It’s safe to say we’ve all had this feeling.
Confronting the frustration of others being ‘healthy’ on the same diet and lifestyle that makes you unwell.
From the high-school teenager staring green-eyed at the slim girl eating a burger and fries daily, whilst you despise your cellulite when you eat pretty well.
To the knife-like pain that comes with the monthly bleed, whilst your friend who smokes cigarettes says “I’m lucky, I never get period pains”.
Or the guy who can’t drink alcohol without it triggering his depression, whilst his mates can recover quickly and carry on the next day.
For some it’s frustrating because they try to eat a ‘clean’ diet, go to the gym, practice mindfulness and take all the ‘right’ supplements.
For others it’s frustrating because they’ve just been told they HAVE TO clean up the diet, go to the gym, practice mindfulness and take a bucket of prescriptions, and can’t understand why ‘I’ have to, “but they don’t”.
I’ve faced this in life and have come to terms with it. Understanding the bio-individuality of the human body in a health science degree gets you rather equipped with the idea that we’re not all the same.
But now as a practitioner, I am gifted the opportunity to help my patients/clients go on that same self-discovery.
I’m sometimes met with “why do I have to cut out those foods when other people who eat those foods don’t have this condition”… “but how do you know that’s the cause?”
And it’s this very thinking that is the reason why so many people are not well.
Because we’re conditioned to think that there’s only one reason behind our dis-ease; thus there must be one magic pill for my diagnosis.
Did you know, most disease names are developed so that a medication can be created for it?
This is why you hear of conditions that were not once recognised, all of a sudden be given a fancy latin name so that a new drug can come along with it.
I’m not trying to knock the industry, but it is what it is.
Back to my point.
I want to help sufferers see why we prescribe the holistic treatment plans that we do, even when you can’t understand why.
As any good holistic practitioner would, we don’t treat the disease – as that often means treating symptomatically. We support the whole person to get to the underlying cause.
For example, I often get asked “do you treat X”?. And it’s a fair question. I often asked the same. As a fresh graduate I would run to my mentors asking “what’s the protocol for X disease”.
The answer is never “yes, I can treat X”, or “here’s the magic formula”.
It’s: “we will go over your health history and presentation in clinic and we’ll work from the ground up.” Then reassured with “from what I have seen in clinic, the symptoms of disease X can be reversed/greatly reduced, once we work on these key areas”. And personally, I always collaborate WITH the person’s GP so we can get the best possible outcomes.
See the thing is, diseases are often symptoms. Stemming from a plethora of problems, much in the same way an over-flowing bath tub doesn’t just miraculously occur without a cause. It’s that the tap is still running… the plug is still in… and now someone’s pouring more water in it.
And even when we don’t have a ‘known’ cause for some diseases of today, you can still begin to put the pieces together to map out a clear timeline of events that lead to the problem: e.g A string of antibiotics in childhood —> gut issues —> malabsorption —> high stressful job —> disease X.
Or sometimes when it’s not even something in our life-time, perhaps the mother was exposed to something pre-natally or throughout gestation. Therefore leaving you dumbfounded because “I’ve always been healthy”.
We also have genes passed on that can create a tendency towards ill-health. To return to the bath analogy, perhaps one bath with the tap running has a safety-monitor that turns the tap off when it reaches a certain level. Perhaps the second bath has a larger capacity for water. Whilst the third bath, is tiny with no special sensors, thus the water over-flows easily.
This is like our genes. They don’t have to be our destiny. But our environment, lifestyle and diet will be the determining factors as to whether they switch on (epigenetics).
Hence bring on the frustration when person ‘a’ smoked cigarettes all his life and lived to 85. Whilst person ‘b’ smoked cigarettes for 8 years and got lung cancer at 42.
We can’t take a gamble with our health. We have to look after it like we’re person B. Like we’re the small bath tub.
We have to imagine our body is a bucket that needs to be emptied regularly so that it doesn’t over-flow. Because when that meter reaches capacity, it can no longer go any further. We may catch it in time to turn the tap off. But for some, the damage is too far gone that the water has stained the carpets and rotted the floor and now we have to cut, remove and replace.
We can’t control our genes, but we can greatly influence their outcomes.
I recently heard a saying by Building Biologist Nicole Bijlsma say “Genetics loads the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger”. This couldn’t have been more perfectly explained.
So when it comes to our health, yes it’s going to be frustrating at times when your practitioner tells you you’re going to have to make some changes. But think about the value and longevity that will add to your life.
Sometimes I do get the resistant patient who just doesn’t want to make those changes and would rather live in pain or sickness because it’s too hard.
And you know what. That’s okay! I fully understand what it’s like not to be ready to get better.
We understand that the patient has to be 100% committed to make the changes. Otherwise they’ll waste their time and money.
I’ve had to get real with patients in the clinic room and say “you have to weigh up whether you’d rather a) prolong your ill-health because it’s not a priority for you or b) put in the short-term hard work and money now to rid your body of these symptoms so that you can be the best version of you, and THEN the best partner/mother/father/student for everyone else”.
- Whilst one person’s life might look perfect on the exterior when compared to yours, they may be battling their own challenges behind closed doors, and perhaps may envy yours.
- Embrace your body’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. If one way doesn’t work for you, find the way that does – there are literally thousands, if not millions of others like you!
If you have a story like this, or this has inspired change, I’d be humbled to hear your thoughts.
If you want to understand your genetics further, you can dive in deeper with testing like Nutrigenomics through a qualified practitioner. My co-worker, Integrated Medical Scientist Tania Delahoy is a great one to talk to about this kind of thing.