Written by Maggie Dion, Functional Nutritionist
I think we can all agree that symptoms are annoying, but they aren’t that unusual. Symptoms are so common that pretty much everyone has experienced some degree of fatigue, gas, bloating, constipation, headaches, skin issues, aches, pains, or brain fog at some point in their lives. It may not have felt like a big deal because you could take an over the counter remedy and move on with your day.
However, despite symptoms being common, they are not normal. Your body is trying to let your know that something is not right. But if we are quick to reach for a pill to cover up the symptom you could be missing a big message your body is trying to send you.
Absence of Symptoms does not Equal Health:
We can take pain relievers for headaches, anti-bloating medications for stomach discomfort, laxatives for constipation, and on and on. When the symptoms stops bothering you, you must have been returned to good health, right? Wrong! The truth is, depression is not a Prozac deficiency. Thus taking a pill to make you feel happy again does not resolve the root cause of the symptom. Simply covering up a symptom with allopathic remedies is a temporary fix. A chronic unresolved imbalance will persist and continue to present itself through new and different symptoms. It is time that we start listening to what our bodies are try to say and give it what it needs to heal.
Symptoms are your body’s last cry for help:
While it may be tempting to grab some pain reliever for your joint pain that isn’t “that” bad, you may want to reconsider. You may be able to tough it out until it gets bad enough you have to go to the doctor, but that isn’t the best idea. You are already farther down the path to dis-ease than you think.
Symptoms are the last sign to present after chronic inflammation and imbalances have been simmering under the surface. The root cause of symptoms, illness, and disease is distress. Distress can take the form of personal lifestyle choices, environmental toxin exposure, and stress from mental or emotional experiences.
This distress kicks off what is known as the stress cascade. If the distress persists it can trigger dormant genetic pre-dispositions and physical imbalances to turn on or off. If not soon resolved, hidden stress and imbalance in one area of the body cascades into other areas. Thus, metabolic chaos ensues causing serious dysfunction. After a period of time this leads to dis-ease and symptoms. As you can see, symptoms are not the problem, they are the result of the problem.
Test Don’t Guess
Now that we agree that symptoms are more than just day to day annoyances, let’s start to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. The mind body connection is truly powerful. Don’t let anyone convince you of otherwise. Everybody is unique and you are the only one who lives in your body every day. You probably have a better idea of what is going on than you think! All it takes is you to pay attention to your body.
In addition to tuning into your body, make sure you are looking at the whole picture. The same individual symptom can be the result of one of many different ailments. With all of our internal systems being interconnected, some of the signals can be a little confusing. For example, a headache could be the result of lack of sleep, mineral deficiencies, dehydration, detoxing, withdrawal, stress, hormones, food sensitivities, or even more serious distress. Surprisingly, your neurological pain could originate from your digestive track. Pairing your lifestyle choices and the accumulative messages from your body will point you in the right direction.
I also caution you not to jump online and start researching your symptoms. Dr. Google may diagnose you with a disease and provide you with protocol for an imbalance you don’t have. Not only can that be scary, but you could exacerbate the true problem.
Instead, I recommend running a few simple at home tests to dig into the root cause of your symptoms and imbalance. Start by looking for signs of internal stress by digging into food sensitivities, hormone imbalances, adrenal disruption, and gut dysbiosis. Consider working with a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner to run these labs and determine the root cause of your imbalances. From there you can develop a natural protocol through changes to your diet, sleep, exercise, and stress reduction. These small changes can yield big results!
Are you listening?
I hope the important messages your body is sending you have got your attention now. Health is as simple as listening to your body and giving it the tools and space it needs to heal. So before you try to “suck it up” or drink your third cup of coffee to get through the day, ask yourself what is your body trying to tell you. Why am I having this discomfort or symptom? What could be the root cause? The answers are going to make it far easier to heal and ensure the symptom doesn’t return.
So turn the volume up to full blast and listen to what your body has to say!