6 Steps to Ultimate Wellness
Imbalances in six core systems of the body are responsible for many chronic diseases. Sometimes, especially early in the course of a disease, there may be only one or two systems that are out of balance. More commonly all 6 of these systems are out of balance and not functioning optimally. Correcting one or two of these imbalances will allow improvement in health and well-being, but optimum health requires that all six of these inter-connected systems be in balance. It is like sitting on six thumb tacks and then only removing one or two.
Restoring and maintaining balance in these six systems is the key to preventing all of the devastating diseases, such as cancer and auto-immune disorders that are so common in our pet population. The best estimate is that 40-50% of pets die of cancer. According to the Institute for Functional Medicine, 97% of all cancers are preventable. It is important to realize that chronic diseases, cancer in particular, develop over a long period of time. The chronicity of these diseases gives ample opportunity for preventive measures to be taken. Even the slightest imbalance may be crucial in the development of chronic disease. Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel Prizes, maintained that all diseases begin with a mineral deficiency. Functional medicine testing permits identification of imbalances before symptoms appear. In the course of many chronic diseases, especially cancer, the appearance of symptoms occurs when the disease is advanced and very difficult to cure. To paraphrase the old cliche, prevention is worth a ton of cure.
Step 1- Reduce Inflammation and Balance the Immune System
Almost every modern disease is caused by or affected by hidden inflammation, including cancer, obesity, arthritis, allergies, and digestive disorders. So the first step to ultimate wellness is to assess hidden inflammation by a simple blood test- C reactive protein. If the ability to balance the inflammatory forces in the body is impaired, one is headed toward illness and premature aging. Food allergies are the major cause of hidden inflammation. If the C reactive protein is elevated, a food allergy panel is indicated. When the immune system is stressed by chronic low grade inflammation, the ability to fight infection is impaired. Also, an impaired immune system cannot react properly to vaccinations- so optimum immunity is not achieved and adverse reactions are much more likely.
Step 2- Fix Digestion
The health of the gut determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out. Therefore, the health of the gut is directly linked to the health of the total organism. Gut health could be defined as the optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food. There are several hundred species of bacteria in the gut. The gut is a huge chemical factory that helps digest food, produces vitamins, helps regulate hormones, excrete toxins and produce healing compounds that keep the gut healthy. Too many of the wrong ones, like parasites, yeasts or bad bacteria, or not enough of the good ones can lead to serious damage to health. The Comprehensive Stool Analysis assesses the health of the gut so that balance can be restored and maintained.
Step 3- Balance Hormones
There are three big epidemics of hormonal problems in America today: too much insulin, too much cortisol and adrenalin, and not enough thyroid hormones. These are as common in pets as they are in the human population. Diabetes, for example, was uncommon in pets 40 years ago. Today obesity and diabetes are epidemic in both dogs and cats. Our pets are just as stressed by the hyperactive lifestyle that is so common today as people are. Pets are often required to be home alone for extended periods of time, possibly dealing with separation anxiety. This puts tremendous stress on the adrenal and thyroid glands. Hypothyroidism and adrenal exhaustion are extremely common. Also our pets have one hormonal imbalance not experienced by most people- they are spayed and neutered. While spaying greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer in female dogs, it increases- by 40%- the risk of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) and cancer of the lymph nodes (malignant lymphoma). Additionally, 40% of spayed female dogs develop estrogen-responsive urinary incontinence. In male humans, the risk of death from all causes is directly related to levels of testosterone and DHEA. It is quite likely that low testosterone and Dhea have the same effect in dogs. Spayed and neutered dogs are unbalanced and need hormone replacement therapy.
Step 4- Enhance Detoxification
Detoxification is the process the body uses to get rid of waste. If waste builds up, illness occurs. Detoxification is performed mostly by the liver. Many illnesses are directly related to toxicity: cancer, arthritis, digestive disorders, Parkinson’s, dementia, and many others. To understand toxicity one must understand the concept of total load. When the detoxification system is overwhelmed, it is overloaded and that’s when symptoms begin to occur. Each individual has a greater or lesser capacity to detoxify toxins. The total load can include heavy metals, petrochemicals, pesticide and fertilizer residues, food allergies, molds and internal toxins produced by bacteria, fungi and yeast inside the gut. To detoxify, it is necessary to identify and then get rid of toxins. In addition, it is often necessary to fix the gut. Identification of toxins allows the creation of a plan to avoid future exposure- as much as possible in today’s world.
Step 5- Restore Energy
Imagine if you could get to the root of aging and slow the whole process down and eliminate most of the age related diseases in your dog. All of that is possible with a metabolic tune up. Protecting and preserving mitochondrial functioning can prolong life expectancy by up to 30%, restore fitness, and prevent age-related diseases. Fatigue is the most common symptom of poorly functioning mitochondria. There are over 100,000 trillion of these little power houses in the body, and each one contains over 17,000 little assembly lines for making ATP, the body’s major fuel. They use over 90% of the oxygen your dog breathes and take up 40% of the space within the heart. The only problem is they are very sensitive to damage and injury from uncontrolled oxidative stress, which results from toxic insults, infections, allergens, stress and just eating too much quality food. A metabolic tune up involves identifying and correcting any factors which create oxidative stress.
Step 6- Optimize Nutrition
The last step to ultimate wellness is realizing that one of the major benefits of functional medicine is biochemical individuality. Biochemical individuality results in conditions that are called genetrophic diseases. Genetrophic diseases are those for which genetic uniqueness creates demands for specific nutrients beyond the average demand to facilitate optimal function and prevent premature disease. When these specific needs are not met, disease results. This is the cause of those diseases that are called degenerative. Functional medical testing can identify each dog’s unique biochemical requirements in order to optimize nutrition. As Linus Pauling said, all diseases begin with a mineral deficiency. Average nutrition creates only average health. In order to increase health span- in addition to life span- it is necessary to optimize nutrition.
In conclusion, pets are living longer- that’s indisputable. But how they live those extra years is an abiding issue. Medical education, research and practice need to shift focus, looking at the complex issues involved in the origins of illness and healthy aging. The evidence is very strong that illness is not a predetermined consequence of aging and that age-related decline can probably be substantially compressed (in length and in severity) by better management of the interaction between genetic uniqueness and the overall environment to which genes are exposed. The 6 Step Program in particular, addresses under-nutrition issues in key body systems.