18 Signs You’re Unhealthy (And What to Do About It)
Right this moment, almost 70% of Americans are overweight. That’s a ginormous amount of people. Let’s get real for a moment.
That’s 2/3rds of our population. That means that two out of every three people are overweight.
That’s not normal.
In response, our society’s awareness about health has risen sharply.
With our rising awareness, came the push for loving our bodies the way they are (weight and all). The notion of “fat but fit” came onto the scene. And people across America took a stand for belly fat virtually overnight.
Despite the backlash from the overweight population, science confirms that fat is unhealthy no matter how much you love yourself.
And as much as fat people can be unhealthy, so can skinny people. Obesity signals unhealthy habits but so do other things.
You might be the skinniest person in the room, but you could also be the unhealthiest.
Ill-health makes its appearance through many avenues. And is caused by several things like stress, poor diet, hormonal imbalances, dehydration, toxins, and a sedentary lifestyle.
You’re reading this article because you’re curious if you’re unhealthy in any way. You may or may not be. Either way, it’s good to know the signs, because our bodies work hard to keep us informed. And it’s our job to listen.
But half the time the signals get ignored or covered up. Which is easy to do in our society. We have make-ups, creams, energy drinks, cosmetic surgeries, and pharmaceuticals to wipe away our unhealthy choices.
Unfortunately, it only masks the problem.
If you’re unhealthy, it could be for a number of reasons. Maybe you do it on purpose – lack of motivation, inspiration, or enthusiasm. Maybe you have no clue what you’re doing. Or maybe you’re doing your best.
These 18 signs are here to help you make informed and empowered decisions to improve your health starting today.
18 Signs You’re Unhealthy
The average menstrual cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days. You might think it has to be exactly 28, but it’s normal to fluctuate by seven days on either side.
If you notice your periods are shorter or longer, then you have an irregular period.
Irregular periods mean your hormones are out of balance or there’s something interfering with your normal cycle.
Here are few reasons you could have irregular periods:
- Quitting hormone-based birth control.
- Frequent use of home and beauty products full of unnatural chemicals.
- Stress at home or work.
- Extreme exercise like marathon running.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which interferes with the body’s ability to ovulate properly. Women with PCOS probably have had irregular periods since the beginning.
- Age: younger and older women’s periods are either acclimating to full flow or waning in favor of the older years.
- Other illnesses can cause physical stress on the body and impair hormone function.
If you’re having irregular periods, figure out the cause. Talk to a doctor if you need to. And get things back on track.
I suggest moving to hormone-free forms of birth control. Hormones put you at risk for health problems that you don’t want to deal with. Plus, you lose touch with your body.
And as women, our bodies are our source of intuition and spiritual guidance. Our bodies are temples. And should be honored as such.
Hair loss is never fun. I’ve experienced mild forms of hair loss during my time experimenting with a vegan diet. And I also have some hair loss when my hormones fluctuate too much.
If you have lots of hair migrating from your head to the trash, then you have internal disturbances taking place. Most of the time it’s either vitamin or hormone related.
Check into nutrient deficiencies like B vitamins or protein intake. Too much vitamin A can cause this problem too. Vitamin A is fat soluble, so it doesn’t get rid of it as easily.
Or see your doctor about PCOS as mentioned above with irregular periods. Thyroid issues and birth control can also cause hair loss.
And if you’re being too rough with your pony, your hair loss may simply be due to pulling too tightly on your hair. Try wearing your hair down, undone for a while. And let your head heal.
Collagen is the best way to improve hair, skin, and nails. Everything will grow so fast. You’ll be trimming your nails almost daily. And your skin will look great. I recommend this collagen by Dr. Axe.
Your body loves to get your attention with blasting headaches at all the right times. I’m just kidding. Headaches are never fun.
And yet they show up on your way to work, in the classroom, or while you’re trying to sleep.
Instead of pushing through, step back and examine what a headache wants to share with you. Headaches can indicate a number of things.
For one, maybe you’re dehydrated. When was the last time you had a full glass of unadulterated water? No sugar. No “natural flavors.”
Drop the sugary beverage, and down a glass of water to give your cells the hydration they’re screaming for.
But maybe it’s not water. So what it is it? Sleep.
Sleep deprivation is common these days with so many things calling our attention. On top of that, it’s easy to be stressed and still over-thinking when our heads hit the pillow.
Your head may ache because you’ve been perseverating on a topic. In other words: thinking too much or “beating the dead horse” as my guy says.
Do a little meditation to get your mind off your worries. Focus on your breath or the sensations in your body. There are great apps to guide you through meditation too. Sometimes restful sleep is all you need.
