More often than not, a physical change that we can see or feel is a clue to a deeper disturbance or deficiency, and usually this is your body telling you something in your diet is amiss.
1. Your skin looks dull
The skin reflects your inner-health status and dull skin is often indicative of a poor diet (or smoking). Antioxidants are required to combat the effects of oxidative stress; an insufficient supply may result in skin that shows the signs of premature ageing. Vitamins C and E, carotenoids and polyphenols all have powerful antioxidant properties and can be found in abundance in a diet that is high in fresh fruit and vegetables. Foods high in essential fatty acids lubricate the skin from the inside out, plumping and hydrating it to prevent wrinkles. Omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon anchovies) will benefit inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, acne or psoriasis. Staying well hydrated is essential for skin that is bright and clear - that means at least 2 litres of water a day (more is you exercise heavily).
2. Your tongue is scalloped or quivering
A healthy tongue should be light-red in colour and have a very thin white coating. Scalloped edging (or tooth marks) may be indicative of stress or exhaustion and are a good sign the body is need of some rest. A tongue that quivers when protruded is a good indication of magnesium deficiency, common in people with high stress or who exercise heavily. A thick white (hairy looking) coating may indicate candida overgrowth, which should be investigated further and may require the elimination of sugar, beer and wine.
3. You have brittle hair that just won't grow
Hair quality can provide a valuable insight into the quality of nutrients a body is receiving. When nutrition is inadequate, the growth and maintenance of hair (and nails) will be forsaken in order to prioritise more vital bodily functions. Diets low in protein, essential fatty acids, iron and zinc are commonly to blame. Increasing your intake of quality protein from eggs, chicken and fish, and fats from avocado, walnuts, seeds, coconut oil and oily fish will give hair strength, shine and support growth.
4. You're always the one who gets sick
If you get sick easily, take a long time to recover or feel like you are constantly fighting an infection, it's likely you have a compromised immune system. Overuse of antibiotics, stress or a processed diet can wreak havoc on the balance of microflora, resulting in poor gut health. Taking a probiotic supplement or adding fermented foods to the diet will help to strengthen the immune system. Deficiencies of vitamins C, E and D, or minerals iron and zinc may also lead to an increased susceptibility to infection.
5. You have white spots on your nails
White spots can appear on the nails of a person who is deficient in either calcium or zinc. If you get white spots regularly, a blood test can determine which mineral is lacking from your diet. Zinc can be found in eggs, meat, fresh oysters, shellfish and pepita seeds. Good sources of calcium include dairy, sesame seeds (and tahini), dark green leafy vegetables and the bones of fish like tinned salmon and sardines.