Friday, March 10, 2017

Don't Ignore the Subtle Signs

Our bodies give us subtle signs of things not working internally that go unnoticed potentially for years. Those symptoms will come and go, and even change, but often are pointing to the same weakness, something lacking or ailment happening inside. If ignored, and not addressed at the subtle symptom stage, often the weakness or ailment manifests into the scary things that it seems so many are getting diagnosed with recently.

Subtle symptoms include: sudden onset and/or constant allergies, onset asthma, rashes, sleep disruption in any way, hives, a very strong distaste for something suddenly, any form of digestive upset (yes, anything other than daily and "ideal" is concerning (reference Your Farts and Poops are Talking to you to learn more about what is "ideal" poop)), dandruff, itchy skin, waking at the same hour every night, excessive thirstiness, lethargy and a general lacking of energy, headaches, toenail fungus, ringing in the ears - the list can go on and on. Don't brush off an "odd" symptom as something fleeting, ESPECIALLY if you keep getting it or it won't go away. And just because your doctor tells you to take a medication or use a topical steroid cream to make the subtle symptom go away, really you should be wondering why it is there and why it is not going away.

Case in point, these are the subtle symptoms I have had for the last 6 months or so:
I have had a small, traveling, red, itchy patch on my face. It is barely noticeable, flakey, itchy, slightly red spot, that just won't go away. I scratch off the flakes in the morning, slather it with coconut oil and go about my day. Meh, no biggie, are the rest of my symptoms, I have dandruff, which is pretty normal in the winter, but even in the summer, it seemed kinda weird, meh, brushed it off. I have been craving bitter flavors and grapefruit. I have not been sleeping as well as I know I can. I wake most nights around 3 a.m. I am hot and thirsty and wide awake. I normally kick the covers off, take a sip of water and read until I fall asleep. I am not normally up for a long period of time (no more than an hour) but it is effecting me throughout the day. I have been extremely sensitive to smells (no I'm not pregnant), more so than normal, where strong smells are offensive to too me, make me nauseous and make me sneeze. I have always had sensitive sinuses, but this seems more sensitive than normal. My bowel movements have been fine, but not great, irregular in consistency day to day. Oh, and I had a nail fungus on my big left toe that was more ugly looking than problematic, although now that I think about it, I dealt with a constant ingrown on that toe all summer long...hmmmm....

Pretty benign symptoms right? And with seemingly no connection. Just slightly random annoying bits of being human that don't bother my day to day functioning. I haven't thought much about any of them until recently. I went and saw a new naturopathic doctor, who was the first health care professional ever to say, "You know more about your body than I do. I am just here to support you."!!! I immediately loved her because she said that out loud to me as I sat on her exam table. So many of us fear our bodies, or view it as this mystery wrapped in an enigma that only people who went to medical school can understand and figure out. WRONG! If you are interested and curious enough, and willing enough to ask questions and trust your intuition, knowing what symptoms to look for; you know your body, and what it needs, far better than any health care professional can ever tell you. And no, I am by no means saying, go stick your tongue out at your doctor and say you know more than s/he. What I am encouraging you to do is to take control of your body, to get to know it, to ask those questions - why do I have this [rash, itchiness, sleep interruption, etc.] and make it your mission to figure out and start asking about those subtle symptoms rather than ignoring them.

With that being said, most subtle symptoms are a sign of an imbalance and often a lacking in diet. So much of what ails us can be linked to what we are eating, or really not eating enough of. So many of us eat too much animal protein, too much sugar, and processed, chemicalized, artificial foods, that are giving your body zero of the nutrients it needs, and in fact, are taking away those that you do have. We should all be eating a mostly plant based diet, with lots and lots of healthy fats, some animal protein, some whole grains, dairy and fruit, and nary the occasional treat of a packaged item, or sweet, or alcohol. Unfortunately that is not how most of us eat, and in fact, our government tells us something different. Again trust your instinct here - it know what you should be eating.

