Health & Fit 7 Things Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health
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Casey, 30, is a medical professional living in Connecticut, who first went to rehab for addiction when she was still in high school.I believe addiction is a disease. I think no matter what happened in my life, I was going to end up where I did. I grew up in a small town in Connecticut to two parents who loved each other and loved me and told me I was smart and capable. I can’t pinpoint a single traumatic childhood situation that you might think would point me to becoming an addict.
Sure, your tongue helps you chew, swallow, and taste food–then gab about how delicious (or not!) the meal was. But your tongue can also do much more, including providing a snapshot of your overall health.
Symptoms of many chronic and acute illnesses can appear on your tongue. In fact, sometimes they’re among the very first signs that something is amiss.
So what’s normal for a tongue? “Pinkish-red–not bright red–with bumps and waves,” says Sally Cram, DDS, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association and a practicing periodontist in Washington, DC.
Anything else could be a sign of one of these health conditions.
Jennifer Aniston Has Lived with This Common Disorder for Years
Jennifer Aniston suffered from this common chronic condition for years without even knowing it. It affected her work, fitness, and beauty routines before she finally got a handle on it.If Jennifer Aniston looks perfectly cheery and bright-eyed in every movie, TV show, or advertisement she’s ever appeared in, you can chalk that up to her being a really good actress, because it turns out she has been suffering from chronic dry eye for literally decades, claiming her true best friend was the little bottle of eye drops she kept with her at all times until her diagnosis.
Oral thrush is common among people with uncontrolled. In fact, it can be the first sign that you have the chronic condition simply because people often see their dentist more regularly than a doctor. Thrush is usually the result of a weakened immune system. Thrush–essentially a fungal and also called oral candidiasis–looks like a heavy, white coating on your tongue, says Cram. Some people describe it as the consistency of cottage cheese.
People with diabetes are also more likely to have dry mouth. “Most folks with diabetes are somewhat dehydrated,” says Ryan Kauffman, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. “The tongue can be kind of shriveled up and lose some of its normal appearance.”
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Decades ago, whenwas an almost-certain killer, the white pasty covering on the tongue of oral thrush could be one of the first, ominous signs of infection.
Like with diabetes, a weakened immune system due to HIV or AIDS makes it hard for you to fight off organisms like yeast that normally co-exist happily in your body.
Red sores on your tongue and elsewhere in your mouth can also be a sign of HIV/AIDS, as can white hairy-looking growths on the sides of your tongue called.
Nowadays, there are many effective treatments for HIV/AIDS, includingand its many consequences.
In, eating gluten triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. Bowel symptoms like , diarrhea, bloating, and pain are the hallmarks, but celiac can also cause you to lose the little hairs that dot the surface of your tongue.
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This is called atrophic glossitis–also known as "bald tongue" or "smooth tongue"–and it can cause taste changes and be painful, says Cram. “When you lose [those] hairs it can be very, very sore. Anything acidic or spicy or containing alcohol can really burn.”
can make your tongue burn or feel dry if vitamins and minerals aren’t being absorbed properly through your small intestine. It can also lead to frequent canker sores on the tongue or other parts of the mouth.
The only way to manage celiac disease is to follow a strictly gluten-free diet.
, another autoimmune disease, can attack many parts of the body, but it often affects the salivary glands and the tear ducts. This results in dry eyes and dry mouth, and dry mouth can lead to oral thrush.
“When you don’t have saliva with its protective enzymes, that fungus living at low levels starts to proliferate,” Cram explains. The signature white spots of thrush may appear, or your tongue may become red and smooth if the little hairs there have disappeared, she says.
Tongue Scraping Is the Secretly Relaxing Ritual You're Gonna Love
Because bad breath often starts there, tongue scraping is typically prescribed by dentists as a treatment for halitosis.What’s the point? The overarching purpose of tongue scraping is to more effectively remove built-up bacteria from the surface of your tongue. Because bad breath often starts there, tongue scraping is typically prescribed by dentists as a treatment for halitosis. According to a study done at the University of Sao Paolo, a tongue scraper was more effective at getting rid of this bacteria than a toothbrush. And proponents also say that tongue scraping keeps your taste buds clear, possibly elevating your palate.
Some people withalso have a burning sensation and cracking of the tongue.
Cancer's probably the last thing you think of when you go for a cleaning, but your dentist could be the front line in detecting head, neck, and oral cancers.
