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:
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
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
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: The liver makes fat soluble toxins
water soluble. This may completely
neutralize the toxin or turn it into something even more toxic.
2: Toxins left over from Phase 1 are
neutralized and prepared for elimination.
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:
the supply of toxins
the organs of Detoxification & Drainage
the elimination of toxins
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
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.
steady stable supply of glucose. (Blood
steady stable supply of oxygen. (Oxygen
from other neurons. (Neurotransmitter
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.