In our RetroAging Lesson 1 we talked about all the components of a solid health program. Today I'd like to emphasize the importance of seeking out a medical professional well versed in the ways of integrative medicine. No, this is not an easy task. But one well worth pursuing.
Your best bet is to first search on-line and then begin the process of finding the right health care professional for you. If you are already working with someone you can try to help them see the ways of integrative medicine. This, if you are willing to do a significant amount of your own research and provide them with documentation of your findings. It has been my experience however, that there is a vast difference between doctors that are simply internists and ones that are interested in integrative and holistic medicine - i.e treating the whole body, not just your symptoms.
Have a look at: http://www.holisticmedicine.org/ (if there's other websites to consider please let me know) and search for practitioners in your area. Think of this as being in a relationship with someone, just like a friend or a spouse. It is a long lifetime and there are many unforeseen circumstances for you and your body. You want to be partnered with someone who can help you make difficult health related decisions and contribute to your anti-aging process -- you do NOT want someone who simply returns to their PDR and doles out a medication with every symptom you experience. I cannot stress this enough. Prepare now. Walk in to your health care with eyes open. The time you spend now, will give you years of health, later.
General Lifestyle Overview: Take a Self-Health Screening
Before you go to your physician for your anti-aging checkup, take a self-inventory. Be your own health investigator. Again, many issues become manifest only after they send signs and signals to our body over time. Learn to read your body. Here's just a few ideas (not an exhaustive list by any means).
Main Groups To Watch, Consider and Keep In Balance:
>>Lifestyle / Stress – Have you experienced a recent life changing event (birth, death, job change, etc.) Do you have difficulty relaxing, have headaches or insomnia? High blood pressure? These (and so many more life factors) are all things to consider when keeping your life in balance. Stress is sneaky, it can debilitate you if you let it. Take control. It is easier to manage when problems are small. When beginning your self-evaluation, think about the major stressors in your life. Write these in your wellness journal, aim to become aware of what keeps you and your lifestyle out of balance.
>>Brain Chemistry – Do you have chronic headaches, fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating? Check your moods. Are you forgetful or cry easily? These are all things to become aware of when you are building your lifestyle profile. Go to your wellness journal now and make a generalized statement with regard to your recent moods. This will make a whole lot of sense as we progress.
>>Hormones – Speaking directly to women, hormone imbalances can sneak attack us when we least expect it. Save the symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause, estrogen dominance has become a factor for many of us since the dawn of the birth control pill and estrogen replacement. You will want to do your homework with regard to this subject. We have many more choices now with regard to the aging female body, bio-identical hormones, natural supplements, and more. Again, it is your duty to your body to do your research. Collect data prior to meeting with your practitioner. As there are so many things to consider with this subject, I think you will find this website is one of your best bets for all things female http://www.womentowomen.com/ .
>>Thyroid and Adrenals – Again a sluggish or overactive thyroid and compromised adrenal glands can sneak attack and cause a host of symptoms that can mimic other problems. Hair loss, fatigue, weight gain or loss, depression, thinning eyebrows, constipation can all be signals for you to check out your thyroid. When researching your thyroid health, please check out the best (i think) website on the web: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ . If you find your thyroid is sluggish be sure to study up and ask your practitioner about the risks and benefits of taking armour thyroid and dessicated thyroid supplements to replace synthetic medications like Synthroid. Study the website above to understand why these are good options and why your should check the health of your adrenal glands as well.
>>Blood Sugar – This subject gets lots of people in trouble. Insulin resistance is one of the largest health care problems we see today. It plagues millions and counting. Please, stay ahead of your blood sugar. In later posts we’ll talk about getting your blood work taken and why you should. Take your blood sugar inventory now by asking yourself if you feel fatigued, dizzy upon standing, have cravings for sweet foods, have insomnia, excessive thirst or frequent urination and/or tingling in your hands or feet. These (among many other symptoms) could signal blood-sugar issues. Make a generalized note about your food cravings and any body sensations that seem irregular.
>>Digestion / Allergies – In my, and many other integrative medical professionals opinions, all health begins in the GI tract. If there is excessive yeast in the GI it can wreak havoc on your health in a hurry. Some things to be aware of as it pertains to digestion and allergies are: your use of antibiotics, any digestive problems, bladder infections, lethargy, swelling in joints or infertility. These, just to name a few. Make notes about your digestion and your elimination habits. This could go a long way to help you get your body in balance now and keep it that way in the future.
>>Toxins and Toxic Overload – Every day we are exposed to environmental toxins. They are in the foods we eat, air we breathe and products we use during our activities of daily living. Aim to become aware of your sensitivity to toxins. If your body becomes toxic you could become more prone to illness and infections. Do you have frequent nausea, heart palpitations, brain fog, headaches, vertigo, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus)? These, just to name a few, could be your que to body toxic overload. Become aware of any unexplained heaviness in your body, any fatigue and overall alertness. Make notes in your wellness journal with regard to your instinct about your body’s toxic levels and your exposure to unnatural substances.
>>Arthritis / Osteoporosis – Bone density is a hot topic, especially with women. With our general loss of bone density genetically we become susceptible to the ravages of arthritis over time. Again begin early to monitor your bone density and prevent problems later. Make note of any sensations in your musculoskeletal system. Issues such as joint pain, weakness, fractures, could be signals. Leg cramping or back pain, could also be a que. Make notes of your generalized musculoskeletal health in your wellness journal.
This week take an investigative look into your health using these basic standards. Have a look at what may be troubling you and use your instincts and investigative abilities to pinpoint possible problem areas. Take time also to investigate health professionals in your area. If you are having difficulty finding a general practitioner who practices integrative medicine, contact the health professionals you find in your search and ask for recommendations. The integrative health world is one of sharing and networking, most health professionals are aware of others practicing holistic medicine.
Stay tuned, next time we’ll talk about your diagnostics, how to get them and how to read them! Stay close --