Identify Hidden Underlying Causes


Table of Contents

How To Fix A Person’s Underlying Hidden Causes

Fixing the potential problems or at least, many of the most common underlying hidden causes of many of the most common health problems could fill a full set of encyclopedia Britannica’s. The exact means of how to put a person back on the healing path will largely be individually based and with that I believe that the health coaches of tomorrow probably understand that fact even better than most of the doctors of today. 

Below are some of my go-to methods that I currently use with clients and hopefully they can just serve as a starting point that hopefully gets you moving in the right direction and in asking some more of the right questions.  As a health and wellness, or a nutrition coach, you not only want to help clients solve a problem but, you also need to be able to build up your client’s confidence that you can deliver amazing results.  


So, here is a quick list of the go to’s for each of the most common root cause problem areas that are present today. But, please let me be very clear in saying this from the beginning, some of the ideas below will not be appropriate for every person and some of them if implemented with the wrong type of person, could even possibly create more symptoms and or make a person’s current symptoms worse off. 


Therefore, I ask you as a coach, to not just blindly go out and implement any of the following tactics with clients before reading up on them and performing your due diligence. The following list is being provided to give everyone a few ideas as to some additional treatment methods and also to to better help everyone start thinking outside of the box a bit.

Chronic Stress

  • Journaling
  • Deep Breathing
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) aka Tapping
  • Heart Math
  • Grounding
  • Spending Time in Nature
  • Reflexology
  • Acupuncture
  • Vagal Tone Activation Exercises
  • Adaptogenic Herbs
  • General Laughing 
  • And there are many more…

Digestive Dysfunction or an Imbalanced Microbiome

  • Digestive Enzyme Support
  • Apple Cider Vinegar before meals
  • Used cautiously but Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)
  • Bitter Foods
  • Ox Bile
  • Non-Dairy Based  Fermented Foods
  • Soil Based Probiotics (SBO)
  • Resistant Starches
  • Easy to Digest Foods like Blended Smoothies, Pureed Soups, and Crockpot Stews
  • And there are many more 

Intestinal Permeability (aka Leaky Gut)

  • Mucilage Supplements (Ex: Slippery Elm and Marshmallow Root)
  • High Dose Glutamine
  • Aloe Vera
  • Serum Derived Immunoglobulins
  • Collagen Peptides
  • Yeast Based Probiotics (Saccharomyces Boulardii)
    Bone Broth
  • Non-Dairy Fermented Foods
  • Short-Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) Supplementation 
  • And there are many more…

Poor Liver Function

  • Regular and Infrared Saunas
  • Increased Cruciferous Vegetable Intake 
  • Green Juices with Cilantro 
  • Methylated B-vitamin Supplements (Ex: B12, B9, and P5P or B6) 
  • Liposomal Glutathione 
  • Binder Supplements 
  • Targeted Amino Acid Supplements 
  • Phosphatidylcholine for Healthy Bile Production 
  • Improve Bowel Regularity 
  • Lymphatic Drainage Work (Ex: Dry Brushing) 
  • Lower Fat Diets 
  • The Use of Low Insulin Index Diets 
  • And there are many more…

Hidden Infections or a Compromised Immune System

  • Antimicrobial Herbs as There Are Many 
  • Improve Digestive Capabilities
  • All Types of Probiotics 
  • Cruciferous Vegetables 
  • Low to Zero Sugar Diets 
  • Biofilm Disrupting Supplements 
  • Immune Boosting Herbs (Ex: Echinacea and Astragalus, but there are actually many more)
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii Probiotic 
  • Soil Based Probiotics  (SBO)
  • Serum Derived Immunoglobulins 
  • Colostrum
  • Hormesis Tactics to Improve Stress Resilience

Intestinal Permeability (aka Leaky Gut) & Food Intolerance & Nutrient Deficiencies

  • Elimination Diets 
  • Elemental and Semi-Elemental Diets 
  • Low FODMAP Diets 
  • Spectracell Micronutrient Testing 
  • Checking for Salicylate, Oxalate, and Histamine Intolerances 
  • Food Rotation Diets 
  • Eating From the Rainbow Protocols
  • Fasting Protocols 
  • And many more…

Environmental Toxins

  • The Use of Only Green and or Organic Hygiene Products and Makeup 
  • Eat only Organic Produce 
  • Increased Sweating through Sauna Use 
  • Reverse Osmosis Filtered Drinking Water,
  • Shower Water Filter 
  • Juice Cilantro 
  • Remove all Plastic Foods and Water Containers 
  • Improve Phase II detoxification processes of the liver 
  • Binder Supplements such as Fulvic Acid 
  • Sauna Use 
  • Fasting and Caloric Restrictions that Yield Fat Loss and many more….

