We're obsessively checking our phones for email/social media updates, but we're often missing out on those critical updates that should demand our grave attention. And where do these updates emanate from? Your body, not your smart phone Your body is constantly sending you Twitter tweets and Facebook posts. But are you listening? Do you even know what language your body is speaking?
It's speaking the language of symptoms and sensations. That's how our body talks to us. Each symptom, each ache and pain, each rash, sniffle and sneeze is our body communicating with us. These every day run-of-the-mill body sensations are the constant whispers (or screams) to make us stop and listen to what our body is trying to say.
If your body is having a long monologue all day every day, you are not having a great relationship with your body. The secret to feeling great in your body is to convert those boring monologues into trusted dialogues. You have to cultivate a two-way street where your body speaks to you, and you respond. But interpreting the body's quirky Morse code requires a deep level of awareness. So, here are the top 3 symptoms (that I frequently encounter in my integrative nutrition practice) that you should never ignore. Consider them as biological taps on the shoulder that alert you to deeper imbalances:1) Symptom: Itchy rashes, eczema, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.
This means that you're eating something that doesn't agree with you and these food intolerances/sensitivities are creating chronic, low-level irritation and inflammation in the intestinal mucosa of the gut. Over time, with regular exposure, the irritation worsens and creates fissures in the tight junctions between the cells. (Picture the walls of the gut, once tightly knitted together, looking more like an old afghan.)
These holes allow bacteria and their toxins, as well as incompletely digested proteins and fats, to “leak” out of the gut and into the bloodstream. Called leaky gut syndrome (aka intestinal permeability), this condition sets the stage for myriad health problems, including rashes and skin problems, like eczema, as well as chronic bloating and/or constipation/diarrhea.
What's worse? If left untreated, leaky gut predisposes you to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Lupus, MS etc.
Solution: I typically treat these cases with an Elimination-Reintegration protocol where we'll eliminate the suspected offenders (common culprits include gluten, dairy, soy, corn and artificial sweeteners/dyes) for three weeks and then add them back into the diet. If the symptoms return full blown and exacerbated then we have a sure fire way of knowing what foods to eliminate permanently. I've had many clients attempt to do the elimination diet on their own, but they're always missing some part of the protocol, so I urge you to work with a qualified integrative practitioner instead of muddling through this on your own.2) Symptom: Fatigue, raging cravings for sweets/carbs, insomnia and tired but wired feeling
One likely cause of this is that you're over indulging in "fake" fuel and energy band aids, such as caffeine and sugar. When you feed your body, pure, organic food served up by mother nature, it will respond by maximizing functionality and energy production. But when you feed it “fake” ingredients, suddenly a + b no longer equals c. Instead, we get a1 + b + 2 = c1 + 2. Body chaos ensues. The energy equation breaks down and this is what lays the foundation for chronic disease and blocks energy.
Now, why do I call it fake fuel? Because it gives you sharp spike but there's an equal and opposite low soon after and it actually depletes your body of its natural energy reserves. Caffeine taxes our adrenals that help us produce energy and when we use fake stimulants to excite them, they get dependant on those and don't do as good a job at giving us natural energy and we go into adrenal fatigue.
Solution: Limit your caffeine to under 300 milligrams per day. As a reference, a 12-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee packs 260 mg of caffeine, while a 12-ounce cup of black tea, on the other hand, contains roughly 100 mg and green tea only 50 mg. What's a healthy amount for you? Most people know what amount their system can handle. In the meantime, support your adrenal glands with B vitamins (especially B5/pantothenic acid), vitamin C and licorice. Also, don't skip meals and fuel up on healthy, whole foods that boost and maintain your energy.3) Symptom: Migraines/headaches, muscle cramps/stiffness, aches/pains, difficulty sleeping
This could mean a magnesium deficiency, and in my practice, I've often had success with reversing chronic migraines with magnesium supplementation (among other things). Magnesium is the most powerful relaxation mineral. So, anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff whether it is a body part or an even a mood is a sign of magnesium deficiency.
The reason we are so deficient is simple: Many of us eat a highly-processed, refined diet based mostly on processed flour, meat, and dairy (all of which have no magnesium).
Solution: Magnesium levels are decreased by excess alcohol, salt, coffee, and phosphoric acid in colas, so limit your consumption of these items. And load up on magnesium rich foods such as raw cacao (yes, raw chocolate is rich in magnesium which is precisely why we crave chocolate during PMS as our body is trying to soothe the cramping with the relaxation mineral) spinach, swiss chard, halibut, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and sea veggies such as kelp and dulse to name a few. Also, learn how to practice active relaxation. Taking a hot bath with one cup of epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is a great way to absorb magnesium transdermally and you'll sleep like a baby!
Bottom line: A chronic ache or pain is an invitation to stop and take a look at your life. Your body is telling you it's time to make a change. Listen. Respect its request and odds are you'll be heading off a greater health issue and saving yourself undue suffering and expenses.