The Top Five Threats To Your Health

There are a lot of things which compete for your time and attention these days. In an effort to manage all the demands on your time, you may be tempted to let your health take a backseat. Yet, your health is one of the most precious things you possess and it's vital to your being able to successfully meet the challenges at hand. Here are five areas where your health could be at risk and some steps you can take to counter those threats.

Top Five Threats To Your Health

1. Stress:

You've probably guessed that stress would figure in somewhere on this list. Well, it ranks as number one. What puts stress at the top of the list is the fact that all of the other 4 threats to your health are influenced by the amount of stress in your life.

Nearly everyone is affected by stress, including kids. Sadly, prolonged stress may even start to feel "normal" to you, but there is nothing normal about its effects on your health. When it comes to a dangerous, life-threatening situation, the stress response - that fight, flight or freeze reaction - is healthy and key to your physical survival. But when every day is filled with physical, financial, social or work challenges, the stress response itself becomes a threat to your health and overtime, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol start to break down your body.

If the cause of stress in your life is not modified or removed, it can lead to chronic illness. As shown here, every part of your body is susceptible to the effects of ongoing stress:

  • Digestion: Irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, constipation, weight gain

  • Lungs: Asthma, bronchitis

  • Heart and Circulation: High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart attack, stroke

  • Musculoskeletal System: Arthritis, fibromyalgia

  • Nervous System: Depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder

  • Cognition: Dementia

  • Reproduction: Infertility, erectile dysfunction

  • Immune System: Chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disease

The causes of stress in your life may be easy to pinpoint, like work, finances or family. They may also be less apparent, but may nevertheless leave their mark by making you feel tired and weak or by adding some weight to your waistline. Here's a list of some common stressors:

  • Psychological: Family, finances, work, school/university, major life events

  • Physiological: Infection, accidents, surgery, pain (acute & chronic), repeated intense sports, poor sleep

  • Environmental: Exposure to chemicals & toxins, allergens, mold, noise & air pollution

  • Metabolic: Nutritional deficiencies, prescription medications, inflammation, diets high in fats, sugar or salt, impaired ability to clear toxins

Life is stressful, but the good news is you can counteract stress. Your body is resilient and capable of recovery. Here are a few ways you can start to reduce the ill effects of stress on your health:

  • Get more sleep. Your body repairs itself while you sleep. Adequate sleep - 7-9 hours each night - will enable you to better cope with the stressors in your life.

  • Take just a few minutes to breathe from your belly. Deep breathing increases your oxygen intake, releases tension, and directly counteracts the negative impact of stress on your nervous system. Do this for five minutes each day for 2 weeks and you will have developed a habit that will increase your stress resilience.

  • Take time to eat three healthy meals each day.

  • Take a break from your work or whatever challenge you may be facing and go for a walk or bike ride. Movement, coupled with some fresh air can help you focus more effectively on the challenges at hand.

When faced with too much to do and too little time, you might be tempted to skip meals, workouts and even getting enough sleep. But these three things - along with the breathing exercises - are among the most important ways you can combat stress. Taking time to look for ways to build them into your schedule and keep them there is key to transforming stress.

2. Inflammation:

You don't get far in life without getting a few bumps and scrapes. When your body suffers injury, your immune system quickly jumps into action and produces the familiar signs of acute inflammation: swelling, pain, redness, and heat. This acute inflammatory reaction is a good thing - a normal and necessary part of the healing process. Sometimes, however, the inflammatory response continues unabated. It's then that too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing, resulting in a state of chronic inflammation which can wreak havoc with our health without our even knowing it. Overtime, this can lead to serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer.

The ugly truth about chronic inflammation is the fact that our lifestyles play a major role in the development of this serious condition:

  • Prolonged stress

  • Smoking

  • Poor dietary habits

  • Too much alcohol

  • Obesity

Even things like too little exercise or too much exercise - overexertion - can negatively impact our bodies' ability to resolve acute inflammation properly.

