By Dr. Nasha Winters, ND, FABNO

In a recent podcast with Dave Korsunsky of Heads Up Health (Data-Driven Health Radio), I proposed the radical idea that doctors and patients should sit down at the table together, work as a unified team, and speak a shared language. After recording that podcast, I got to thinking just how foreign that idea is to most people—healthcare workers and patients alike. That is what compelled me to write this article.

Health is a personal endeavor. If you receive a serious diagnosis—be it cancer, autoimmune disease, or another chronic illness—the experience is yours alone. If you are a doctor caring for people with serious diagnoses, you know that no two cases are alike. The individual nature of health and disease is what demands each and every person take charge of their own health.

It is tempting, when we become ill, to search for the magic bullet that will cure our ills. We seek out success stories from others. We hope that if we just take the same supplement or follow the same diet, then we will recover as well. I wish I could tell you it was that easy, but the reality is that there is no guarantee with any approach.

The key to recovery is finding your unique path. It can be a wild ride, and you just need to figure out how to stay on your horse. In the podcast on Data-Driven Health Radio, I talk about some strategies for how to find that unique path and take your health by the reins. Here are three key highlights:

1. Check in With Your Emotions

Our mind and emotions have the power to change our physiology. When I received a terminal cancer diagnosis in 1991, scientists were only on the brink of understanding the mind-body connection. Candace Pert (author of Molecules of Emotion) was learning that emotional traumas change neural pathways and suppress immune function. Bruce Lipton (author of Biology of Belief) was discovering that our thoughts can change our genetic expression.

Over recent decades, the science of psychoneuroimmunology (how our emotions interact with our physiology) has exploded. I have recently started recommending that all of my clients take the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) questionnaire. The ACE questionnaire asks ten yes-or-no questions about experiences before the age of 18.

The significance of childhood trauma is unmatched. If you answer yes to two or more questions on the ACE questionnaire, your risk for chronic illness in adulthood increases by 20% with each additional yes. The questionnaire is a good checkpoint to bring your awareness to traumas that may have yet to be healed.

2. Take the Terrain Ten Assessment

I said above that there is no single protocol to guarantee recovery. Still, a framework to follow can help us avoid overwhelm. The Terrain Ten approach is an adaptable framework. It does not dictate one specific protocol but instead serves as a guide to help you find your own path.

You can take the Terrain Ten Assessment at the beginning of The Metabolic Approach to Cancer. The answers will help you identify which areas of your terrain deserves the most attention. You can then reference the chapter of the book that addresses that component. The idea behind the Terrain Ten approach is to empower individuals to discover the unique needs of their own bodies.

3. Track Your Labs

Laboratory assessments allow us to glimpse into the physiologic function of our bodies. Lab results are the best way to know if the approaches we’re taking are working or not. They are an essential checkpoint for understanding our body’s unique reactions to medications, diet, supplements, lifestyle change, and even emotional events. The data we get from labs can empower, compel, and motivate us.

Heads Up Health has created a service for individuals to keep track of their medical records and lab results in one consolidated place. The service provided by Heads Up Health is genuinely empowering. You can check out how it works by following the link here: Learn about Heads Up Health.

If you would like to hear the top 5 lab assessments I recommend you follow every month (as well as optimal reference ranges), listen to my full interview on Data-Driven Health Radio: