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7 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

Have you ever heard the phrase, "normalization of deviance"? My husband uses this terminology often to describe situations and events that were once considered rare, abnormal, or even unheard of that have now become so common that everyone assumes they are not only acceptable, but expected and just a part of modern life.

Over and over in my training during the last 7 years, I have heard my instructors and peers proclaim with passion, "Just because (health condition du jour) is common does not mean it's normal." The more I internalize that truth, the more I see evidence of it all around me. We've gotten so comfortable with illness and dysfunction that it doesn't even seem odd to us any longer. Doesn't everyone get fat after 40? Isn't dementia a normal part of aging? Haven't children always been this distracted and depressed? (A resounding NO on all accounts). We've forgotten that not too many generations ago, humans were stronger, more resilient, and much hardier than they are now.

As the decades pass, it seems people are visiting the doctor less often for acute fevers and broken bones, and more commonly for life-draining chronic conditions that are much more complex than our "pill for an ill" healthcare mentality can handle. We are looking for pharmaceutical answers for conditions that can't be cured with medication and must be addressed instead with significant changes to diet, lifestyle, and environment. This takes TIME and WORK.

Here are 7 symptoms you should not ignore or simply medicate. I chose these because I've experienced all of them personally in some way and hear about them often when talking to others:

  1. Disrupted Sleep Patterns - Whether it's trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or a lack of restorative sleep, more and more people find that they are averaging less than 7 uninterrupted hours per night on a regular basis, and some far less than that. I've talked to a handful of people recently that get as few as 4 hours of sleep and claim they can manage just fine on that. (#denial) Sleep is not a passive activity, but instead is a critical time when the body is recharging energy, boosting immunity, addressing toxicity, and making cognitive sense of events from that day. To skimp on sleep is to shorten your lifespan and healthspan, so if you are having trouble in this area, take action and find someone who can truly help, and not just throw medication at you. (As an aside, falling asleep near instantaneously in random places and times is also not a good sign. People will sometimes boast about this like it's a superpower, but it is more a sign of dysfunction than anything else and should be addressed.)

  2. Routine Pain/Discomfort from Eating - How many people do you know who are developing new and unusual sensitivities to foods they've been able to eat for decades prior to now? Maybe avocados suddenly bother them, or bananas, or tomatoes, certain spices, or eggs. They might experience digestive pain and discomfort, bloating, cramping, hives, migraines, or other mysterious rashes. Food sensitivities (not to be confused with allergies or intolerances) are a symptom of a compromised gut and an immune system that is stuck on high alert. Left unaddressed, that list of problematic foods will grow (mine was a page long and filled two columns), and over time could lead to one or more autoimmune conditions. Don't ignore it!

  3. Irregular Bowel Movements - Your doctor might be recording your pulse, blood pressure, height, weight, and oxygen levels, but is he asking you about your poop? He should be! "Taking out the trash" is a critical component to good health, and not just in infancy. If you are dealing with chronic constipation (toxins getting trapped and recycled in the body) or chronic diarrhea (nutrient malabsorption and dehydration), or some combination of the two, be aware that this is a sure sign of imbalance and needs immediate attention. How your bowels are behaving is just one of the many ways your body tries to tell you when something is off.

  4. Poor Dental Health - The mouth is a reflection of what's happening inside the body, so while brushing and flossing certainly have their place in oral hygiene, what you are eating and drinking routinely is having the larger impact on the health of your teeth and gums. Got cavities? Need a root canal? Are your gums inflamed? Check out what's on your plate.

  5. Chronic Skin Conditions - As said above, the skin, like the mouth, is a visible snapshot of the health of your gut. Eczema, psoriasis, chronic acne, and related skin rashes and conditions often (if not always) have a dietary component, and in some cases reflect underlying undetected infection. You will also find literature out there that connects some of these skin conditions to trauma. In Germanic healing, for instance, eczema is said to be a sign of separation conflict...either wanting to be separated from someone/thing, or wanting to be reunited with someone/thing that was lost.

  6. Low Energy - If you're sleeping 8+ hours per night and still wake up feeling like you've just crossed the finish line for a marathon, totally spent, there is a problem! Assuming your diet is dialed in, there could still be something interfering with your absorption of nutrients, your iron status, your thyroid, and/or your HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal). Please don't bandaid your fatigue with coffee and Diet Coke, or white knuckle your way through grueling workouts and long runs...those sorts of efforts make it even more difficult for your body to recover and heal. Slow down and figure out the root problem with the help of someone who knows the right questions to ask and the most effective testing to pursue.

  7. Chronic Overwhelm - Does the pile of dishes in the sink bring you to tears? Are you snapping at your husband and kids routinely? Do you find yourself unable to make decisions, manage your commitments, keep appointments, or achieve your goals? It could be that you are in a state of chronic overwhelm, fueled at first by chronically high cortisol, and then tanking suddenly and severely and hitting rock bottom when the body doesn't have the raw materials to make cortisol to meet your crazy demands any longer. Again, this points to hormonal dysregulation and longterm abuse of your adrenals. Listen to your body, honor these warning signals, and find someone you can help you find your path to healing.

If you break your leg or get hit by a truck, our western medical system is amazingly skilled at preserving your life. The knowledge and specialized skills held by our medical doctors and surgeons are worth their weight in gold, given the right circumstances.

There are limits though.

So if the things that ail you are more in line with this list of seven symptoms shared above, I hope you'll save yourself time, money, and frustration by seeking help outside of conventional care options. If you need guidance finding a skilled practitioner, shoot me a message and I'll do my best to provide some resources and point you in the right direction. In the meantime, if you want a starting point, you must consider your diet. You can start today, with your next meal.

(I've been sending out a bi-weekly newsletter for the past two months that contains at least one recipe, announcements about local health, wellness, and culinary events, one specific health challenge for readers to tackle, and one podcast that I enjoyed and recommend. If you'd like to be included on that mailing, please send me a message with your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time - no hurt feelings here. If you want to read a sample, you can find past newsletters here, starting with Welcome to the Blueprint 1.0, and then following with numbered editions thereafter 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and so on).

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