THE BLOG
11/06/2014 06:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Questions Your Doctor Isn't Asking You (Which Might Be Keeping You Sick)

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You haven't felt well in a really long time. You've sat in your fair share of waiting rooms, taken a million tests, and filled more prescriptions than your medicine cabinet can comfortably hold.

But you still haven't gotten to the bottom of your chronic health issues.

Why isn't anything helping?

Maybe it's because your doctor isn't asking you the right questions.

Traditional doctors ask traditional medical questions. (They'll ask about your water intake, food choices, exercise habits, and stress level.)

Those questions are helpful and necessary. But a handful of unconventional questions could offer big breakthroughs and contribute to a positive shift in your health and wellbeing.

Your answers to these 6 unconventional questions provide clues as to why your body isn't working optimally. And, I'll add that all the women with chronic illnesses who've worked with me have at least three or more of these issues. Are you one of them?

Unasked Question #1: What Was Your Last Poop Like?
If your digestion isn't working optimally, there's a good chance that you're not absorbing the nutrients you need for your body to work at it's best.

Every cell in your body (including the ones needed to heal, detoxify, and reduce inflammation, which are all important with chronic issues) is made up of the building blocks found in the foods you eat. You literally are what you eat.

But, just because you eat an excellent diet, doesn't mean you're reaping all the benefits... especially if your digestion and absorption is less than optimal.

Constipation, diarrhea, cramping, gas or bloating are the telltale signs that your gut might need rebalancing. Have you looked at your poop lately? I know, gross right? But, those poops are filled with information on how well your digestion is working.

There are many reasons why your digestion may be compromised like: parasites, improper balance of good bacteria, low digestive enzymes, food sensitivities, poor dietary choices and chronic stress.

If I could only choose one thing to do with patients I would choose this... get the digestion and absorption working optimally. This is the foundation upon which we begin to optimize health.

Unasked Question #2: Are You Eating Harmful Foods?
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, "Let food be your medicine." But what if the foods you eat are literally hurting you and preventing you from healing?

Many people eat foods that are harmful to their body without realizing it. Unfortunately, food sensitivities are becoming mainstream and are caused by some of the most prevalent foods in our diets: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and nuts.

It's not always easy to identify food sensitivities because oftentimes the reactions are delayed. It could take you up to three days to experience the side effects of a meal. And another challenge: the symptoms of food sensitivities are not always in the digestive tract.

Foods that you're sensitive to might be impairing your body's ability to heal, detoxify or reduce inflammation.

Unfortunately, food sensitivity testing is still a relatively new phenomenon. Blood test results don't always correlate perfectly with symptoms. The best combination to identify sensitivities is performing a blood test and doing a food elimination diet.

Unasked Question #3: What Were You Doing at 2 A.M. This Morning?
If you aren't sleeping well you aren't healing well. Your body's healing mechanisms are most active during your sleeping hours. If you're wide awake and staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m., you're fighting an uphill health battle by reducing your body's ability to heal.

On top of that, many medications may have "sleep disturbance" as a side effect (resulting in the need for sleeping pills to counteract it). The quality of this kind of sleep is usually poor and you're less likely to wake feeling refreshed.

And the cycle continues throughout the day. Women who are tired are more likely to depend on caffeine and sugar to keep them energized -- and that glass of wine to wind them down at night. Even when you feel the effects have worn off, each of these substances is a major disruptor of your sleep cycle, your energy and your ability to heal.

Any time a woman has any trouble with sleep (or daily fatigue) it's important to search for ways to improve the quality of her Zzz's.

Unasked Question #4: How Safe Are the Products You Use at Home?
Toxic chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides are found in the foods we eat, the cleaning products we use, and in the the makeup and personal-care products we apply daily.

Your body has mechanisms to detoxify and eliminate some of these chemicals naturally. But if you're overloaded (or if your body can't detoxify well), you store these toxins in your body. The result of toxic overload? Your normal healing mechanisms are slowed or even stopped.

Many toxins are "endocrine disruptors" meaning they directly affect your hormonal systems. Disruption of your hormones directly affects your sleep, your moods, and your energy... three very important aspects of healing from chronic illness.

Some women naturally don't detoxify as well as others. It's important to take this into consideration as well. Specialized functional medicine health-care providers can counsel you on how to identify, reduce and detoxify your toxic load.

Unasked Question #5: Are You in Love with Yourself?
I'm a big fan of self-love and self-care. The way you think about and treat yourself dramatically impacts your overall health. Women who put self-care at the top of their to-do list and make it a priority to be loving toward themselves almost always have better health outcomes.

Your thoughts are intensely powerful when it comes to healing your body. Chronic negativity, self-criticism, and self-hatred produce a flood of stress chemicals in our bodies that keep us in "fight or flight" mode. Our bodies don't heal well in this state of stress.

Some signs you need to focus on more self-love are: self-criticism, perfectionism, self-sabotaging behaviors, addictions, self-deprivation, or holding onto baggage from your past. Other signs include chronic anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.

Unasked Question #6: Who Are the Most Important People in Your Life?
We're designed to be social creatures in relationship. Who you hang out with and spend your life with makes a tremendous difference in your overall health.

Women are sometimes involved in very toxic relationships with their spouses, partners, families, parents, coworkers or friends. These cause a tremendous amount of physical stress to your body. Feelings of anxiety, fear and insecurity cause a release of inflammatory and stress chemicals. This alone, reduces your body's ability to heal.

Unfortunately, almost all of us have people in our life who aren't good for us. However, it's not always easy to just "quick fix" these relationships. But, what you can do is be sure that you nurture the relationships that are healthy for you -- and be mindful of the ones that aren't.

Seeing the Whole Picture
As a woman, if you're feeling "stuck" in your health or are faced with chronic health issues it's important to talk with your health-care provider about all aspects of your holistic self (in addition to the typical topics).

In my experience, it's often the atypical, outside-the-box factors that catalyze the greatest shifts in health. This is especially true of the mental, emotional, and spiritual factors -- which many doctors fail to acknowledge. Rebalancing your body (and more importantly your life) requires being open to health factors that traditional medicine often overlooks.

For more insight into the unconventional things that may be impacting your health, visit www.DrDeborah.com