Any bump or sore on your tongue (or elsewhere in your mouth) that lingers longer than two weeks needs to be checked out.
A condition called leukoplakia can produce white patches on your tongue caused by uncontrolled growth of cells in your mouth. Leukoplakia can be harmless, but it can also herald cancer down the line and should be checked.
Dr. Kauffman has seen an increase in one form of oral cancer in particular.
“There’s been a preponderance of HPV-related squamous cell carcinoma of the base portion of the tongue,” he says. “Kids [should be] vaccinated because we’ve seen this huge uptick that’s related to HPV.” Currentfor girls and boys around age 11 or 12; it's also recommended for women and men who weren't vaccinated as preteens up to ages 26 and 21, respectively.
A healthy tongue is pinkish-red in color. A bright red tongue could be a sign of not enough folic acid,, or . Often these deficiencies can be corrected with supplements and/or tweaks to your diet.
This Is the Only 'Spring Cleaning' Diet That's Nutritionist-Approved
The research is clear: Skip the fads and embrace the world's healthiest eating pattern instead. This week alone, I was asked about the Keto diet, the 3 Week Diet and even the Snake Diet, which calls for bingeing and then fasting like, well, a snake! Yup, spring is here. My advice: Skip the fads and follow the Mediterranean diet, which, along with DASH diet, was named the best overall diet in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report. The eating plan has more than 5,000 published research studies to support its effectiveness.
A bright red tongue could also be aor , a rare and usually treatable condition that causes inflammation in some blood vessels, typically among small children.
Don’t automatically freak out if your tongue blares red in the mirror. It could just as easily be from that strawberry smoothie or some too-hot soup that burned. Taste buds grow back!
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Gallery: 15 Foods That Are High in Vitamin B12
- vitamin B12 deficiency, see your doctor.) But most often you will be on your way to a B12-rich diet if you eat at least some of these 15 foods. " role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-1-of-16-p-for-a-healthy-body-youve-got-to-get-your-vitamin-bs-and-although-its-pretty-easy-to-_515471_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="For a healthy body, you've got to get your vitamin Bs. And although it's pretty easy to get most B v... - Getty Images" />
- Seafood Pasta
Vitamin B12: 84.1 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked clams (1,402% of your DV)
Other body benefits: Not only do clams have the highest concentration of vitamin B12 of any food, they’re also filled with. Three ounces of either canned or fresh clams contain 534 mg of potassium, 15% of your DV.
Best ways to eat them: Clams are delicious in pasta dishes or stews, like Cioppino or Manhattan clam chowder. Steam them until the shells crack open, or boil for about five minutes after shells open." role="presentation" src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-2-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-health-com-food-seafood-pasta-seafood-_142960_.jpg?content=1" title="Try this recipe: Seafood Pasta Vitamin B12: 84.1 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked clams (1,402% of your DV)... - Getty Images" />
- Oyster-Crab Bisque
Vitamin B12: 21.84 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked oysters (364% DV)
Other body benefits: Oysters contain morethan any other food—a whopping 32 mg in six raw oysters, 400% of your RDA. The essential mineral supports your immune system by helping fight off colds. Another benefit? Zinc can encourage testosterone production, which may improve libido and help women’s ovaries stay healthy.
Best ways to eat them: Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, and Health's contributing nutrition editor, recommends enjoying oysters as an appetizer or in a seafood stew." role="presentation" src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-3-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-myrecipes-com-recipe-oyster-crab-bisqu_374946_.jpg?content=1" title="Try this recipe: Oyster-Crab Bisque Vitamin B12: 21.84 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked oysters (364% DV) O... - Getty Images" />
- Spinach-Steamed Mussels with Thin Spaghetti
Vitamin B12: 20.4 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked muscles (338% DV)
Other body benefits: In addition to vitamin B12, mussels are also a good source of protein, potassium, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Best ways to eat them: “Steam them as an appetizer, or serve in a seafood stew,” says Sass, who is the author of Slim Down Now ($19;" role="presentation" src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-4-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-recipe-0-10000000521_170944_.jpg?content=1" title="Try this recipe: Spinach-Steamed Mussels with Thin Spaghetti Vitamin B12: 20.4 mcg in 3 ounces of co... - Getty Images" /> ).
- Crab Cakes
Vitamin B12: 10.3 mcg in 3 ounces (171% DV)
Other body benefits: Crab meat contains vitamins A, B, and C, as well as magnesium. And like oysters, it’s loaded with zinc: one can of blue crab meat has 4.7 mg, or 58% of your RDA.
