A little reminder to keep loving on your virus fighting machine.

Last week we talked about the basics. What are you eating? And how stressed out are you, really? Creating a life that allows you to answer these two questions both truthfully and in an immune system honoring manner might be a challenging task. But it is definitely a battle worth fighting.

This week we are going to talk about things that are slightly more technical. So let’s have at it.  The three things we are covering this week are: 1. The danger of environmental toxins, 2. Food sensitivities, and 3. Infectious agents that ultimately wreak havoc on your immune system.

1. Regarding environmental toxins – toxins / pollutants can come from household cleaning products, the water we drink, beauty products,  lawn care products, and even our jobs.  In Bangladesh – water is known for high arsenic content. Many people get physical sores on their bodies that are mistaken for leprosy.  This results in social isolation for a lifetime. This is an extreme example – but here in States – we are not free of pollutants. We may not have physical sores on our skin, but many people are suffering and with dis-ease without a known cause. To understand, if a toxic burden is wearing your system down you will have to get in touch with your functional medicine provider.

The good news is there are solutions; your body is designed to get rid of toxins. Sometimes it just needs a little help.  In short, remember that toxins of all varieties destroy the immune system and lead to dozens of symptoms from estrogen dominance to asthma and even neurodegeneration.  Brainstorm ways to reduce your toxic exposure.

2.  Next up – food sensitivities. First I need you to imagine a tennis court. This is a decent sized surface area. If you spread out all the surface area of the inside lining of your gut, this area is larger than a tennis court. Right underneath your tennis court sized gut lining lies approximately 70% of your immune system. Every time you eat a food that you are sensitive to – your immune system is exposed to an allergen which causes it to ramp up inflammation. Inflammation train wrecks your body, and wears out your immune system. Understanding your food sensitivities and minimizing exposure is KEY to success.  If you are concerned that you are setting off the alarm bells in your immune system by the food you eat,  bring this up to your functional medicine provider.

3.  Finally – bad bacteria. We primarily think of them as an issue in the digestive system.  But parasites and harmful bacteria can find their way into any crevice of your body.  Toxic / bad bacteria are alive and like all living things, they produce things. Unfortunately, they often produce things called endotoxins. These endotoxins communicate with your immune system which lies directly on the other side of the digestive tract. Keep that tennis court image from above fresh in your mind. Toxic producing bacteria living in a gut with a surface area larger than a tennis court that is lined by your immune system sending information (endotoxins) out that trigger panic for your immune system. Scary, right?  As you might have guessed, this also leads to inflammation. 🙂 Once again, there are solutions! – talk to someone who can help.

Well this week’s message may have been alarming. Instead, let it serve as a catalyst for good conversation and motivation to start with the basics (from last week), book an appointment with a provider if you need, and tune into Jenni’s blog next week. Just to keep us smiling, don’t forget that laughter boosts the immune system. Don’t dismiss the power of the small things that can turn our days and our systems around.


Written By:

Mikayla Todd, FNP
Adult Functional Medicine Practitioner

Stephanie Ritari, PA-C

Stephanie Ritari is a board-certified Physician Assistant who offers primary care for adults at the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center. She specializes in Internal Medicine and has spent the majority of her career in the field of cardiovascular disorders.

Stephanie has more than 15 years experience as a Physician Assistant in a variety of medical areas, including cardiology and electrophysiology. Holistic practices have long been a part of Stephanie’s lifestyle, with a particular focus on clean living and nutrition. She has embedded functional principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. After watching family members struggle to find answers for their chronic illnesses, Stephanie became more interested in finding ways to take a root cause approach in her own practice. Wanting to provide a proactive, comprehensive, and preventative scope of care for her patients, Stephanie began studying functional medicine. In 2021, she joined Functional Medicine of Idaho, where she is able to provide evidence based, root cause medicine.

Stephanie earned her Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Montana and her masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Rocky Mountain College. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine. 

In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and dog doing outdoor activities including biking, hiking, and skiing. She also loves interior design and traveling, and is hoping to start her own garden in the near future.

