By Dr. Shawna Darou, ND
We are approaching the end of year and it is a good time to take stock on your health. Are there any areas that need attention? Are you up to date with physical examinations, naturopathic assessments, testing and screening? Taking care of these issues will give you information to base decisions regarding prevention of illness and will enable you to be proactive about your health care.
Early intervention with first warning signs (such as slightly high cholesterol, small fibroids, rising blood sugar levels, presence of thyroid antibodies, mild allergies, etc) can correct health problems before they become chronic.
I see an alarming number of early warning signs slip through the cracks, which is why I encourage patients to bring in previous lab testing to their visits for review. For example, are your cholesterol levels gradually climbing each year? Is your vitamin D level optimal? Have you had vitamin D tested? In our over-stretched health care system, there is often not enough time to compare your lab testing from year to year, and changes like these will not flag until you are at a critical level requiring intervention. It is the several steps prior that I aim to find, where changes in diet, exercise and stress reduction can prevent a chronic health issue from developing.
An excellent starting point for your assessment is to make a health timeline. A health timeline begins with any information your can find, broken down into sections: preconception / pregnancy, infant / toddler, childhood, puberty, teenage, early adulthood, mid-adulthood to present. Include all significant health events, nutrition information, medications taken, and also stresses / changes / trauma’s as these are often precipitating factors for your health.
I highly recommend taking charge of their own health and creating a health file that contains your own copies of blood test results and other lab testing (ultrasounds, mammogram’s, bone density tests, thermography, food intolerance testing, hormone panels). I would be happy to help you interpret and assess them.
The other side of preventative medicine is to understand your family history. This can help make decisions about when to start more invasive screening (such as mammogram or colonoscopy), and helps design a long-term treatment plan. If you don’t have all of this information, please ask family members.
The new field of “epigenetics” has found that we are not powerless to our genetic tendencies, and we can in fact change some of the genetic trends that we pass on to our children. Again, being proactive about your health: maintaining a consistent good diet, regular exercise, managing stress levels, minimizing toxin exposure go a long way in prevention.
If there is information lacking in your health file, we can fill in the missing pieces with lab testing: standard blood tests (cholesterol, iron, vitamin B12, thyroid, blood sugar, etc) are all available through the clinic, as well as specialized testing including: food intolerance testing, hormone panels or breast thermography.
Even if you are not currently unwell, an annual health assessment can review your current health status, make sure your lab testing and screening is up to date, and discuss your current health goals for the year and for prevention.
All of this information will help create a personalized preventative health plan. It is always preferable to treat health issues at the stage of early intervention which prevents the need for long-term medication use.
Please book an annual health assessment if you would like to discuss your own preventative and proactive health plan.