By Dr. Scott E. Rosenthal
“But doctor, I didn’t do anything! I don’t know what happened! It’s just my bad luck!” Have you ever made such a statement? One day you feel great and the next it all seems to fall apart.
The “surprise attack” of illness is due in part to the silent nature of the disease process. Symptoms may wait to appear after weeks, months, or years have passed. Sometimes they never arise and no warning is given. It is not uncommon to hear about a “perfectly healthy” person suddenly passing away. The real question is, “What qualifies as healthy?”
Most Americans are obsessed with symptoms, and more so with their suppression. Maybe the robust pharmaceutical industry is to blame. Pills exist for nearly every symptom imaginable and are marketed everywhere imaginable. There are even pills sold solely for the side effects of other pills!
Gaining better overall health and avoiding a crisis requires the broader understanding of how you get sick and how stay healthy. Welcome to the concept of total body burden.
Total body burden is classically defined as the sum total of toxic chemicals, heavy metals and other noxious substances stored in the cells and fluids of your body. We are much like a sponge that accumulates unhealthy substances over time. It may be the mercury and dioxins in the fish you eat, pollution in the air you breathe, drugs you are taking, substances in the water you drink or bathe in, or any of the thousands of chemicals and metals that you are exposed to and absorb every day.
Think of your body’s resources like a checking account with a set amount of money to spend each month. You need to write checks for bills, food, clothing, your house, etc. If you spend too much in one area such as maintenance, not enough money will remain for other needs such as paying your bills. Before you know it, your electricity is turned off. Then your food spoils and the strain on your finances worsen. Similarly, if the demands on your body exceed its capacity, symptoms of poor health will appear.
Unfortunately, there are more factors that burden your body than mentioned. In addition to chemicals and metals, the following is a list of burdens that can drain your resources and deteriorate your health:
Electromagnetic radiation (EMR)
We live in wireless and electronic world. All may be aware of the impact of being exposed to x-rays, but what about the other types of EMR (microwaves, radio, ultraviolet, etc.). It’s true that our understanding of the health consequences to exposure is still developing. Clinically, it is seen that EMR can and does play a key role in adding to the burden placed on a person. It is also observed that some people are more sensitive than others. The logical approach is to limit when you can and not wait for the research to catch up to the constantly expanding use of EMR in our environment.
This one is well known and really needs no introduction. Although unavoidable, stress places a huge burden on you. It suppresses your immune system, prolongs healing time, negatively affects cognition, hinders thyroid gland function, increases abdominal body fat and leaves you more prone to disease. Decreasing levels and mitigating the effects of stress play a vital role in lowering your burden.
Bones, muscles and connective tissues make up the framework in which you live in. These structures support and separate your organs, house and protect your delicate nervous system, provide you with form and the ability to move. Problems can arise such as misalignment in your joints and twists or tensions within your connective tissues. Due to the extent that structural conditions influence many aspects of your health and add to your burden, it is no wonder why doctors of chiropractic have a primary focus of bringing structural balance back to your body.
It is true that there may be more bacteria than human cells in the human body—more of them than us. We do need the good bacteria to be healthy, but problems arise when bad bacteria and other microbes (fungi, viruses and worms) take up residence or become too numerous. From antibiotic use, refined sugar or stress to insect bites (ticks, mosquitoes, etc.), food/water/airborne contamination or close contact with a special person or pet, microbes are always trying to find a new home within your body. Once there, your resources are continually taxed 24/7.
If you are reading this article and live in Delaware or the surrounding states, it is likely unnecessary to discuss how the overreaction of the immune system from an allergen can drain your energy. Preventing or lessening allergies is vital to reduce your total burden.
To complicate the matter, if one category above draws too many of your resources, the other parts of the equation can become issues that lead to a snowballing effect. For example, if your system is overstressed from heavy metal contamination, defenses go down. Your weakened state then allows for the over proliferation of harmful microbes. Before long, you are dealing with chronic infections, inflammation and other consequences. The inflammation over time causes new allergies and you can start to experience regular sneezing, itchiness, and pain.
Understanding the many components that can burden your capacity to remain healthy must be addressed to achieve optimal health. If you are already dealing with an issue, failing to recognize the big picture or restricting your approach to pharmaceutical relief can make overcoming your challenge unobtainable. Next month’s article will provide practical and easy-to-implement examples of what can be done to improve each category. Stay tuned and unburdened!