Common Root Cause Analysis Mistakes That Coaches Make

If you, as a  health coach, are unable to identify the true cause behind a person’s issue, it is very likely that you will both waste a ton of time and possibly money.  At best, you will only put a temporary bandage on a client’s symptoms and never truly correct or identify their real problem(s). The goal however,  is to make sure this never happens and to help you as a coach play that role of health detective just a little bit better, in terms of looking for clues to that will help your client’s have more success. 


Here is a list of some of the most common mistakes that I see coaches make today when attempting to help clients identify their root cause triggers.

1.  Does the Client Really Have a Problem?

Is there a problem that really exists or does the client just perceive there to be a problem based on information that they have heard, read, saw, or are they being influenced by someone close in terms of their thinking there is a problem? 


For example, what if your client makes the claim they want to have energy levels just like their friends claim to have day-in-and-day-out? Is this a real problem for your client or is this a situation of the client just trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” 


The best way to eliminate this from ever happening is to make sure the main problem or the primary health complaint from your client is very clearly defined. 


If not, the task of coaching that client will be almost impossible for you to achieve because there was never a true problem that was identified so the problem may not even exist. However, if your client says their energy levels are tanking each day and they can barely get out of bed after 8 plus hours of sleep each night, then yes there may be an underlying issue that  is present. 


A well-defined problem or a true and unexplained symptom will usually always have a root cause that is behind it.

Are You Asking The Right Questions of Your Clients? Use this Tool To Up Your Client/Coaching Game!


“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire

2.  Not Drilling Down to the Clients Real Reason for Change. 

There is a technique called the “5-Whys” and when used it can help clients identify the true motivations behind their goals.  Asking a client the question “why” five times, or to the point when they can no longer logically recite any further actionable step or reasons, can better help a client identify either a potential root cause and their true motivation for getting healthy.


Usually, at the end of  the “Why questions” is where you may find the largest potential root causes. For instance, if a client can’t seem to lose any body fat, you might ask her why in the first place does she want to lose that weight.  She might say that she wants to fit into her skinny jeans again as she once did 3 years ago. So, with that answer you would then ask her why is getting into your skinny jeans so important to you?  She might reply so that she can go out with her girlfriends and wear them with pride and not be self-conscious.


Then you ask why for the 3rd time and she says, so she can feel good in her own skin. Again you ask her why for the 4th time, why is that important and then she finally tells you so that her husband will look at her and see her as attractive once again? Now with that answer you are finally getting somewhere. 


You have drilled down to a self-confidence issue that may be self-sabotaging that client from reaching any health goals without her ever knowing why that is happening. The use of the 5 Whys technique can be a simple yet powerful tool that can help dig out a clients true motivation and potentially help them identify a hidden underlying root cause behind their problem.

3.  Assuming a Clients’ Problem Has Only One Root Cause. 

Many times there will be multiple causes behind a client’s problem so please do not look to pin a potential issue on just one root cause. There will be times where a root cause issue can be easily and directly connected to a problem and there are times when a connection is harder to see. A good example of this can be seen with chronic stress. 


Did you know that stress can actually cause constipation in a person or the cause behind that constipation could be a completely different root cause trigger that is completely separate from stress such as a food intolerance that causes inflammation and that is what slows down motility of the gut and that is what results in constipation. 


Other times there will be what is referred to as a “perfect storm” that materializes in a person where numerous causes and or triggers all converge at one time and or point, that result in the initial development of a problem. 


So, what’s the take-home message?  As a coach, do not hyper-focus on one possible root cause being behind a problem, especially if by doing so in any way it hinders your client’s progress. If you as their coach do not have the answers then just be clear and honest with them. 

4.  Treating a Symptom Instead of a Root Cause 

As an analogy that drives this point home, if a person goes to see their doctor for a sore throat and recurring migraines, it is important to identify that both the sore throat and migraines are just the symptoms of a problem and not the cause of the problem. 


But what the doctor will do almost every time, as well as, what many health coaches do today, is simply treat each symptom with a medication or possibly a supplement. What needs to be understood before symptom treatments are ever put into place is that there is something underlying that may be causing the person’s migraines and their sore throat. 

Whether it is the doctor or a health coach, either provider should help clients look at the causes behind their issues before any type of healing protocol is put into action. If that is done then the likelihood of a sore throat and recurring migraines from ever resurfacing again should decrease significantly.

5.  Identifying if There is Fault With the Client or With the Plan

From working with over a few thousands clients, I can tell you many times a lack of consistency or a client simply not following the plan that was put forth for a long enough period of time is the main reason as to why most coaching plans fail.  


For example, if someone goes through an antimicrobial plan with the intention of cleaning out some pathogenic bacteria from their gut but are only able to knock down the overall bacteria count by about half instead of fully wiping it out, technically the plan did work it just might have needed to be performed for a second round in order to help the client fully regain their previous levels of health. 