Overtime, these things add up and then interfere with the normal immune response so that the inflammation never stops.

Food allergies also cause low-grade inflammation which overtime can damage the lining of our gut. Similarly, prolonged use of antibiotics can disturb the normal balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, resulting in an inflamed and leaky gut lining. Once the lining of the gut is inflamed, it can become more permeable. Important nutrients aren't absorbed while toxins, pathogens, and other undesirable substances are absorbed and go on to cause inflammation in other parts of the body.

Since chronic inflammation is often silent, it's important to be aware of it's signs. Here are a few common signs:

  • Digestive problems

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Weight Gain - especially increases in your waistline

  • Always feeling hungry

  • Headaches

  • Poor concentration

  • Dazed feeling when you wake up

The good news is that you can heal from chronic inflammation and can take steps to prevent it from rearing its ugly head. Depending upon your symptoms, your health care practitioner may order blood tests to clarify the source of the inflammation. Since chronic inflammation is often caused by more than one factor, true healing necessitates a holistic approach that takes your health, your diet, your relationships, as well as your home and work environments into account.

Many people turn to over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil or to prescription medications like steroids for relief. While they all reduce inflammation, they have side effects and fail to treat the underlying cause of the inflammation. Here are a few key changes you can make to reduce inflammation:

  • Cut out inflammatory foods: fast food, sugary foods, high glycemic carbohydrates, processed meats, meats with low quality fat, and foods high in pro-inflammatory fats like Omega 6.

  • If you aren't already taking Omega 3 supplements, do so. But choose a high quality fish oil, one without environmental contaminants. Omega 3s from plant sources are also available if you can't tolerate fish oils.

  • Cook with healthy oils that can withstand high heat like coconut, red palm, and rice bran oils. It's best to use extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil on salads or after food has been cooked. If you do cook with olive oil, don't overheat it.

  • Limit your red meat consumption and eat only grass fed beef.

  • Eat wild caught fish. Preferably, salmon, mackerel, sardines.

  • Eat lots of vegetables, but limit your intake of starchy vegetables.

  • If you don't eat fresh fruit, add it to your diet, but stick to fruits low in fruit sugar like apples and berries.

  • Exercise! Even just adding a walk to your daily routine will help.

  • Get enough sleep. Our bodies regenerate while we sleep.

  • Look for ways you can reduce your level of stress. This may mean saying "no" to some activities, but the benefits to your health will be well worth it.

  • OmegaGenics SPM's are formulated to help your immune system resolve inflammation by removing the debris in your tissues - something Omega 3 oils don't do - so that healing can take place.

3. An Unhealthy Gut

Did you know that your gut is one of the key components of your immune system, not to mention your overall health? Your gut contains over 11 trillion bacteria that line the walls of your gastro-intestinal tract and act to help you properly digest and absorb nutrients from food, synthesize vitamins, as well as inactivate and eliminate toxins and other unwanted organisms.

An imbalance in the various types of bacteria (good and bad bacteria) that populate your gut can have far-reaching consequences on your health. When the healthy balance in your gut is disturbed, the lining of your gut becomes inflamed and no longer functions optimally. The result is a leaky gut and the potential for a myriad of health problems:

  • Food allergies & intolerances

  • Nutritional deficiencies

  • Disruption of normal metabolism via the absorption of partially digested proteins which can inhibit the normal process of hormone and neurotransmitter metabolism.

  • Overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria that can travel through the leaky gut lining and cause problems in other parts of your body.

  • Absorption of metabolic wastes and microbial toxins which would normally be eliminated via the gut, but end up entering your blood stream. This increases your body's overall toxic load, putting more stress on the liver which works to detoxify your blood.

  • Increased stress on the immune system as chronic inflammation of the gut forces it to constantly react to substances that come into contact with and can be absorbed through your leaky gut.

  • Greater potential for developing allergies, asthma, and auto-immune illnesses.

  • Greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, autism, and ADHD from neurotoxins produced by the overgrowth of bad bacteria are absorbed into the bloodstream and affect the brain.

Over the course of your life, many things can impact the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut:

  • Being bottle-fed as a baby

  • Stress

  • Use of antibiotics

  • Medications like antacids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, and the Pill

  • Diet high in carbohydrates, refined sugars

  • Drinking chlorinated water

If you've been struggling with health issues, your gut is one of the first places you should look to for answers. Healing and sealing a leaky and inflamed gut involves several steps:

  • Identifying the type of bacterial imbalance

  • Taking probiotic supplements based on your bacterial deficiencies

  • Identifying any food allergies/intolerances and adjusting your diet accordingly

  • Nourishing the good bacteria in your gut by eating adequate amounts of fiber

  • Eating foods that contain lots of healthy bacteria like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh & miso soup

  • Targeted nutritional support for your gut

  • Drinking enough water and exercising to facilitate regular bowel movements

4. Toxic Overload

In today's world, toxins come in many forms. Environmental pollutants affect the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, and the products you use. Then there are the toxins produced within your own body as a result of medications, an unhealthy gut or the impaired ability of your own body to get rid of toxins naturally. Alone or in combination, these toxins can mount an attack on your physical and mental health. But what about your relationships, your work environment, and your own thought patterns? Toxicity in any of these areas can also negatively affect your overall well-being.

The symptoms of toxicity are as varied as the organs that are affected. Here are some of common symptoms associated with toxicity:

  • Allergies

  • Anxiety

  • Brain fog

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Depression

  • Digestive problems

  • Fertility problems

  • Headaches

  • Joint pain

  • Kidney dysfunction

  • Learning disorders

  • Lethargy

  • Memory loss

  • Mineral imbalances

  • Multiple chemical sensitivities

  • Panic attack

  • Skin problems

  • Tinnitus

Here are some of the chronic illnesses associated with exposure to toxins found in commonly used fast food packaging, personal care products, household cleaning products, cookware, dental fillings, and pesticides/insecticides:

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Parkinson's Disease

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Your body has an elaborate detoxification system involving the lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, and gastro-intestinal tract, which, when healthy, eliminates toxins efficiently. That is until the modern era. The world we now live and work in bombards us with toxic substances continuously and at such a rate that they accumulate within our bodies overtime. Even if you are in good health and have normal liver and kidney function, the cumulative effects of these toxins can overwhelm your body's systems, eventually leading to health problems.

Detoxing Body, Mind & Soul

Restoring your health and staying healthy involve making detoxification a part of your lifestyle - one that includes good nutrition from organic whole foods, nutritional supplements, and regular cleansing/detoxification. Depending upon your current state of health, detoxification may play a large or small role in your overall health care regimen. If you're healthy, you may only need to a detoxify your body and environment periodically. If you're suffering from chronic illness, you may need to go more slowly using a more comprehensive detoxification program. After you have made progress in eliminating toxins from your body and life, however, it can become a part of your maintenance plan.

  • Identifying the sources of toxicity in your life and environment:

  • Diet, medications, physical environment (home & work)

  • Impaired detoxification systems in your body

  • Relationships & thought patterns

  • Removing the toxins from your body

  • 10-Day or 28-Day Clear Change Program

  • The Clear Change Program is designed to enhance your body's natural detoxification process while providing adequate nutritional support for both the cleansing and your daily activities.

  • Rebuilding your body's detoxification systems

  • Probiotics

  • Digestive Support as needed (digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid)

  • Targeted nutritional supplements

  • Improving the quality and quantity of your sleep

  • Increasing movement/ physical activity

  • Reducing stress

Key to success in detoxifying your body is not to neglect the mind-body-soul connection. Your thoughts and emotions affect your physical health and vice versa. Taking the time to look at the health of your relationships, your thought patterns, and your feelings is a vital first step toward removing toxins from your life.

