Did you know that chronic inflammation is at the root of most all symptoms and disease? Most people don’t go around describing that they feel “inflamed”. Yet, when they experience symptoms like gut pain, diarrhea, headaches, migraines, fatigue or are diagnosed with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or autoimmune disease, inflammation is most always the culprit.
Experiencing symptoms and disease is really a manifestation of inflammation in areas where our body has the weakest link(s). For example, in my case, my thyroid and bones have been my weakest links. To address disease and symptoms, it was important for me to find out what was causing inflammation.
Inflammation can be measured in the body through inflammatory markers. A variety of issues such as eating foods one is sensitive to, chronic stress, nutritional imbalances, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalances, gut pathogens, exposure to toxins, or other infections can trigger inflammation. A person may have one or more things that contribute to inflammation. We often ignore or are not in tune with our bodies, and so over time, chronic inflammation may lead to symptoms and disease if inflammation is unresolved.
Personally, I experienced chronic stress and sleep deprivation for many years. As it was unchecked, my body ultimately succumbed to symptoms of autoimmune hypothyroidism, and arthritis pain. For many years, while I thought I was taking care of myself, I didn’t sleep enough, was overworked, and over-exercised. Taking medication, was my way of addressing disease until I realized that there was probably more I could do to better manage my health and decrease my symptoms. So, I decided to get some functional lab testing, the kind that most traditional doctors don’t do. As a nurse, this really interested me, so I decided to get trained in functional medicine and become a board-certified health coach.
Functional lab testing can provide clues as to what is driving chronic inflammation. Test results can help to steer us in a direction to rebalance whether it is a leaky gut, gut pathogens, hormonal imbalances, toxins, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, or food sensitivities. Interestingly, different imbalances may result in similar symptoms, so lab testing can provide very helpful information. Once the lab detective work is done, a trained health coach/practitioner can develop an individualized protocol to help a person rebalance, reducing inflammation. The protocol often incorporates strategies for diet, rest, exercise, stress management, and supplementation.
In my case, my thyroid disease was potentiated by being on a medication that contained ingredients that my body was sensitive to. I tested positive for gluten sensitivity and learned that the Synthroid® that I was taking for hypothyroidism was adding inflammation to my body and probably was why I kept reporting symptoms to my provider, which they ignored. I had eliminated gluten from my diet, which had helped tremendously, but had no idea my medication had contained it (and I am a nurse, although I will tell you that doctors and pharmacists are also often unaware). My functional medicine provider helped me transition to medication to support my thyroid that was free of gluten and corn additives, and I felt so much better.
For my arthritis, while I identified some more holistic ways of addressing pain, I knew it was important to reduce things contributing to the inflammation. So, I tested for food sensitivities and eliminated the foods I was sensitive to, moderated my exercise, improved my sleep habits, improved my diet, and took specific supplements to help reduce inflammation. Additionally, I did some gut testing and found that I had an overgrowth of some pathogens and corrected this with natural supplement protocols designed to rebalance and heal my gut. I also found out through lab testing that I was deficient in vitamin B12, but that was due to a genetic condition, I needed a specific form of B12 to correct this imbalance. This protocol was pivotal to decreasing my arthritis pain.
So, where can you find someone to help do the detective work to see what may be causing chronic inflammation for you? A Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, FDN-P, like myself is trained and certified to help clients access functional lab testing, coach them on the results of the tests as well as teach them through individualized protocols to reduce inflammation.
While no one can promise cures for disease, a great partnership with a functional medicine certified health coach with the right detective work and a client’s commitment to eliminate/reduce factors contributing to inflammation most often can help them feel better, move better, and live better with this approach. To learn more, a free consultation is available here.