6 Commonly Overlooked Causes of Chronic Illness
There are six fundamental health issues I look at and try to correct with every chronically ill patient or those seeking optimal quality of life. Many of these issues involve the body’s ability to make energy and to respond to its environment in a healthy way, that is, to stay balanced or regulated. If we take care of these six fundamental issues we will be in good shape to stay healthy or to heal from even very serious illnesses. If one or more of these issues is ignored our health will eventually deteriorate.
The six fundamental issues are:
1) Blood Sugar Balance
2) Oxygen Delivery
3) Drainage & Detoxification
4) Fatty Acid Supply & Balance
This article will briefly outline why each of these issues is important and some of the impacts on our health.
BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE:
When there isn’t enough energy our cells slow down, stop working, get sick or die.
Sugar is a critical energy source for our cells, especially our brain cells which consume about 25% of what we make. Our cells work best when the amount of sugar in our blood remains consistently in a range between 70 and 90 mg/dl. If the amount drops too low (Hypoglycemia) we may feel tired, irritable and anxious and perhaps even lose consciousness. If our blood sugar becomes too high (Hyperglycemia), we are at risk for destructive inflammation and the accumulation of fats.
Our blood sugar goes up after we eat and when we are stressed. Then the brain tells the pancreas to secrete Insulin. Insulin takes the sugar out of the blood and delivers it to the cells to be made into energy. Insulin will store extra energy by increasing the production of triglycerides, fatty acids, glycogen and proteins and preventing their breakdown. Any calories we don’t burn, Insulin will store as fat and prevent the breakdown of that fat.
Our blood sugar goes down between meals and our brain wants more of it when we are stressed. Then the brain tells the adrenal glands to secrete Cortisol. Cortisol converts stored energy into glucose. Cortisol also prevents the loss of that glucose by making cells more resistant to the action of Insulin. This is a primary cause of Insulin Resistance or Metabolic Syndrome which is the mechanism of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.
Insulin and Cortisol should go back and forth in a gentle see-saw. The amount of them we secrete should be like Pixie Dust. Just a little bit of it should work like magic. When Insulin and Cortisol levels go back and forth like a roller coaster we get into real trouble. Eating too many refined carbohydrates and not enough protein causes our blood sugar to spike and we secrete too much Insulin. Skipping meals and not managing our stress causes our Cortisol to spike. This kind of behavior stresses our brain, our glands and other tissues involved in blood sugar regulation.
If you would like to learn more about the impacts of Insulin and Cortisol on hormone metabolism, obesity, liver detoxification, cancer, fatty acid metabolism, energy production and more, please keep checking our website for new and more detailed articles. We will also be going over this information in various classes at the clinic, so keep checking for upcoming classes.
Our cells also need oxygen in order to make energy efficiently. Oxygen is delivered to the tissues via the Red Blood Cells. Disorders involving the Red Blood Cells are called Anemias. When we have some type of anemia our cells cannot make enough energy because they aren’t getting adequate oxygen.
Many subclinical anemias are missed today because insurance companies won’t reimburse for adequate laboratory work and doctors don’t have enough time to do the research. Fortunately very inexpensive lab testing is available to the consumer who is willing to pay for it themselves. If you would like to learn more about how to interpret your own blood work for anemias and/or how to order inexpensive lab work please keep checking our website for new articles. I will be posting this information soon.
DRAINAGE & DETOXIFICATION:
Drainage refers to the elimination of toxins from the body through our urine, feces, sweat, breath and other discharges. In another context Drainage also refers to the dislodging of toxins from their binding sites in the cells and tissues to make them available for Detoxification.
Detoxification refers to the biological transformation of a toxic substance into a non-toxic or less toxic substance in preparation for Drainage.
Another word for toxin is poison. When we look at it this way, it is obvious that our ability to Detoxify, to un-poison ourselves, is critical to our health and healing. Some of the toxins in our bodies are natural by-products of metabolism. For the most part we can handle these pretty well. However, many of the most dangerous and disruptive toxins we are exposed to everyday are new and overwhelming to our immune and detoxification systems.
Many of the most common symptoms patients suffer from today are a result of the slow but steady accumulation of small amounts of toxins. Toxins can interfere with our cells ability to produce energy and other important products like proteins, enzymes and hormones. At first the cells don’t perform as efficiently and we may just feel tired and foggy headed. Over time the cells become sicker and we feel older. Eventually this manifests as disease or even cancer.
Detoxification primarily occurs in 3 Phases:
1) Phase 1: The liver makes fat soluble toxins water soluble. This may completely neutralize the toxin or turn it into something even more toxic.
2) Phase 2: Toxins left over from Phase 1 are neutralized and prepared for elimination.
3) Phase 3: The kidneys filter water soluble toxins out of the blood.
The lymphatic system drains the tissue beds and transports toxins to the blood so they can reach the liver. Lymph nodes and cells recognize toxins in the lymph fluid and alert immune cells to break them down (inflammation).
