Here, Sydney naturopath, clinical nutritionist and former intensive care nurse, Brenda Rosenfeld, who specialises in cardiovascular health, diabetes and autoimmune disease, explains some of the most common signs to look out for and what you can do about them.
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause increased levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite, as well as decreases leptin, which tells you when you’re full. Long term, this can lead to increased risk of obesity, say US researchers. Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye by winding down before bedtime.
Sometimes caused by skin folds rubbing together, these can be an indicator of diabetes or insulin resistance. Skin tags are found on the neck, armpits, groin, eyelids and under breasts and are more common in middle-aged people and those who are overweight or obese. Bring them to the attention of your GP who may recommend testing your blood sugar and insulin levels. Diet and exercise can then be used to prevent diabetes developing.
Ridges on fingernails
In naturopathic terms, vertical ridges on your fingernails can indicate glandular problems like thyroid or diabetes, potential kidney issues, or possibly low iron. They can also be due to a lack of protein and fat and over-consumption of carbohydrates and salt. One of the most common minerals used to treat this is silica. It won’t improve the current nail – you’re correcting the nail that’s growing through.
This can often be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can be treated by addressing the underlying issues like insulin resistance and inflammation as well as the hormones. Losing weight, especially around the middle can make a huge difference.
A diagonal crease across both earlobes can be potential indicator of cardiovascular disease. If a person’s blood pressure is normal and they’re not overweight, it could be an early warning sign and we can start treating them with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplements where appropriate.
Eyebrows that start thinning at the outer edges can indicate an under-active thyroid, especially if you’re also suffering some hair loss. When you’re in the shower or brushing your hair you might find more hair comes out, and that can be very good indicator of a thyroid that’s becoming under-active or fatigued.
By treating the thyroid with the right kind of protein and minerals like selenium and iron, as well as vitamin D it can begin to improve.