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Five Reasons Why Your Health Isn't Improving

As a health educator, I help clients understand chronic disease and look at the various areas of their life that are out of balance and contributing to poor health. Although clients have the best intentions to eat well and make healthy lifestyle changes, why is it that all those healthy habits and hard work don't produce good results? Here are the top five reasons I've seen in my practice.

#1: If emotional issues have not been resolved, clients may not be motivated to make changes and as a result, may need to eat to soothe their stress. High stress levels make the adrenal glands release cortisol, which in excess levels can significantly decrease function of the immune, reproductive, and digestive systems. Health practitioners need to recognize this and either help the client with emotional issues or stress, or refer them to someone who can. One example of a proven winner is the Emotional Freedom Technique, known as "tapping", which was created by Gary Craig.

#2: Your health practitioner hasn’t helped you identify the root cause of your health issue. Diseases can have five potential causes: physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental, and spiritual. Although we may have the same health problem as someone else, our root causes can be very different and can stem from our own unique mix. It is helpful to see health professionals that practice Functional Medicine, that is, they look at the five causes, rather than just treating the symptoms. An example of this disparity is treating a headache with pain medications, when a hormonal imbalance could be the cause. Our modern day healthcare system being what it is, many doctors simply don’t have the time to spend an hour on that initial visit to play medical detective.

#3: You can eat all the healthy food you want, but if digestion is insufficient, you won’t break down food into a form that’s usable by the body. As we age, our production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid may decrease. Also, the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder may be tired and congested from our modern diets and environmental toxins, meaning they are not functioning optimally to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Foods that we love that used to nourish us now become irritating and inflammatory to our bodies. It’s helpful to find a practitioner that can explain the digestive process and recommend nutritional supplements like Swedish Bitters, which help stimulate saliva, gastric juices, and bile.

#4: Physicians may order tests that don’t get the information we need to find the source of the problem. Blood tests will only measure what is in the circulatory system. Functional medicine doctors and naturopaths may use saliva testing, to see what level of the substance being tested is actually in the tissues of the body. Specialized urine tests are used as well, to measure what toxins and byproducts of yeast and bacteria are being excreted. Stool tests can measure levels of good and bad bacteria, parasites, or fungi that inhabit the gut. An example of inadequate testing I’ve seen often is the blood test for thyroid hormones. Many people, although they have symptoms of low thyroid, will have perfectly normal blood test results. The saliva test for the same hormone will show that the level is low and needs to be boosted.

#5: Last but not least, we need multiple hardy strains of good bacteria in our digestive tracts to digest nutrients and fight off bad bacteria, viruses, and yeast. These bacteria (known as the microbiome) also help manufacture brain chemicals for sleep and mood. Many of us, due to use of antibiotics, chlorinated water, or artificial sweeteners, do not have the diversity or volume of good bacteria necessary for optimal digestion and immunity. Given the wide range of things these good bacteria do, their effects are far reaching and must be taken into account if your health is not improving. An effective way to support your good bacteria is to take a probiotic supplement recommended by a healthcare practitioner you trust, or consume naturally fermented foods, like Kimchi or lactofermented vegetables that you can make yourself or purchase in a health food store.

For all of you that are not getting well in spite of your best efforts, know that there are practitioners out there that will help you get to the root cause of your issue. I hope this article provides a starting point for discussion with your healthcare provider.

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