Long before I ever got diagnosed with anything I began to notice changes in my body. My temperature always felt cold, my hair began to thin, my eyes were often blood shot, and my extremities looked paler than usual. When sick, we have a tendency to focus on everything that is wrong. This is a natural instinct to recognize when we are beginning to have problems. But as we really get desperate for understanding what is wrong we can miss obvious signs of improvement. When attempting to get well we can use evidence from our body to recognize if things are working, or not. Here are some proven strategies to use while focusing on health restoration.
FINGER BLOOD FLOW
At various times of day the color of your fingertips changes. When blood flow is slowest and metabolic rate low, as in the morning, the fingertips will be more pale. In sufferers of metabolic disease this stays true even far into the day when the color should naturally turn more red. This is an indication of missing nutrients, or metabolic processes which have been blocked by inappropriate foods/substances, and is a direct consequence of dietary habits. Reynaud's disease, where the fingers turn completely white, is a very extreme manifestation of this function, but even sufferers of Reynaud's can avoid the attacks using the same principle.
This connection of fingertip color can be used diagnostically, because during a stress reaction the body redirects blood flow to the center of the body, away from less important extremities (importance here clearly not what I personally would have prioritized). Eating certain foods like gluten or bad fats or going without food for a given time will directly lower the color of the toes and fingertips (in a delayed fashion). The opposite happens with good foods, coffee, good fats, consistent blood sugar and some metabolic aids like aspirin and thyroid. Paying attention to the color of your fingers can help direct your efforts, and focuses on evidence of improvement rather than symptoms. Keeping the blood flow to the fingers and toes sustained with a consistent and high-quality diet is an indicator that deeper metabolic processes are on track. Any supplements and foods which whiten the fingers should not be taken.
Place two fingers on your neck over your Cartoid Artery. Maybe it's difficult to feel a pulse, but you have one because you are alive. Here is another site of easy manual observation of the metabolic rate. There are three combinations of pulse type to use in self therapy observation. The first two, which is what we don't want, are a slow pulse that pushes back weakly against the fingers, or a fast pulse that also pushes weakly. Both are signs of stress (slow but strong push back sometimes occurs when transitioning from poor health, but rarely lasts longer than a few minutes and is a function of CO2 levels and nothing to worry about). A good heart beat pumps with vigor, both quick and with notable force pushing back noticeably against the fingertips. This is because the heart, able to fully relax, fills with more blood between each beat, and plenty of nutrients allows it to work at the speed at which it works best. This effect should not be caused by excercise but by food and general good health. Excercise will produce a robust heartbeat but does so from the activation of stress hormones and isn't an indicator of good health on its own. The two undesireble states of pulse are either an inability to relax and fill all the way (rapid, shallow beats) or a lack of nutrients to work at the best speed (slow, shallow beats).
It is easiest and most common to encounter this good heart function immediate following a meal. I find it to happen often when consuming milk, where the good balance of carbs, protein, fat, and calcium help spur the metabolic rate. Any meal will usually turn on the heart like this, but good foods will keep it going for longer than inappropriate ones. Some foods like a large portion of glutinous pasta will cause a rapid increase in metabolic rate, and then will later drop the pulse quality so low it sometimes is accompanied with breathing problems. Going without food for too long will also produce one of the undesirable combinations. Whenever you feel faint, fatigued, and hungry, check your pulse and get to know the character of your heart rate and how it relates to what you do or don't put in your body. Check it before, during, and after eating different foods. Especially in combination with your fingertip color this can be used to see progress or head-off low blood sugar situations before you get uncomfortable. Making efforts to sustain both positive iterations of these diagnostic tools can help direct your body toward health rather than away.
What is the first thing that happens when you visit a doctor's clinic? I mean besides making you wait for an hour. That's right—they measure your pulse and temperature. That's because our pulse and temperature are intrinsically linked to our state of being alive, and the better your resting pulse and temperature are the better your wellness and vitality.
The key here is resting. Anyone can go for a jog and get their heart rate and body temperature up. But this is using energy, and to meet the physical demands of the stress brought by exercise the body must accelerate its production of heat and energy, often at the expense of its own wellness, which is why resting is the appropriate state in which to measure temperature. Throughout the day the body temperature and pulse with rise and fall, being lowest in the morning when the body has gone many hours without eating and reaching its peak sometime in the evening, usually around dinnertime. Taking the temperature at these critical junctures can map out and illustrate the exact nature of the thyroid function and the state of one's vitality. A person suffering from metabolic diseases will always have a lower temperature profile than someone who is ill, and raising the metabolic rate, as reflected by the body temperature and pulse, is the key to restoring proper metabolic function. The average body temperature is 98.6, but that means that healthy people's body temperature exceeds that, and yes a healthy person's body temperature should easily reach 99 or more at least one time a day. When I was at my sickest my morning temperatures were always a reliable 95.1, which is extremely and dangerously low. Now that I am healthy my low temps never drop below 97.5 and get up to 99 almost every day.
