Finding the underlying cause of illness is often as simple as testing.
Medical professionals can perform a wide range of tests to assess the underlying cause of symptoms or illnesses, including basic labs to sophisticated imaging. The power of these tests to obtain information and save lives has encouraged the hope of a “magic bullet” for treatment. Tests may not always get to the underlying cause of illness.
Why broad-based testing doesn’t always identify the underlying cause of illness
Unfortunately, testing frequently fails to successfully address today’s multifactorial and chronic diseases. Unnatural events bombard our bodies and challenge our health in ways that require major adaptation. Technology has created literally thousands of new chemicals and toxins that challenge both our environment and our health. Advances in food production and distribution have resulted in an abundance of processed foods with low nutrient-to-calorie ratios.
Why is this important? It is simple. Our bodies only function with the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. The human body has a great capacity to adapt to change if it is given the right raw materials of air, water and nutrients.
There are 25,000 genes in our body. They help direct all functions in the body. Our inherited genes may be a positive asset to our health or may increase our vulnerability for disease. Genes are like light switches. We can turn them “on” and we can turn them “off”. Research has shown that foods we eat and the lifestyle we choose can actually change the expression of genes. These genetic variations are called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). Identifying our SNPs can minimize our risks for developing a specific disease through lifestyle choices for that particular individual.
Impact of nutrition
Nutrition (and therefore our choice of food) is the single most influential component of our health. This is evidenced by research of many diseases, including obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, childhood development, mood, behavioral and neurological disorders, auto immune diseases and celiac disease, to mention a few.
Nutrient deficiencies, genetic expression and neurotransmitter imbalances affect multiple organ systems. The combination of these issues can affect our bodies in many different ways. The interaction will be different with each individual, depending on his or her genetic makeup. A specific chronic illness, therefore, often is not defined by a unique set of laboratory criteria. Toxic lead exposure, for example, may be expressed in some individuals as inflammation, and in others as immune disorders, and still others as neurological disorders.
Medical professionals better serve patients by approaching chronic disease as nutrient and/or fatty acid disorders, or toxin, metabolic and/or neurotransmitter disorders.
Other approaches to disease
“What vitamins should I take?” is a common question. The answer is “It depends on you.” For example, what is your vitamin D level? Depending on the level, a person may need anywhere from 800 IU to 10,000 IU until they are in the optimal range of 60 to 80 ng/ml. Everyone has his or her own individual biochemistry, nutrient deficiencies and genetic makeup. The level of nutrient intake to maintain the best possible health is highly variable from person to person.
Good health is not a matter of one size fits all or “one pill for one ill.” Treating the average is overrated. Two people may have similar lab results and yet each may present with an entirely different range of symptoms or illnesses. Physicians must have a wide range of specialized testing available to put the pieces of the puzzle together, to find the underlying cause(s) and to best help the individual. Illness begins as a result of a cause; illness then continues because the cause continues, and frequently, illness can only be resolved when we identify the cause. Specialized testing is a very important first step to determine the cause.
If you suffer from one or more of the following symptoms, you need specialized testing:
- brain fog
- irritable bowel symptoms with diarrhea or constipation
- joint pain
- muscle stiffness or pain
- a neurological disorder
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- chemical sensitivities
- lack of motivation
- any other chronic disease
The results of the tests allow the medical professional to treat you as an individual. You can then give your body what it needs— not any more, not any less.
Getting down to specifics in determining the underlying cause of illness
Specialized tests are available to help physicians and patients determine the underlying cause of their symptoms and illnesses:
- Chemistry panel: CBC, lipid’s, CRP, homocyteine, complete metabolic panel, TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroid antibodies, vitamin D levels, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and PSA for males.
- Fatty acid analysis (John Hopkins), a key to mood and neurological disorders.
- Neurotransmitter testing: serotonin, GABA, nor-epinephrine, dopamine, glutamate, epinephrine, and cortisol.
- Advanced Nutritional testing
- Food allergies: IgG and IgE through blood analysis
- Gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease
- Toxins: heavy metals, PCBs, pesticides, solvents, phthalates, and parabens
- GI stool testing that accurately identifies the bacteria, parasites and yeasts using DNA
- Genetic testing: individual’s genetic variations that may impair cardiovascular function, detoxification, estrogen metabolism, immune system, neurological function and bone health.
- Telomeres: determines the aging of your cells
- Bio-Impedance Analysis: measures body composition, tissue, fluid and cell health electronically
Treating the individual based on individual blood chemistry, specialized testing, and genetic profile is the key to treating chronic illness. Assembling the pieces of our testing puzzle provides answers. Resolving deficiencies, removing toxins, and balancing neurotransmitters, hormones and fatty acids puts us on the path to optimal health.
If you don’t look, how do you really know what is wrong?
The following articles provide topics for further exploration on toxins, nutrition, and food sensitivities:
- How Harmful is Sunscreen to Your Health?
- Toxic Personal Hygiene Products
- Toxins-How and Why to Avoid Them
- Beauty-It’s Only Skin Deep
- Skin Savvy: What You Don’t Know May Harm You
- Autoimmune Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
- Coping with Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
- The Basic Gluten-Free Diet
- Gluten sensitivities, part 2
- Foods We eat That Other Countries Ban
- Are the Foods You Are Eating Making You Sick?
- Thyroid 101