What’s your body telling you?
In the West, we’ve got it all wrong when it comes to our health. We rush to the doctor with any old ache, discomfort or rash and ask him or her to make it go away. We seldom question what the malady means, or why it appeared. Got a headache? Take a pill. Got a skin problem? Put cortisone cream on it. Losing your hair? Well, give up. We barely scratch the surface of the problem and put little effort into investigating what caused it. Sadly, that complaint is the only way your body has of letting you know something is amiss.
Many of us have grown up thinking that we don’t have to worry about our diet and lifestyle choices because modern medicine will fix us if we break. As our waiting lists grow for diagnostic procedures and treatments for disease, however, it has become obvious that we need a new health philosophy. Our focus should change from “cure” to “prevention.” Taking a painkiller for a headache is like responding to the alarm from your home’s smoke detector by removing the batteries: you get rid of the immediate discomfort but you haven’t addressed the source of the problem. To protect your home and family, you should also make sure that the loud, obnoxious ring of the alarm isn’t warning of a hidden fire that you haven’t yet noticed. To protect your body, you should investigate whether the “symptom” alarm is a warning that your health is in danger, rather than a mere inconvenience.
If you suffer with chronic headaches, instead of being on the constant lookout for the next great pain reliever, you should focus your energy on discovering how it’s triggered. Head pain is often a symptom of dehydration, and many of us simply don’t drink enough water. Headaches are also frequently a symptom of food sensitivities, hormone imbalances or dietary issues.
The same philosophy holds true for skin conditions. Most of the time, a skin condition isn’t superficial: acne, eczema, psoriasis and other concerns are often symptoms of a larger issue including a dietary deficiency or nutrient absorption problem. Skin eruptions may simply be the silent alarm, letting you know that all is not right in the inner workings of your body. While medicated creams might work to make the most recent outbreak of a problem vanish, they don’t address the cause of the trouble. The rash might disappear when you use your fancy creams, but make no mistake, it will be back. Just as in the case of the recurrent headache, you must also shift your focus away from treating your skin symptoms to treating the cause of the problem. Likewise, hair loss (for men and women) is a sign of hormone imbalances. You won’t read that on your jar of Miracle Hair Gro!
Lengthy waiting lists prove it’s time for you to be proactive about your health. Work with a professional who can help you decipher the messages your body is sending you before you find yourself with a serious health problem.
Lisa Petty ROHP, nutrition expert and health coach. Lisa is author of Living Beauty: Feel Great, Look Fabulous & Live Well, and host of Lisa Live health radio that walks the talk on 820 CHAM, Saturdays at 10AM. Originally published in Hamilton Community News.