Warning Signs You’re Sliding Down the Health Ladder

Warning Signs You’re Sliding Down the Health Ladder

Warning Signs You’re Sliding Down the Health Ladder

Imagine there’s a ladder—and it represents your health.

At the top of the ladder is your best health ever. 

You’re energized, motivated, balanced, and thriving. Basically, you’re kicking butt and loving every minute.

This is where you want to be – at the top of the ladder.

As we go through life, we get exposed to toxins and infections, then nutrient deficiencies creep in. 

And if we aren’t consciously protecting against them and flushing them out, we begin to experience symptoms.

We’ve officially moved down the health ladder.

This is where things like moodiness, joint aches and pains, low energy, brain fog, or constipation creep in.

If we don’t do anything about it at this stage, we continue to move down the ladder… nearer the bottom where diagnoses and disorders happen.

The symptoms are so prolonged and bothersome that they get official names—anxiety, depression, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, arthritis, just to name a few. 

We may get put on medication or have to do some other sort of serious medical intervention.

And if we still don’t address the root cause (yep, those pesky toxins, infections, and nutrient deficiencies), we progress to end-stage disease.

Things like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

It’s the end of the ladder.

I’m not getting all morbid to scare you… it’s just a fact of life these days.

But it doesn’t have to look like this.

My goal is to catch you before you fall.

And help move you back up the health ladder… together.

Before we get into HOW we do that… let’s explore each of the factors that cause you to slip down the ladder bit by bit.


Inflammation is a normal and healthy immune response to dangerous invaders, pathogens, and injuries. It literally burns up those invaders to get rid of them. 

However, chronic low-grade inflammation — triggered by modern lifestyles — inflicts tremendous harm. Research shows that systemic, cellular inflammation is the underlying mechanism behind today’s most lethal conditions: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

Chronic, low-level inflammation has no obvious signs like acute inflammation does (heat, pain, or swelling). It happens subtly, at the microscopic level.

So what exactly is going on with low-level inflammation in the body?

Special immune cells called cytokines get produced at slightly high—-but constant levels—and circulate everywhere, creating oxidative stress and damage.

This can go on for years, as the roving inflammatory cytokines interact with tissues in organs, muscles, joints, arteries, and even the brain. Over time, they inflict damage that adds up. 

For example, some overactive cytokines trigger a buildup of plaque in blood vessels. As this builds over the years, it hardens arteries and raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In the brain, inflammatory cytokines can gradually kill nerve cells and connections between them. As this spreads, mental function starts to decline, potentially leading to forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Joint tissue also erodes from years of attacks by cytokines, resulting in painful arthritis. The pancreas can also lose insulin-producing cells, contributing to diabetes.

The key point is chronic inflammation sparks destructive small processes here and there on the microscopic scale. But as cells die or dysfunction accumulates across tissues, eventual disease results. Avoiding this fate requires identifying and treating sources of continuous low-grade inflammation.

What Fuels Systemic Inflammation?

Poor diet tops the list, especially intake of sugar, refined carbohydrates, industrial seed oils, and factory-farmed animals. This is particularly prevalent in the United States, which relies heavily on processed foods loaded with toxic chemicals, trans fats, and fillers the body doesn’t recognize as nutrients. Two of the worst offenders commonly consumed are white bread (very prevalent in fast food burgers and sandwiches) as well as low-quality meat (because yes, the quality of the meat you consume matters!).

What else fuels the flames of inflammation?

  • Obesity – As fat cells swell with excess lipids during obesity, they secrete dysfunctional levels of cytokines that travel systematically and damage body tissues.
  • Chronic stress – Prolonged activation of the “fight or flight” stress response over-stimulates inflammatory pathways through repeated release of cortisol and cytokines, keeping the body’s immune system in a constant state of hyper-alertness that ultimately harms healthy tissues.
  • Environmental toxins – Exposure to hazardous substances, like heavy metals, air pollution, and chemicals, trigger inflammatory reactions as the body attempts to neutralize and contain the toxic irritants, leading to systemic, chronic inflammation if contact is ongoing (which, for most of us, it is).

