Monday, November 11, 2013

What Our Bodies Tell Us

When I checked into the hospital 11 years ago I had lost a lot of weight and was looking pretty awful. I was newly (as in less than two hours before) diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. An endocrinologist was assigned to me. He came to visit me in my room and we chatted for a few minutes.

He then stood at the foot of my bed and asked me to look at him.

I did.

He asked me to turn my head to face the window.

I did.

He announced that I was severely dehydrated.

"How do you know?" I asked, thinking that I drank more water at that point that the rest of my family combined.

"Your nose" he replied.

He had never seen me before so had no idea what my nose normally looked like. But he was able to, correctly, determine that I was severely dehydrated based on what it looked like. He transferred me to Intensive Care, put me on insulin and looked at my nose every time he came to visit. Within a few days, he was happy with how it had 'filled out'.

I have known people whose doctors have diagnosed a deficiency in one thing or another by looking at their fingernails and the ridges that formed there. Horizontal ridges mean on thing, vertical ones mean another.

I find that kind of stuff fascinating.

It's obviously not going to work with every possible diagnosis but our bodies tell us much more than we realize.

The other night I was telling my sister that my naturopath put me on digestive enzymes. She laughs and said that her naturopath did the same for her.

"Did he look at your tongue?" she asked.


Apparently the colour of one's tongue gives a good indication of their digestive prowess. A rich, red colour means, as she puts it, a person can digest a tin can. A pale tongue means that they have difficulty digesting food that isn't cooked.

At a yoga retreat she attended a few years ago, everyone had to show their tongues and they were told what percentage of their diets should be raw and what percentage should be cooked. So interesting.

It sounds part voodoo but also makes sense. My tongue, like my sister's, was pretty pale when we compared to others around us. I do have difficulty with large amounts of uncooked veggies and, like her, would probably have been put on a 90% cooked diet at that yoga retreat. Even the fruit was cooked, just a bit, to help aid in the digestion.

Noses, tongues, fingernails. I'm guessing I haven't scratched the surface on the little hints our bodies give as to how they are doing.

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