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Take Charge of Your Health: Identify Your Syndromes
By Marcia Zimmerman, CN Introduction by Dr. Jen Morganti, ND

We are fortunate this month to have author Marcia Zimmerman, CN, provide us with an overview of one of her latest books, 7-Syndrome Healing: Essential Supplements for Mind and Body. This book looks at illness from a unique perspective by tracing the origin of disease back to a cause such as stress or digestive dysfunction. By giving us a peek into where these symptoms will lead us, she provides us the opportunity to intervene with effective preventative measures… Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel. Since he died due to an arrow shot into his heel, the "Achilles heel" has come to mean a person's principal weakness. Your Achilles heel is your risk factor or factors for disease—something that could ultimately lead to your demise. We categorize risk factors as "syndromes." The term syndrome can be defined as a group of signs and symptoms that characterize a particular abnormality; these may be annoying but not severe enough to really grab one's attention. Nevertheless, they are warning signs that left unheeded, can lead to serious health consequences. By identifying the syndromes you have and taking proactive steps to learn how to alleviate them, you can live a healthier, more productive life. The seven most common syndromes are as follows: stress, metabolic, cardiovascular, immune, malabsorption, hormone, and osteo. Before addressing the seven syndromes, there are basic foundations to healthy living that must be followed—there are no shortcuts around these.

The Foundation:

It all starts with what we put in our mouth, and the Mediterranean Diet is acknowledged by most experts as the healthiest way to eat. It is recommended for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, preventing memory problems, and other age-related ailments. It is also the basis for the USDA's My Pyramid healthy eating plan. A great way to get started on eating well is to follow the guidelines in my book, 7-Color Cuisine.

Exercise is also fundamental to healthy living. The National Institute of Health issued the latest fitness guidelines for Americans in 2009; experts recommend two-and-a-half hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise. They cite improvement in risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, mental outlook, and many other benefits.

Addressing the Seven Syndromes:

Stress is the basis for all syndromes. Stress increases levels of free radicals, beyond what natural body defenses can defuse. If any stressful circumstance can be quickly resolved, it doesn't pose any long-term harm. A little stress in life is a good thing because it keeps us on our toes. Chronic psychological stress, by definition, is one that persists for extended periods of time and causes most chronic health problems. GABA with vitamin B6 can help you calm and relax in the midst of stressful times.

Metabolic is a cluster of abnormalities including obesity, high blood pressure, and disturbances in blood lipids and glucose metabolism. These factors increase one's risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular often first appears as high blood pressure– a "leg" of the metabolic syndrome. High cholesterol and abnormal ratios between "good" and "bad" cholesterol signal further risk. High resolution C-reactive protein is an important biomarker for risk, particularly if cholesterol levels are also high. Try CoQ10 for energy production and to support a healthy heart.

Immune function is highly interactive with the nervous system. Most of us have noticed that following periods of high stress, we get sick and our immune system kicks into high gear. As long as stressful events pass, immune response quiets down and all is well. However, if periods of intense stress continue for long periods of time, a lowered immune response can lead either to repeated infections or autoimmune conditions.

Malabsorption is a general term that includes digestive complaints, intestinal discomfort, and bowel problems. Absorption and processing of nutrients occurs over most of the 30 feet that comprise the human digestive tract. Processing the nearly 60 tons of food that pass through the digestive system in a lifetime is a large order. Getting to the core of malabsorption, good digestion (and of course a good diet) is the most important part of this syndrome. Many people don't produce adequate amounts of enzymes and need to supplement with digestive enzymes in order to digest food properly. For the lower gastrointensinal tract, L-glutamine can help heal damage to the intestines and improve nutrient absorption.

Hormone production is regulated by the need for a specific biological response orchestrated by a single hormone. The membrane receptors on target organs contain receptors that will bind the needed hormone. As the hormone locks onto its receptor, metabolic pathways inside the cell are activated. Blood levels of hormones are tightly regulated. Once the required levels have been reached, release of excessive hormone is blocked. In this way, the body maintains an elegant balance in organ function.

Osteo refers to the musculoskeletal system, one of the most intricate and complex systems of the body. Unfortunately, we don't appreciate the great job the musculoskeletal system performs until something goes awry. Awareness of our musculoskeletal system often begins, unfortunately, when we are injured or have degenerative problems. Bone is composed of a collagen matrix with a lattice of minerals and hydrating fluid surrounding it. Bone has great tensile strength, yet is lightweight. New bone is formed throughout life, although it grows at an accelerated rate during puberty. Because bone is also a storage site for minerals, we are in osteo balance as long as intake of minerals is equal to what is pulled from bone for other body uses. Vitamin D3 is also needed to increase calcium absorption and improve bone density, among many other super health benefits.

Chances are that you are struggling with one or more of these syndromes; we all have weaknesses. By prioritizing diet and fitness and implementing preventative measures in your weak areas, you will likely improve your quality of life and armor yourself with protection against debilitating ailments and conditions.

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