Everyone has their own unique approach to health. I certainly have mine. I’ve come to realize that my attitude, and the philosophy behind it, greatly influences the decisions I make everyday towards well-being. How I think about health has become an important motivator for what I do.
Chronic disease is driven by the interactions between what we eat, our daily lifestyle, the environment, and our genetic profile. Our gene expression is altered by a host of influences including the stress we experience, our patterns of activity, the way we think, and our social interactions with others. Lifestyle choices and environmental exposures can move us towards (or away from) disease by turning on (or off) specific genes.
It is very exciting for me to reflect o
n what I can do that will influence my health in the direction I want it to go. So I like to consider my well being from a broad perspective. One that includes looking at each individual set of symptoms, as well as myself as a whole person with all these influences.
Managing acute signs of illness can be done through interventions like prescription drugs and surgery. There are treatments that will effectively suppress symptoms and bring relief when I am not feeling well. Medicine has greatly evolved and offers many exceptional approaches to fixing us when we are just not right and out of balance.
Identifying the underlying contributing factors to complex, chronic disease can also help me intervene in my choices and remediate the clinical imbalances, even before signs of disease become present. My philosophy is to conceptualize health as a continuum in which all components of my body’s biological systems interact dynamically with the environment, producing patterns and effects that change over time.
My own approach includes identifying and alleviating dysfunctions in the operation of my body as a primary method of improving overall health. Chronic disease is almost always influenced by a period of declining function of one or more of the body’s systems. Restoring health requires reversing (or substantially improving) the specific dysfunctions that have contributed to the disease state.
Inadequate nutrition, environmental toxicity, sedentary lifestyle, indoor living, chronic stress, aging, fragmented family or community, and even financial pressures each contribute to our epidemic of chronic disease.
There is a dynamic balance of these internal and external factors to be sought. A single health condition can be reflective of many imbalances and each of us is unique in how these factors will express themselves. Also, I’ve seen how one imbalance can be at the root of several seemingly distinct diseases.
To be effective at maintaining and encouraging healthy function of my entire body, I believe it is important to look at common pathways to disease. This includes inflammation, dysfunction of the digestive system, hormone imbalances and oxidative stress. I’m also attentive to my diet, nutrition, stress, sleep, and physical activity.
Nutrition is a vital part of optimizing my overall health and well being. But I hold the attitude that it has to be done in relationship with all the other important lifestyle changes, therapies, and medical interventions we have available. With that, come on by and share your own philosophy of health with me.
Scott Porter is a Functional Medicine Pharmacist at Sandpoint Super Drug. He is a member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council.
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