Have we missed the bigger picture by becoming more reductionist?
Saul Yudelowitz BSc (Hons)
Modern technology has enabled us to make great strides and improvements in many fields however it is possible that it has also contributed to the reductionist approach that riddles health care systems. Lets take a few examples, allergy testing is popular and becoming even more popular. If we were to test a patient who has an allergic reaction to pollen and we could find which one of the few hundred different pollen they were allergic to; what advice would typically be administered? Donít go to the park so you can stay away from the pollen and/or take these antihistamines.
Letís say you are tested and found to have an allergic reaction to egg, itís not that uncommon in the clinical setting. Typical advice would be to not eat egg. There are number problems with the allergy approach.
If you look at basic chemistry, testing an element in comparison to a compound has a significantly different result. It is also atypical that a patient would eat just and egg and not combined this with other food groups. Another problem is where the laboratory gets their egg example for testing. If someone lives in the UK and the laboratory test is undertaken in the USA, there will be small but significant chemical differences with regard to human biochemistry.
This is a reductionist approach that over looks the holistic manner in which health is derived by the human body. If we were to go back 2 or 3 decades there were no nut allergies. What happened?
The answer to this question is important for all, as our ability to deal with allergens has decreased. It has a significant impact on our health in every way one can imagine.
First, one needs to look at allergic reactions from a more medical approach. They are grouped from anaphylactic to low level that is typically chronic. Anyone who is allergic to a bee sting will have their pen with them. This pen contains adrenaline so as to avert the anaphylactic shock, primarily by keeping the vasculature patent. While chronic low level response to different allergens is the same it is significantly reduced and so these symptoms can even go unnoticed.
Hormonal health is one of four keys that are vital to health. The hormonal system ability to respond to chronic low levels of allergens has been significantly impeded due to many factors. Some being but not limited to, poor nutrition, chronic stress, poor sleep patterns and over use/reliance on medical drugs to treat symptoms.
While there were no recorded nut allergies 3 decades ago our hormonal health has deteriorated to the point that we are unable to deal with these chronic low level allergens. There is an additional concern when the hormonal system is impaired.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) which will become more commonly diagnosed in the human population as we move into the future. Research implicates the mitochondrial and hypothalamic dysfunction as being common in CFS 1-4. Research in genetic mitochondrial pathology shows myopathic and marked hypothalamic disruption 5. The hypothalamus controls sleep, the hormonal system, the autonomic system and temperature regulation. One of the problems with addressing hormonal imbalances by the medical profession are that standard laboratory testing of single hormone deficiency is not very effective 5.
Increased hormone binding to carrier proteins is often present in CFS. While total hormone levels are typically normal, active hormone levels are low.
The thyroid function is critical to the hormonal system as well as many other interactions in the body. If a patient has CFS their ability to convert T3 to T4 will be impaired and T3 receptor resistance is typically present 6,7.
Adrenal insufficiency is also commonly seen in CFS. Symptoms of an underactive adrenal include weakness, hypotension, dizziness, sugar cravings and recurrent infection.
Initial symptoms of low estrogen are poor sleep, poor libido, brain fog, achiness, PMS and decreased neurotransmitter function.
Testosterone deficiency affects men and women. Testing total testosterone is incorrect as free testosterone needs to be assessed for testosterone function.
Gut function is intimately tied into hormonal function. It requires a great deal more energy then most think to digest food. Any dysbiosis from parasites, bacterial or fungal overgrowth will place even a higher demand for energy on the body thereby contributing to CFS.
It is common to see many patients having low level CFS. This places a low level of stress on the hormonal system that results in many symptoms. Some of them being, a reduced ability to deal with allergens, increased abdominal fat, immunosuppression and many more.
Human health can only be achieved from the holistic approach of hormonal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and mental health. These four systems are the foundation of health and one is not more important then the other. The modern medical model is not designed to integrate these systems and as a consequence we have specialists who specialize in each. This is to our own disadvantage as the body does not take a reductionist approach to health like the medical model. Our modern lifestyle places immense stress on these four systems and so we need to address this imbalance if we want to not only reach old age but achieve functionality in old age.
With almost 10 years clinical experience I can sum up the imbalance we have in a way that almost everyone can relate to. When we are teenagers we typically eat food that has a poor nutritional value. While this places a significant amount of stress onto us our hormonal and gastrointestinal system can deal with it most of the time. This is why you will find many teenagers are lean with doing excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercise as opposed to a balanced exercise program.
As we age the system canít deal with the chronic stress. Towards the end of our second or beginning of our third decade we have gained a significant amount of weight. Most of this weight comes from fat and so off to the gym we go and once again over doing the cardiovascular training.
This is because it has worked for us in the past but all we are doing now is stressing a system that has been chronically stressed. THIS IS THE MAIN REASON WHY OVER EXERCISING THE CARDIOVASCULER SYSTEM WILL MAKE YOUR ARMS AND LEGS SKINNY (NOT LEAN) AND GIVE YOU A FAT ABDOMIN.
The hormonal system is so run down that exercise is a stress that causes chronic elevated cortisol levels.
The problem has become very serious. As a health care provider it is now becoming more common to clinically see younger children falling into this pattern. This has been highlighted by the shocking increase in childhood obesity. In short we have shortened out healthy functional life! They are stressed, food, environment ect.
There is good news. There is a system that can be implemented to protect us and also help us if we have a fat abdomen. It does not require us to be reliant on the medical model or their medicine. There are some significant lifestyle changes that would be required but nothing unreasonable. Learning not only what is health in terms of nutrition but also how to eat is important. Eating as a family with out the distraction of the TV or mobile phone and other disturbances is key. The body needs to be parasympathetically stimulated to be able to digest food otherwise it will just putrefy in the gut. There is no medicine that can do this in a healthy manner.
Getting enough quality sleep is important. Its not just about the number of hours you sleep but also the quality. We heal when we sleep; the late phase is associated with the release of chemicals that are required for healing. Falling asleep with the TV on is detrimental to you hormonal health.
A balanced exercise program of cardiovascular, weight bearing and stretching is required however it is advisable to learn how to move correctly otherwise you will just wear out your joins quickly. There is a misconception that if a young child can walk they are fine. This is a reductionist approach. Children copy their parents at EVERTHING. They will walk with the faults that they have learnt from their parents. I have been able to address visceral health issues by assessing the way patients walk. This is the key to Chinese medicine, meridian flows and chi.
It is also fairly common to see that children get rushed through their different stages of musculoskeletal co-ordination which impacts on brain function. Children who have been rushed into walking and not allowed to go through the reptilian phase at their own pace have cross lateralization problems like ADHD and dyslexia.
With all the professional athletes I have ever worked with I have always told them that you can either think like a winner or a looser. We teach children so much pertaining to what they cant do. As an example, if a 5 year old boy is cross because someone else took his spade and bucket to play in the sand we tell him that he should not respond physically. Why not teaching the child how to respond, teach them what they can do that is appropriate. Thinking like a winner requires that you find a solution, problems are easy to find.
- Wolf, F. Ross K. Anderson J et al. The prevalence and characteristics of fibromyalgia in the general population. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 38, 19-28, 1995.
- Teitelbaum J, Bird B. Effective treatment of sever chronic fatigue: a report of a series of 64 patients, Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, 3,91-110, 1995
- Teitelbaum J, Bird B. Greenfield R.M. et al. Effective treatment of CFS and FMS: a randomized, double blinded placebo controlled study. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 8,3-25, 2001
- Demitrack M.A, Dale K. Straus S.E et al. Evidence for impaired activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolisim, 73, 1223-1234, 1991.
- Kohlastadt. I. Scientific Evidence for Musculoskeletal, Bariatric and Sports Nutrition. Taylor and Francis Group, LLC 2006
- Lowe J,C. Riechmand, A,J. Yellin J. The process of change during T3 treatment for euthyroid fibromyalgia: a double blinded, placebo controlled, cross over study. Clinical Bulletin of Myofascial Therapy, 2,91-124, 1997.
- Lowe J,C. Garrison, R.L. Riechmand, A,J. Yellin J. Thomson M. Kaufman D. Effectiveness and Safety of T3 therapy for euthyroid fibromyalgia: a double blinded, placebo controlled, cross over study. Clinical Bulletin of Myofascial Therapy, 2,91-124, 1997.
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