Best ways to eat it: Prepare crab cakes as an appetizer, add crabmeat to seafood chowder, or mix into your salad." role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-5-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-recipe-0-50400000113_663427_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: Crab Cakes Vitamin B12: 10.3 mcg in 3 ounces (171% DV) Other body benefits: Crab me... - Getty Images" />
- Fennel-Sardine Spaghetti
Vitamin B12: 7.6 mcg in 3 ounces (126% DV)
Other body benefits: You may be surprised to learn that these little fish are packed with calcium—3 ounces has the same amount as 8 ounces of milk. Sardines also contain vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. If you buy them canned in oil, be sure to rinse before cooking to get rid of excess salt.
Best ways to eat them: “Sardines are great in a marinara sauce over spaghetti squash,” says Sass. To give the sauce a nutritional boost, toss in any leftover veggies you have in the fridge." role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-6-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-myrecipes-com-recipe-fennel-sardine-sp_883461_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: Fennel-Sardine Spaghetti Vitamin B12: 7.6 mcg in 3 ounces (126% DV) Other body bene... - Getty Images" />
- Smoky Nibble
Vitamin B12: 5.4 mcg in 3 ounces of wild rainbow trout (90% DV)
Other body benefits: Fatty fish such as trout are great sources of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain function and fight inflammation.
Best ways to eat it: "Trout is great grilled with a little extra virgin olive oil,” says Sass. “Serve it alongside garlic-sautéed spinach and a baked sweet potato.”" role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-7-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-recipe-0-10000001862_663663_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: Smoky Nibble Vitamin B12: 5.4 mcg in 3 ounces of wild rainbow trout (90% DV) Other ... - Getty Images" />
- Mediterranean Salmon
Vitamin B12: 4.8 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked sockeye salmon (80% DV)
Other body benefits: Like trout, salmon is a rich source of protein and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Also good: One 3-ounce salmon fillet contains more than 100% of your DV of vitamin D.
Best ways to eat it: To maximize salmon’s many health benefits, experts recommend baking it in the oven or grilling it instead of eating it fried, dried, or salted. “I love grilled salmon over a salad with avocado and chickpeas,” says Sass." role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-8-of-16-p-b-try-this-recipe-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-video-0-20807832-00-html-mediter_608839_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: Mediterranean Salmon Vitamin B12: 4.8 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked sockeye salmon (80%... - Getty Images" />
- Tuna and Vegetable Pasta Salad
Vitamin B12: 2.5 mcg in 3 ounces of light, canned tuna fish (42% DV)
Other body benefits: Tuna is loaded with vitamin D (a 3-ounce serving contains about 150 IUs, or 25% DV). Like salmon and trout, it’s also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acids (EPAs) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHAs), which are thought to help boost mood.
Best ways to eat it: When buying it canned, Sass suggests looking for chunk light tuna in water. And if you’re making tuna salad, skip the mayo: “Mix canned tuna with Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and Italian herb seasoning to make a chilled tuna salad,” she says." role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-9-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-recipe-0-50400000133_129496_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: Tuna and Vegetable Pasta Salad Vitamin B12: 2.5 mcg in 3 ounces of light, canned tu... - Getty Images" />
- Fish Shack Sandwiches
Vitamin B12: 1.8 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked haddock (30% DV)
Other body benefits: Though it contains fewer omega-3 fatty acids than oilier fish such as salmon, haddock is still a terrific low-fat protein source. It’s also a good option if you’re concerned about mercury: haddock has lower levels of the chemical than other fish, including tuna, halibut, and cod.
Best ways to eat it: Bake haddock in the oven with simple seasonings, such as lemon and fresh herbs. Or grill the fillets and serve on a bun as a healthier alternative to a burger." role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-10-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-recipe-0-1000000166_386546_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: Fish Shack Sandwiches Vitamin B12: 1.8 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked haddock (30% DV) O... - Getty Images" />
- Steak with Scallion-Ginger Sauce
Vitamin B12: 1.3 mcg in 3 ounces of broiled top loin sirloin (23% DV)
Other body benefits: Beef is another great source of zinc, containing 7 mg in 3 ounces. It’s also packed with protein and the B vitamin riboflavin, which is thought to help alleviate PMS symptoms.
