Total load refers to the total number of factors or “burdens” that are involved in causing disease or preventing you from getting well or staying well. Think of yourself as a ship floating in the water. Depending on the load you’re carrying, you are either riding high above the waterline or you are sinking beneath the waves. And just as you can save a sinking ship by tossing some ballast, or weight, overboard and lightening its total load, your health can be improved by reducing the overall number of factors that are stressing your system. This is because most chronic diseases do not have a single cause, there are usually multiple factors that need to be addressed. Sometimes you may only need to identify one or two factors to “toss overboard” in order to sufficiently lighten your load and feel better, other times, more.
Some examples of factors that add up to increase the load and affect your health are:
- Excess sugar in our diets
- Excess chemicals in our diets
- Chemicals in the personal care products we use
- Environmental factors like indoor pollution–for example, household cleaning sprays
- Drugs (prescription, over the counter and recreational)
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- The stress of leading busy lives
- Lack of essential nutrients
- Lack of sunshine
- Lack of movement
- Lack of compassion for oneself and others
- Lack of love or meaning in one’s life
Individually, each of these factors that make up the total load might not be so bad. But the problem comes from their cumulative effect, and the fact that they all act on us simultaneously. In fact, the first thing I do with all my new patients is discuss what burdens their bodies have to overcome. Once we’ve created a comprehensive list of stresses, we determine which ones can be eliminated from their lives to bolster their system. When they decrease these burdens on their bodies and at the same time, add in what may be deficient, their organs begin to improve their capacity to endure and respond to stress. Lowering the body’s total number of burdens decreases the chances of developing disease and improves health. But it is important to understand that decreasing your total load of burdens is not always a quick fix. To succeed, it usually demands awareness, commitment, persistence, and patience.