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Our bodies are magnificent machines. When they're working properly, we feel invincible. When they're not working so well, we feel awful. But if we learn to read the signals that our magnificent bodies are giving us when something is awry, we can often take steps to avoid illness.
When things start to take a wrong turn in our body, they don't shut down at that precise moment. Instead, we get little warning signals that something is amiss. Taking time to decipher these messages is always better than popping an aspirin and hoping the symptoms just disappear.
Interpreting the body's signals requires a level of awareness that, like any other skill, can be practiced and perfected.
Have frequent headaches?
There are many causes, but a common one is that you're drinking too much diet soda. Artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, can trigger headaches or even "brain fog". You should know that methanol, an ingredient which is broken down in aspartame, is a known carcinogen and a potent neurotoxin. Instead of treating your headaches with pills and trying to disrupt the signal your body is dutifully sending you as a warning, try cutting out the diet drinks instead. In fact, cut out EVERYTHING that contains aspartame, including your chewing gum.
Experiencing mood swings, itchy ears, frequent yeast infections?
The average American consumes nearly 150 lbs of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup each year, according to the US Dept of Agriculture. If you're one of those average Americans, or even if you just have a 'sweet tooth', your body may be harboring an unhealthy overgrowth of candida. Think of it as the kudzu equivalent in the body. A little is ok, but if it is allowed to run amok, it colonizes everything in its path. It prefers the body's warm, dark places such as between the toes, under the breasts and even in the ears. It irritates and inflames the skin, leading to telltale itching and redness. Instead of using creams or lotions to reduce the itchiness, you have to kill it at its source. The best way is to starve the little buggers by cutting off their food supply. They love sugar--including fruit--and refined flour products and fermented foods. By cutting these out of your diet for several weeks, you can reduce their numbers significantly.
Feeling constipated often?
The clearest signal that you're not eating enough fiber is constipation, but there are other signals you might not associate with not eating enough fiber such as inflammation and skin problems, frequent hunger pains, and energy slumps. When traffic is backed up, toxins from your bowel can leach back into your body, causing it to react with inflammation to fend off the unwanted particles. This inflammation can manifest in a multitude of ways, causing problems in your digestion, skin--even your heart or brain. Instead of reaching for a laxative, eat more vegetables, flax, pumpkin or sesame seeds.
Suffering from eczema?
Eczema is a very clear signal that you're eating something that doesn't agree with you. When the body doesn't tolerate a food well, continuing to ingest that food creates a chronic, low-level inflammation in the gut. If you're not paying attention, the irritation continues and creates fissures in the lining of the gut. Picture a tightly knit afghan that has become worn and saggy. These holes allow bacteria, toxins, undigested proteins, etc., to leak out of the gut and into your bloodstream. Dubbed "Leaky Gut Syndrome", this condition often results in skin conditions and eczema, but is also setting the stage for more serious health problems. Don't just reach for the cream to slather on your eczema. Pay attention to the signals and check your diet. Start by eliminating the common 5 offenders for a week: sugar, dairy products, wheat, caffeine, and alcohol.
Cracks at the corners of your mouth?
Nutritional deficiencies often show up first in tissues such as the lips or tongue. Cracks or sores at the corners of your mouth may be a signal that your body is deficient in B vitamins. This deficiency is common in our culture where diet too often consists of a large amount of refined and processed food and an exorbitant amount of sugar. Other symptoms may include circles under the eyes, low energy and fatigue. Be careful about over-the-counter B vitamins. Making your own vitamin cocktail is not recommended as it could actually leach nutrients out of your system. See a nutritional specialist for best results.
The gut contains the body's immune system control center. Keeping the proper balance of good flora in our intestines is the key to good health. We may not even realize that the very antibiotics we are prescribed in order to restore our body to health are often responsible for wiping out the good flora in our intestines, setting us up for even more trouble. If you suffer from frequent colds, urinary tract infections, nail fungus or even athlete's foot, the balance of flora in your intestines may need to be addressed. A delicious way to improve your good flora numbers is to add more foods rich in good bacteria such as yogurt, sauerkraut, or even the popular kombucha drink (fermented tea).
Your body's signals--which can come in the form of pain, illness or perhaps even written all over your skin--are a remarkable method of alerting us to a potential situation that should be addressed. If allowed to go unchecked, the body will continue to give you more and more signals until you're forced to deal with the cause(s), often in unwanted ways.