In this last article of our series on natural approaches to better health, we’ll talk about specific steps you can take to boost your immune system, improve your body’s ability to detoxify, digest food more efficiently and naturally increase levels of health-giving hormones.
In previous articles we’ve looked at what factors count most when improving your health as well as some of the ways you can fine-tune these to feel better. You will find links to the previous 2 parts of this series at the end of this article.
Building Core Health
Core health refers to addressing health issues at the deepest levels.
Reed Davis, founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) talks about these levels using the following diagram:
You can see that the brain and body communicate through a variety of mechanisms. The 3 shown on the diagram are the most crucial, but there are others. And because our bodies are designed to work perfectly, 100% functioning is what we should normally expect.
At the same time, life presents us with challenges and stressors. Think about a tiger jumping out in front of you on a jungle path. You need to have the ability to deal with this sort of immediate stress so you will be alive for the future.
And since our bodies are designed to be 100% functional, this kind of short-term, immediate stress is one we normally recover from quickly.
The Beginning of Health Problems
Health problems begin when the stressors become chronic. If we experience stress every day over a prolonged period of time, our ability to function at 100% decreases. This is when malfunctions start that ultimately lead to disease and symptoms.
Note that symptoms are the last step of this process. Symptoms are what grab our attention so we’ll do something about the problem. But as you can see from the diagram, simply relieving symptoms doesn’t do anything to correct the underlying problem causing them in the first place.
Also note that stressors can be more than ‘tigers on the path.’ They also include eating the wrong foods, exposure to toxins & pathogens, emotional stress (especially ongoing stress), weak digestion & immune system and impaired ability of the body to detoxify.
Reversing the Downward Health Spiral
All of these stressors over time decrease our ability to adapt. This impacts our quality of life in numerous ways. Knowing where to look to discover what stage of the process we’re experiencing gives us the information to reverse the downward momentum and restore healthy functioning.
There are 4 areas where core health issues affect us. What follows is a list of these areas and how we can test and correct problems in each.
The 4 areas are:
1) Steroidal Hormone Pathway Balance
Your endocrine system, especially your adrenals, take on the biggest role in adaptive responses. Think of the adrenals as your ‘survival’ organs.
When stress becomes chronic, adrenal resources ‘hard wire’ into immediate stress pathways, i.e. elevated cortisol (the stress hormone). The long-term result is that the other vital adrenal functions, including creating sex hormones, get short shrift. This imbalance of adrenal resources leads to chronic disease.
When your adrenals are out of balance this way it can affect virtually every other aspect of your health. Here’s a short list showing some of these effects:
- Musculo-skeletal health – bone and muscle strength diminish causing weakness and osteoporosis
- Energy level decreases, fatigue increases meaning you get less done
- Quality of memory, thinking, sleep and mood goes down interfering with quality of life
- Insulin levels and blood sugar metabolism becomes less efficient causing metabolic syndrome and ultimately type II diabetes
- Detoxification capacity diminishes creating toxic overload
- Thyroid function and sex hormones are affected, leading to problems with lower energy and libido
- Inflammation (joint pain, fibromyalgia, etc.) increases, along with chronic pain and ultimately increasing the likelihood of cancer and heart disease
- Protein turnover, weight & fat distribution, digestive efficiency all suffer, meaning you don’t absorb and use the foods you eat efficiently
- Immune system becomes weaker creating an increase in acute infections along with a greater likelihood of cancer and other chronic problems
2) Detoxification Efficiency
Your liver, kidneys, intestines, lymph system, skin and lungs comprise the majority of the ways your body eliminates toxic byproducts of metabolism as well as environmental toxins. When any or all of these organs and systems become compromised, the result is a build-up of toxicity in the body. This in turn creates an additional stress your body must adapt to.
When you lose the ability to efficiently detoxify, symptoms can include feeling sluggish and tired, problems with elimination, and even emotional reactivity or depression.
3) Immune System Resilience
Skin and the mucosal barrier (the lining of your respiratory and digestive tracts) is the first line of defense for fighting off pathogenic influences. In addition, the ability of your lymphocytes and other protective cells to neutralize invaders is crucial to survival and optimal health.
When you find yourself coming down with more colds and infections and not recovering as quickly as you used to, this tells you that your immune system isn’t as strong as it once was.
4) Digestive Tract Integrity
With the typical modern diet, we’re exposed to foods our ancestors never heard of, and certainly never ate. Genetically our bodies aren’t capable of getting adequate nutrition from these modern highly processed, de-natured foods. In addition, every person has a unique mix of foods that are ideal for their optimal health.
As a result of both these factors, eating the wrong foods creates another major source of stress on the body.
Knowing all of the above, you can see that restoring optimal health in somewhat complex. Because of this it’s important to have the best possible information about what’s going on before embarking on the path of restoring balance.
The best approach is to take the most basic steps first. This means starting with the right foods. Metabolic Typing® and Mediator Response Testing (MRT) are ideal ways to determine the right ‘fuel’ for your system.
Once that’s clear, it’s important to determine the status of your adrenals. Because they are your first line of survival and adaptation, any stresses over time will reduce their effectiveness. This testing process starts with measuring cortisol and DHEA levels as well as doing a general metabolic profile. These are determined using saliva and urine tests.
With this level of information, it’s possible to recommend treatment for correcting the underlying issues. It’s also possible to determine if there are other issues that may be part of the overall picture. At that point you can get support for the detoxification process, immune system and digestion as needed.
The end result is a general improvement in every area of health as well as a return to feeling stronger and more balanced. If you’d like to learn more about this approach to supporting your health, please contact me for a no cost consultation at (775-827-6901) or email me by clicking here
Links to the previous parts of this article series:
Intro: What Will Genetic Research Tell Us About Human Health?
Beyond Genetics Part 1
Beyond Genetics Part 2
Reed Davis (Founder of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition), from notes taken during his FDN practitioner training course.
Wolcott, William (founder of Healthexcel Metabolic Typing®), from notes posted on the Metabolic Typing® Advisor’s forum.
The Healthexcel.com, online information library of Metabolic Typing®.
Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.