1. Chronic Stress
Low energy, waking up tired after a full night’s sleep, and experiencing a decreased ability to cope with stress are signs of chronic stress.
Our modern lifestyles are extremely taxing on our hormonal stress response (cortisol) and nervous system. As a result many people suffer from chronic stress without realizing that it is contributing to their health problems.
Signs of chronic stress include:
- Stubborn belly fat
- Cravings for sugars, salts, and fats
- Low motivation
- Lack of focus and mental confusion
- Low libido
- Tired and depleted after exercise
- Dizziness when you stand up quickly
- Afternoon energy slump and needing caffeine to keep going (especially between 2-4pm)
- Irritable or indecisive if meals are skipped
- Waking up in the middle of the night, especially 2-4am due to blood sugar problems
- Tired upon waking, even with enough sleep
- Poor immune health and slow recovery from colds and illnesses
- Feeling tired and wired
- Inability to handle stress
- Sensitivity to sounds, light, and pain
Decreasing stress through daily deep breathing, meditation, and getting enough sleep while going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends) can greatly reduce how stress affects you.
2. Poor Nutrition & Digestive Health
Digestive problems are caused by poor nutrition, inflammatory foods, unidentified food sensitivities, undiagnosed infections, and physical or emotional stress that can damage digestive function and cause an inflammatory cascade throughout the body.
The Standard American Diet (appropriately abbreviated SAD) is lacking in nutrients and is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. In addition, many conventional foods have lower levels of vital nutrients due to pesticide use and depletion of minerals in the soil.
A diet focused on organic vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and pastured animal protein often improves or eliminates digestive problems entirely.
However, many people continue to experience digestive problems such as:
- Acid reflux
- Abdominal discomfort & pain
- Crohn’s Disease
- Digestive infections
- Food sensitivities & allergies
- Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Intestinal Permeability (Leaky Gut Syndrome)
- Liver and gallbladder problems
- Ulcerative Colitis
When digestive problems persist after dietary and lifestyle changes, it’s time to dig deeper to uncover and eliminate root causes of digestive inflammation and dysfunction such as intestinal permeability (leaky gut), malabsorption, low stomach acid, poor pancreatic function, poor liver function, and chronic infections. A thorough approach to root causes includes a comprehensive history, timeline of symptoms and life events, abdominal exam, and appropriate imaging and testing.
3. Environmental Toxicity
The most common factor contributing to health problems is exposure to toxic substances and inflammatory triggers in our homes, air, water, and food.
According to the Environmental Working Group there are almost 85,000 chemicals currently approved for consumer use!
One of the easiest ways to improve health is to limit toxic exposure in our environment by becoming educated consumers and buying smarter. The Environmental Working Group has made it easy to find out which products contain harmful chemicals and which products are rated the safest.
How To Decrease Your Exposure To Toxics:
- Choose a water filter for your home.
- Carry filtered water in a glass or stainless steel bottle.
- Avoid plastic bottled water.
- Avoid eating rancid oils such as canola oil, vegetable oil, and safflower oil.
- Know the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen and choose organic whenever possible.
- Use non-toxic personal care and cosmetic products.
- Use non-toxic cleaners.
4. Stealth Infections
Stealth infections refer to chronic infections in the digestive tract or cells that have gone undetected and untreated. These types of infections increase leaky gut, stress, and inflammation and can be the root cause of both common symptoms like digestive problems that do not resolve with lifestyle and nutrition changes or complex problems like autoimmune or degenerative diseases.
Common stealth infections:
- Large intestine bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth
- H. pylori
- Epstein Barr Virus
- Herpes Family Viruses
- Lyme disease Spirochaetes and co-infections
Signs of these infections often do not show up on conventional blood work and require a careful history and specialized testing to identify and eliminate them.
Dr. DeFrancesco partners with patients seeking a smarter & sustainable approach to health by doing the detective work to uncover root cause(s) and design a personalized and comprehensive plan that includes nutrition, lifestyle, functional medicine, and root cause therapies.
This approach benefits people who are seeking help with chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmunity, thyroid conditions, digestive problems, brain health, and health optimization.