I'm not sick, but I'm not well!!
“I'm not sick, but I'm not well” is a cool song by the band Harvey Danger, but it also reminds me of how many people feel these days.
I see a lot of people who don't have serious health problems; they're not sick but not well either. Sometimes people forget how good they can feel if they can get rid of those niggling symptoms they have.
For a lot of people, this feeling becomes “normal” and maybe just put the symptoms down to getting older, but these symptoms are often a sign of inflammation in the body and are warning signs that things are not right. If you continue to ignore these symptoms they may lead to chronic health problems later.
These minor symptoms can include many different body systems and may seem unrelated, but if you address one or two key areas, this can make a fantastic difference to your health and energy.
Symptoms like bloating, gas, reflux, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea.
Sometimes it is just simple dietary changes that are needed to make a dramatic difference in these types of symptoms, like cutting out gluten or dairy, which are common causes of digestion problems.
However, sometimes the problems are more complex and may be caused by a parasitic infection, a bacterial infection like Helicobacter pylori or Small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO), or a candida infection.
We can test for this at Planet Naturopath with the GI Map Test which is a detailed stool test.
Fatigue, general malaise and slumps in energy can lead to cravings for carbohydrates, sweet foods, and caffeine.
This can be related to getting a poor night's sleep or possibly poor blood sugar control which is an early sign that you are at risk for diabetes.
There are some great devices out there like the Oura ring and the Apple Watch, or apps like Sleep Cycle alarm clock that can help you track your sleep quality. If there are issues then maybe doing a more advanced sleep study is a good idea to rule out sleep apnea.
To track blood sugar levels a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) maybe something you can do for a month or two, there are companies like Nutrisense in the U.S and Vively in Australia where you can get a short term subscription.
A CGM device is not just for diabetics but for anyone who wants to optimize their health.
Even though you eat well and exercise regularly, you are still gaining weight.
I see this one as becoming a more common problem; once people gain weight, they struggle to lose the weight as they are not addressing the underlying problem.
This can be related to poor sleep, inactivity, or maybe an early sign of insulin resistance, but other possible causes are hormonal problems like adrenal/ cortisol issues or thyroid problems.
This is another area that a CGM monitor can help to determine which foods are spiking your glucose levels and this can be an issue with weight gain.
We can do extensive thyroid and adrenal testing at Planet Naturopath, the best way to test adrenal function is with the DUTCH hormone test.
Stress and Overwhelm
In today's busy world, stress, anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed are common symptoms, but they are not “normal.”
Stress is normal but feeling overwhelmed by stress is not normal.
This can be related to many things, including a diet high in carbohydrates and simple sugars, adrenal issues, and nutritional deficiencies.
The latest research shows that even digestion function has an impact on your brain health.
Once again, sleep and activity levels can have a big impact (notice a common theme?)
This can include difficulty falling asleep, waking in the night, or waking up in the morning feeling so tired that you struggle out of bed and wonder if you ever slept at all.
Many people are not getting the optimal quality of sleep and optimal sleep time.
There are many more of these symptoms that are not seem like a major problem, but they stop you from enjoying life to the fullest.
This can include constant headaches, skin problems, allergies, poor circulation, fluid retention, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and aching muscles or joints.
Many people experience some of these symptoms, and they are warning sign's that something is not right.
Now is the time to address this before they turn into chronic problems that take a lot more time, effort, and money to fix, like diabetes, heart disease, depression, and auto-immune problems.
Most of the symptoms that we have discussed are signs of inflammation which is the driving factor behind chronic illnesses.
I like the analogy of your car's dashboard; if a warning light comes on (or you hear strange noises), you take it to the mechanic to find out what the problem is and then get it fixed.
If you ignore the warning light on your car dashboard, it will continue to run for a while, but eventually, the minor problem will turn into something major, and your car will break down, or it will cost you a lot more money to fix.
The solution – Address the cause!
Many of these symptoms can be addressed by simple diet and lifestyle changes; while they might be simple, it does require effort to make changes and install new, healthier habits.
That's why I recommend focusing on making changes for 30 days only, which is long enough to eliminate the carbohydrate/ sugar cravings and many of the symptoms that I have talked about so that you can see and feel the difference.
Once you start to feel better, you will be inspired to make more permanent changes, though rarely do they have to be as strict as the first 30 days.
While diet and lifestyle changes will help with many symptoms, sometimes it is necessary to dig a little deeper to find out what is causing your problems.
There are specific tests that I recommend, like The DUTCH Test or an extensive thyroid test, which can identify the cause of fatigue, weight, digestion, and hormonal problems.
Other tests can identify underlying causes of digestion problems, and addressing digestion problems can eliminate many symptoms like skin problems, headaches, anxiety, and fatigue.
If you would like more information on eliminating your symptoms and being as healthy as you can be or would like to organize some functional pathology testing. In that case, the next steps are to either schedule a consultation or check out the different tests we have available.