It should also be noted that the oral temperature will be much lower after taking any liquids, even if they are warm, so make sure to avoid taking the temperature 30 minutes afterward or just factoring in those kinds of variables into the diagnostic. Taking the temperature under arm or other places will also result in lower readings, so using an oral thermometer or being aware of these variables is important for not freaking out.
Getting pulse and temperature up is a process of restoring nutrients through diet and therapies as discussed in my book, but taking and writing down the pulse and temperature are the first step in establishing a course of action of which to take. Get a thermometer and start right away.
This should be pretty clear, but just to make sure you know to use it in understanding your own health, mood is a strong indicator of metabolic health. Happy, calm, and productive are generally signs that health is good and metabolic rate is high. Souring moods, irritability, lack of motivation, fatigue, inexplicable or excessive anger, sadness, etc. are all signs that the metabolic rate is compromised and either something in the diet is harmful or some behavior, like not eating, is compromising your metabolic health. I am constantly surprised by everyone I meet who suffers from bipolar disorder and how they go for many, many hours without eating and don't notice the connection (or also that wheat gluten exacerbates it). Paying close attention to your mood within the context of your diet is extremely helpful in managing your health.
FOODS/SUBSTANCES FOR THERAPY
A deficit of any one of the three macro food types—fat, protein, or carbohydrates will reveal itself in those two diagnostic tests (if you are unsure what I consider healthy or harmful, refer to my article A List if Good and Bad Foods). If either negative result is apparent and you haven't had one macro or the other for some time, it's time to eat it.
Sometimes a person may "eat" and still experience pale fingers or slow/weak heart rate. This is usually a vitamin deficiency (most likely B vitamins) from a deficiency of vitamin rich whole food. In a lot of my articles I offer solutions which include vitamin supplements, and while they can be helpful in certain conditions, supplements can never replace healthy eating, because of the vast variety and quality of nutrients contained in food, and many products like hormones are not caloric and cannot run your heart without carbs, protein, and fat. Being on a thyroid prescription won't do any good if you have a calorie deficit. Using finger color and pulse quality diagnostic strategies can show if you're having a deficit.
If it feels like you're taking so many dietary or hormonal aids but not seeing results, it is most likely because you are missing macro or micro nutrients, many of which will never come in a pill. Trying other varieties and types of food is a good way to troubleshoot pulse and blood flow diagnostics when it seems difficult to improve them.
Some metabolic aids like aspirin, coconut oil, and vitamin C can work wonders for raising these diagnostic tools, but only inasmuch as the body has fuel and vitamins to run the metabolic processes those aids stimulate. Otherwise, it will still fail.
Start with sugar and some food (sweetened whole milk (recipe below) is the best for showing this correlation between metabolism and self diagnostics), and pay attention to changes in your fingers and pulse over the next 30 minutes. With practice it can become second nature and aid in your exploration to find what works.
MILK TONIC FOR DIAGNOSIS AND THERAPY
This recipe for a homemade milk tonic is a great tool for demonstrating the pulse/temperature principle as well as a gentle therapy for restoring the metabolic rate. It includes all of the nutrients needed to stimulate normal oxidative metabolism as well as replenishing levels of beneficial amino acids. Taking this in the morning and before bed can help relieve some symptoms of chronic metabolic decline. Organic milk is best, as is unrefined sugar but normal sugar is fine too. Do not use hydrolyzed collagen—it is too processed and contains potentially harmful substances. This can cause sweating in metabolically challenged persons who have not had an elevated metabolism for some time. It is not a bad thing but is something to be aware of, and can be alleviated by taking a small amount of iodine.
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons gelatin
Add ingredients to a small pot over medium heat just until sugar and gelatin dissolve. Remove from heat, do not drink if it's hot but should be drunk warm. Taking an aspirin with it will stimulate the metabolic rate and demonstrate the type of pulse and temperature that can help restore metabolic integrity.
In my book Fuck Portion Control I talk about how my experience with the process of personal inventory helped me to reconcile deeply seeded negative thoughts and behaviors which caused me excessive emotional and spiritual suffering. This involves a process of writing out on paper the events in your life which have contributed to such maladies and helps the mind come to terms with trauma, abuse, and mistakes. I highly recommend reading the information in the book which surrounds this information, but the outline for the writing practice can be downloaded from the links below.
Personal Inventory PDF
Fear Inventory PDF