You're unique and so is the best approach to detoxifying your mind and spirit will be particular to your set of circumstances. You may find that just taking more time to talk with your spouse, family members or close friends helps immensely to improve relationships and reduce stress and negative thoughts. Depending upon your beliefs, you may find that meditating or spending time with other members of your faith brings new vitality into your life.

As a type of natural therapy, homeopathy stands out as powerful way to heal on multiple levels. Homeopathy has been healing people for centuries by helping the body heal itself. By looking at mental, emotional, and physical aspects of your life, a complete symptom picture is built which --after careful consideration involving an extensive database search--is matched to the remedy that best resembles you and the factors that lead up to your current state of health. The principles underlying the specialty of homeopathy have been systematically proven throughout two centuries of practice and validated by over 200 scientific studies meeting the modern criteria of acceptability.

5. A Sedentary Way of Life

Getting movement back into your life is crucial to bringing healing into the 4 health threats listed above. There's no time like the present to improve your overall well-being by getting active. And there's no other action that you can undertake that has as great an impact on your health and delivers benefits as quickly as exercise. The key is finding an activity that not only keeps you moving, but is something you enjoy as well.

The Benefits of Exercise Are Endless, So What Are You Waiting For?

Starting an exercise regimen is one of the hardest things about exercising, but once you've got a routine, you won't want to miss a workout. To get you motivated, let's look at a few of the many benefits of exercise:Helps reverse the detrimental effects of stress

  • Enhances your ability to learn

  • Keeps your brain fit, fighting memory loss

  • Improves your mood, reducing symptoms of depression

  • Helps you fall asleep faster and improves the quality of your sleep

  • Increases your chances of living longer

  • Decreases the risk of falling in older adults

  • Reduces the risk of developing certain cancers like breast and colon cancer

  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Also helps improve blood sugar control for those with diabetes

  • Reduces loss of bone density

An Object in Motion Tends to Stay in Motion

Whatever your current state of health, it's important to build some form of physical activity into your daily life. If you have health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, joint problems or are overweight, you should see your health care practitioner before you start any fitness program. Knowing your limits is key to exercising smartly. So is starting slowly so that you can maintain a routine without burning out or injuring yourself. Any comprehensive fitness plan should be tailored to your current health and should include some form aerobic activity, stretching, and resistance training. Since proper technique is important to avoiding injury and getting the maximal benefit out of the exercise, it's a good idea to work with a professional trainer or a physical therapist at first.

Track Your Progress With a Fitness App

There are numerous apps available to help you track your progress and challenge your current workout. Here are just a few apps to spice up your routine:

  • Moves: iPhone App which logs the time you spend walking, running or cycling.

  • Couch to 5K: Smartphone App for the novice runner

  • Runkeeper: Smartphone App for avid runners

  • Fitbit: Smartphone App which tracks your every step as well as calories burned and your sleep patterns

Smarter Fitness Through Genetics

Genetic screening tests like PathwayFit are available to help you better understand how your metabolism and response to exercise so that you can work out smartly and achieve optimal performance. Identifying your nutritional deficiencies aids you and your healthcare practitioner in developing a custom-made nutrition and fitness plan. No matter what type of exercise you choose, making time for it may mean saying "no" to some things, but the rewards of doing so will be well worth it! Contact us today and unlock your potential for a healthy lifestyle.

References

Harris ML et al. The influence of perceived stress on the onset of arthritis in women: findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on women's health. Ann Behav Med. 2013 Aug;46(1):9-18.

Metagenics. FirstLine Therapy: Your Journey to Better Health: A Step by Step Guide. 2015

Schneidmann N et al. Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2005;1:6-7-28.

The contents of this blog are intended for educational purposes only. The information presented here is not a substitute for proper medical attention, diagnosis, or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before starting or making any changes to an existing treatment plan, exercise program or dietary regimen, and before using nutritional supplements.

~ Dr. Sarah Williams ~ Concord & Nantucket, Massachusetts ~

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