Your Physical Body Can Determine the Health of Your Digestion

Feeling sluggish? Stick out your tongue. It holds clues to how efficient your body's digestive tract is running, says Brent Barlow, ND, Okanagan Naturopathic Healthcare in Kelowna, British Columbia. But this isn't the only secret your body has to share. Your skin, hair, and nails tell stories, too.

What the tongue has to say:

If your tongue has a heavy, yellow coat on it, you're more likely to have indigestion, heartburn, and bloating, says Barlow. If the blood vessels on the underside of the tongue are distended and purple, that usually means there's some stagnation in the blood stream, according to Barlow. Since all the body's blood runs through the liver, it could be a sign that the liver is being taxed. The liver is like a filter, he explains, and when clogged, it slows down the body's processes. That's why the blood vessels of the tongue, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids can show signs that there is blood stagnation.

What the skin has to say:

Those little red bumps on the backs of your arms? They're pretty common, assures Barlow. They may signal an essential fatty acid deficiency, but even then, there's still a question of what can be causing the deficiency. You may not be eating enough essential fatty acids or you may have a food allergy. "With food allergies, you get inflammation in the intestine that may prevent proper absorption, or possibly cause inflammation in the small vessels in the skin, which show up as raised bumps or a rash."

Is there an inflammatory issue going on in the digestive system that is manifesting in the skin? If you went to your doctor, or skin specialist, most likely you'll be given a cream. And though it may relieve the symptoms, it doesn't address the root of the problem. Such inflammation helps your doctor determine what is causing the condition.

What the nails have to say:

You've heard this one: If you have white spots on your nails, you have a zinc deficiency. And you've heard this one, too: If you have ridges in your nails, you have a protein deficiency. Those are definitely clues, says Barlow, but they're not definitive when it comes to a diagnosis. What it does say is that not enough nutrients are coming into the body, or what's coming in isn't actually being absorbed through the lining of the intestine and passed into the bloodstream.

That mark on the fingernail, or purple tongue, or bumps on the arm show that your body's "check engine light" is on, but it doesn't say what part of the engine to check, stresses Barlow. Unlike your car, It doesn't say I need an oil change or replace a filter. It says bring to a professional and have it checked. For optimum performance, it means something needs to be addressed. These signs are merely starting points for you and your doctor to explore and discover what's truly causing your digestive upset.