Going to the doctor is kind of like getting a new haircut. You can walk in with an idea of what you want to happen, but depending on the level of communication, you could end up with a mullet when you really wanted layers. No one wants a mullet.
Communication is key. If you go into your visit with a few important conversation starters, you may actually come out with that perfect Jennifer Aniston do, or at least just learn a lot about your health. We’re used to asking our doctors questions, but at Parsley Health we believe your doctor should be the one asking you about your health. You are the expert when it comes to your body.
Here are a few of the things your doctor should be asking you to try to figure out the root cause of your symptoms.
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Are you taking any vitamin D3?
The majority of the US population is suffering from chronic, low levels of Vitamin D. Our main source of vitamin D is the sun. If you’re not getting full-body sun exposure for at least 15 minutes, without applying any sunblock, on a daily basis, then chances are that you’re missing out on this extremely important vitamin. Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, meaning that among its plethora of responsibilities, it is able to turn certain genes on and off. This has implications on whether cancer genes are expressed or not, and explains why vitamin D deficiencies have been associated with increased risk of certain cancers like those of the breast, colon, prostate, and pancreas. Most people would benefit from taking at least 2,000 IU daily of Vitamin D3, but if you’re lucky enough to have your doctor check your blood level, your doctor can tailor the dose specifically to your needs.
How is your sleep?
We spend about 1/3 of our lives in bed. Whether or not that time in bed is spent sleeping is what can make all the difference. The quality of our sleep can affect all realms of our health, like our weight, emotions and mood, hormonal balance, memory and concentration, and skin quality, to name a few. There are so many factors that affect whether we are sleeping deeply, wake up in the middle of the night, or have trouble falling asleep. A few of them are hormonal fluctuations, foods we eat, caffeine or alcohol intake, exercise patterns, and stress levels. Addressing the underlying cause of sleep disturbance with your doctor is the best way to improve your sleep and your overall health.
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What is your stool like?
If your doctor is squeamish about talking about stool, then that’s probably a good sign that you need to seek the help of someone else. Knowing about your stool quality is essential for your doctor to help get you healthier. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said “All disease begins in the gut.” In Traditional Chinese Medicine, digestion is the center of health for the mind, body, and spirit. Having healthy digestion means you’re able to assimilate the nutrients that you need and eliminate the toxins that you don’t. In order for this intricate system to function properly, it is imperative that you feed yourself proper food, move your body, handle your stress effectively, and remove any possible infections or imbalance in your gut ecology. At Parsley, we believe that stool and gut health are a top priority. We treat people for gut-related issues every day. We aren’t squeamish when it comes to talking about it.
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How do you deal with stress?
In order to balance the constant excitement of life, we all need ways to practice moments of peace and quiet. Meditation and deep breathing have been shown to decrease cortisol levels, a stress hormone released in the “fight or flight” response. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to excessive weight gain in the waist line, disrupted sleep, malfunctioning thyroid, and decreased fertility. Meditation has also been shown to positively influence job performance, and job satisfaction. Taking the time to take a step back, breathe, and express gratitude for various things in your life will boost your natural endorphin production and thereby decrease any depressive symptoms and response to pain sensation. So next time you’re walking down the street and passing by your neighborhood park, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! And breathe!
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