Here are some other reasons you could have a headache…
- Staring at a screen too long
- That time of the month
- Medication side-effects
- Unbalanced gut bacteria
Or you could have headaches for other, hard-to-define reasons. If you make changes in all these areas and you still have a headache, then it’s time to see a doctor. Intractable headaches are a thing.
If you’re a young person, you can expect that your vision won’t change for many years. But if you’re not taking care of your eyes from the inside and outside, then you might unknowingly experience change sooner than later.
Too much sun can damage your eyes. Poor diet can starve the delicate structure and parts of your eye of vital nutrients needed to retain good eyesight. And if you have diabetes (known or unknown), then you’re at even more risk of eye problems.
Diabetics often have to deal with retinopathy. Which is the degeneration of eye health due to diseased blood vessels. Vision starts to fade as blood flow to the eyes decreases.
Diabetic retinopathy is no joke. And with more Americans than ever having diabetes, this a real concern. Specifically, undiagnosed diabetes is a problem. So, if you’re having unusual vision changes for your age, then go to see a doctor to get the lowdown.
To protect your eyes now and for the long run, wear sunglasses, quit smoking, and eat more red, purple, and blue fruits. These fruits are filled with antioxidants that help your eyesight tremendously. And they also keep you looking young.
Bad sleep can be caused by many things.
Maybe you’re eating and drinking too close to bedtime. High-sugar foods and beverages will keep your brain and body running all night long. And alcohol disturbs your sleep by acting as a stimulant. Alcohol’s drowsiness will give way to stimulation even though you feel drowsy at first.
Alcohol also dehydrates you. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night feeling dry. So dry you’ll have to get a drink of water. Which might make you have to get up and pee.
Caffeine in the afternoon or evening can keep you awake too. Question yourself: why are you drinking caffeine so late? It’s a habit that needs to be examined.
Weight gain around the abdomen is the cardinal sign of cardiovascular disease. You see it a lot in men you have skinny arms and legs but a robust belly a tray could sit on. Yea, it’s not healthy.
Belly fat often indicates the build-up of visceral fat, which is fat around your organs. That means you’re getting fat on the inside – not just the outside.
And that’s what can be deceptive about some people. You might think they’re skinny but they could have tons of fat on the inside.
This fat is linked to increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Excessive tiredness isn’t normal. You should be able to endure your day with plenty of energy. If you’re tired, then you’re not getting enough nutrients, water, or exercise. Or your hormones could be out of balance.
But if you know you’re doing all that right, then what else could it be? You may have anemia. There are different kinds of anemias. You could simply need to consume more iron-containing foods.
(Always see a doctor before taking an iron supplement or an iron-containing supplement. You can easily get too much and cause problems.)
If it’s not anemia, then you might be deficient in vitamin B12. Vitamin deficiencies can be a huge cause of lethargy. Most people I see in the hospital are deficient in B12 and vitamin D. It mostly has to do with poor diets and lack of sun exposure.
So, like I said: being tired every day isn’t normal. Notice this a sign of ill-health. And work to determine the cause.
When you discover that you are simply missing a few nutrients, then ensure you’re getting in your diet. But even if you’re doing that and still not getting results, talk to a doctor about vitamin absorption issues. Some people can have this problem and not even know it.
For instance, specific gene mutations can interrupt the process of methylation in the body (which is a process needed for you to be healthy). And if you’re body has this gene mutation, then you might not be getting the nutrients you need – even if you’re eating healthy.
See a physician to learn whether or not you have the gene mutation. And if that’s the case, you may need to take special kinds of supplements to assist your body in utilizing vitamins the right way.
Your urine is a basic indicator of kidney function. Are you peeing? If so, how much, how often, and what does it look like?
It should be a pale yellow. And if you’re peeing less than 30ml per hour, you’ve got a problem. I don’t expect that you’d be peeing that infrequently, but if you notice you haven’t gone, you don’t have the urge to go, and you’ve had tons of fluid, then something isn’t right.
Also look out for amber, red, green, brown, or purple urine. I kid about the purple. But sometimes when you eat beets, it turns your pee a bright reddish color the next day. Asparagus has a similar effect except it turns urine bright green.
Most of the time, dark urine indicates dehydration. But it can indicate other issues like infection, kidney problems, blood issues, or other serious problems.
Before you freak out and think you’re dying. Just drink lots of water. Water runs through your system quickly.
So your urine color should change in response to your intake almost immediately. Put it to the test. If something still looks off afterward, then visit a doctor.
Mental health matters as much as physical health, even though it’s an often overlooked area of health.
Anxiety is a huge issue in our society these days for many reasons. One reason can be due to poor gut health. Research now suggests that a low-quality gut microbiota can impact your anxiety level.
