I've been there myself...
You are eating the 'perfect diet', refusing to eat out or have others cook for you, because you need to know exactly what ingredients were used, the cooking method and the whole journey from ground to table that your side of steamed broccoli went through.
You try your absolute best with your diet, sleep routine, trying to remember to take supplement, but you still aren't getting better.
There are many things that can interfere with healing and overall wellness. In this blog post I will share the main 'roadblocks' that have been a barrier for both clients and in my own health. I will also be sharing the best recommendations on how to to overcome them at the end of this post .
Parasites, SIBO, Lyme disease, candida, Epstein Bar....I could go on!
We all naturally harbour some of these critters in our bodies. It is when our level of vitality drops that these organisms quickly overgrow and move from 'commensal' to pathogenic.
A chronic low-grade infection can act like a constant drain on your bodies resources, preventing your immune system from addressing other symptoms or conditions. These co-infections can be a driver of your illness, but may also be at the root of your problems.
I have yet to speak to someone who doesn't sound like they have a nutrient deficiency, myself included!
Due to intensive farming methods, poor food quality, environmental toxicity and chronic stress, we are all at risk of becoming nutrient deficient, which ultimately affects how well our body functions.
Magnesium is one of the minerals that most people are deficient in. It is a co-factor in over 350 enzymatic reactions in our body, meaning that without adequate magnesium, there are over 330 things our body can't do well!
You could be living a stress free lifestyle, meditating on the beach in Hawaii, eating locally sourced food everyday, but if you're magnesium deficient you may never be able to fully address your migraines, muscle cramps or insomnia!
If you are reading this post, you have likely removed the big offenders when it comes to food intolerances- gluten, dairy, corn, soy, sugar and alcohol, however there are compounds, found in even the healthiest foods, that could still be causing inflammation in your body.
Histamine, salicylates, oxalates and lectins are often missed when your trying to identify personal triggers. For me personally, when I first started on my health journey I would consume fermented foods daily, not knowing that histamine rich foods were one of the worst triggers for my acne, anxiety, dermatitis, joint pain and headaches.
I associated my worsening symptoms to a 'die off' reaction, caused by this new way of eating.
I was cleansing and detoxing by eating this 'perfect' food right?
This is a problem with many of the food lists available online. They will never be catered to your unique body! You could be eliminating a perfectly healthy food or following an overly restrictive diet plan for months unnecessarily, causing extra stress and possible nutrient deficiencies.
Listen to your body, but don't become overly obsessed with food. Working with a qualified health practitioner can be helpful if you feel like you are unable to tolerate many foods or cannot seem to identify your food sensitivities.
Stress / High Cortisol
Stress promotes inflammation and has the ability to exacerbate any health condition you may have.
Cortisol (our main stress hormone ) is anti-inflammatory and protective, to a point. It's when it becomes chronic and un-managed, that things start to go haywire.
"But I'm not that stressed!"...I hear some of you say.
You may not feel psychologically stressed and you may be a pretty laid back person, however your environment and lifestyle could be stressing your body, without you even knowing! Think toxic mould exposure, EMF pollution from your tech devices, excessive exercising, exposure to toxic endocrine disruptors, nutrient deficiencies, food intolerances, a disrupted circadian rhythm......( I could go on! )
Chronic stress can lead to low cortisol output or cortisol resistance (a similar mechanism to insulin resistance) if not managed appropriately, preventing the body from healing and repairing.
Remember, our body can only be in one of two states at any time. The Parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest, healing) or the Sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze).
You may have looked into nutrient deficiencies as a possible cause of your symptoms, but have you thought about toxicity being a culprit?
chemicals food chain, air, skincare products.
It's no surprise to hear that our planet is becoming more and more toxic each year. Hundreds of new furniture and are released from labs, into our Even fish are becoming contaminated with dioxins and heavy metals in our oceans.
To make things simpler ( and less scary ), think about where you spend most of your time and assess the toxicity potential. In your home, make the swap to non toxic cleaning products and beauty brands. At work, invest in a air purifier or be on the look out for toxic mould. Time to get that damp ceiling checked out!
Emotional / Spiritual
Last on this list, but certainly not least, is your emotional and spiritual health.
Did you know that your body holds and stores the emotions you don't deal with. Anger disrupts the liver, worry is held in the stomach and fear weakens the kidneys.
Your thoughts create your actions on a conscious and unconscious level. Social isolation has been shown to be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!
Childhood trauma can literally change your stress response and nervous system, so that your body remains hyper-vigilant and under a constant low grade chronic stress, even into adulthood.
Not feeling like you have a purpose in life, being fearful about the future and not believing you can get better are ALL 'roadblocks' to healing.
