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10 Strange Body Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Background photo: Pixabay (PD)
Former Olympian and popular health Youtuber Sten Ekberg has made holistic health his life’s work, empowering his patients and viewers to take control over their own health. In one of his popular videos, he goes into detail about 10 body signs you shouldn’t ignore if you want to stay healthy.
1. Thinning Eyebrows
Thinning eyebrows is the first on Sten’s list, especially you are losing the outer third or quarter of your eyebrows. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (or AAD), thinning or missing the outer edges of your eyebrows could signify a problem with your thyroid, specifically hypothyroidism. 
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ found at the base of your neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid isn’t making enough thyroid hormone, which is essential for major life processes such as metabolism and regulation of your heart rate and temperature.  Essentially, lack of thyroid hormones slows down your body, and that includes hair growth.
Sten also mentions other signs that may mean you have hypothyroidism: weight gain, bradycardia (slow heart rate), fatigue or low energy, and even problems with digestion because of slowed peristalsis (the movement of the muscles in the digestive tract). Even slow reactions can mean slowing of nerve impulses, which can also be due to an underperforming thyroid.
Typically, there are two possible solutions to hypothyroidism: (1) iodine supplementation and (2) medicating with thyroid hormones. In parts of the world where there isn’t enough iodine in the soil or diet, the first option is the easier fix. This can be done through iodine supplements and dietary adjustments (e.g. cheese, cow’s milk, eggs, yogurt).  Sten mentions the second solution within the context of Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune condition that causes hypothyroidism. While medications that are prescribed to patients to mimic thyroid hormones are effective in managing various thyroid conditions, unless you solve the underlying autoimmune problem, you’ll likely need to be medicated your entire life.
2. Unexpected Weight Loss
Weight loss despite increased appetite and food intake can also be sign that your thyroid is having problems; this time it’s hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid does exactly opposite of what an underactive thyroid does – faster metabolism, tachycardia (fast heart rate), and elevated body temperature.  Just like hypothyroidism, there is an autoimmune condition that causes hyperthyroidism; this condition is called Grave’s disease. 
A more common condition that manifests as weight loss is type 1 diabetes. While type 2 diabetes is often driven by unhealthy diets and lifestyle choice, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where in the pancreas do not produce enough insulin (or any insulin at all), causing blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Without insulin, the body cannot process the glucose we get from food, causing weight loss. 
3. Poor Wound Healing
Poor wound healing is often a sign of diabetes as well. Research has shown that persistently high levels of blood sugar alter the body’s immune response by causing chronic inflammation. This also alters the ability of the body to repair damage tissues and heal wounds, causing poor or slow wound healing.  In fact, among diabetics, there is an increased risk for chronic skin and tissue infections because wounds take longer to heal. Diabetic foot ulcers are one of the many complications of diabetes, often leading to amputation.
Sten also mentions another common complication of diabetes, which is neuropathy. Tingling or numbness, especially in the fingers and toes, can also mean that your blood sugar is too high. Hyperglycemia can also damage the nerves due to chronic inflammation, causing neuropathy, or typically described as “pins and needles”. This kind of neuropathy can even cause blindness (diabetic retinopathy) and kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy). 
4. Whitish Substance On The Tongue
When you brush your teeth regularly, you will notice that your tongue should normally be pink and moist. If you start to notice a white, leathery coating on the surface of your tongue, this can mean you have a yeast infection called candidiasis.  It is typically caused by a variety of risk factors, such as impaired salivary production, dentures, high carbohydrate diet, smoking, diabetes, Cushing’s, and other autoimmune conditions. 
However, oral candidiasis can also signify a deeper problem, and according to Sten, it can be a problem with your gut microbiota. Different studies have also linked and imbalance in the gut microbiome to the development of opportunistic infections, Candida albicans in particular.   If this the case, managing your diet and balancing your gut microbiome is the best way to prevent these kinds of opportunistic infections from recurring.
5. Central Obesity
Your body shape can also tell a great deal about your health. Sten mentions having an “apple-shaped body” as something to watch out for. If your body weight is more concentrated around the torso giving you an almost “apple-shape”, this could mean that you have central obesity, one of the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes.  Sten also lists Cushing’s as one of the conditions associated with central obesity. A study in 2014 showed that high cortisol levels could also contribute to weight gain around the torso, specifically in the development of central, visceral fat deposits. 
6. Loss Of An Arm Swing
Swinging your arms when walking is part of the human gait reflex, or the human bipedal gait. Normally, your arm should swing opposite the foot that is stepping forward.  However, changes in gait and problems with your arm swing could signify a problem with your nerves or brain. Neurodegeneration could cause this and could even be early signs of Alzheimer’s. Dementia-related gait changes also include slow walking, usually characterized by a decrease in stride length, and is seen in both Alzheimer’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s dementia. 
