Make health a priority; address 'silent' problems
By Dr. Martin Gleixner, MSc, ND
Every day, in my medical practice, patients ask me a fundamental question “what can I do to be healthier?”
Addressing the basics is often a great first start; such as:
- creating an individualized nutritional plan
- improving sleep; and
- moving the body on a daily basis by incorporating more activities and exercise.
Patients are often surprised how much better they feel by tackling such basics. The key with such an approach is to individualize recommendations such that they line up well with each person’s health goals: whether it’s to address a specific disease, improving overall health, reaching an optimal weight, increasing sport performance, etc…
But can we do more to prevent or treat disease? The short answer is, yes!
Patients who are diagnosed with a chronic disease often ask questions such as: “how did I get this disease even though I exercise and eat better than all my friends?” Rarely can genetic susceptibilities alone explain such a dichotomy. Chronic disease, whether it’s irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cancer, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, etc… are rarely (if ever!) caused by only one problem. Rather, there is an overlay of many different causes that converge together. In reality, the causes of diseases is therefore multifactorial.
The goal therefore is to look for the reason(s) your body has developed symptoms/disease. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I conduct extensive detective work to determine which imbalances in the body contribute the most to one’s health challenges; these can include:
- Chronic food allergies/intolerances
- Nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, excess alcohol, excess sugar (& simple carbs)
- Environmental allergens
- Toxins (molds, pesticides/herbicides, PCBs, heavy metals, xenoestrogens, Bisphenol-A, etc…)
- Stress, life events, mental/emotional issues (worry, anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc…)
- Genetic predispositions
- Smoking, recreational drug use
- Lack of sleep, shift work, postural problems
- Excess work (mental or physical), states of exhaustion (‘burnout’)
- Excess or lack of exercise
- Pharmaceutical medication side-effects
- Previous serious acute infections (e.g. pneumonia, gastroenteritis, bronchitis, etc…)
- Congested lymphatic system
- Immune system dysregulation and autoimmune reactions
- Hormone imbalances (related to thyroid, adrenal, ovary/testicular, etc…)
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Neurotransmitter imbalances
- Decreased liver function or congestion, liver inflammation
- Poor digestive health: inflammation of the lining, presence of abnormal microbes (called ‘dysbiosis’), long-term constipation/ diarrhea, etc…
From this list, five causes particularly stand out:
- gut dysbiosis;
- food sensitivities;
- dysfunctional lymphatic system;
- toxicity; and
- subconscious stress.
I call these “the silent imbalancers”. They are particularly problematic because they affect most people with chronic health problems, they tend to influence bodily functions 24 hours per day, they can be difficult to diagnose, and can often go undetected because many people are not aware of them!
Dysbiosis, food sensitivities and toxicity can be especially difficult because they require unique diagnostic tests that are not yet conducted by our local hospitals. The reality of the situation is that hospitals are mainly interested in making sure that you won’t die today (important no doubt!) by using stop-gap solutions for acute and chronic problems, but are less focused on determining the root cause of chronic disease. Although our present health care system is often slow to integrate new diagnostic tools, as Naturopathic Doctors we provide many diagnostic tests that fill any gaps in our ability to understand health conditions. These can include IgG food sensitivity blood tests, stool tests to check for the presence of bad bacteria and yeast (e.g. Candida) and chelation urine provocation tests to determine the body burden of heavy metals.
Today’s column will be the first of a series of articles focusing mainly on understanding these ‘silent imbalancers’.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, helping patients understand the cause of their health condition is the first step in addressing the epidemic of chronic health problems in our society. In a nut shell, I can quote my colleague Dr. Jason Hughes, ND: “If you get hit by a bus, go see your MD, if you wake up in the morning feeling like you got hit by a bus, go see your ND”. Determining the “why” for your symptoms or disease is the stepping-stone for healing.
Published by Dr. Gleixner on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 in Times & Transcript.
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