(If you believe that this may be impacting your health, I recommend you seek help from a therapist, energy healer or counsellor. )
Now that I've shared some of the possible factors that could be contributing to your health issues, I will share some of the recommendations for the next steps you can take in your health journey.
This post wasn't written to overwhelm you, but to give you hope that there may be something that's been missed or overlooked during your previous treatments.
I HIGHLY recommend working alongside a qualified healthcare practitioner and not self treating. Whether it's a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist trained in Functional Medicine principles like myself, a Herbalist, Naturopath or Functional Medicine Doctor, we have all undergone years of education and will ultimately save you time, stress and money in the long run.
1. Get functional lab testing. The labs run by your GP are pretty basic and often miss crucial information. Parasite testing, adrenal panels and full thyroid function results (to name a few), commonly come back 'normal' because the equipment and reference ranges used aren't optimal. Or your Doctor just refuses to test these things!
This is another reason to work with someone trained, as you wont be able to order or interpret most of these labs yourself. You can do all of the other things on this list, but if you're dealing with an unidentified SIBO infection, for example, your immune system is going to be on overdrive and you wont be absorbing your food correctly.
2. Boost vitality levels. When your levels of vitality drops, this is when your more prone to contracting a viral infection or parasite, and become less tolerate of environmental toxins.
Don't run yourself into the ground. Have a relaxing Epsom salt bath 3x week. Read that new book you've never had time to start. Spend time with friends. Nourish your body with nutritious, organic foods. Head to a yoga class. And have FUN!
3. Stress management/ Me time. It is important to find ways to manage your stress levels on a daily basis. We all know that meditation is wonderful for health, but if you seriously hate it and spend every second waiting for the session end....do something else!! Maybe art is your'thing' ? Walking in nature with a loved one? Knitting?
It should be something that makes it feel like time passes quickly and something you love to do. Try to avoid choosing something that involves technology for extra bonus points! (Avoid those EMF's!)
4. Eat a personalised, varied diet. Yes, take out the 'big offenders' for a period of time, but don't then become obsessive about what your eating and continue to eliminate food after food. This is a recipe for disaster. A lot of people get stuck in this cycle, and are left with 6 'safe' foods and several nutrient deficiencies, which will prevent healing.
Food intolerance testing can be helpful in some cases, but is often unreliable. Instead, listen to your intuition, track when your symptoms worsen, then revisit what you ate the past few days, keeping a food journal. If your symptoms are daily, try a short term Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP), as this does a great job at eliminating common sensitivities. Don't just obsessively follow a food list you found online for the next 3 years, as we are all different and sometimes it's not even the food that's the issue!
Also, make sure you are eating enough food! This is a common mistake that I see many clients make. Restrictive diets and limited nutrient intake can prevent healing as your body needs the fuel to function optimally and regenerate. You may need to track your food for a few days in order to measure your caloric intake.
5. Go Organic! (Whenever possible). The biggest thing we can do to lower out toxic burden is to consume organic food and use organic, non toxic products on our skin and in our homes. Our food we eat is the biggest and most important interface our immune system has with the environment.
Our immune system is mainly located in the gut (over 70%), so we need to ensure what we eat is recognisable to our human body (bye, bye Oreo's ) and causes the lowest immune reaction possible. Some of these man-made foods and chemicals weren't around even 5 years ago, so our body doesn't recognise them as being 'safe'!
Start with buying the 'Dirty Dozen' fruit and veg organic, if you are financially limited. Next time you run out of body lotion, opt for the natural, 'safer' brands. Do as much as you can. Organic, non toxic everything is the goal but it may take time and budgeting to achieve this.
P.S, how sad is it that we have to choose and pay for 'safe' products...shouldn't everything be like that to start with? !
6. Identify possible emotional/spiritual barriers. This can range from quitting a job you hate and finally starting your dream business, to working with a therapist to uncover and work through some deep, troubling experiences from childhood. Remember emotions are stored in the body and create 'dis-ease'. It doesn't always have to be a major traumatic event, it could have been the bullying you experienced in high school or your parents divorce when you were 10.
Call up your brother who you haven't spoken to in 10 years to apologise for what you did. Sit down with your partner and tell them that you feel unsupported. Read self help books to help you understand and overcome your chronic anxiety and self doubt. Changing your diet and taking a new supplement may be way easier than delving into this area for you, but trust me its very important and is often the missing puzzle piece for people dealing with unrelenting health issues.
Identifying and addressing these factors on your own can be difficult.
If you would like 1-on-1 support, you can apply to work with me. I see the majority of my clients virtually, via Skype, meaning that you don't even have to leave your house!