Connecting the dots...

Photo: Brandon818
Part of my job as a holistic nutrition consultant is to try to uncover the root cause of a health issue.
But in most cases, by the time we're sick, we can't even remember what led up to that point, and we just want a solution ASAP.

Trying to connect the dots can also make us crazy, because we'll never know for certain if one health issue led to the next.

Still, I find it important to explore the possibilities in my practice, because discovering the root cause of an illness is going to lead to the quickest and most effective healing.

One of my clients had chronic heartburn, was overweight, and had psoriasis. He was a workaholic and was popping TUMS nearly every hour. A few easy tests pointed to hypochlorhydria - low stomach acid. Since the symptoms of low stomach acid are similar to the symptoms of high stomach acid, and since the common wisdom is to treat high stomach acid, he turned to the TUMS, which made his problem worse. And, because proteins were leaving his stomach and passing into his intestines without being fully digested, his body was getting confused - a possible cause for the autoimmune psoriasis. By getting his stomach pH up to a healthy level and eliminating/rotating gluten (which is a long protein that can also confuse the body's immune system), he lost 20 pounds in just two weeks and has only had heartburn once in the past three years - after a weekend of eating bread, beer & pizza with friends.

In my own case, I had a genetic predisposition for my autoimmune disease. But I never had a flare-up until I used the birth control patch (the pamphlet for which clearly stated that colitis was a reported but unconfirmed side effect). So in my case, the trigger for my illness was the birth control patch, but it was really just the last thing my body could handle - meaning that there was a haystack of other contributing factors beneath this final straw. This concept of "total load" can certainly make things confusing when trying to help heal bigger health issues.

Me - before. Puffy! Ugh!
I had never paid attention to what I ate, relying heavily on pizza and pasta. I drank beer, wine, cocktails - anything that would give me a buzz. I had a serious sweet tooth and kept bags of candy in my drawer at work. I had been on antibiotics at least ten times in my life, and had taken a multi-year course of acid-blockers. All of these contributed to the demolition of my GI tract, and all of them had to be eliminated, changed, or fixed in order for me to decrease the rampant inflammation in my body.

I finally got to the point where my colonoscopy results showed no signs of disease, but it took a lot of trial and error and serious commitment. And, the truth is, I still have gut issues sometimes, and I'm still in the process of figuring out what causes them.

My husband can vouch for the fact that I'm always trying new diets to figure out what works for me - and what doesn't. Three years ago I learned that I have a mild allergic reaction to red wine. Last year I did an elimination diet and its results were inconclusive, so this year I'm planning to try the Paleo, GAPS and/or SCD diets.

In addition to helping me learn more about my body, this personal testing also helps me explain the benefits and drawbacks of each diet firsthand to my clients.

So - how can you connect the dots?

Ask yourself what was going on when your health issues first began. Consider your career, family, and other health issues. If there were other health issues or medications present, repeat the process for them. What was the first health problem you can come up with - the one that seemingly started the domino effect?

See what comes up for you, and then let's talk about how to address the symphony of symptoms that is your own unique body.

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