The bacteria in our guts influences our behavior. And if you’re not eating well, you could be making it worse.
Anxiety can also be caused by spending too much time inside. We are animals. Social creatures really. We are meant to be connected to nature and one another.
When we are outside in nature (not in the city) our brains undergo changes that are measurable. One of my favorite books discusses nature-deficit disorder as a growing concern for anxiety and other problems in society.
And as far as social anxiety is concerned, we spend more time behind a computer or phone than we do with people. And the only way to get beyond social anxiety is to go out and be social. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn new skills. And meet new people.
Irregular bowel movements
Everybody’s “regular schedule” may be different. But if you’re eating, you should be pooping. Period.
What goes in must come out. And if you’re frequently constipated, you run the risk of getting an obstruction or worse.
If you’re backed up, don’t head straight for the mother-of-all laxatives. Instead, incorporate strawberries, dark leafy greens, and rolled oats into your diet. Food first before medicine. That’s my motto.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It soaks up whatever you put on it whether intentional or otherwise.
That means all the chemicals you douse yourself within the shower. Or even the fumes from products you use to clean your home. Also, consider the chemicals from clothes and bedding. And that’s just on the outside.
Now think about all the chemicals you put in your mouth that travels through your digestive system. It eventually gets absorbed by the intestines and distributed throughout the body.
The chemicals reach the underside of the skin where new cells are made. Except the new skin cells have only chemicals and a few nutrients to reproduce from.
Now all you have is itchy, dry, flaky skin. That’s a sure sign that your nutrients are out of order or your environmental toxins are too much.
That’s when it’s time to reconsider what you’re putting in and on your body.
In my last semester of nursing school, I worked with several of my classmates for a family with a son that had severe cerebral palsy.
One day during the fall, I worked alongside one of my classmates. I’m not sure how we started the conversation but he told me that he normally gets sick 3-4 times a year.
And he said it like it was no big deal. No. Big. Deal. And that’s a problem.
Because it is a big deal.
Getting sick isn’t normal. It’s a sign that you have a weakened immune system. Even catching the “common cold” is ludicrous.
It’s common alright but it’s not normal. And healthy individuals shouldn’t be getting sick. Let alone 3-4 times a year.
You should be consuming nutrient dense foods that support your gut and your immune system (since 70% of your immune system resides in your gut). When you’re healthy – you’re healthy.
Healthy does not include sickness. It doesn’t work like that.
I only get sick if I’m overly stressed or haven’t been eating well. Usually, coupled with being in the winter.
But let me reiterate. That’s not normal. It points to the fact that I’m overstressed in an unhealthy way. Or that I’m eating unhealthy foods.
Which means that if you’re getting sick frequently (3-4 times per year or more) then you’re not healthy.
Cracked lips are the biggest indicator that I haven’t eaten enough veggies.
When my lips start getting chapped I immediately think: 1) when did I have a big bowl of greens last? And 2) how much water have I had lately?
Cracked lips indicate too much or too little of certain vitamins. As well as too little water. But it could also mean exposure to harmful chemicals like beauty products.
If you have psoriasis or hypothyroidism, then you can experience cracked or dry lips.
Your lips should repair themselves once you adjust your diet and drink more water. If your lips don’t yield, then there may be an underlying condition that requires medical attention.
But more than anything, your lips are indicators of hydration level. It’s a basic level of assessment in my nursing practice. I can tell when someone is dehydrated by their lips and oral mucosa. If your mouth is dry, lips are cracked, and your skin tents when pinched, then you need fluids – ASAP.
If your face is breaking out all the time, then there’s something wrong. Pimples can indicate a number of things:
- Hormone imbalance
- Dirty skin
- Unhealthy eating
I especially see skin outbreaks in people who eat a lot of sugar. You can even have skin outbreaks when you consume too much dairy product too. If your body isn’t down with the dairy, then your face will pop pimples like nobody’s business.
Also, make sure you’re washing your face morning and night. Even if it’s just a with water. In fact, I don’t suggest using any face washes that you’d find at your average drug store.
They are filled with chemicals that cause your skin to dry out. When your skin dries out your body works to compensate by producing oil. And the oil can clog pores and create skin breakouts.
So the solution is to avoid face washes that contain harmful chemicals. If you feel like you absolutely need a face wash, then buy one with natural ingredients.
A lot of people get muscle cramps after working out – which is normal. You’ve sweat a lot and need to replenish your electrolytes and hydrate. But if you’re getting frequent charlie horses in the middle of the night, you might need to replace some minerals like potassium, magnesium, or calcium.
The best way to replace magnesium is either in supplement form or with an Epsom salt bath. Your body will absorb all the magnesium from the salt. And your muscles will thank you.
