Spring is here but are you lacking that spring in your step?

October 12, 2016

Spring is in the air, the birds are singing and the sun is starting to shine. Finally! For some people this may be enough to kick-start the battery pack and get their spring glow on. But for the rest of us, the toll of the cold winter months may still be hanging around. If you are feeling like your body is need a little TLC right now, you are certainly not alone.  At this time of year some of the most common reasons people come to see me for are their skin health, weight, and energy levels – all of which have usually taken a turn for the worse over the winter period.

The ongoing lack of sunshine, overindulgences, and  less than optimal exercise so often associated with the colder months can have such a profound influence on the way that we look and feel, that by the time spring arrives we are ready for change.

In traditional Naturopathic philosophy, the seat of good health lies in attaining a healthy balance within our body systems. This includes our endocrine (or hormone) system, digestive system, and detoxification system, as well as our external environment and perception of this. Any imbalance in one area can have a knock on effect in other areas, which over time can have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing.  And from this perspective, getting to the root cause of the issue is the only way to really overcome it.

Take for example, our skin health. Spots can be a sign of hormonal disturbances, often associated with excess testosterone levels or problems with the body’s ability to breakdown and clear oestrogen. Unwanted hair growth or acne that worsens premenstrually are both indicators that the breakouts  may be caused by a hormonal problem. Spots can also be linked with poor gut health and detoxification issues and these types of blemishes tend to appear on the forehead and cheeks. Naturopathically we would look for clues such as digestive disturbances and poor detoxification. These may include poor diet, excessive flatulence, bloating and heartburn amongst others. Simple functional tests to check for bacterial overgrowth (or undergrowth) can also be useful.

Your weight may be as simple as the result of the food you are eating. But the majority of the time, the issues are more complex than simply equating to calories in equals calories out.  If you have tried every diet under the sun but still can’t lose weight, then there are likely some underlying imbalances that will be contributing.  Investigating other areas such as digestive health, hormonal or blood sugar imbalances, thyroid dysfunction or cortisol disturbances caused by ongoing stress will shed more light on your situation. Clues that one or a combination of these may be a problem for you include having digestive symptoms,  PMS, low energy, cold hands and feet, poor concentration and memory, shakiness that improves with eating, or feeling wired and tired, or just feeling down-right tired all the time.

Low energy is often attributed to late nights and a heavy work load. Provided this is not an ongoing problem, the body can cope with the intermittent stresses and strains of day-to-day life. However, chronic, unrelenting stress can have a long-term impact on your body. When the body undergoes long periods of stress it puts a heavy strain on your adrenal glands, a little like pressing accelerate on your car without ever stopping. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing your stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which are important hormones for managing your get up and go. However, if overworked, the production of these can become out of balance and eventually lead to adrenal burn out, also known as adrenal fatigue. Stage 1 of adrenal burn out causes abnormal fluctuations in cortisol levels affecting sleep patterns and causing energy fluctuations throughout the day – a feeling often coined as “wired but tired”. Clues that you may be experiencing the early stages of adrenal burnout include, feeling energetic in the morning with a slump in the afternoon, and then a second wind at night, with difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep, you may crave coffee but it tends to make you feel worse, and you often rely on sweet or carbohydrate foods to get you through the day. Despite your greatest efforts weight begins to gather around your abdomen, and the dreaded muffin top begins to appear. Stage 2 is when the engine is quite simply running out of gas, causing exhaustion that doesn’t improve – even getting yourself out of bed in the morning is an achievement in itself. Coffee and sugar may be the only thing that keeps you going, and weight may start piling on despite not having a huge appetite.  Alongside these clues, salivary cortisol testing is an excellent tool to help identify adrenal fatigue. At the same time it is essential to rule out other potential and often associated causes of low energy such as impaired thyroid function, poor digestive health, low iron, B12 or folate.

The following questionnaires are great tools for you to assess whether digestive or hormonal imbalances may be at the root of your health challenges.  If you can identify with any (or many) or the symptoms above then I encourage you to take 10 minutes to complete the questionnaires and see what information comes to light. You may just be surprised!



To get that Spring back in your step, click here to book in to see Andrea: https://health101.cliniko.com/bookings#schedule

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