“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen to them.”
~ Shakti Garvain
Preventative health doesn’t have to involve thousands of dollars’ worth of tests and lab visits. There are signs your body gives every day that indicate when something is going wrong, and even when it craves something you aren’t providing.
From your feet to your hair, your body gives out messages, and if you’re aware and can read the signs, disease and illness will have a hard time getting the jump on you. Swollen lymph glands, shaking hands, yellowed or red whites of the eyes – even the texture of your fingernails and skin – your body is yelling loud and clear ‘notice me.’ Don’t ignore it!
So, let’s begin a brief lesson on true ‘body language,’ and learn to understand a few things our bodies tell us!
Don’t know where your lymph glands are? It’s a great time to learn. With cancers so rampant among our society, and so many carrying around chronic, infectious illness (artifacts of ‘seasonal’ illnesses that never really left), knowing what is a normal, healthy gland from an inflamed mess is more important than ever.
I’m certain you’re already aware of a couple, exceedingly important lymph glands: the tonsils. People with allergies are well-acquainted with these nodes at the back of the throat, which, in the presence of an allergen in the system, swell up magnificently and make swallowing or breathing difficult. However, it’s not uncommon for people without allergies to experience chronic low-grade inflammation of the tonsils. When the tonsils inflame or swell, it’s a tell-tale sign of infection or a build-up of toxic metabolic waste. Similarly, lymph glands all over the body react via swelling or inflammation. The tonsils, being the easiest of the glands to keep track of, are excellent indicators of issues with your immune system, and tenderness or swelling could well be an indication of imminent or chronic infection.
Body Language Translation: Lymph nodes are like the military defense sirens of the body. When they’re swollen, they’re screaming “we’re under attack!”
Most often associated with Parkinson’s disease, shaking hands is often indicative of a much less serious internal condition. The nervous system of your body works by a delicate balance of electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals held both inside and outside the cells that help to control electrical reactions of the nerves, among other things. When this mineral balance is out of whack, we experience muscle weakness, tremors, spasms, and cramps – all signs of improper nutrition.
Most commonly, this is due to excessive salt in the diet, but can also be caused by excessive supplementation of electrolyte minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorous, Sodium and Chloride) or insufficient electrolyte minerals from ones diet. Note that both sodium and chloride are electrolyte minerals, and that table salt (sodium chloride) is a quick path to disrupting your body chemistry. It’s also important to note that there are other causes of shaking muscles unrelated to electrolyte balance, including caffeine use and side-effects of medications.
Body Language Translation: When your hands and muscles are shaking, they’re saying “not enough” or “too much!” Reign in the salt or supplements, and eat for moderation and balance.
Discoloration of the eyes (Yellow or Red):
When the whites of the eyes become discolored, it could mean several things. In the case of yellow-tinged eyes, the likely cause is congestion of the liver or lymph system. In both cases, movement of the body is key! Doing a good cardio session helps move the lymph system and clean the blood and liver, and will help clear up that congestion quick.
Reddish tinge of the whites of the eye can be indicative of high blood pressure, systemic inflammation, and other cardiovascular issues. It could also be a sign of an overburdened liver, infection, inadequate sleep, or allergies. It’s a good sign that the cardiovascular system needs some help, or it’s a good time to cleanse out the body and eat clean.
Body Language Translation: Yellow or red, off-colored whites of the eyes are telling you “it is time to clean things up!”
Fingernails and Skin:
The fingernails and skin are windows to the interior condition of the body. For the fingernails, it has long been understood that flakiness, bumps and divots, brittleness, and pronounced lines – all are indicative of deficiencies of key nutrients (most commonly minerals).
Similarly with skin, dryness, cracking, and slow healing are indicators of deficiencies (in this case, mostly vitamins). Of course, if there’s been a sudden drop in outside temperature or an abundance of wind, it becomes difficult to tell whether it’s the fault of the skin or environment – in this case, use your best judgement. If the problem is chronic, however, and applies to skin over the whole body (not just single spots, which can be indicative of skin disease/infections) then it’s a pretty sure bet that you need to ramp up the nutrition in your life. Juicing veggies and fruits of all different colors is a sure-fire way to heal the skin and nails, from the inside-out.
Body Language Translation: Be it weak, brittle nails or dry, slow-healing skin, this is a call to action, reading loud and clear: “feed me!”
The stuff that leaves the body is just as telling, if not more telling, than exterior ‘body language.’ I won’t be going into graphic details here (if you’re interested in the finer details, and I hope you are, stay tuned for future articles all about the business in the bathroom! Excrement is vitally important to understanding your interior health. Briefly, let’s gain some understanding on the colors of both urine and bowel movements, and what they mean for your health.
Let’s start with urine – in my opinion, the number one way to understanding your hydration and electrolyte needs. Healthy, disease-free urine is indicated by colors ranging from crystal clear to a dark caramel tinge. Anything within that range is ‘normal,’ according to modern medical science. However, depending on what side of that color range we’re leaning towards, we’re either dehydrated or overhydrated. If your urine is crystal clear you’re drinking too much water, and over the long run you can sap your electrolytes from your body. If your urine is deeply caramel-colored, you are not drinking enough water, which has multiple hazardous effects on your body chemistry. Ideally, you want nearly clear, slightly yellow urine to be leaving your body. Keeping awareness of the color of your urine is incredibly important for regulating hydration. A consideration: if you take multivitamins or b-vitamin complexes, your urine can be bright yellow in the absence of dehydration conditions.
Lastly, let’s talk briefly about the colors of bowel movements. As you are probably aware, the ‘normal’ color is brown. There should be slight variation in this with a healthy diet, but light colors and dark colors are both of important consideration.
‘Sandy’ or light-colored stools are indicative of liver trouble – not always serious liver disease, but congestion. This can happen on occasion without being a huge concern, but if it happens often or over a long period of time, you should consult a healthcare professional.
Most importantly, dark (leaning towards black) stools are a big concern, and should be taken seriously. There are cases in which these occur as the result of iron supplementation or particular foods being eaten, but if this occurs often or is a chronic problem, it could be indicative of an ulcer, polyp, or even cancer somewhere within the digestive tract. Dark colored stools are often a sign of bleeding within the GI tract, as the blood is digested and becomes near black. If this occurs, it’s important to see a doctor and find out what’s going on inside.
Body Language Translation: If your urine is off-colored, it could be saying “I’m drowning!” or “Water!” If your bowel movements don’t fall within the normal color range, it says “Something’s wrong in here!”
And there you have it! If health is your concern, learning the language of the body is of incredible importance in both recognizing and preventing disease from occurring. I hope I’ve given a good variety of indicators of health/disease and that your ‘health awareness’ has grown a little as a result. There’s always more we can do to be health-conscious, and the above list is by no means comprehensive, but by keeping track of a few things here and there we can improve our nutrition and stop disease in its tracks!