We normally know when we are hungry. Our body will let us know in no uncertain terms when it is experiencing obvious hunger with signs like stomach grumbling, pain, dizziness, yawning, sleepiness and trouble concentrating. However, there is also another type of hunger the body experiences, termed "hidden hunger". This results from nutrient deficiencies and is a possible underlying cause of many health issues.
These are known as your micro nutrients, which are both vitamins and minerals and often we may be starving of certain types of these nutrients without any obvious signs. We certainly know when we are deficient in iron, with patients describing themselves as extremely fatigued and running on empty. However, before the diagnosis of anaemia, usually through pathology, you may have had blueish nails, spoon shaped nails or a pale complexion. There was possibly an earlier sign that you may have missed.
It would be easy to assume that nutrient deficiencies would only affect those with Coeliac disease, gastrointestinal disorders, malabsorption issues, or people with serious health conditions, however, it can affect all of us at any point in time.
There are a number of reasons this could occur, including insufficient food intake, poor choice of foods, lack of knowledge of nutrient rich choices, consuming too many processed foods or having a low intake of healthy fats, protein and fibre versus excess carbohydrate consumption.
We also need to take into consideration intestinal permeability and natural nutrient blockers known as anti nutrients found in foods like lectins, phytates or phytic acids, gluten, oxalates, saponins, trypsin inhibitors, solanine, tannins or poor food combining. How many of us are consuming a tea and toast diet on a daily basis?
Other nutrient blockers or more specifically nutrient stealers are alcohol, smoking, pollution, stress, exercise and medications just to name a few.
All of these factors can contribute or interfere with the absorption or demand of nutrients and may play a role in our micro nutrient insufficiency and our body's hidden hunger.
How do you know if you are lacking in these vital nutrients? Before the body alerts you with serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, chronic insomnia, osteoporosis and hormonal imbalances, your body will show you in more of a subtle way. This is the time to take notice and be observant before the more serious manifestations may start to occur. Consider this time as the calm before the storm and your opportunity to take charge of your health.
You may notice any or several of the folllowing:
Your tongue and mouth are often among the first to show signs of nutrient deficiencies. You may experience a sore tongue, cracks in the corner of the lips, dried or cracked lips, bleeding gums or mouth ulcers.
HAIR AND NAILS
Another common sign is brittle, dry hair or maybe more hair fall then usual. Your nails are also a great indicator of nutrient deficiencies, with white spots being a common sign, along with lines on the nails both vertical and horizontal, shape and even the colour of nails all being a clinical sign of specific nutrient deficiencies.
Skin pallor, bumps on the back of the arms, dry skin and acne are also signs of nutrient deficiencies, which are commonly seen amongst the population.
These are only a handful of the signs of how your body is talking to you. It is imperative to listen and be observant of the signs that are appearing and seek advice and guidance on how to fix the deficiencies before they become a condition that you definitely have to address.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Take an active approach and consider the nutrient content of your foods and adding supplements where neccessary with vitamins and minerals, as opposed to solely focusing on calories and macro nutrients of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
- Get educated on how to heal from Intestinal Permeability with healing foods and key nutrients along with a gut protocol to maximise nutrient intake.
- Employ an awareness that vitamins and minerals when taken as a supplement need to be synergistic, not competitive, and in their most beneficial and absorbable forms. Consideration as to whether they are delivered as a powder, capsule, tablet or liquid is important.
- Gain an understanding that we are each unique and require an individual protocol - a person with Coeliac disease requires a different approach to someone without Coeliac disease, but perhaps has IBS, or another type of gastrointestinal manifestation.
- Engage a naturopath or nutritionist to maximise your knowledge on how to increase nutrient absorption from your food. These practitioners can help you assess what types of nutrients you may be deficient in from your body signs and help to create a food plan that is rich in nutrient containing foods, offer smart supplement advice and get you on top of your body's hidden hunger.
These are simple and effective actions you can implement for yourself in order to create wellness and improve health outcomes in the process.