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A Wake-Up Call: How Deep Is Your Health Debt?

As we navigate through the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s easy to coast on the assumption that if we’re not sick, we’re healthy. This common belief is as widespread as it is misleading, akin to sailing through life without ever checking the health of our vessel—until, inevitably, we hit rough waters. Today, I want to discuss a concept that’s crucial yet often overlooked: optimal health is not merely the absence of disease. It’s a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

Imagine for a moment your health as a bank account. In the prime of our youth, we often feel like this account is in endless surplus. We withdraw from it daily—skipping sleep, opting for convenient food over nutritious meals, postponing exercise, all the while rarely making any deposits. However, just like any account, the balance can quickly become overdrawn without regular, positive contributions. This is the essence of what I call “health debt.”

Most of us are no strangers to the ‘check engine’ light in our cars. It’s an early warning, a signal that something needs our attention. Yet, how many times do we wish we could simply unscrew the light bulb and pretend the problem doesn’t exist? This is precisely how we often treat our health—using suppressive treatments to mask symptoms without addressing the underlying issues. It’s a temporary fix, a band-aid solution that allows the real problem to fester unseen.

This approach has ensnared us in an ‘illness-care’ system rather than a true ‘health-care’ system. We wait until we’re sick before we seek help, at which point our health bank account is deeply overdrawn, and the costs—both financial and personal—are significantly higher. Our current system is adept at managing illness, but it falls short of promoting and maintaining health. We treat the symptoms without curing the disease, applying a reactive rather than proactive approach to health.

So, how can you tell if you’re accruing health debt even if you’re not currently battling a disease? Here are the top 7 symptoms that indicate your health might not be as ideal as you think:

  1. Persistent Fatigue: Not the usual end-of-a-hard-day tired, but a bone-deep fatigue that rest doesn’t cure.
  2. Chronic Stress or Anxiety: Constantly feeling on edge or overwhelmed, even in the absence of immediate stressors.
  3. Irregular Sleep Patterns: Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling rested upon waking.
  4. Digestive Issues: Frequent bloating, gas, constipation, or other gastrointestinal discomforts.
  5. Frequent Colds or Infections: A sign that your immune system may be compromised.
  6. Mood Swings and Irritability: Unexplained changes in mood that affect your daily life.
  7. Persistent Pain or Inflammation: Joint pain, muscle aches, or chronic inflammation without a direct cause.

These symptoms are your body’s equivalent of the ‘check engine’ light—signals that something needs to change. Ignoring them is akin to unscrewing the light bulb; the problem remains, even if you can’t see it.

It’s time to shift our mindset from illness care to genuine health care, where prevention and early intervention are key. This transition requires a focus on functional medicine, which aims to identify and address the root causes of health issues, not just the symptoms. By investing in our health now, making regular deposits into our health account, we can avoid the steep costs of health debt later on.

If any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned resonate with you, or if you’re simply interested in learning more about how you can proactively manage your health, I invite you to book a complimentary discovery call with me. Together, we can explore how a functional medicine approach, particularly focusing on underlying sleep issues, can play a pivotal role in your health journey.

Remember, your health is an investment, not an expense. It’s never too late to start making deposits into your health account. Let’s work together to ensure your health bank account is in surplus, paving the way for a life of vitality and well-being.

To your health,

Dr. John Dempster, ND