7. Loss Of Sense Of Smell
Losing your smell is normal if you have an upper respiratory infection (URTI) or a “head cold”, especially if your nose is stuffed. However, gradual loss of smell could be an early sign of Parkinson’s. Anosmia (loss of smell) is a common non-motor feature of Parkinson’s, which is typically characterized by the gradual loss of motor control (e.g. jerky movement, tremors, handwriting that gets smaller and smaller). This symptom may even precede motor symptoms, making it an important assessment discovery in the early stages of the condition. 
Snoring when your sleep often occurs when you are tired after a long day. But physiologically, it caused by loss of muscle tone in the soft palate and throat. The air that passes through these tissues causes vibrations which we heart as snoring.  A deeper cause can be due to problems with the 10th cranial nerve, or the vagus nerve. In 2017, a study found that stimulating the vagus nerve could suppress obstructive sleep apnea which is typically associated with snoring.  Sten recommends performing exercises such as gargling and even singing to strengthen the muscles of the throat and soft palate to help with snoring.
9. Passing Out
Typically, feeling faint after standing up could be caused by orthostatic hypotension, which is a condition that happens when your blood pressure drops after a postural change. Gravity-induced blood pressure changes occur as blood rushes down below the diaphragm which triggers tachycardia and vasoconstriction. Problems with the return of blood up towards the brain can cause you to lose consciousness as your blood pressure drops. 
Feeling faint or dizzy and even losing consciousness after standing up can also be a sign of adrenal fatigue, according to Sten, as repeated vasoconstriction during postural changes could fatigue the adrenal glands. While the concept of adrenal fatigue is still much argued about in the medical world, the theory is that prolonged exposures to stress could deplete the adrenal glands. 
10. Defense Posture
The last item on the list is a little bit complicated, but it has a lot to do with posture as well, specifically the position of your arms when you stand. When your muscles are flexed and your arms are turned inward, it can be caused by a prolonged stress response in the brain. In fact, a study in 2007 focused on the effects of stress on motor movement, increasing the risk for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s.  Sten recommends posture exercises to help with habitual defense posture, as well as relaxation techniques to help with stress.
Summary: Be vigilant about any unexpected changes to your health. Get regular check-ups and remember that blood work can sometimes reveal issues before noticeable symptoms arise.
 American Academy of Dermatology Association. Thyroid Disease: A Checklist of Skin, Hair, and Nail Changes. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/thyroid-disease-skin-changes
 Mayo Clinic. Hypothyroidism. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284
 American Thyroid Association. Iodine Deficiency. https://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/
 Mayo Clinic. Hyperthyroidism. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20373659
 Mayo Clinic. Graves’ Disease. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/graves-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20356240
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is Type 1 Diabetes? https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/what-is-type-1-diabetes.html
 Baltzis, D., et. al. (2014). Pathogenesis and treatment of impaired wound healing in diabetes mellitus: new insights. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25069580/
 Zakin, et. al. (2019). Diabetic Neuropathy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31639839/
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Candidiasis. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html
 Akpan, A. & Morgan R. (2002). Oral candidiasis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1742467/
 Kumamoto, C., Gresnigt, M. & Hube, B. (2020). The gut, the bad and the harmless: Candida albicans as a commensal and opportunistic pathogen in the intestine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32604030/
 d’Enfert, C., et. al. (2021). The impact of the Fungus-Host-Microbiota interplay upon Candida albicans infections: current knowledge and new perspectives. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33232448/
 Straznicky, N., et. al. (2009). Autonomic Nervous System: Metabolic Function. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/abdominal-obesity
 Lee, M., et .al. (2014). Deconstructing the roles of glucocorticoids in adipose tissue biology and the development of central obesity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3959161/
 Meyns, P., et. al. (2013). The how and why of arm swing during human walking. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23489950/
 Beauchet, O., et. al. (2008). Gait analysis in demented subjects: Interests and perspectives. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515920/
 Haehner, A., et. al. (2014). A clinical approach towards smell loss in Parkinson’s disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24322062/
 Mayo Clinic. Snoring. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/snoring/symptoms-causes/syc-20377694
 Santos, M., et. al. (2020). Complex sleep-disordered breathing after vagus nerve stimulation: broadening the spectrum of adverse events of special interest. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33337335/
 Figueroa, J., et. al. (2010). Preventing and treating orthostatic hypotension: As easy as A, B, C. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2888469/
 Harvard Health Publishing. Is adrenal fatigue “real”? https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-adrenal-fatigue-real-2018022813344
 Metz, G. (2007). Stress as a Modulator of Motor System Function and Pathology. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/REVNEURO.2007.18.3-4.209/html
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