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Vibrant Provider Spotlight: Sara Barthel, MS, CNS, LDN

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Meet Sara Barthel, a dedicated licensed dietician, and Certified Nutrition Specialist, Gluten-free Practitioner, and Functional Medicine Health Coach. 

She's committed to helping her patients feel their best and regain hope and excitement for their health and future possibilities.

In this month’s Provider Spotlight, Sara spoke candidly about her journey to become a functional healthcare practitioner, her experience overcoming her own health challenges, and clinical pearls that help her better transform patient outcomes.

JumpingWhat led you to work in functional medicine?

I was always drawn to nutrition, but I learned about functional medicine through a friend and fellow triathlete who had MS. She used a functional medicine approach, diet, and lifestyle interventions to keep her condition in remission for over 15 years. 

Years later, I went back to school for functional medicine after dealing with IBS and autoimmune thyroid disease myself and experiencing incredible frustration and helplessness after being told there was nothing wrong with me. 

Why do you use functional lab testing?

The combination of a thorough intake session and health history timeline, along with data from lab work, is a one-two punch for creating personalized protocols that can be life-changing for the women I work with.

Not only in terms of efficacy but also for simply validating that there's a reason for how they've been feeling! 

Why do you trust Vibrant Wellness lab tests in particular?   

Vibrant's technology and accuracy set them apart from other lab companies, and I trust the results. 

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What is your favorite Vibrant lab test?  

My frequently ordered lab combination is the Gut Zoomer + Wheat Zoomer because it's the perfect starting point for answering critical questions about anything stemming from digestive insufficiency, infections, inflammation, intestinal permeability, and food sensitivities—which play a role in pretty much everything! 

Can you share a few clinical pearls from your specialty?

  1. Cellular hydration is an important starting point for digestion, headaches, brain fog, and more. I use BodyBio eLyte a lot for that.  
  2. Rotate foods and aim for 30-50 different plants each week in addition to high-quality protein and healthy fat with each meal. That fiber then turns into short-chain fatty acids, which can heal increased intestinal permeability and provide systemic anti-inflammatory benefits.
  3. Valuable insights can be drawn from a basic bloodwork panel through the lens of functional medicine—and focusing on optimal levels instead of "normal." Many people have subclinical issues with their thyroid, blood sugar, adrenal function, and hydration.  
  4. High toxic burden can't be overlooked in any chronic conditions—it lowers the immune system, interferes with hormones, energy, and blood sugar, and depletes us of nutrients. 

What is your #1 advice for your patients?  

Commit to the process, and you will see results—you get out what you put in.

Our bodies have such a powerful, innate ability to heal and return to balance when given half a chance!    

What are some of your patient's biggest takeaways from the lab tests?

After reviewing hundreds of labs, I've concluded that a diagnosis means little in terms of what we can do to improve inflammation, sleep, stress management, detoxification, and nutrition. 

I've never seen anyone with optimal microbiome diversity on a Gut Zoomer, which protects us from opportunistic pathogens and infections taking over—we can all do better at eating the rainbow and a wider variety of colorful plants.

What are your biggest patient objections, and how do you overcome them?  

The cost of labs and services gets some pushback, but it's always a worthwhile investment. Behavior change is huge— the most pushback comes not from giving up foods but from breaking out of a food rut, especially for those with a very short list of "safe foods." 

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

I love every bit of it, especially when I help clients defy the odds of their health, expectations, or disease.  

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What motivates you to get out of bed and do the work each day?   

I love to help women feel better than they have in years, and restore hope and excitement about their health and what's possible.  

What is your favorite thing about your job?   

I love learning and am always continuing my education and training, often with specific clients in mind to help them get better results. I enjoy sharing that knowledge by doing speaking events as well. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I love reading, cooking, yoga, being outdoors, traveling, and hanging out with my husband. 

Sara Barthel is a licensed dietician, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Gluten-free Practitioner, and Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach. 

Sara specializes in addressing gut health issues on an individualized level by interpreting lab tests, applying functional medicine principles, and using the power of nutrition.

Learn more about Sara on her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook @sarabethbarthel