it's not only food matters. Our thoughts, our sleep, our reaction to stress, all are as important to maintain our health and wellbeing.
Come and join me!