Some of my patients favourite times in clinic is when I educate them about their body signs. Here is a glimpse of what Health Body signs may be telling you......
Many of us dismiss the little physical annoyances we live with daily — dark under-eye circles, peeling fingernails, perpetual bloating. We think of them as mere idiosyncrasies (“Oh, that’s just me . . . ”) or as the inevitable signs of aging. But what if these signs are the body’s way of letting us know something is amiss?
Although irregularities like brittle fingernails and skin discoloration aren’t necessarily harbingers of serious disease, they can clue you in to underlying imbalances that may eventually contribute to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
If people self-monitor and pay attention to their symptoms, it can open them up to subtle underlying health shifts. If you tend to ignore your body’s signals, you’re not alone.
To learn how to start reading the signs of imbalance, here are eight common telltale physical symptoms they look for during an exam, as well as what these mHealth Imbalance Body Signs and how to read them.
What is your Body trying to tell you.ight indicate about underlying health.
The symptoms profiled on the following pages will help you observe your body’s signals with more insight. While each one can indicate a variety of underlying conditions, they all serve as useful starting points for checking in on baseline health. Use them to decide if it’s time to make a change in your diet or lifestyle — or time to make an appointment with your healthcare provider for further support.
SYMPTOM: SMOOTH TONGUE
Possible causes: B-vitamin deficiency and possible iron deficiency and gastrointestinal (GI) issues.
While a smooth red tongue might seem normal, it can indicate an inflammatory condition called glossitis. When the tongue is so smooth that you can’t see your taste buds, that is classically associated with a B12 deficiency. But other nutrients, including some of the other B vitamins, as well as zinc, and iron can play a role.
What you can do: In addition to adding a good multivitamin to your diet (which is essential for every condition mentioned here), eat more whole foods rich in B vitamins and zinc and look for high-quality B and zinc supplements. Know that B12 deficiency can contribute to a host of health issues, including depression.
Also be on the lookout for GI issues related to nutrient absorption like low stomach acid such as bloating, belching, or burning sensations immediately after meals. These are all signs of low stomach acid, which can, in turn, also lead to protein deficiency.
Often there are absorption issues at play with GI issues, and some nutrient deficiencies might be showing up on the tongue. I routinely examine the tongues of patients I treat for GI complaints, because symptoms like glossitis often clear up as people start to absorb more nutrients.
SYMPTOM: DECREASED SENSE OF TASTE
Possible cause: Zinc deficiency
A slight decline in the sense of taste (known as hypogeusia) is common in people over 60 and can be associated with a variety of conditions, but one of the most prevalent is a zinc deficiency.
A decreased sense of taste might not seem like a big deal, but many experts say it can lead to diminished appetite, poor nutrition — some people might pile on the sugar and salt to make their food taste better — and even depression.
While we use a zinc taste test to diagnose deficiency (if you can’t taste the bitterness in a zinc-water solution, you are deficient), this may not be as accurate as a blood test. Initially, I prefer to look directly at the body for signs of insufficient zinc: Peeling fingernails, white spots on fingernails, and hair loss are all symptomatic of inadequate zinc intake or absorption.
What you can do: Eat zinc-rich foods - nuts, and lentils (add lemon or lime to increase absorption), and take a high-quality zinc supplement — ideally no more than 40 mg a day of a complex that contains zinc gluconate, zinc amino acid chelate, and zinc citrate.
It’s also a good idea to consult a practitioner because your zinc levels must be in balance with your copper levels. Zinc and copper actually compete with each other for absorption So, you might have someone who has decreased zinc levels because they have such high copper levels.
SYMPTOM: BAD BREATH
Possible cause: Gut dysbiosis
Most people try to combat bad breath by zealously brushing their teeth and gargling with mouthwash, but these tactics tend to mask an underlying problem. Chronic bad breath is often a sign of gut dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance in the digestive tract that is frequently the result of food intolerances. This kind of bad breath doesn’t go away if you chew gum because it’s coming from an -internal place — not something you just ate.
The mouth has a robust micro-biome with a host of enzymes that aid digestion and artificial interference can upset this balance. When people take too many antibiotics or consume too much sugar, it throws off the bacteria in the mouth, as well as the gut, leading to bad breath and cavities.
What you can do: The first step is to adopt a healthier diet that favors good digestion and gut function. If you have chronically bad breath, it’s wise to visit a practitioner who can get to the root of your condition, whether it’s dysbiosis or another internal issue, like sinusitis.
At the same time, show respect for your mouth’s ecosystem. Stay away from antibacterial and alcohol-based mouthwashes that destroy your mouth’s good flora and can throw off your body’s overall microbial balance.
SYMPTOM: DARK UNDER-EYE CIRCLES
Possible cause: Food allergies
Fatigue is the most obvious culprit for dark circles, but if you’re well rested and don’t have a cold or sinus infection, they could indicate a range of other issues, including food allergies. Sometimes called “allergic shiners,” dark under-eye circles may appear when nasal and sinus congestion causes blood to pool under the eyes, where the skin is the thinnest.
What you can do: If you suspect food sensitivities, you can try an elimination diet or allergy testing to see where the problem lies. It’s important to read any symptom, including dark under-eye circles, within the context of your overall health and other symptoms. If, for example, someone reported that she had symptoms of irritable bowel, and then had a period of stress, and then she started getting dark circles under her eyes, I would be thinking food allergy.
Alternately, if the patient had no history of GI symptoms, we might look to other causes, like an allergy to something in their environment.
Peeling nails, a little dandruff, or dark under-eye circles might not seem like a big deal, but taken together, these indicators can tell us a lot. A key point to remember,is that the mere absence of disease doesn’t mean we’re in the best possible state of health.
We don’t really address insufficiency in our culture so we’re not really focused on how to maintain optimal health. Still, when we pay attention to what our bodies are trying to tell us, we can prevent small imbalances from becoming bigger ones.
Every body tells a story, yours will reward you for listening.