Improve Your Health: Part 1

Heart

Restrictive Capillary Flow

Capillaries are a network of very small blood vessels that pass through all the tissues in the body and form the connection between the arteries and the veins. Arterioles, the smallest arteries in the body, contract or relax to regulate blood flow into the capillaries. If they are constricted, transport of oxygen and nutrients into the tissues can be reduced, affecting vital organs, muscles and blood flow to the extremities (characterised by, for example, cold hands and feet). This can be transitory and may be a result of mental or physical stress, dehydration, the use of nicotine or excessive caffeine.
In some cases, arteriole constriction can be a consequence of ageing, chronic inflammation, poor diet or lifestyle choices. Over time, this can contribute to the onset of arteriosclerosis (thickening and stiffening of the arterial walls) and the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries, both of which restrict blood flow.

Dilated Larger Arteries

Arteries carry blood from the heart at high pressure and need an optimal degree of elasticity to function correctly. Dilation and over-elasticity of the larger arteries can indicate that arterial walls do not have enough tension to manage blood flow throughout the body. During times of stress and physical activity the muscles and tissues need an increased supply of oxygen and nutrients for optimal functionality. Over-dilation of the arteries decreases the efficiency of blood transport and results in decreased muscular power and physical performance.

Constricted Larger Arteries

Arteries carry blood from the heart at high pressure and need an optimal degree of elasticity to function correctly. Constriction of the larger arteries can reduce the efficiency of blood flow to the rest of the body. Arterial constriction can be transitory and can be a result of mental or physical stress, dehydration and/or intake of caffeine and nicotine. In some cases arterial constriction can be related to ageing, chronic inflammation, poor diet and lifestyle choices. Over time, these can contribute to the onset of arteriosclerosis (thickening and stiffening of the arterial walls) and the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries, both of which restrict blood flow.

Heart Risk

The heart is a pump that powers the body’s transport system (the blood), so that nutrients and oxygen can be delivered to where they are needed. It is a muscle that contracts continuously in sequence to push blood initially to the lungs, then to the rest of the body. Efficient heart contraction requires nervous and hormonal control of the heart beat and coordination of electrical flow around the heart. The flow of electricity around the heart causes the heart muscle to contract in the correct sequence to pump blood. The heart muscle requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to contract properly. Dysfunction in any of these processes controlling heart function can cause inefficient contraction, missed or additional heart beats, heart pain and angina and in extreme cases, sudden cardiac death. It is important to do regular cardiovascular exercise so that the heart is trained to cope with extra stress and demand when it is needed.

Digestive and Oral Health

Lower Digestive Tract

The lower digestive tract includes the small intestine, the large intestine and the colon. Food is broken down into particles that are small enough to pass through the walls of the small intestine into the blood. These particles are then transported to the tissues of the body to be used for energy, repair or maintenance of bodily processes. They may also be stored or filtered from the blood and excreted. The large intestine is responsible for waste disposal and water regulation. The lower digestive tract is home to harmful bacteria and helpful bacteria and the numbers of each are largely determined by diet. Helpful bacteria optimise both the digestion of food and the bacterial composition in the gut. They also have a positive influence on mood, gut health and digestive efficiency. An inefficient or dysfunctional digestive system can allow substances that should be excreted to be absorbed into the blood, or it can lead to poor absorption of vital nutrients. This can be caused by inadequate breakdown of foods, inflammation of the gut wall or increased gut permeability. Symptoms of digestive discomfort may include bloating, gas or irregular bowel movements.

Upper Digestive Tract

The upper digestive tract consists of the mouth, the oesophagus and the stomach. These use mechanical, enzymatic and chemical means These work to initiate the break down of food before it is passed into the small intestine for further digestion. The correct pH in both the mouth and stomach can influence digestive efficiency. Enzymes in the mouth work best to digest food within a set pH range. Digestion in the stomach works best at a very acidic pH. Upper digestive function can be affected by diet and lifestyle, intake of drugs or antacids, bacterial infection and/or Autonomic Nervous System imbalances. Symptoms may include reflux, indigestion, tooth decay, mouth ulcers, weight gain and/or suboptimal thyroid function. There may also be signs of nutrient or mineral deficiencies.

Tooth and Gum Problems

The teeth are responsible for the initial mechanical process of digestion. The mouth is under constant exposure to food, foreign substances and bacteria. The pH in the mouth and dietary composition can influence the growth of bacteria in the mouth. There is a strong link between dental and gum health and the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Helpful bacteria in the mouth convert nitrates from vegetables into nitrites that are absorbed in the digestive tract. This helps to reduce arterial constriction, therefore lowering cardiovascular risk. Harmful bacteria in the mouth, if given the environment to thrive, can increase cardiac risk and cause tartar, plaques and cavities.

