Chronic Disease – Fine tuning your lifestyle to maximise your health

With Tim Wright Gower Acupuncture (Swansea)

Last month I discussed how looking for potential causes in chronic health complaints can be more effective than focusing on – and trying to suppress – the symptoms. The causes can be small imbalances repeated over a long period and can have significant long-term impacts.

1) Sleep: If you’re not getting enough sleep, everything suffers. During the deep state of Non-REM sleep the body strengthens the immune system and repairs and regenerates tissues. When you don’t get enough sleep your immune system is compromised. It doesn’t release enough protective proteins, meaning you are less able to fight invading viruses and also recover once you’re ill.

It’s difficult to prescribe the right amount of sleep. If you wake feeling groggy it’s likely that you are either getting too little or too much sleep. If you’re tired, try not to sleep in to catch up – it generally doesn’t work. If you’re tired all the time you may have poor blood oxygenation caused by sleep apnoea or snoring.

2) Stress: Stress raises cortisol levels. Cortisol, like all other hormones in the body, is made from LDL cholesterol. There is a limited supply of this cholesterol in the body. So, if cortisol levels are high it will dominate LDL cholesterol meaning other hormones may be in shorter supply. Testosterone is a hormone that in deficiency may lead to fatigue, muscle loss and low libido. Oestrogen and progesterone deficiency are implicated in menopausal symptoms of flushing and insomnia. Whilst it is possible to take replacement therapy for low levels of these hormones, you may be masking the problem if you’re stressed.

3) Physical Activity: Getting the right balance of exercise is critical for optimum health. Too little and you risk obesity and myriad chronic diseases. Too much and you can end up fatigued and burnt out.

We all have a finite amount of energy. Those who use the work hard, play hard maxim can find a lack of time to recover from a hard workout can lead to burnout and fatigue. It’s fine to train hard as long as you give your body the time it needs to recover, otherwise you’re just overloading your body.

4) Sunlight: Surveys have put rates of vitamin D deficiency amongst the population as high between 20% – 41%. Whatever the figure a huge proportion of the population don’t get enough vitamin D. Symptoms include confusion, muscle ache and fatigue. Chronic deficiency can be an important factor in cancer and heart disease.

Fifteen minutes of sunlight a day is all you need. When the sun lacks power in the Winter it can be useful to take vitamin D supplements. Bear in mind that obesity, IBS/Crohns and ageing reduce the body’s ability to convert Vitamin D into its active, useful form.

5) Environmental toxins: Do you work with hazardous chemicals? Clean a lot with chemicals at home? Even if you don’t, the internal environment in your house is more toxic than you may think. Chemicals from fire retardant furniture, cleaning products, carpets and electrical goods appear to be prime culprits. Toxic dust in the house is particularly harmful to the developing bodies of children. According to a US study a number of chemicals in the average American house exceed safe levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency for soil. Meaning the indoor environment can frequently be more toxic than the outdoor environment.

Try to get outdoors and open your windows as much as possible. Some plants can improve indoor air quality.

6) Diet & Mitochodria: Mitochondria are the powerhouses in the body. They convert oxygen and food into energy. Poor mitochondrial function can lead to fatigue, poor memory, pain and pre-mature ageing. A poor diet, high in processed food, can damage the mitochondria. The antioxidants in fruit and vegetable can mop up damage. The highest concentration of mitochondria is found in muscle so any exercise that builds muscle mass could boost your mitochondria and improve energy levels.

It’s always tempting to look for one culprit or cause. However, by looking at all potential causes and modifying them to optimal levels it can be enough to let the delicate process of homeostasis accelerate and restore balance to your body.

Can Acupuncture Help?
In most cases the root to optimal health is through leading an optimal, healthy lifestyle.  Acupuncture can help in lowering stress and managing pain levels, which can be important barriers in implementing healthy lifestyle changes.

To contact Tim go to: / 07764 254881

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