Worried about poor health? Not functioning at an optimum level? Are alarm bells sounding in your body?
Long before health problems develop, our body will tell us if something is off balance. Often, a symptom in one area is the result of a problem in another part of our body. In this article we’ll look at 5 alarm bells warning us of poor health somewhere in our body. All we need to do is listen!
They say the eyes are the mirror of the soul, but the skin can be described as the window to our inner health. Your skin is the largest organ in the body - and since it’s on the outside, it’s also the most visible. That means if you know what to look for your skin can tell you a huge amount about your inner and hormone health.
Many underlying health problems give out tell-tale signs on the skin and sometime this is the first indication we get that something is wrong.
Our skin plays a major role in detoxification. It not only acts as the body’s coat, keeping undesirable substances out, it also helps to get rid of nasties. We live in a sea of harmful substances – pollutants, pesticides, food additives, household cleaning chemicals and so on.
All of these need to be processed by our long-suffering liver and eventually shunted off to the outside world. The body can do this via the stool or the urine – or out of the skin. If the liver or digestive system aren’t working well, more strain is placed on our skin.
A dull complexion with dark circles under the eyes can indicate a sluggish lymph system, which means the body isn’t clearing toxins as well as it might. Rashes, dermatitis or eczema can all indicate your liver may need some tlc.
Itchy skin can also be a sign of a struggling thyroid. Thyroid hormone receptors can be found in the skin and the thyroid plays a role in ensuring new skin cells are produced to replace worn-out ones.
Skin problems can also be a sign of hormone imbalance. Most of us have discovered that alterations in the levels of our sex hormones, for example at puberty, in PMT or during the menopause, are linked to acne or pimples, particularly along the jawline.
Frequent skin allergic reactions or eczema can be as a result of our adrenal glands struggling after years of stress, and all teenagers know acne gets worse with stress. Stress can also aggravate skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea and eczema. In times of stress we produce cortisol which causes inflammation, can increase the skin’s oil production, and makes us crave sugary foods.
The tendency is to use creams or even steroids to treat skin problems from the outside in, but this is simply masking the cause. A better approach would be to support the sluggish digestive system or congested liver, after which skin health invariably improves. Don’t be surprised after a detox or fasting you experience a skin pick-me-up.
Just as the skin reflects what’s going on in the body, our nails can also tell us a great deal. White flecks in the nails can indicate a lack of Zinc or Calcium. If you find your nails are constantly breaking, splitting and flaking then it’s usually as a result of insufficient protein. This is often not because the diet is lacking, but because our digestive system isn’t absorbing protein. Many people don’t produce enough stomach acid, which we need to digest protein. If protein isn’t digested fully, it can’t be used for building tissues.
We’ve all got busy lifestyles, with a million things on the go.
We’re stressed, juggling with this and that.
It’s natural to feel tired, right?
But being constantly tired, not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep, not being able to sleep well, or experiencing energy slumps throughout the day, are all alarm bells telling us all is not well inside us.
Our bodies have evolved to deal with stress, but when that stress is ongoing it can adversely affect our hormone balance. Stress can tire out our adrenal glands and interfere with our blood sugar levels. Usually the first signs are energy crashes throughout the day, jittery feelings and sugar cravings which correspond with slumps in our blood sugar.
Often sugar levels can drop in the middle of the night, waking us up.
This interruption to our sleep patterns adds to our stress. If this persists over time – and it’s the norm for many of us who prop up our sugar levels between crashes with sweets, coffee, cigarettes or sugary drinks – eventually our stress glands exhaust themselves completely. It’s believed over time this can be a factor in chronic fatigue.
When our stress glands are tired out, all sorts of food intolerances and allergic reactions tend to develop as the adrenals are also involved in our immune response. In tandem, the pancreas which has been pumping out insulin in a panicked way for years and years as a result of these peaks in blood sugar often becomes less efficient at producing this hormone and our body cells become deaf to its message. This in the long term can bring about Type II Diabetes.
The first step in putting thigs right is to have a look at our hormone levels to see what is going on. Our adrenal glands respond to stress in very specific ways, so a test can find out where on the continuum we are. Once this is determined we can adopt dietary strategies to balance our blood sugar in order to alleviate the pressure on our stress glands.
You may call it a sensitive tummy, you may have found that certain foods don’t agree with you. Your GP may have diagnosed IBS. The problem is, our digestive systems don’t get irritable without good reason.
What goes on in your digestive system has a direct bearing on the health of the rest of the body. The digestive system is responsible for not only obtaining essential nutrients from our food, but also getting rid of what we don’t need. Clearly, if it struggles in either of these functions, our general health is going to suffer.
