Today I’d like to help you to identify where you are on the Health Continuum, in other words, let’s determine your health direction.
My background story – I’ve always been a visual learner. In 1999, as a part of a book I was writing I woke up at 4 a.m. in the morning with a vision of the picture I could use to describe what I have come to call the Health Continuum. My goal was and is to help people understand where they are with their health.
Your health is never static. Instead, it’s always moving in one direction or another – up toward optimal wellbeing or down toward disease conditions. Let’s explore this concept further.
Health Direction Trending Downward
Using the chart below as a guide, let’s start in the middle at “Absence of Symptoms”. People become complacent with their health and they don’t really think they have any health issues. I’ve heard that about 5 million times in my career! It’s a lack of awareness situation where you don’t really feel what’s going on in your own body. Often a poor diet including processed foods, foods tainted with pesticides, too much sugar and carbohydrates contribute greatly to diminishing wellbeing.
The digestive system tends to be very forgiving. Often you won’t notice any type of symptoms and are lulled into a false sense that everything is just fine, when issues are just below the surface.
However, as time passes, symptoms creep in – like headaches and heartburn. Prescription medications also impact your internal environment along with exposure to environmental toxins on a daily basis. Those toxins are everywhere, from new carpet to Round-Up to various components of beauty products and cleaning solutions.
As symptoms become more chronic, you may decide to self-medicate with over the counter drugs you assume to be safe. However, once again, poor digestion is actually worsened by NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Tylenol) and antacids (acid-blocking medications).
As your immune system continues to be challenged by daily choices, you may develop more frequent colds, flu-like symptoms, vaginitis, UTIs, asthma. More prescription medications and possibly antibiotics are added to your already overwhelmed system.
Why, oh why???
Next, you may notice your weight creeps out of control. Most commonly a person watches their weight creep up, but some people actually lose weight and muscle. At this point, most people just don’t know why. I hear “what’s happening to me?” over and over in my lectures and counseling sessions.
Symptoms multiply and before long you may be diagnosed with chronic diseases like autoimmune conditions, disabilities, even cancers.
However, sadly in most cases, you wouldn’t associate these changes with poor digestive function. Often the treatments themselves place a person in a seemingly endless downward spiral.
The good news is that the situation can be reversed and you CAN create habits to help you heal and revitalize.
Health Direction Trending Upward!
Rewind to the point where your health began to diminish – the point of “Absence of Symptoms”. Let’s take a look at how you would choose to move in a healthful direction. I’ve added the graphic of the continuum again here for ease of conversation.
Good digestive health has its foundation in awareness and education. The general conversation shared in our society about food and digestion will inevitably push you toward a downward health path (I am just amazed when I watch many cooking shows on TV!).
Let’s explore how we can support moving up on the Health Continuum, keeping in mind that your health is a moving target all the time.
There is a tremendous amount of information available these days. Much is good information however a large percentage is totally incorrect. I’ve taught anatomy and physiology and even developed Florida state testing for colon hydrotherapy in around how the digestive system functions. I truly understand the ins and outs of the intestinal tract and its relevance to other body functions incredibly well.
Give your digestive and immune systems support!
Here’s how to be sure you’re giving your digestive and immune systems the chance they deserve to keep you healthy throughout your lifetime.
First, you begin to read and understand how your body works, which leads to action. You improve your diet, incorporating more organic foods and less sugar and processed foods.
Next, you realize that you would like to attempt detoxification and cleansing – in both your body and your environment.
How does that show up? You evaluate the cleaning materials, air quality and even make-up, shampoos and body cleansers you are exposed to on a daily basis. (ewg.org)
Learn more about clean products for your body and environment at EWG.org
You begin to detoxify your body internally. In the beginning, your goal is to remove toxins from your intestinal tract and support your liver and other organs associated with digestion. It’s important to be patient as you begin your cleansing protocol, as too much dumping of toxins too quickly can be both uncomfortable and unproductive. Remember, you took the first part of your life to accumulate all these poisons. You have plenty of time to clean up the mess.
At this point, you’re not thinking about specialty detoxes like ones for SIBO or Candida issues in the gut, even if you feel those could possibly be issues for you. Keep in mind, when you begin gathering information, it’s easy to imagine all sorts of issues, especially since there are so many companies out there that are offering products that promise miracles.
Miracles certainly happen daily! The best miracles for your body manifest regularly with healthful routines and rituals.
This is the point where you establish habits designed for long term wellness. These protocols will supply proper daily support and maintenance for your body and serve to prevent chronic issues from taking hold.
Essential supplements for a positive health direction!
A good quality multivitamin
The great news is if you establish good digestion, which ultimately means you’re absorbing the nutrients you put into your body, you’re typically enjoying vibrant health!
Enhance absorption with digestive enzymes!
Absorption is actually enhanced with digestive enzymes. Plant-based enzymes may be all you need, however, as time goes by (or depending on your dietary choices) you may choose additional support like betaine HCl. We’ll expand this conversation in a future blog.
The happy result of this vigilance to your health is a good weight – one that’s right for you! Please don’t compare yourself to everyone else. I’m talking about a weight and a general vitality level that feels good inside of you. And to top it all off, you will realize you have higher energy and more clarity of mind.
Don’t be fooled by “Absence of Symptoms”!
As you’ve noticed by now, the trickiest part of this health continuum is the middle area – “Absence of Symptoms”. Unfortunately, in the hundreds and hundreds of lectures I’ve done over the years, the people without symptoms were a small percentage of my audience, compared with those already experiencing sickness. Many times, those without symptoms were actually there to learn for someone with a chronic disease and didn’t realize the important point they were in regarding their own health.
That made me so sad. My message, if a person heard it at the point where they weren’t feeling symptoms yet, was equally as powerful as it was for someone feeling ill! I was frustrated that so many weren’t hearing the message at all. So I continue to lecture, and more will hear.
If you are a person experiencing symptoms of digestive dysfunction, from gas and bloating to cancer, wouldn’t you have liked to understand these concepts years ago before your condition advanced? And if you’re part of the “absence of symptoms” group – I’m sure you’re feeling happy you read to the bottom of this blog!
I will be following up with specifics of how your digestive system was designed to function. Until then, always remember, good digestive health created by positive habits is waiting around the corner for you!