Together these factors keep inflammation switched “on”, degrading health over time.   

How To Address Inflammation and Move Back Up the Health Ladder

An anti-inflammatory lifestyle offers profound healing power. Its cornerstones include:

  • A micronutrient-rich, whole foods diet low in sugars starves inflammation by cutting out pro-inflammatory refined carbs and providing anti-inflammatory compounds (studies show the Mediterranean diet is particularly effective)
  • Omega 3s from fatty fish sources (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, and anchovies) inhibit inflammatory messaging between cells
  • Maintaining a healthy body composition prevents inflamed fat tissue from pumping out inflammatory cytokines
  • Stress moderation practices like meditation, exercise, or journaling trigger anti-inflammatory nervous system responses, lowering inflammation-producing adrenaline and cortisol
  • Reducing exposure to environmental toxins minimizes inflammatory reactions triggered by immune system cells trying to neutralize irritants

Research confirms this approach extinguishes inflammatory fires so the body can rebalance homeostasis and heal.


Foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites pose another threat to staying high on the health ladder.  They live all over our bodies and while many are helpful in terms of immune function and digestion, some are harmful germs that make us sick.

Infections occur either when a pathogen enters and wreaks havoc inside the body or when a native microbe (such as bacteria in the gut microbiome) grows to such a level that an imbalance occurs and the environment becomes toxic. For example, changes in diet and overusing antibiotics often kill off too many of the “good” gut bugs, which allows the number of harmful microbes to grow uncontrolled.

When bad bugs like Candida yeast, SIBO bacteria, or stealth infections take over, big problems happen. These invaders trigger inflammation and tire out the immune system. They release toxins and steal nutrients we need. As they spread, they create hard-to-treat chronic infections that have a downline effect that contributes to overall health decline.

How To Address Infections and Move Back Up the Health Ladder

Identifying which infections are the root cause of the problem and eliminating them is the key to moving up the health ladder.

  • Get testing done through a functional medicine practitioner to identify hidden viral, bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infections 
  • Promoting the growth and proliferation of “good” bacteria in the gut microbiome using probiotics and prebiotics, as well as improving diet to include fiber, fermented foods, fresh produce, and lots of water
  • Eliminating pathogens’ preferred food sources, which often include sugar, processed foods, and alcohol (essentially, the same ingredients that promote inflammation)
  • Open your natural detox pathways to flush out existing infections effectively, as well as prevent opportunistic infections from taking hold again
  • Boost immune function with diet, sleep, and stress relief to help your body target and eliminate infection sources well

Nutrient Deficiencies  

Another reason health slides down the ladder is nutrient deficiencies. This occurs when a diet lacks certain essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds necessary to biochemical processes. Our bodies need these to run properly, but modern life makes falling short easy.

It’s interesting to note that our bodies need energy not just to get through the day and function, but also to heal. With chronic nutrient gaps, those necessary energy stores are lacking, so the body simply doesn’t have enough energy to repair damage or fight off invaders. Over time, nutrient gaps can speed up the slide down the health ladder.

Poor soil and industrial farming practices lead to lower nutrient levels in many foods. Over-processed junk foods have insufficient nutritional value (and as we have now learned, also promote inflammation). Additionally, digestive issues make it harder to absorb nutrients, either because the body can’t recognize the molecules as nutrients or because the body simply can’t absorb the nutrients. 

When deficiencies set in, all types of problems can develop, based on what nutrients are missing and where they are needed. For example, a lack of B vitamins and iron creates low energy, brain fog, and moodiness. Bone loss could stem from poor calcium, magnesium, or vitamin D levels.

