What your looks say about your health
Good Looks, Good Health?
Good health often is reflected in an attractive, youthful appearance. So you might be tempted to blame aging and stress for facial lines, unsightly fingernails, or hair loss when, in fact, these flaws can signal underlying health issues, says integrative medicine specialist Molly M. Roberts, MD, of the Institute for Health & Healing, in San Francisco, and president of the American Holistic Medical Association.
Bags and dark circles under the eyes are typically a telltale sign of one too many late nights (and not enough sleeping in). But if you're getting plenty of shut-eye and still can't shake the basset-hound look, you might want to take a look at your diet.
Eye bags and puffiness are caused by fluid buildup in the thin, loose skin that sits below your bottom eyelid. Lots of things -- from allergies to crying jags -- can cause fluid to accumulate there, but one of the main culprits is eating too much salt. High-sodium foods promote water retention throughout the body, and the sensitive under-eye area is no exception.
Everyone experiences dry skin from time to time. Usually it's a minor nuisance caused by wintry air or overly hot showers, but in some cases parched, brittle skin is a sign of dehydration or serious health problems. Hypothyroidism and diabetes can both leach moisture from the skin, for instance, as can nutrient deficiencies associated with a poor diet or eating disorders.
Atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries that leads to heart disease, can affect skin as well -- especially on the feet, legs, and shins. If the tiny arteries that carry blood to the extremities become blocked, they can deprive the skin of oxygen, producing dry, shiny patches.
Hair where you don't want it is embarrassing for sure, but it also can be a sign of more concerning health problems.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of increased hair growth in women of childbearing age, can cause infertility and infrequent, irregular, or absent periods. More than 70% of women with PCOS have hirsutism, or excess hair growth, typically appearing on the face, chest, stomach, back, hands, or feet.