Hippocrates believed that all disease begins in the gut. It’s estimated we host between 10 -100 trillion bacteria which make their homes in our gut, mainly in the large intestine. Scientists have found we each have around 500 different types of bacteria, each performing their own essential roles and living in complex communities. Incredibly, each person’s population will be unique to them.
Our bacterial population – known as microflora - assist with digestion, as well as helping us to metabolise hormones. Often, the population of bacteria will shift – killed off by antibiotics for example – and different, opportunistic bacteria will replace them.
This is called dysbiosis. These undesirable types hinder our digestion and can cause bloating. The neat thing is, each type of bacteria creates the ideal environment in which it can live happily. If too many of the ‘wrong’ type of bacteria predominate, they create their own microclimate in the gut, so to speak, encouraging others like them to thrive.
So we can see it’s not as simple as just introducing the right kind of bacteria into the gut and hoping they’ll survive. That would be like emptying your tropical fish into the local pond - they wouldn’t stand a chance.
We need to create a friendly environment for them to flourish. Dietary fibre, like the type of fibre found in flax seeds, can encourage the good guys. Testing our stool to find out what types of bacteria predominate can also help to know what’s going on in our digestive system.
Over many years, if digestion has gone awry, a hardened mass of faeces can form on the inside of our intestines. This makes a wonderful breeding ground for undesirable bacteria and will not only hinder the absorption of nutrients from food, but can inflame the intestinal lining, leading to pain, inflammation or even diverticulitis.
Eventually the lining can become more permeable than it should be and incompletely digested food molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream. This can trigger food sensitivities.
Enemas and colonics are useful techniques to remove this hardened mass. By gently introducing liquid into the intestine, impacted matter can be removed, making it easier to establish the correct environment for the beneficial bacteria we rely on.
Always getting colds, always the first to go down with flu? Is it just bad luck? Allergic to everything? All the above are warning signs that your immune system is out of kilter.
Our immune system is made up of cells that work together to protect our body from invaders. The system first needs to recognise an invader such as a bacteria or virus, then neutralise it. Over time, the immune system may become underactive, or it may become less selective.
This means that it reacts to harmless substances, leading to allergies, asthma and hay fever, to food particles, causing food sensitivities, and even to our body’s own cells, which is linked to auto-immune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
It may surprise you to learn that 70% of our immune system is located in the gut – so if your digestion is struggling, your immunity will be lower. Our friendly bacteria play a role in immunity so if they’ve been wiped out – after a course of antibiotics, for example, the intestinal lining will often become inflamed, and we can develop food intolerances.
It’s no solution to simply avoid the offending foods or environmental allergens, as this would mean adopting an overly restrictive diet or lifestyle. It’s usually helpful to avoid known culprits like what and dairy which can clog up our digestion and provide a fertile breeding ground for the wrong type of bacteria.
In the short term, avoidance of foods which spark off symptoms can calm down the immune system and give the body a chance to heal. A liver cleanse can help and a programme of enemas or colonics, along with the reintroduction of friendly bacteria can amend an overly permeable intestinal lining and prevent it allowing allergens into the bloodstream in the first place.
Fasting appears to reboot the immune system by encouraging the body to recycle old and damaged immune cells and manufacture new ones.
Problems concentrating? Forgetful? Clouded thoughts? No motivation, depressed? You could be suffering from brain fog.
Stress, which causes cortisol release, promotes inflammation and scientists believe inflammation is a major cause of a foggy brain. Food sensitivities especially gluten intolerance can also contribute to brain fog.
Did you know that the digestion and brain are closely connected?
Dysbiosis, when our balance of friendly bacteria is adversely affected, can lead to brain fog. If our liver is struggling or a leaky gut is allowing toxins back into the body they can make their way into the brain.
The body doesn’t want toxins swilling around in the blood and tends to store them away in fatty tissues. The trouble is, our brain cells, called neurones, contain plenty of fat to help them communicate with their neighbours. If toxins are deposited in the neurones our thinking can become seriously befuddled. After fasting, when the body has a chance to eliminate some of those toxins, patents often report a clarity of thought.
The brain needs a steady stream of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and sugar to function effectively. If brain fuel fluctuates even slightly, we can become irritable or jittery. A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, causing peaks and troughs in blood sugar, can muddle our thinking when the brain is deprived of sugar.
Now we know about some of the body’s alarm bells and can recognise the signals, we can be better informed of what we can address to improve our health.
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