Nutritional

Alkalosis

The pH of a solution is a measure of its acidity or alkalinity. The body constantly works to keep its pH within a range that ensures optimal metabolism, digestion, respiration and immune responses. Alkalosis (high pH) occurs when the mechanisms that manage pH in the body are strained by excessive alkalinity or infection. It can result from the use of certain pharmaceutical drugs or supplements, or the over-consumption of alkaline-forming foods. Alkalosis can also be the result of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), obstruction in the urinary system, or kidney problems. Saliva that is slightly alkaline can inhibit the efficient breakdown of carbohydrates in the mouth and is normally caused by bacterial infection or over-consumption of alkaline foods and antacids. If unaddressed, alkaline saliva can lead to potential thyroid problems, weight gain, fatigue, digestive problems or mouth ulcers.

Acidosis

The pH of a solution is a measure of its acidity or alkalinity. The body constantly works to keep its pH within a range that ensures optimal metabolism, digestion, respiration and immune responses. Acidosis (low pH) occurs when the mechanisms that manage pH in the body are strained by excessive acidity. It can result from the consumption of acid-forming foods and low levels of hydration. Urine with a low pH can be an indication of low-level metabolic acidosis, which can be associated with kidney stones, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Saliva with a low pH, a probable sign of poor dietary choices and/or acid reflux from the stomach, can exacerbate dental problems and symptoms of asthma. It can also result in depleted carbohydrate and protein digestion. Acidosis can contribute to metabolic syndrome (i.e. medical term for a combination of symptoms that increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems), increased triglyceride levels and higher diabetes and cardiovascular risk.

Nutrition: Malnourished

The body requires an adequate intake of nutrients and minerals to sustain the correct function of all body systems. Efficient digestion will ensure that nutrients are absorbed into the blood where they can be delivered to where they are most needed. A balanced diet, effective digestion and absorption are essential to obtain sufficient levels of nutrients in the blood. A balanced diet contains carbohydrates for energy, protein for repair and maintenance of cells and tissues, and fats for insulation and energy. Inadequate intake of nutrients can lead to increased susceptibility to disease and symptoms of fatigue.

Nutrition: Overweight

The body requires a balanced intake of nutrients and minerals to sustain the function of all body systems whilst at rest and during exercise. The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) provides the amount of daily calories needed while at rest to sustain a particular body weight. Eating less than this amount of calories will cause weight loss, and eating more will cause weight gain. Exercise uses calories over and above what is required for your BMR. Any excess calories consumed are either excreted or stored in the body as fat. Certain foods are manufactured to be more palatable and to overcome the body’s natural mechanisms for appetite cessation. It is easy to eat to excess when consuming these foods. Overconsumption of nutrients, poor dietary and lifestyle choices can all lead to weight gain, cholesterol build-up inside the arteries, fatty liver disease, reduced kidney function, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Kidney, Bladder, Liver and Detoxification Efficiency

Kidney or Bladder Infection

An infection in the kidney, bladder or urinary tract can be caused by bacteria that attach to the walls of the bladder, kidney, or the opening of the urethra. Nitrites are produced when these bacteria multiply. An infection can be detected if there are immune cells (leukocytes) or nitrites in the urine. These infections can be present, even if there are no symptoms.

Liver Stress

The liver plays a vital role in the body for detoxification of the blood. It also support digestion in the small intestine, metabolism and storage of glucose. Over consumption of toxins, such as alcohol, and a poor diet can put excess stress on liver functions. This can, over time lead to fatty liver disease and cirrhosis among other disorders.

Kidney Stress

The kidneys work to filter the blood, maintain electrolyte, water, nutrient and pH balance, and excrete waste products. The kidneys are dramatically effected by increases in blood pressure, arterial constriction, changes in pH and increased fat and cholesterol in the blood. These can significantly affect the filtering capability of the kidneys. This can compromise the blood filtration mechanisms of the body, increasing the risk for dysfunction in other body systems. Excess protein and blood in the urine are a key sign of kidney stress.

Hydration

Electrolyte Balance

The correct balance of electrolytes (sodium, calcium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, phosphate and bicarbonate), both inside and outside of the cells in the body is essential for the function of all bodily processes, and for the efficient transport of water and nutrients to where they are needed. Electrolytes are also required for cardiac, nerve, and kidney functions. Excessive losses in electrolytes can occur when sweating, vomiting, with diarrhea or kidney problems.

Dehydration


Water is essential for the efficient function of the body. Dehydration compromises every vital function of the body and while the body can function in times of drought, optimal functionality occurs when the body is properly hydrated.

Stress

Depleted Stress Response

Your pulse rate and blood pressure should increase slightly when you stand, this is the natural ‘fight or flight’ stress response that gets your body ready for exertion. An underactive hormonal and/or cardiac response, can result in a slow cardiovascular response to stress or physical exertion. This is known as a depleted stress response. Sub-optimal functionality of the adrenal or thyroid glands and/or poor levels of physical fitness may be responsible. Symptoms may include dizziness, fatigue and reduced stamina. This may affect both mental and physical performance.