Dr. David Musnick, MD, IFMCP

David Musnick is a board-certified medical doctor who offers in-person and telemedicine care from the Functional Medicine of Idaho Eagle clinic (coming soon). Dr. Musnick offers Functional Medicine, Sports Medicine, Functional Immunology, and Primary Care for adults and teenagers. He specializes in sports medicine, internal medicine, frequency specific microcurrent (FSM), scars, homeopathy, prolotherapy, and low-level laser treatments. 

Dr. Musnick is interested in getting to the root of underlying causes and factors that affect healing, including diet, sleep, exercise, stress, GI health, brain region health, toxins, hormones, infections, and electromagnetic fields (EMF). In medical school, Dr. Musnick spent a year studying nutrition. He has always been interested in the complex interrelationships of different systems of the body. Taking on challenges in the past, he created new treatment programs to heal the brain after concussion, treat chronic pain, arthritis, and tough SIBO and IBS cases. Dr. Musnick wants to help his patients achieve the highest level of health, vitality and function. 

After his internal medicine residency in Seattle, Dr. Musnick completed a fellowship in sports medicine where he became interested in helping patients get back to optimal musculoskeletal health and eventually back to their favorite activities. He quickly learned that many areas of the body were interrelated and started learning more about nutrition, supplements, and other facets of functional medicine. Dr. Musnick has more than 24 years of experience in Functional Medicine and achieved a very high level of both experience and expertise with many health conditions. He is also the author of the book, Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, and helped in writing textbook chapters on arthritis and concussions.

Dr. Musnick received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of California, San Francisco. He is certified through the Institute for Functional Medicine as an IFMCP. He also studied in the French school of Homeopathy. He is uniquely rare in that he teaches Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) and how to integrate it with functional medicine. 

In his spare time, Dr. Musnick enjoys hiking, nature photography, cooking healthy food, mountain biking, and skiing.

IFM Certified Practitioner

Aaron Dykstra, DNP, FNP-C

Aaron Dykstra is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. He offers pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Functional and alternative therapies were a part of Aaron’s life from a young age, and he has implemented these principles into his conventional medicine practice throughout his career. Aaron has more than 8 years of experience in a variety of medical disciplines, including pediatrics, obstetrics, mental health, and nutrition. He has practiced in rural health clinics in California and Oregon. For the last 5 years, Aaron has had a passion for working with children and implementing positive change through the family unit. Aaron joined the Functional Medicine of Idaho Pediatric Team in 2021. His enthusiasm for educating children and parents about living a healthy lifestyle allows him to provide preventative and acute care for infants, children, and adolescents. 

Aaron obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Brigham Young University. He earned both his Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through the University of Arizona. He has obtained a Family Herbalist and Family Nutritionist certifications through The School of Natural Healing by Dr. Christopher. He is currently working towards his certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Aaron spending time with his wife and 5 kids, mountain biking, running, or camping in the backyard. Aaron is a big fan of Master Chef and enjoys cooking.

Nadia Kravchuk, DNP, FNP-C

Nadia Kravchuk is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. She offers functional pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Nadia and her family immigrated to the United States in 1989 where they first settled in Oregon and then moved to Idaho in 2001. Complementary medicine practices were embedded into her lifestyle at a young age, and she has implemented these principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. She has more than 15 years experience in a variety of medical environments, including emergency room, intensive care unit, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family practice, and aesthetics.

Nadia joined Functional Medicine of Idaho so that she can combine functional principles with the foundations of conventional medicine to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. As an avid gardener, beekeeper, and sustainable living enthusiast, she understands the importance and role of optimizing nutrition, sleep, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. She has a passion for pediatric functional medicine and understands that early recognition and interventions can correct imbalances, prevent chronic illness, and improve overall outcomes for children.

Nadia obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Northwest Nazarene University. She earned both her Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through Frontier Nursing University. In 2017, she was the recipient of the HCA Excellence in Nursing Award. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Nadia working on her urban homestead, hiking, foraging, camping, snowboarding, and spending time with her husband and her dog, Wolfy. She is also fluent in both English and Russian.