Fired up Friday Take 2
I get fired up about the idea of Total Load or Total Body Burden. This is a big concept that gets overlook when we are looking for 1 cause for our health issues or 1 magic bullet to solve our problems.
I see a lot of people getting stuck looking for 1 cause for their problems and I also see medical providers dismissing things because it does not directly cause one specific problem. Our body is not always that black and white and requires us to think beyond this limited mindset. Welcome Total Load.
This is a foundational theory in functional and holistic nutrition and it helps us to see how food and lifestyle can shift the terrain in the body towards greater health.
The theory of Total Load is important and empowering if you want to both improve chronic symptoms or how you feel now AND if you are hoping to prevent future health issues from surfacing as you age. It helps us see more clearly how things are not always so clear and linear in regards to our health but how there is in fact a lot we can impact in a methodical way.
The basics go like this-
We all have a metaphorical bucket. Various things fill our bucket over time. When we are physiologically healthy or resilient our body can keep up with this burden. But when our bucket overflows from either too much coming in or from processing things too slowly, we can become overwhelmed and we might experience signs, symptoms or illnesses.
This concept helps us remeber each person is unique, that we are impacted by things differently, that all of our body systems are in fact connected, that everything we do makes an impact on how we feel and function, and that 1+1 does not always =2 when we are talking about things accumulating over time.
Let’s dig into what impacts our bucket size-
The first important thing to realize is that each of our buckets are a different size and drain at a different rate. So what determines this resilience or our body’s ability to handle this burden? The size of our bucket and how fast it drains depends on several things including-
- Our genetics and what genes are expressing themselves (various SNPS impact how well we do or don’t detox and may need more support),
- It depends on our nutrient reserves and how many phytonutrients and antioxidants we consume/digest/absorb,
- It depends on how well we sleep and our circadian rhythm,
- How well our phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification work in our liver,
- How well our vagus nerve functions,
- The integrity of our gut (including leaky gut) and of our digestive system and even how timely we poop,
- How well we can activate our parasympathetic nervous system or our rest/digest part of our nervous system (and the amount of emotional stress, food stress, physical stress, stress from overtraining etc)
- Lifestyle habits that support detoxification such as sweating, moving our body, not eating 24 hours a day, etc
Next, let’s consider what fills our bucket day to day and over time–
Singularly the things that fill our bucket might not cause a problem but over time they have the potential to accumulate, contribute to dysfunction, and overwhelm our body’s resources and ability to process them or heal. These substances that contribute to our body burden or total load include-
- Toxins from the air we breath and water we drink
- Chemicals on our food such as fertilizers, pesticides, etc
- Heavy metals and EMFs
- Chronic infections such as Lyme, Epstein Barr, etc
- Mycotoxins from mold, bacterial overgrowth in our gut, yeast overgrowth such as candida
- Eating nutrient negative foods and/or inflammatory foods
- Stress and isolation
- Hormone imbalances
- Chemicals from cleaning products, fire retardants, skin care products, furniture, flooring, etc
So again, we are built to be resilient, we have evolved to handle various stressors and our body is detoxing all day. However, we did not evolve to face the amount of stressors filling our bucket today. In addition, to compound the problem, our food supply is less nutrient dense today with our depleted soils and monocropping and our modern lifestyle habits often do not support resilience. I have heard this referred to as an evolutionary gap and we are in it.
But this is not all doom and gloom. Quite the opposite.
Often we can’t find one cause for our problems (although how great when we can!). But when we can’t find the one cause of our signs/symptoms or chronic disease or the one magic bullet to find relief doesn’t exist, there is still a lot we can do to impact how we feel and function. We might not always have the answer but we can improve our body’s resilience and ability to process the things coming at us.
If you have have frustrating chronic issues such as skin rashes, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, memory problems, chemical sensitivity, etc or if you want to optimize how you age, there is a lot you can do today with food and lifestyle to make an impact and improve your body’s resilience.
Start with improving how you drain your bucket, reduce what is filling your bucket, and give it time.
During the Nourishing Spring Cleanse and Liver Love we will be supporting our body’s and liver’s ability to ‘lighten the load’. It is no magic bullet but it is one way to make an impact and give your body a needed rest. We work on removing insults while adding nutrients and lifestyle to support our body’s detox ability.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for a clean home cleaning product to replace a toxic one-
- 1-1/2 cups Water
- 1/2 cup White Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Dish Soap
- 12 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil (optional)
What can you do to give your body a break and lighten the load?
- Environmental Working Group- For Decades the FDA knew toxic ‘forever chemicals’ were dangerous but continued to allow their use. February 10th 2022
- Romm, Dr. Aviva. Hormone Disruptors in our Daily Lives. 2018
- Functional Nutrition Alliance, Liver Intensive, 2018
- Bauman College Therapeutic Nutrition Part 1. Penngrove, BCA 2016
- Hyman, Dr. Mark. https://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/is-there-toxic-waste-in-your-body-2/
- Bland, Jeffery. The Disease Delusion. Harper Collins. 2014. NY NY
- Lynch, Ben. Dirty Genes. Harper One. 2018. NY NY
Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM