Good health – most of us measure it on appearance. A normal physique, a healthy color even a friendly voice and a smile, all give us the impression of a healthy, strong individual. Let’s see how much of this appearance has to do with the actual health state.
Here is the list of the top 10 physiological/physical signs that tell us whether we are in a good or bad health condition:
10. The Gums (Gingiva)
Characteristics of healthy gums briefly: healthy gums are firm, fleshy and are resistant to movement; mucous membranes of the mouth should be “reddish pink” or “coral pink” with a fine texture and mucous membranes lining the gums should not be pale, purple or dark red. Healthy gingiva has a smooth arcuate or scalloped appearance around each tooth. They should fill and fit each interdental space.
When we pull back our lips and look in our mouths, we see our teeth and a lining of gums that covers where the roots of the teeth meet the jaw bone. But from the bone at the depths to the gums at the surface, there’s more going on than meets the eye. They also may reflect the general health of the individual in many ways. Lack of certain vitamins and minerals, presence of a severe disease or illness will take it’s toll on the gums pretty quick.
For starters, a tooth isn’t attached to the jawbone like a building in Manhattan that’s cemented to bedrock. It’s more like a building in earthquake-prone Tokyo, anchored to many strong rubber mounts, which in turn are anchored to the underlying foundation. When the inevitable strong forces are brought to bear, the Tokyo building (and the tooth) can wiggle a little bit rather than crack or break. In Tokyo the forces are from earthquakes. In our mouths the forces are from biting, chewing (and occasionally a bump in the face).
The “rubber mounts” for teeth are thin strands of live connective tissue called periodontal ligaments, connecting the roots of a tooth to the alveolar bone sockets for the tooth, not only on the bottom but also along the sides of the roots. The manifestation of an illness inside the body may make those sockets loose.
9. The Hair
A healthy head of hair is easy to spot. It’s full, shiny and lustrous with no flakes, frizzies or other visible damage. But what about when your crowning glory isn’t quite so glorious? In some cases, it might be a harbinger of health problems. According to dermatologists: “We used to think hair was just dead protein, but now we understand that a whole host of internal conditions affect the health of our hair.” Yes, hair can be the reflection of both youth and various health issues! Here are some factors that would tell you it’s time to pay more attention to your overall health:
Dry, limp, thin hair – Many factors can lead to over-dry hair, including hair dyes, hair blowers, and swimming in chlorinated water. But a significant change in texture that leaves hair feeling finer, with less body, can be an indicator of an under active thyroid, known as hypothyroidism. Other signs of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, slow heart rate, and feeling cold all the time.
Scaly or crusty patches on the scalp, often starting at the hairline – When a thick crust forms on the scalp, this usually indicates psoriasis, which can be distinguished from other dandruff-like skin conditions by the presence of a thickening, scab-like surface. Psoriasis often occurs in concert with other autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Thinning hair over the whole head – When you notice considerably more hairfall, a common cause could be a sudden psychological or physical stressor, such as a divorce or job loss. Another could be having a high fever from the flu or an infection. Diabetes can also cause hair to thin or start to fall out suddenly. A number of medications and hormonal changes also cause hair loss as a side effect.
Dry, brittle hair that breaks off easily – When individual hair litter your pillow in the morning, this typically indicates breakage rather than hair falling out from the follicle. Breakage is most frequently the result of hair becoming over-brittle from chemical processing or dyeing. However, certain health conditions also lead to brittle, fragile hair. Among them: Cushing’s syndrome, a disorder of the adrenal glands that causes excess production of the hormone cortisol. A condition called hypoparathyroidism, usually either hereditary or the result of injury to the parathyroid glands during head and neck surgery, can also cause dry, brittle hair. If the cause of your dry, brittle hair is an underlying health condition, you’ll likely notice additional symptoms, such as dry, flaky skin. Overly dry hair also can signify that your diet is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids.
8. The Tongue
The tongue also reflects the general state of health of the individual. A healthy tongue is reddish pink and should not be coated. After the gums, the tongue is the second most common soft tissue site for various bacteria and pathogens in the oral cavity, either they got there from outside or from the inside of the body.
Pathological conditions of the tongue include geographic tongue, burning mouth syndrome, tongue necrosis, squamous cell carcinoma etc. Owing to optimal conditions of humidity, temperature and hiding niche between the tongue papillae and inside the pierced tongue, the tongue is a preferred site for colonization of germs and bacteria.
Our tongue can tell us when we are sick. These are some changes in your tongue’s appearance that could be the sign of health problems:
Excessively smooth tongue – this could indicate anemia or a vitamin B-12 deficiency;
Swollen tongue – this could be a sign of infections to serious diseases. The tongue does sometimes widen on a person that has no teeth or dentures. Some of these can cause this side effect to be relieved by just taking antihistamines. (Leukemia, Lymphangioma, tumor of the pituitary gland, Hypothyroidism, general infection, strep throat, various allergies)
Taste problems – can be signs of infection or side effects of certain medications. It could also be a sign of nerve damage.
Canker sores or ulcers on the tongue – this is usually caused by stress or fatigue. These lesions are usually very painful but will go away on their own and sometimes just appear for no known reason.
White coated tongue – usually this indicates that you are dehydrated. Smoking or alcohol use can also cause this condition.
Hairy tongue – this is a harmless condition but looks really bad in which the tongue actually looks like it is hairy or furry and sometimes has pain and swelling. Many times antibiotics are given for this.
Red tongue – this could be a sign of different nutritional deficiencies. Watch what you’re eating!
Geographic tongue – if your tongue looks like bright red patches on top of the tongue and has a map like or “geographic” appearance with sometimes a type of “burning” you probally have this. It is harmless and usually goes away by itself but it is triggered by hormonal changes, allergies or even possibly stress can cause this. Sometimes Anti-inflammatory medicines are prescribed for this condition.
7. Regular Bowel Movements
A regular bowel movement is normally considered essential for good general health. But in most cases less frequent bowel movements are common and not necessarily a cause for concern. How to have a regular bowel movement and bowel or defecation habits vary from person to person, but there are quite a few common causes of constipation. Knowing these can help you on your way to how to get regular bowel movements.
The frequency of defecation is not necessarily a sign of constipation. The sign of constipation is more apt to be the consistency of the stool or feces and the amount of difficulty of elimination or a bowel movement. It is of much greater importance that bowel movements are regular and soft than that they are frequent. A fairly regular bowel movement that passes with no straining or pain is most important.
Your bowel movement can tell you a lot about your health. This may not be a topic you would typically talked about at the dinner table or a cocktail party, but actually most people are somewhat obsessed with it. We should be interested the appearance and/or its condition. The general health or state of your gastro-intestinal tract or GI tract and the the quality and quantity of its output is a great barometer of the health of your body. The GI tract is a rather high tech processing unit. It metabolizes all of the nutrients you take in and eliminates all of the body’s waste that are generated. What comes through it, the bowel movement or stool is reflective of how well or how ill the body is and how it assimilates nutrients.
6. Deep and Restful Sleep
The ability of an individual to have a deep, restful sleep, without many disturbances is a strong indicator of general health. Sleep allows your entire organism to restore its energy, heal and regain tone. However, the clear meaning of sleeping process is currently not very well understood (see Why Do We Sleep). Stress is a fact of modern life, but what is stress to one person, may not be stress to someone else. Stress affects your body by causing certain hormones to spring into action and can be considered itself a health issue.
It is at the core of a large number of major illnesses and one of the greatest health risks we face. Nearly 40% of doctor visits are for stress-triggered health problems, yet most of us are unaware that stress is at the root of the problem. One key to clearing up many illnesses is to eliminate the stress that triggers or aggravates the illness. Some important ways to reverse the stress build up in your body include adequate restful sleep.
Deep, restful sleep is the foundation to health. Maintenance of an optimum state of health depends on the ability to attain the deeper, regenerating levels of restful sleep. Contrary to popular belief, it is not how many hours you sleep that is important but the deeper levels of REM sleep that allow the body to regenerate tissue and heal “dis-ease”.
The underlying health problems are many. Hormonal changes can be one of the causes behind sleep deprivation. Insomnia or sleeplessness is more common in women than in men as the secretion of hormones that lead to deprivation of sleep is intrinsic in women. In fact, in women insomnia is one of the most common side effects due to increase or decrease of the level of secretion of hormones that are responsible for controlling PMS, menstruation cycle, menopause and such. The occurrence of various medical disorders like high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, many types of allergies, arthritis and hyper thyroid disorder may lead to less sleep. Sleep may also be hampered due to the consumption of medicines that are taken up for treating these diseases and disorders.
5. Physical Condition
These days, physical fitness is considered a measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, to be healthy, to resist hypokinetic diseases and to meet emergency situations. It also refers to the proper weight of the individual. Physical fitness can prevent or treat many chronic health conditions brought on by unhealthy lifestyle or aging.Working out can also help people sleep better. To stay healthy it is important to engage in physical activity.
Fatigue is generally defined as a feeling of lack of energy and motivation that can be physical, mental or both. Conditions that cause symptoms similar to those of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) are: adrenal insufficiency, malignancy, AIDS, liver disease, kidney disease, psychosomatic illness, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, hepatitis A, B, C and thyroid disease.
Fatigue is common. About 20% of Americans claim to have fatigue intense enough to interfere with living a normal life. A physical cause has been estimated to be responsible 20% to 60% of the time, while emotional or mental causes comprise the other 40% to 80% of cases of fatigue. It can also occur in normal individuals that experience intense physical or mental activity (or both).
4. The Nails
Many people put a lot of effort into keeping their fingernails perfectly trimmed, cleaned and manicured. If the nails aren’t perfect, the solution is often to cover them up with fake nails or polish. But ignoring such signs and viewing them as only an aesthetic problem could be dangerous to your health. Like your skin, your nails are excellent indicators of what’s going on inside your body. If your nails are healthy, your body is probably pretty healthy too.
Healthy nails are firm, smooth and light pink with a slightly curved surface. They should not be brittle or rigid.
Warning signs for many other conditions, from hepatitis to heart disease (heart disease can turn the nail beds red), may appear in the nails. Sometimes can tell guess if a person has anemia by looking at his or her nails. The explanation is that pale, whitish nail beds may indicate a low red blood cell count consistent with anemia. Iron deficiency can cause the nail bed to be thin and concave and have raised ridges.
Small white spots - These are very common and usually recurring. They indicate some lack of Calcium in the body.
Yellow nail syndrome - This may cause a yellow or greenish color to your nails, thickening of the nail, slowed nail growth, a lack of a cuticle and the nail may detach partially from the nail bed. This condition often signals a respiratory disease.
Pitting - If you see pits on the nails, it could be a sign that you are about to develop, or that you already have, psoriasis. The small depressions on the nail could also be a sign of chronic dermatitis of your fingers or alopecia areata.
Clubbing - This condition describes when the nails curve around your fingertips, which are usually enlarged. It’s caused by low oxygen levels in the blood and may indicate lung disease.
Spoon nails - If your nails look scooped out, like a spoon, it could be a sign of iron-deficiency anemia.
Terry’s nails - In this condition the nails look opaque with a dark band at the tip. This can be due to aging or a more serious illness including cancer, congestive heart failure, diabetes or liver disease.
Beau’s lines – These horizontal indentations across your nails could be a sign of malnutrition. They also may appear after serious injury or illness like a heart attack interrupts the growth of your nail.