If you’re straining your muscles easily, it might be a sign that you need more exercise. You should be able to do your activities of daily living without pulling a muscle. The average American sedentary lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to healthy muscles.
Pale skin tone
Yea, white people can be super pale when we spend too much time inside. Especially if your family tree stems from Ireland or beyond. But we’re talking about a paleness that goes beyond lineage.
Paleness as a sign of ill-health can be seen not just in the skin but also in the lips, inside of the cheeks, and inner lining of eyelids. It indicates anemia which means you have low levels of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood.
It can be common for women in childbearing age or you can get it from your family. But you can treat it to improve symptoms, like pale skin and fatigue.
But you might be anemic for other reasons. Reasons that aren’t so common. So you should visit your doctor. Annual visits to your doctor should reveal your blood levels. Regular check-ups will keep you healthy and happy. Especially when it comes to issues with anemia.
Contrary to popular belief, memory decline as we age is not normal. And memory impairment at a young age certainly isn’t normal either.
If for some reason you experience impaired memory, then you need to see your physician. But if you’re just having a foggy mind, that can signal dehydration or nutrient deficiencies.
You can improve your brain health by eating a plenty of omega-3s. Fats are great for your brain. Good fats include fish, avocados, walnuts, and olive or coconut oils.
These kinds of fats are fuel for your brain. Since your brain is basically a big ball of fat. Then it makes sense that you’d want to keep giving it what it needs to sustain itself.
No longer do I choose to believe that cavities are normal. Cavities can be healed – and not with a dentist’s drill. Nutrition can heal cavities.
Eating plenty of foods filled with fat-soluble vitamins can aid remineralization of bones including your teeth. These vitamins also support other functions in the body like eye and immune health.
Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins stick around in the body in fat (fat-soluble), so be sure to not get too much of these. As mentioned, too much vitamin A can cause problems too.
On top of eating the right vitamins from the right places, then you should also cut back on sugary beverages. Sugar erodes teeth like its life depends on it. Cut the sugar to save your teeth.
Also, consider brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing your teeth once a day. When you brush, do so before you eat or 30 minutes after you eat. Otherwise, if you brush too close to eating you’ll harm your teeth by exacerbating enamel erosion initiated with food intake.
These measures are sure to help you avoid cavities. But only nutrition can help you heal cavities.
Whew! That’s 18 signs you’re unhealthy. You may have discovered a thing or two you didn’t know before. And maybe you recognized a something you might have.
This list isn’t meant to make you feel bad about your health. Instead, it’s intended to shed light on common experiences that aren’t so normal. Yea, you may get sick all the time, but you also can live a healthy life, free of sickness.
In our society, we too often view the breakdown of the body as “common.” A thing to be expected and endured. But that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
Your health is in your hands. And to have better health you have to make better choices.
Even the healthiest among us can get sick or slip into ill-health. But we can love ourselves through life with increased awareness and healthy choices.
Most of these 18 signs are caused by six things:
- Poor diet
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Environmental toxins
- Sedentary lifestyle
So what changes can you make? I mentioned several under each section. But I’ll share with you some simple steps you can take today.
First: always, always, always – begin with awareness. Realizing poor diet and lifestyle choices is a huge step. Many people don’t even get to that point.
But don’t stop there. Being healthy starts with awareness and continues with taking actions. Small actions every day.
Second, pick one of these three changes…
1. Increase water intake. Add a glass of water a day. Or go bigger. Chug it if you have to. Get used to drinking water. Your body will begin to adapt to the added hydration. And soon you’ll notice your cravings for water – and water only.
Once you start to have cravings for just water, then back off sodas and other sugary beverages. And don’t be fooled. Juices and “natural flavored water” aren’t the greatest either.
2. Eat greens. Put some greens in your mouth once a week. Then every other day. Then every day. If you can get to every day, that’s a huge achievement. That’s one I’m working on now.
3. Practice breathing. Yea. Breathing. You do it every minute but I bet you don’t even think about it. Breathing is the most basic thing we do. And yet it’s the most powerful tool we have to aid in relaxation and relieving stress.
I do deep breathing all the time at work when my workload gets heavy or patient family members stress me out. I’ll walk around the hospital breathing in for 10 counts and breathing out for 10 counts.
It helps the stress to melt from my shoulders. And then my shoulders aren’t at my ears by the time I get home. It’s super effective.
That’s good enough for now. You can take these three simple steps and start your healthy journey today.
You may have signs and symptoms of being unhealthy. But being aware is the first step.
Next, make a change. A slow, steady change. You’ll see the change take hold. And you’ll be encouraged to keep it up.
What changes are you committed to making starting today? Leave a comment below.