If the client is not made aware of that possibility ahead of time, they may feel like the plan was a failure and may even blame that failure on themselves and feel even more defeated. 


Using the same example of the antimicrobial plan  in the client above, let’s say that this time around, that the client sporadically took the antimicrobial supplements and frequently missed many of the scheduled dosages.  Instead of finishing the supplement plan over the expected 60 day time period they finished it instead over a 90 day time period or let’s say they still finished the protocol in 60 days but missed several days of taking the antimicrobials, leaving quite a few left over. 


In this instance, we would also not expect to see the desired results due to a lack of consistency in the protocol.  But again, it is really up to you, the coach, to have a certain level of respect and trust with your clients so they will be honest with you if these types of situations do present themselves and if clients are  always up front with you. 


What that means, is that both consistency and duration need to be considered when identifying if a plan did or did not work.  Please do not jump to conclusions and automatically blame the program or your client for the reason that things did not work.  Dig a bit deeper and help clients get to the real issues behind the problem.


In my experience, most of the common problems occurring with identifying hidden underlying root causes in working with clients fall on a lack of education by the coach.  If your clients do not properly understand what is the why, and how they are supposed to be doing something, then the fault lies on you, as the coach.  With that, it is important as coaches, that we constantly remind our clients where they are at the present moment, and where they are going, and how far they’ve come in working with you.


My motto is  “education drives compliance” because it is spot on accurate.  If you make your client a part of the process vs. just telling them what to do, your compliance with your clients will start to significantly increase.

“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire

Use This Tool To Help Identify Hidden Causes Holding Your Clients Back?


Case Study:Mike

So, based on all of the information on this page, let’s now attempt to put some of it into action while looking at a specific case study example of a client who has some hidden and underlying factors that may be holding him back from reaching his goals. After the red flags have been identified, how would you as a coach work this client in helping him deal with those issues? Lastly, try to detail what the long term journey might look like so that the client would be more likely to adhere to any new lifestyle plans that are put forth instead of treating them just as a quick fix. 

Meet Your New Client Mike

  • Age 45, Weight 207 lbs. and 5’10  


  • Ideal Body Weight is at 185 lbs.


  • He comes to you for help with regards to improving his sleep and secondly for weight loss. 


  • For over 10 years, he has only slept 4 to 5 hours per night, and every night he wakes up around 2 AM and can’t get back to sleep for at least an hour or even more. He then claims that he has to get up at 5:00. AM for work and that he is always exhausted.


  • He has moderately high cholesterol, pre-diabetic blood sugar levels, and a hip replacement that aches most days.


  • He has previously seen chiropractors, nutritionists, and has used weight loss medications as well as sleep medications.


  • Works late almost every night and eats dinner late as well. He tends to sleep in several hours on the weekend in order to catch up on sleep and he tells you that he falls asleep with the television each night.


  • Exercises almost every day, he does not drink caffeine and has a very low sugar intake in his current diet.


  • The client does use a CPAP machine to sleep at night for sleep apnea and reports that it does help but the CPAP machine does not prevent him from still waking up every night. 


  • He is also taking a statin medication for his cholesterol. That is the only medication that he is on.


  • His current diet for the past 90 days has been gluten and dairy-free but not grain-free and he tells you that about 80-90% of the food in his diet comes from whole foods and is organic and or clean.


  • Job is stressful as he works as a CPA in the basement of an office building and has been doing so for the past 20 years.


  • The client reports having mild GI distress for many years and at times he claims to have waves of anxiety that can come over him rather quickly but when they do they usually pass within a few hours.



  • His most recent blood work has revealed that his Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH is at 8.544, (optimal range is 1.0-2.0) his Free T3, 1.6 (optimal range 3.0-4.0) and his Free T4 is 1.3,(optimal range is 1.1-1.6) reverse T3, 36.3 (optimal range is less than 15). Currently, the client does not want to use any medications but instead wants to support his thyroid naturally.


  • Client tells you that he is very motivated to lose some weight and hopefully sleep throughout the night.



Now playing the health detective role as a coach or practitioner, how would you help Mike reach his goals and potentially get over his issues? It is safe to say that there are several red flags that  appear to be contributing to his problems. However, there are also several things that can be easily put in play that will help him quickly in effectively eliminating many of those red flags and help move him back in the right direction towards reaching his goals and feeling better. How would you as a coach guide Mike or help him in not feeling so lost with regards to his health?

How Healthy Are Your Client's Really?

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Identify Hidden Underlying Causes (Part One)

What if I told you that all of the hard work that you have spent in working with at least half of your clients has been a waste of time and money? And what if I told you that it wasn’t your fault?

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