Acute Stress Response

Your pulse rate and blood pressure should increase slightly when you stand. This is the natural ‘fight or flight’ stress response that gets your body ready for exertion. An overactive hormonal response (eg. Increased adrenaline), high levels of anxiety, stress and/or pain can initiate a stress response that is greater than is necessary, this is known as an acute stress response. This can put unwanted pressure on your heart, arteries and organs that can, over time, lead to increased risk of heart and vascular issues, headaches, hypertension, fatigue and burnout.

High Mental Stress

Stress is the body reacting to external stressors, thoughts or emotional events. A good stress response is required to help cope with stressful situations. It should regulate and switch off after a stressful situation is resolved and when it is time to relax. High mental stress can be transient. Failure to manage high mental stress can put unwanted pressure on your heart, arteries, organs and hormonal regulatory systems and can, over time, lead to increased risk of heart and vascular issues, decreased mental flexibility and burnout. A consistently elevated stress response can, in the long term, affect the way in which the body responds to stress, an untypical stress response.

Acute Stress

Acute stress is defined by a consistently overactive stress response where the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) branch of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is constantly in overdrive. This SNS dominance means that your body is readying itself for a stressful situation even at times when you are trying to relax. The ways in which you perceive and deal with stress in your life may be having a negative effect on your health. A consistently elevated stress response can put unwanted pressure on your heart, arteries, organs and hormonal regulatory systems. Over time, this can lead to increased risk of heart and vascular issues, as well as headaches, hypertension, fatigue, and burnout. A common symptom of acute stress is the inability to get a good night’s sleep.

Diabetic Risk

Diabetic Risk

When the level of glucose in the blood is too high it means that the body is neither effectively storing glucose nor converting glucose into energy. This can lead to an impaired glucose tolerance and a potential pre-diabetic profile. Causes can range from poor nutrition (i.e. excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars), obesity, a high body fat percentage, to dehydration or possible genetic predispositions. A raised level of diabetic risk can lead to higher risk of cardiovascular, liver and kidney disease.

Inflammation and the Immune System

Inflammation

Inflammation can be present in all tissues of the body including the digestive tract, joints, muscles and arteries. It may be accompanied by a fever or an infection. Long-term inflammation in the digestive tract can be caused by poor dietary choices or unwanted gut bacteria. Chronic inflammation can build up in the organs, joints and arteries over time, this can increase the risk for cardiovascular, liver and kidney problems if left unaddressed. For example, arachidonic acid found in chicken and animal protein, or excessive omega 6 fatty acids, or pollutants such as cigarette smoke can cause a long-term inflammatory response.

Depleted Immune Response

Your pulse rate and blood pressure should increase slightly when you stand, this is the natural ‘fight or flight’ stress response that gets your body ready for exertion. An underactive hormonal and/or cardiac response, can result in a slow cardiovascular response to stress or physical exertion. This is known as a depleted stress response. Sub-optimal functionality of the adrenal or thyroid glands and/or poor levels of physical fitness may be responsible. Symptoms may include dizziness, fatigue and reduced stamina. This may affect both mental and physical performance.

Lung Function and Blood Oxygenation

Lung Function

The lungs extract oxygen from the air on inhalation and deliver it into the red blood cells, which then carry the oxygen around the body to be used in the tissues to make energy. The lungs also help the body to get rid of waste products on exhalation. Insufficient levels of oxygen can decrease mental capacity, affect all bodily functions and cause fatigue. An obstruction or restriction in the lungs, or airways leading to the lungs, can affect the intake of oxygen. This can occur if you suffer from asthma or hay fever, or due to a lung condition. Accurate results of the lung function test are dependent on using the correct technique and on you exhaling to the maximum of your abilities. If the test is not performed correctly, this could negatively affect the result.

Blood Oxygenation

The blood extracts oxygen from the air in the lungs and transports it to the tissues where it is used to make energy. The red blood cells attach to the oxygen in the blood and store it for transport to the tissues. A high level of red blood cell saturation with oxygen (over 95%) is necessary for efficient delivery of oxygen to the tissues. Low blood oxygenation can indicate that the blood is not being fully saturated with oxygen in the lungs, though it can also relate to an iron deficiency. Oxygen binds to iron molecules inside the red blood cells before transport around the body. Lack of oxygen can cause decreased mental capacity, fatigue and affect all bodily functions.

Exercise

Your bones, muscles, lungs and cardiovascular system adapt over time to the level of strain they are put under. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, these systems negatively adapt to it, get weaker and their ability to cope with sudden stresses in everyday life is diminished. Regular exercise ensures these systems are constantly ready for stress. Exercise also reduces disease risk in many areas. Different exercise regimes are more suited to some individuals than others. For some, very strenuous exercise can lower stress levels on the body, whereas for others the opposite is true and more gentle exercise is required initially. The Soza Health tests have allowed us to determine what type of exercise regime is best for you.

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