So as a person who eats that way, mostly plants, lots of healthy fats, no gluten, only fermented dairy and hardly ever a packaged item. I do enjoy 2 cups of coffee in the morning blended with coconut oil and a glass or 2 of wine each night. Harmless, right? I am sure many of you could admit worse dietary habits and vices. And yet, I have had these weird symptoms. I am seemingly healthy, active daily and eat a particularly well balanced diet, and yet, 6 months ago, my intuition told me something was off. I wasn't sure what or how, just that I needed to make a change. So did I make a :( This post is just as much for me, as it is for you. It is so funny that we can see the sign, feel the symptom and brush it off for months and even years. I (we) can do better!

My intuition told me 6 months ago that my liver needs support. It isn't processing as well as it should. And yet I'm not a candidate for any liver issues. I am young and active. I eat well. I drink only 2 12oz cups of coffee in the morning, never more and never at any other time of the day. I enjoy a glass or 2 of wine most nights of the week, and occasionally a few cocktails when out, but hardly a concern along the lines of the alcohol effecting my liver that negatively, which is the default logic. The naturopathic doctor I saw, said exactly that, in our appointment, "You are really healthy and have no problems, but I would suggest we up your healthy fats intake and support your liver more."!! Whaaat?! I could have told me that - doh! It is awesome to have your actions and thoughts validated. I knew 6 months ago, I just didn't implement the changes I knew I needed to make and she just confirmed my hunch. So cool!

She described the liver like an oil tank, where it continues to fill up with the toxins it flushes from our body. The level slowly rises from environmental toxins, to the toxins in our food, to the processing of our vitamins, minerals and medications we take every day. So while seemingly no issue arises, the liver reaches a tipping point, unable to keep up with all the toxic crap it needs to process and starts to overflow (metaphorically) and hence the subtle symptoms. We ask so much of our liver, just by living and breathing, and then add a potentially crappy diet, which leads to more medications, ie more liver hurt. And yet, what do we do to support our liver, not much in fact. And if you Google liver symptoms or issues, you get these horrendous, worst case scenario symptoms of jaundice and bleeding, that aren't helpful.

Every single one of my subtle symptoms over the past 6 months have pointed to a need for extra liver support. Red, itchy patch, toenail issue, waking at 3 a.m. every morning, irregular bowels, a recent extra sensitivity to smells, boom, signs that my liver is at the tipping point. Googling again for ways to support your liver in a natural way was helpful kinda, but I already know what I need to do, so this is what I am doing to support my liver, which is seemingly fine and healthy, and yet, if I continued to ignore these symptoms, perhaps, would manifest into something worse. I am all about prevention.

Ways to support your liver if you are already eating a clean, mostly plant based diet, with lots of healthy fats (or so I thought!) (We need far more healthy fats than even I thought was a enough (6-8T per day) - pass the EVOO!!):

• Remove caffeine and alcohol asap

• Add in green tea - it is a great detoxifier (and will help with the caffeine headache)

• Up your healthy fats in your diet and with supplements - I am currently taking 10,000IU of VitD3, 2 daily capsules of fish oil, I am also slathering on the EVOO, flax oil and flax seeds like never before

• Milk thistle - is a great detoxifier and is crucial for helping your liver process toxins

• Evaluate the environmental toxins around you - run HEPA air purifiers and evaluate the mold levels in your home (this is crucial!)

• Drink fresh pressed green juice daily that has a least 1, if not all these veggies (which are all great for the liver): celery, parsley, ginger, lemon, apple and beets

• Grapefruit and lots of it, and/or grapefruit seed extract

• Bitter greens, like dandelion, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, celery, endive, etc.
• Start each morning off with hot water and lemon

It is so ironic to know these things (and Google didn't even have all in one place! Problem solved ;) ) and even have my gut tell me these things and yet, I didn't do it until now. I think we all can relate to knowing and not doing, and then one day, just making a change. Start paying attention to those seemingly benign symptoms, they are a clue, a sign of something going on that if you investigate can improve your health with some simple changes and avoid the scary potential diagnosis later down the road.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect blog! Befriend self, listen lovingly to what your body is telling you. Be curious about what it says to you and explore solutions.