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Advocate! Be Proactive About Your Health!

It’s really important to advocate for your own health testing and progress. Why? Because things get missed, because doctors are busy, tests are inadequate. Because if you don’t become proactive, then you may not get the care that you need.

For example, I recently had a somewhat high A1C test. This test is for blood sugar averaged over the last three months, so its much more accurate that a fasting test for high blood sugar, followed by a test after taking sugar water (glucose).

I asked my doctor about it via e-mail, and the answer was that yes, it was of concern, and that we’d recheck it in six months. This really surprised me, as I thought I had been eating pretty well. The doctor’s directions to me didn’t even say, “here’s a web page link, please read about it”, nor “stop eating so much sugar and white flour and white rice.” Just that we’d recheck it in six months. This doesn’t really seem like enough. (PS – there are herbs and nutrition to help your body recover from insulin resistance.)

Could It Be B12 (Amazon link) – The author of this book, Sally M. Pacholok, was working in health care and had a family history of B12 anemia. Even with asking her doctor about it, I believe in relation to extreme fatigue, she almost missed getting testing. She had to push very hard for testing, and it was discovered that she was very low.

She was found to have a small gene mutation called MTHFR. This means that all foods with vitamin B work just fine in the body (provided you have gut bacteria to convert them). The problem comes up with vitamins; most vitamins have a form of folate (a B vitamin) and B-12 that doesn’t work well in these individuals. It is not methylated, which is what these people with the MTHFR gene need. And the lack of a usable folate in the vitamins or diet leads to a problem with detoxifying the body. This can lead to cancer, lupus, and other issues to run in families. [ Remember: all foods with vitamin B work just fine in the body] (Authors Sally M. Pacholok and Jeffrey J. Stuart)

The rate of this gene mutation might be as high as 1:7 in the general population. It just means most people should have a methylated form of folate and B-12 in their vitamins. However, at a local naturopath’s office, the rate of ill patients with the MTHFR may be as high as 80%, according to nutritionist with whom I was talking.

In the past (1920’s), if anyone had low energy, they were just given a B-12 shot and sent along their merry way. This is one case where I think that might have been a really good idea. There’s no negative after effects, anyway.

Inaccurate Celiac Test:
The normal test for celiac only tests three out of fifty possible markers for allergy to gluten in wheat, rye and oats (Oats are usually ground on the same place as wheat, but they are available gluten-free.) In Italy, it takes about 4 weeks to diagnose celiac. In the US, the time can be as long as ten years!! The sad part about this is that the small hairs called villi in the small intestine become damaged with celiac, which means the person’s full food absorption becomes damaged. Ill health can result.

And then the test for celiac does not address gluten intolerance. This means that you can’t digest gluten, but it is not a true allergy with physical damage, as in celiac. There is a separate test for gluten intolerance.

Acid Blockers (Proton Pump Inhibiters) & Their Problems
The problem with acid-blockers like Prevacid is that people with burning stomach may have many different things, including LOW stomach acid (not high!), ulcers (a bacterial infection), bad bacteria like Clostridia difficile in the stomach (where they should not be living), or H. pylori (a bacteria) in the stomach exit to the small intestine. They may also have gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is related to food intolerances.

Giving random meds to people without fulling investigating the real problem can lead to further damage and digestive trouble.

If you have a lack of stomach acid, then take acid-blockers, the person stops breaking down foods, and then the neutralizing base doesn’t get released later on. (It’s triggered by the acid bomb, see? It’s an assembly line!) The person stops absorbing vitamins from ALL their foods, because the acid is necessary to break down foods into something digestible.

If a person has pain from bacterial overgrowth like H. pylori or other bacteria living in the stomach’s exit (instead of in the small and mainly large intestine where they belong), acid blockers can actually make it easier for bacteria to flourish in the stomach, where they never belong. If they weren’t there before, they can move in! Yikes! And their main goal is to further lower stomach acid to make it easier for them to live. Unfortunately, this  makes it harder for the person to digest their food.

Using acid blockers can lead to gluten sensitivity.

I have heard that there have been no tests to see if the stomach’s acid-making proton pumps ever go back on again after using proton-pump inhibiters. I would like to do more research on this question, and get back to you as to whether this is true or not.

Misdiagnosis & Thyroid Tests
The normal thyroid test given by most doctors tests the message from the brain to the thyroid. It doesn’t actually test what’s coming out of the thyroid. This means that many people can be given a false result of “normal”, whether they are high or low thyroid.

With functional medicine practitioners, nutrition practitioners, and naturopaths, they test the signal from the brain to thyroid(as above), but several others test what is coming out of the thyroid.

Nutrition changes can easily modify health for the better. However, most doctors have only a short time with their patients. So you may never talk about the latest news in nutrition, like its OK to eat the right kinds of fats, add more Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids to your diet, most people are low in vitamin D, and try to avoid all the sugar and white flour in the American diet. Poor you!

Can you see that some standard test procedures miss the mark for diagnoses? I hate it when people fall through the cracks, and don’t get the care that they need (me included!). I wonder why insurance companies let inaccurate or incomplete tests (like the thyroid and celiac tests) go on, instead of really solving the problem with a little more testing up front. There is a huge difference in health between someone diagnosed with celiac in a few weeks versus a few years.

So for all these reasons, it pays to be a little assertive in order to get the health care that you need. Yes, we might end up with a label. But we may not see our care-givers again for  six months or a year, so who cares about labels?! But with our short patient consultation times, we need to be advocates for ourselves.

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