In the world of health there are intake target numbers for each vitamin, mineral, macronutrient, micronutrient. It is nearly impossible for an individual to have these all memorized, so how do you know if your meeting your needs? If your not willing to sit down and count every morsel of food you consume and analyze it’s nutritional value, how do you tell if your getting enough nutrients? Well, the answer may be simpler than you think… take notice of your body’s functioning and appearance. The human body is pretty amazing in its ability to let you know when it is in deficit!
Here are a few body signals to take notice:
Fingernails: Dry, brittle nails means more than just its time for a manicure. Brittle nails may be caused by low iron intake (and anemia). An iron deficit can also cause your nails to become spoon shaped: raised at the end and curve in towards the middle. Increasing iron in the diet can clear up both these issues.
Foods rich in iron: Dark leafy greens, turkey, beans/ lentils
Tongue: A healthy tongue should be light pink. A dark red tongue indicates something is not quite right. It is possible that a darkly colored tongue is being caused by a nutritional deficit of folic acid, vitamin B12, or niacin (pellagra).
Foods rich in niacin: All means, beans, soy, milk, sunflower seeds
Hair: Thinning hair can be a sign of iron and protein shortages, and is commonly associated with restrictive diets. If you are noticing untimely thinning hair, take a look at your diet to be sure you are getting enough calories and protein. During times of shortage, the body conserves all nutrients for bodily functions, meaning that it can’t allocate extra resources to hair maintenance. Increasing calories/ protein will bring your hair back in just as thick as it was before the caloric deprivation.
Stool: Abnormal stool excretions are often related to changes in fiber intake. A sudden increase can cause everything to move too quickly, resulting in liquidy secretions. Low fiber intakes can cause a backed up. The best advise, don’t fluctuate fiber intakes quickly; make gradual changes to fiber intake to allow for your body to adjust.
Foods rich in fiber: Bran, fresh fruits, and beans
If you notice something is a little off, don’t ignore it. Be sure to consult a doctor if the symptom is serious or persistent as it may be a sign of something more serious. Take your own health seriously by observing and recognizing the language of your body!
Research assistance by Kaylee O’Connell