A detoxification program can be summarized as The 4 S’s:
1) STOP the supply of toxins
2) SUPPORT the organs of Detoxification & Drainage
3) STIMULATE the elimination of toxins
4) SENSITIZE the patient for further detoxification
If you would like to learn more about what you can do about Detoxification & Drainage please download our article Detoxification: Home Practices (coming soon) or come to one of our Detoxification Classes.
FATTY ACID BALANCE:
Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) Metabolism plays an important role in inflammatory conditions and endocrine (Hormone) disorders. A lack of essential fatty acids in the diet, abnormal omega-6 to omega-3 ratios and altered fatty acid metabolism are major contributors to disease.
We absolutely need good fats. All our cell membranes are made with EFA’s. Our brains are over 50% EFA’s. EFA’s are an important energy source. EFA’s are necessary for proper hormone receptor responsiveness. The end products of EFA metabolism are important inter and intra cellular communicators. Normal EFA metabolism will result in anti-inflammatory signals. Altered EFA metabolism often results in pro-inflammatory signals.
The most important first step is to eliminate toxic fats from your diet. Read labels. Most packaged foods contain bad fats. Avoid foods made with hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil, margarine, shortening, trans-fats, fried foods (high heat alters the fat structure) and oils made from grains. Remember that the toxins that challenge us the most are fat soluble. Then think about the source of the fats you are eating.
Get your fats from whole, natural, organic foods. Avocados, nuts, seeds, meats, seafood, dairy, coconut and olive oil are a few good sources.
Here are some Sally Fallon recipes: Crispy Nut Recipes (coming soon) & Broth Recipes.
This is a very broad and complicated subject. For the purposes of this article I will touch on just a few key concepts.
Inflammation is the basic response of the immune system. When immune cells detect a foreign agent they initiate an inflammatory response to destroy it. An appropriate inflammatory response is good for us. An inappropriate inflammatory response can be destructive or leave us less than adequately protected.
A normal immune response will regulate itself. It will turn on just enough, do it’s work, and turn off. An allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system. An immune deficiency is an under-reaction. If the immune system loses its ability to turn off we may develop a chronic inflammatory condition or an auto-immune disease.
Problems with immune response frequently have their roots in chronic immune stimulation from infections or toxins or allergens. The most common site for this is the delicate membrane that separates us from the outside world, our mucus membranes. This could be in our sinuses, lungs, mouth, gut or genitalia.
In our guts we carry about 2 lbs. of bacteria. There are more bacterial cells in our gut than in our whole body. Our lives depend on the good bacteria in our gut, the “pro-biotics”. However, infectious microbes, allergens, toxins or even a lack of good bacteria can cause a deterioration of the mucus membrane barrier in our gut. This exposes our immune system to foreign substances and causes inflammation. If this condition is not treated and continues unabated we have chronic inflammation and are at risk for it spreading to other tissues. This condition is commonly known as “Leaky Gut Syndrome”.
We are exposed to microbes on our food every day. We can’t wash them all off. However, the acid in our stomach kills most of them. If you are taking antacid medication you are suppressing your normal stomach acid and are at greater risk of infection and Leaky Gut Syndrome. The best thing to do is heal the gut lining so you don’t need the medication any more.
To learn more download the article Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome and/or The Real Causes of Acid Reflux (coming soon.)
The brain is our central command center and controls or profoundly influences every aspect of our metabolism. We experience our inner and outer worlds through our brain. Poor brain function leads to dysfunction in any and/or all of our other systems. Poor brain function can cause poor gut function, impaired detoxification, inflammation, sexual dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, mood disorders, etc., etc. Likewise, dysfunction in any other body system can have strong negative impacts on brain health. The symptom sometimes reported as “brain fog” is inflammation in the brain and can be very destructive.
Even though we know the brain is vitally important most people don’t think very much about taking care of and protecting their brain. Most people pay more attention to the maintenance of their car than to the maintenance of their brain. The nerve cells that make up our brain are called neurons and they need three basic things.
1) A steady stable supply of glucose. (Blood Sugar Stability)
2) A steady stable supply of oxygen. (Oxygen Delivery)
3) Stimulation from other neurons. (Neurotransmitter supply)
Similar to a muscle the brain needs stimulation to stay healthy. A difference, however, is that a muscle can build new cells while the brain cannot. Brain cells are stimulated by the release of neurotransmitters from other neurons. So we need to make sure we are making enough neurotransmitters to keep our brains healthy and active. Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids which come from protein. So we need adequate protein in our diet. If specific neurotransmitters become depleted in the brain we can build them back up with specific nutrients.
You can download a couple of questionnaires from our website that can help you determine if you may have a neurotransmitter depletion or imbalance. Download the Neurotransmitter Assessment Form and The Braverman Questionnaire.