You could talk to ten people or ten doctors and every one is going to have different ideas on how to be healthy and in this post today will find some of my thoughts on what you can do to stay healthy. Staying healthy is a wise financial investment, and I hope something I share with you today will be of help to someone.
One of the first steps to health – eating real food. I know it can be difficult in the world we live in today where fast/fake food is glorified. For years as an adult I was determined to eat whatever I wanted, mostly because I knew that diets didn’t work. And they don’t, not to mention the wrong ones can actually set up you for having an eating disorder! If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may recall hearing me talk about the GAPS Diet. It is a good diet to start with especially if you have digestion problems. The full GAPS list of foods are all “real” healthy foods. Another good choice is the Paleo diet.
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I know the next thing you expect me to say is exercise. For many of you, yes, I say exercise is a good thing. But some are too worn down to exercise. Some people actually do themselves harm by exercising. If you feel better after exercising, that is wonderful, but some people feel like death after they exercise and it can take them days to recuperate. These people need to avoid exercise to give their body a chance to heal. If you are one of those people that feel better after exercising you just cannot understand the depth of fatigue for a person whose body is worn out, so try to be a little more understanding and compassionate. And be thankful you are in excellent health!
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I have known for years that sleep is important to good health. It is one of the simplest things you can do to stay healthy. It takes discipline to go to bed at a decent hour each night. I know it’s hard to stay away from the siren call of all our gadgets and electronic toys, television, movies, and the like. But getting a good solid 8 hours of sleep a night will help you in more ways than one. You’ll be able to function better in the daytime, and you may be surprised to learn that going without sleep can actually cause you to be overweight. If you are having trouble sleeping, you may have high cortisol, which is in the beginning stages of adrenal dysfunction. It’s also important to sleep in pitch darkness (unless you are a woman, then you should have moonlight a few days each month).
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Next I’m going to share some tests you might consider having done. Now this is only if you are feeling unwell. If you are energetic, bound out of bed each morning eager to face the day, are happy and within a normal weight for your height then no need for concern. Hopefully you have insurance, but if you have to pay out of pocket did you know there are places online where you can order the tests yourself? Yes, it is possible and you may find yourself saving hundreds of dollars. This page here lists a few of the labs to get you started (scroll to the bottom).
Most of the time when you go to the doctor and share your list of woes they have a magic drug to give you that is supposed to take care of everything. Unfortunately, what most prescription medications do is simply mask the problem, instead of getting to the root of the problem. For example, low cortisol can cause a person to feel defensive and paranoid, or a low functioning thyroid can cause depression.
Here are some tests I feel are important to ensure good health.
Vitamin D is essential to optimum health. I was shocked to learn while living in Arizona which has sunshine, oh, about 360 days of the year that my Vitamin D was so low on the range. In my area the range is 30 to 100, and mine was at 34. My doctor didn’t even notice how low my levels were, because I was within the “range”. Some sources agree that your number should be in the upper part of the range. You really need a test to determine where your levels are at, but Dr. Jack Kruse says you can do this home test to get an idea where your Vitamin D levels are:
Use an eating utensil like a knife or spoon handle or a screw driver shaft to roll over your … shin. People who are Vitamin D deficient usually have a lot of pain when it is rolled over their shin using directed compression of the hard instrument over the length of the tibia. If you have that symptom you might be Vitamin D deficient and you may need to supplement with D3 or go higher in your dosing. You can even figure out how much to stop taking once the tibial pain begins to subside when you recheck yourself, but blood testing is way more accurate for an optimized life. Pre tibial pain is pretty common these days because the poor qualities of food predispose us to lower Vitamin D levels.
Here are some symptoms of low Vitamin D from Women to Women:
Vitamin D deficiency may be characterized by muscle pain, weak bones/fractures, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression and mood swings, and sleep irregularities. Women with renal problems or intestinal concerns (such as IBS or Crohn’s disease) may be vitamin D deficient because they can neither absorb nor adequately convert the nutrient.
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Saliva Testing for Cortisol / Adrenal Fatigue
The saliva test taken four to six times in a day can show you if your cortisol is high or low. Usually when a person is under stress for long periods of time the body compensates with high cortisol. After living this way for months or years, the adrenals begin to putter out and the person begins to have low cortisol. If it gets low enough, one may begin to experience adrenaline rushes. These are very uncomfortable to experience. Not only do they cause night waking, but they can cause anxiety attacks. If you are having trouble sleeping it may be that your cortisol is going high at night. It should be low so that you sleep when it is dark. A tip off can be that you feel better after 6pm, while having a difficult time rising in the morning. Google the words | symptoms of low cortisol | for more information. It costs about $100 to get saliva testing done through Canary Club.
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A lot of doctors will only test TSH, and when that comes back “within the range” they deem you fine and send you on your way. Something to think about when it comes to ranges from Chris Kresser:
The ranges for these markers vary from lab to lab, which is one of two main problems with standard lab ranges. The other problem is that lab ranges are not based on research that tells us what a healthy range might be, but on a bell curveof values obtained from people who come to the labs for testing.
Now, follow me on this. Who goes to labs to get tested? Sick people. If a lab creates its “normal” range based on test results from sick people, is that really a normal range? Does that tell us anything about what the range should be for health? (For more on the problems with standard lab ranges, watch this great presentation by Dr. Bryan Walsh)
Your doctor may latch onto one or two symptoms, for example, he may ask if your hands and feet are cold, or if you are experiencing hair loss. If you aren’t experiencing those particular symptoms he will probably insist that your thyroid is fine. I know you want to believe him, but if you are not feeling fine and are experiencing a lot of hypothyroid symptoms then it might be time to find a new doctor. There are more tests that can be done tell you what is going on with your thyroid. There are several more tests that can be done to give you a better picture of thyroid function. Here are the tests that can tell you more about your thyroid.
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid Antibodies (both anti-TPO and TgAb)
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MTHFR 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase
This is a very important genetic test that only has to be performed once in your life. You can pay for the test yourself and it costs $150 if your doctor is unwilling to request the test. I’ve only learned about it recently, and apparently it can be the root cause of many conditions. You can learn more about it here at Dr. Ben Lynch’s site www.mthfr.net and at MTHFR support.
Apparently 30-50% of the population has this genetic mutation and it can cause many conditions like:
- irritable bowel syndrome
- blood clots
- tongue tie
- lupus and many others
I have recently learned that I have this genetic difference. One of the most important things you need to know is the person with MTHFR cannot convert certain B vitamins into the correct form, therefore the body has a deficiency of B vitamins and the cells are starving for the right form of B vitamins. Another problem is that the person with this genetic difference has trouble removing toxins from the body, so as you age you begin to feel worse. But that is only the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more to know about MTHFR. Dr. Ben Lynch is an expert on this topic and here is his family’s story. Dr. Lynch says these are the things he is doing for his family to keep them healthy:
- Gluten Free Diet
- Dairy Free Diet
- Sauna for whole family at least 20 times a year
- Filtered water
- No carpets in the house
- Air purification
- Organic food
- Very limited processed foods
- No artificial soaps, odors, perfumes
- No cleaning solutions – just natural soaps, vinegar
- Limited pressboard in our home
- Organic bedding and mattresses
- Multivitamin with methylfolate, pure fish oil, CoQ10, Cal/Mag, vitamin D3
- Limited sugar intake
- No soda
One of the biggest problems with having tests done is you need to have someone who can interpret them for you. Hopefully this will be your doctor, but most of the time they will only be concerned if you are out of the range, and sometimes not even then. This site can help guide you through your thyroid lab results.
What are your thoughts about staying healthy?