Ever wonder how healthy you currently are or how healthy you could be?
When the body is off balance, it lets us know through symptoms. We must pay attention to these symptoms and value the wisdom that the body is offering us. As a naturopathic doctor, I pay close attention to these symptoms and rather than cover them up, my goal is to alter the body’s physiology to bring it back into a state of homeostasis, or balance.
On the other hand, when the body is balanced, all major systems are functioning properly. Like symptoms telling us we are off balance, there are also signs that the body relays to us that we are healthy. Here are some signs that your body is a picture of true, optimal health.
1. You sleep like a baby. You wake feeling rested after an uninterrupted 8-9 hours of sleep. If you suffer from insomnia, interrupted sleep or you just don’t feel well-rested after waking, there is likely an underlying cause. Adrenal fatigue, anxiety, sleep apnea, and hormonal dysregulation are some of the causes of poor sleep. But if you do in fact sleep like a baby, congrats! Quality sleep is one of the single most important lifestyle habit that you can engage in. Try turning to bed no later than 10 pm every night and waking at the same time every morning. Sleep in total darkness, free of television and any digital clocks or electronic devices.
2. Your energy peaks in the morning and is lowest at night. This energy pattern is consistent with healthy cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone excreted from your adrenal glands. In a healthy individual, cortisol peaks at 6 am and then gradually decreases throughout the day, reaching its lowest between 10 and midnight. An overall depressed pattern of cortisol indicates adrenal fatigue, while a flip-flopped pattern (low in the morning and high at night) indicates another type of adrenal dysfunction. Naturopathic doctors can easily assess and treat cortisol levels with the use of a salivary hormone panel.
3. You have regular, soft, well-formed bowel movements. A healthy gut translates to a healthy being. You should have anywhere from 1-3 bowel movements per day. You BMs should be soft, but not loose, and still well-formed. Chronically loose stools or diarrhea can indicate a more systemic process taking place, such as Celiac disease, food allergies or intolerances or inflammatory bowel disease. Chronic constipation can be caused by food allergies or intolerances, dehydration, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome or colon cancer. You should never see blood in your stool, as this can be a serious red flag that a pathological, system process is taking place.
4. Your skin is clear. You skin is a mirror of the internal body. Dry skin can indicate hypothyroidism or essential fatty acid deficiency. Eczema or psoriasis can indicate food allergies. Acne typically indicates hormonal imbalances and also liver congestion. If your skin is radiant and clear though that likely means your insides are healthy too.
5. Your menstrual cycle is regular. If your monthly cycle is between 28-30 days and you typically bleed for 3-5 days, then your sex hormones are likely balanced. This is true if you also do not experience debilitating cramping or PMS symptoms. However, if you tend to skip periods or you have to stay home from work due to the pain of your menses, then it is worth letting your doctor know these symptoms to work you up for either a pathological or functional hormonal process. Also, if you have had problems getting pregnant, this indicates hormonal imbalance, for a healthy body is a fertile body!
6. You generally feel happy. I am not suggesting that you are smiling and chipper 24 hours a day., 7 days a week. Mood fluctuation is normal and healthy. However, it becomes a problem when your daily activities of living are affected by your mood. For example, if you cannot get yourself out of bed in the morning, suffer from an overall feeling of hopelessness or have changes in your appetite (either increased or decreased), then depression may be on the radar for you. Or if you have trouble sleeping, experience nausea, or trouble concentrating, these can be signs that anxiety is an issue for you. But if you feel overall satisfied with your life and tend to look at the glass half full, your mental and emotional health is likely right on!
While there are many other facets of health to consider when assessing your overall state of wellness, these 6 signs are a good place to start. If you feel like you are not reaching your optimal health potential, contact your naturopathic doctor to get your back on track!