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The Look of Health


Can you tell whether people are truly healthy just by looking at them? Yes—if you know where to look. Truth be told, there are key areas of the body that tell whether or not a person has the look of health.

Let’s start with the skin, the largest organ of the body. Our skin may be the first thing others see and notice about us. When skin is healthy, it tells us that we most likely are getting enough vitamins and minerals for its healthy appearance. Healthy skin is smooth, elastic and of healthy color. Skin should also not be too dry or too oily.

If skin is not healthy, however, it shows. It may have a rough texture, blemishes, spots or other issues. In fact, the skin is often referred to as the “third kidney” because, if the body’s toxin levels are high, overwhelming the liver, gut or kidneys, then the skin will begin to excrete toxins in sweat the same way kidneys excrete toxins in urine. When that happens, the skin’s appearance takes a direct hit. It can change the skin’s pH, cause infection and can lead to less resilient and older-looking skin. 

Many times the next area people notice are a person’s eyes, which are often called “the windows to the soul.” They could also be called the windows to a person’s health. The eyes should be clear and bright and their membranes should be moist and whitish-pink in color—not pale, dark red or purplish. The following could signal health problems:

• Bumpy, yellow patches on the eyelids: Called xanthelasma palpebra, these tiny yellowish bumps could indicate the possibility of high cholesterol.
• Yellowish “whites” of the eyes: Known as jaundice, this could signal liver function problems.
• Disappearing outer eyebrows: This could mean thyroid problems—hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland).

And let’s not forget about hair, which should be shiny and full with luster—no flakes or damage. In the past, hair was thought to be just dead protein, but now it’s considered a reflection of one’s internal health. For example, excessively dry hair may mean a lack of omega-3 fatty acids or thyroid problems. Thinning hair all over the head could result from high stress, a high fever, hormonal changes or even from certain medications.

Next up are nails. Like skin, nails can display what’s going on inside your body. They should be light pink in color, firm, smooth and with a slightly curved surface—not discolored, rigid or brittle. White spots may mean too little calcium, while red nail beds could indicate heart disease. Pale, whitish nails or “spooned out” nails may signal low red blood cell count, but yellow or greenish nails could mean respiratory disease. Clubbing, when nails curve around the fingertips, could mean low oxygen levels or lung problems.  

Now for the tongue, which should be pinkish-to-reddish in color and not have a “coated” look. For instance, a swollen tongue could mean infections or disease, while an excessively smooth tongue might indicate anemia or a B12 deficiency. A tongue that is white-coated can mean dehydration, while a red tongue could mean nutritional deficiencies. Likewise, gums should be firm and fleshy with a reddish-pink color. Anything other than this could mean illness, disease or lack of certain vitamins and minerals.  

Last, but not least, obviously overall physical condition and physical fitness are indicators of health. A person should have plenty of strength, energy and motivation to meet life’s demands. If not, there could be health problems.

There are other areas that indicate vibrant health or lack thereof, but now you know some of what constitutes the look of health.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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