How To Address Nutrient Deficiencies and Move Back Up the Health Ladder

  • Eating more nutritious whole foods—especially wild-caught seafood, grass-fed meat, and organic fruits and veggies—which provides higher amounts of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals cells rely on
  • Taking personalized supplements to fill particular gaps you have is also helpful. An Organic Acids (OAT) test could be helpful to identify your gaps. 
  • Test for nutrient deficiencies with a functional health practitioner to  reveal the exact nutrients that need to be increased through foods and supplementation

Toxic Load

Every day, we face an avalanche of toxins from modern life that our bodies struggle to process. These chemicals build up and can make us sick.

Toxins are everywhere:

  • Heavy metals like lead and mercury lurking in our homes and food sources
  • Hormone-disrupting chemicals like BPA and phthalates leak out of plastics and packaging materials, ending up in our food and environment
  • Herbicides and pesticides in our food, water, air, and the fibers of our clothes
  • Air pollution from both indoor (VOCs) and outdoor (car exhaust, industrial sources, and power generation) 
  • Toxic chemicals in conventional personal care items and cleaners that get absorbed through our skin or inhaled

The body tries detoxifying this chemical barrage through the liver, kidney, and gut. But it often gets overwhelmed, allowing toxins to accumulate in tissues and cause harm over decades.

Research connects high toxic exposures to nearly all chronic illnesses: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease including ulcerative colitis, and so on. So reducing contact with toxins is key.

How To Address Toxic Load and Move Back Up the Health Ladder

  • Avoid toxin sources as much as possible – wash your produce well and/or choose organic produce, filter your water (whole house if you can afford it), use natural personal care and cleaning products, and invest in a high-quality air purifier (the kind that has a 0.1 HEPA filter, which removes airborne contaminants as small as 0.1 microns; the Austin Air Bedroom Machine is of my favorites—I literally have three in my house!)
  • Support detox pathways with nutrients that help your body draw out toxins, process them, and eliminate them from your internal drainage pathways (this well rounded Binder supplement is great for grabbing and eliminating environmental toxins)
  • Get a toxin test to reveal individual toxin levels and areas that need special focus
  • Follow my Open–Clear–Rebuild system to gently draw out toxins, eliminate them, and then fortify the body to keep toxicity low going forward
  • Retest toxin levels through specialty labs after several months to monitor progress, identify areas of continuing focus, or refine protocols to address stubborn toxins

How To Know What’s Causing Your Slide Down the Health Ladder

Most people assume there is a single source behind their health problems, but the truth is that it’s often multiple factors.

The foundational step is to resolve the four main factors we’ve just discussed: inflammation, infections, nutrient deficiencies, and environmental toxins. 

Now here’s the thing…

Everyone’s path up the ladder looks different.

Your best friend or partner may have the same symptoms or diagnosis as you, but the root causes could be completely different.

Maybe your problem stems from mycotoxins (mold) and maybe theirs is rooted in pesticide exposure. 

Maybe your microbiome has been taken over by “bad” gut bacteria… and your body simply can’t process the nutrients you need from food.

Instead of guessing and hoping you land on the right changes, it’s much better (not to mention faster and less expensive) to find out what’s going on inside your body.

A functional medicine practitioner (like me) has insightful tools at our disposal—things your primary care physician likely won’t offer you.

Not because they don’t care, but because most of them are locked into a healthcare system that doesn’t give them that kind of flexibility or training.

What I know for sure, because I’ve seen it in my practice consistently, is that when you address the true root cause, your health improves.

That means fewer doctor appointments. 

Money back in your pocket because you save on prescriptions and testing. 

More time for yourself—whether that’s to spend with your family, grow your career, volunteer at your church, or just read under a cozy blanket—because you’re full of energy and motivation… not too wiped to do anything or afraid to be too far away from your own bathroom.

More confidence in how you look, feel, and perform because you have the energy, mental clarity, and trust in your body to do what you want, when you want.

Moving back up the ladder is totally possible—and while it’s not going to be an overnight fix, it is the path to permanent results.

I’d love to help you move up that ladder… with your own customized and rock-solid plan.

Let’s see if we’re a good fit.

Take Good Care,

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