3. The Skin
Our skin is an invaluable part of our body. It represents us in front of others, but not only. When a person have healthy skin it means that he/she is receiving enough minerals and vitamins which keeps the skin texture free of blemishes, spots and gives it the shiny look. Skin should be smooth and elastic; should be of a healthy colour, and not be pale or lacking in colour. Having the right proportion of oil in your skin is also a sign of healthy skin. Your skin should not be too oily or extremely dry. Every toxin that we take into our bodies and every toxin that we create internally has to be processed by our body’s detoxification system and eliminated before it can do too much harm to our cells. The major organs of the detoxification system are the liver, kidneys, and gut. When toxin levels get too high, the liver, kidneys, and gut get overwhelmed. If we bombard our bodies with toxins from processed food, tap water, air pollution, etc, our normal detox organs can’t keep up and our bodies have to take emergency measures. One of these emergency measures is to start eliminating toxins through our skin. Many health professionals call skin “the third kidney”, referring to the fact that, when toxin levels are high, the skin starts excreting toxins in sweat the same way the kidneys do in urine. As you can imagine, a constant flow of toxic chemicals through your sweat glands isn’t very good for the appearance of your skin. These chemicals change skin pH, allowing infections to thrive and create blemishes and acne. In addition, when your skin cells are busy getting rid of toxins, they have less energy for producing the normal proteins that keep your skin healthy and prevent the visible signs of aging. So a toxic body equals more blemishes and less resilient, older looking skin.
A proper diet with fresh green vegetables and fruits, a stress free life, proper amount of sleep and avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol is a pre-requirement if you are looking to improve the health of your skin.
2. Appetite for Food
Appetite exists in all higher life-forms, and serves to regulate adequate energy intake to maintain metabolic needs, thus maintaining the organism healthy. We are designed to eat (with moderation), it’s in our nature and we take lots of benefits from that: nutrients such as vitamins, mineral and other essential compounds that sustain life. Bounds regarding what ‘moderate eating’ means widely varies from person to person. However, loss of appetite, medically referred to as anorexia, can be caused by a variety of conditions and diseases. Some of the conditions can be temporary and reversible, such as loss of appetite from the effects of medications. Some of the conditions can be more serious such as hepatitis, stomach diseases (digestive system problems), flu, effects of underlying cancer etc.
Weight loss that people with advanced illness experience is not due simply to the fact that they are not eating well enough. Instead, abnormalities occur in the way the body is able to use food. It is these abnormalities that result in weight loss. Cachexia is a medical term to describe the weight loss and muscle wasting that occurs when the body is unable to process nutrients from food.
1. The Eyes
Looking someone straight in the eye may or may not reveal their honesty—but the eyes can tell you about cholesterol, liver disease or diabetes, if you know what to look for. “The eye is a unique window into health” states true.
Healthy eyes are bright and clear. Membranes, which can be seen when the lower lid is pulled down, should be whitish pink and moist; membranes lining the eyes should not be pale, purple or dark red.
Disappearing eyebrows – When the outer third of the brows (the part closest to the ears) starts to disappear on its own, this is a common sign of thyroid disease—either hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland). Brows tend to thin with age naturally. But with thyroid disease, the brow-hair loss isn’t evenly distributed; it’s a selective dropout on the ends. There’s usually a loss of hair elsewhere on the body, too, but the brows are so prominent, it’s often noticed here first.
Bumpy yellowish patches on the eyelid – Xanthelasma palpebra, the medical name for these tiny yellow bumps, are usually a warning you that you may have high cholesterol. They’re also called “cholesterol bumps”—they’re basically fatty deposits.
Whites of the eye turned yellowish – Two groups of people most often show this symptom, known as jaundice: Newborns with immature liver function and adults with problems of the liver, gallbladder or bile ducts, including hepatitis and cirrhosis. The yellow in the white part of the eye (the sclera) is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, the by-product of old red blood cells the liver can’t process.
Burning eyes, blurry vision while using a computer – You might be a workaholic, and you definitely have “computer vision syndrome” (CVS). The eyestrain is partly caused by the lack of contrast on a computer screen (compared with ink on paper) and the extra work involved in focusing on pixels of light. What’s more, by midlife the eyes lose some of their ability to produce lubricating tears. Irritation sets in, adding to blurriness and discomfort.
Blurred vision in a diabetic – Diabetics are at increased risk for several eye problems, including glaucoma and cataracts. But the most common threat to vision is diabetic retinopathy, in which the diabetes affects the circulatory system of the eye. It’s the leading cause of blindness in American adults.