Seeking optimal health
If you are seeking optimal health, the good news is that it is easier and less complicated than you may think. Below are the “no-brainer” things that you must know.
It’s all in the range – what you have to know at your doctor’s office
Patients often tell me that one of the primary reasons they are seeking naturopathic medicine is because other medical providers couldn’t find anything wrong – that all of their “blood tests are normal.” But, the patient knows something is wrong – their overwhelming fatigue, mood swings, hair loss, bloating after meals, and dozens of other symptoms are not imaginary. These health concerns are very real, very uncomfortable, and sometimes, downright scary.
The reason doctors often cannot help their patients with chronic health issues is because the standard “reference ranges” that conventional medicine uses for blood testing are set to detect only serious diseases, not complex and chronic conditions. The very wide reference ranges have little practical value in helping doctors to help patients prevent disease or reverse chronic symptoms.
For example, the most common laboratory test for hypothyroidism (low thyroid) is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). The common reference range is generally 0.35 to 4.5 or 5.5 – a huge 12-to-13 fold difference between the low and high range. The TSH “optimal” range is a much narrower, 1.3-2.0. And this is just one test among many with such a huge discrepancy between “standard” and “optimal.”
What difference does it make to the patient? As in the TSH example, the optimal range-oriented doctor will more likely detect and treat the low thyroid, helping the patient to alleviate symptoms such as constipation, high cholesterol, unexplained weight gain, constipation, fatigue, hair loss, low libido, memory loss, etc. The doctor who diagnoses using only the standard range will often miss opportunities to help patients. Some functional medicine doctors believe that approximately 30% of the American population is hypothyroid, instead of the 3-4% diagnosed with conventional medicine.
Feeling healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy
And the converse is also often true. Hundreds of times, patients have come to my office telling me they were in “excellent health,” other than the reason they had for coming in for the appointment. Upon closer examination, however, it was not infrequent to discover that these “extremely healthy” patients also had, for example, extremely elevated triglycerides, fasting insulin and homocysteine level (leading to diabetes and cardiovascular disease), elevated eosinophils (possible intestinal parasites), extremely elevated liver enzymes (internal cancer unchecked), low testosterone and progesterone, and hundreds of other possible examples. One patient had a 1,325 triglyceride level (80 is optimal), and had no idea she was headed for diabetes. Within a month of treatment, using only diet, she was down to a triglyceride level of a perfect 75!
Vitamin D Epidemic
The most important, least expensive, and most natural thing you can do to improve your health is to maintain a Vitamin D3 blood level between 60 and 80, which is the same level as the native people of the Amazon who live in optimal Vitamin D conditions. 100% of the patients who come to my office do not have optimal levels of Vitamin D. Amazon people do not spend 8 hours of the day inside a building, or wear sun block, or are afraid of skin cancer, and they live, geographically, in more equatorial regions where Vitamin D is available from the sun every day of the year. I would recommend that you ask your doctor to do a Vitamin D test twice a year, to determine how much Vitamin D you need. The standard Vitamin D range is 30-100. A Vitamin D level of 30 is far below the amount needed to help prevent/overcome: cancer, depression, abdominal weight gain, autoimmune disease, inflammation, pain, wintertime illness, etc.
If your Vitamin D level is at the recommended level this winter, your mood will be optimized, and your chances of getting sick will decline dramatically. And that recommendation holds true for children as well. Just remember – due to our latitude, there is no Vitamin D from the sun during the winter in most of the USA – which is the primary reason that Americans are much more likely to get sick in the winter than the summer. A final note, adults should take a Vitamin D supplement with added Vitamin K2, another fat soluble vitamin.
Explore additional topics from Dr. Godby at Natural Wellness.