Best ways to eat it: “Keep it lean,” says Sass. “Combine beef with veggies, whole grains, and good fats, such as ginger stir fry with beef over brown rice.” And be mindful not to overdo it: Red meat is high in cholesterol, and eating too much could increase your risk of heart disease." role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-11-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-http-www-health-com-health-recipe-0-50400_610512_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: Steak with Scallion-Ginger Sauce Vitamin B12: 1.3 mcg in 3 ounces of broiled top lo... - Getty Images" />
- 4 Things You Can Make With Greek Yogurt
Vitamin B12: 1.1 mcg in 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt (18% DV)
Other body benefits: Yogurt is a great source of calcium,, and protein. Studies show that eating it regularly could prevent diabetes and prevent high blood pressure. Thanks to plenty of beneficial probiotics, yogurt is also a great digestive aid, balancing the microflora in your gut and easing IBS symptoms.
Best ways to eat it: Sass suggests opting for nonfat or low-fat organic yogurt varieties. “It’s great whipped into smoothies or mixed with oats, fruit, nuts, and herbs, such as fresh mint,” she says." role="presentation" src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-13-of-16-p-b-try-these-recipes-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-video-0-20955195-00-html-4-th_112197_.jpg?content=1" title="Try these recipes: 4 Things You Can Make With Greek Yogurt Vitamin B12: 1.1 mcg in 8 ounces of low-f... - Getty Images" />
- Egg and Avocado Toast
Vitamin B12: .6 mcg in one large hard-boiled egg (10% DV)
Other body benefits: Eggs are a great source of protein and, which is important for helping your body absorb calcium and maintain strong bones.
Best ways to eat it: Hard-boiled, soft-boiled, poached, scrambled—you can’t go wrong. “I love an omelet with veggies and avocado paired with fresh fruit,” says Sass. “Or eggs in a salad with chopped veggies, pesto, and quinoa.” If you’re watching your cholesterol, keep an eye on portion sizes: one egg yolk contains about 60% of your daily allotment of dietary cholesterol." role="presentation" src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-14-of-16-p-b-try-this-recipe-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-video-0-20952771-00-html-egg-an_95001_.jpg?content=1" title="Try this recipe: Egg and Avocado Toast Vitamin B12: .6 mcg in one large hard-boiled egg (10% DV) Oth... - Getty Images" />
- An Amazing 5-Minute Fat-Burning Chicken Recipe
Vitamin B12: .3 mcg in 3 ounces of roasted chicken breast (5% DV)
Other body benefits: Chicken is a lean protein, making it a terrific fat-burning food (it has a high thermogenic effect, meaning your body can burn about 30% of the calories it contains just by digesting it).
Best ways to eat it: There are countless healthy ways to eat chicken, whether you prefer it grilled, roasted, or baked in the oven." role="presentation" data-src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-15-of-16-p-b-try-this-recipe-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-video-0-20802333-00-html-an-ama_641841_.jpg?content=1" src="/img/no_img/content/no_img_content_flip.jpg" lazyload="lazyload" title="Try this recipe: An Amazing 5-Minute Fat-Burning Chicken Recipe Vitamin B12: .3 mcg in 3 ounces of r... - Getty Images" />
- Turkey Bolognese
Vitamin B12: .3 mcg in 3 ounces (5% DV)
Other body benefits: Just one serving of lean turkey has nearly half your RDA of selenium, a trace mineral that bolsters immune function. Bonus: Turkey contains tryptophan, a chemical that may help you get a.
Best ways to eat it: “Oven roasted turkey breast is great on a garden salad with Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes,” says Sass. “Very lean ground turkey can also be cooked in a marinara sauce and served over spaghetti squash.” Opt for white turkey meat (such as the breast) and skip the skin, which contains more saturated fat." role="presentation" src="/upload/images/real/2018/04/10/slide-16-of-16-p-strong-try-this-recipe-strong-a-href-http-www-health-com-health-recipe-0-1000000064_254917_.jpg?content=1" title="Try this recipe: Turkey Bolognese Vitamin B12: .3 mcg in 3 ounces (5% DV) Other body benefits: Just ... - Getty Images" />
Canker sores–not to be confused with, which are caused by a virus–can be a sign of . They can appear on your tongue or other parts of your mouth.
If you have these small, shallow sores, try gargling with warm salt water and avoiding greasy foods in favor of soft and cold picks like yogurt.
Sores and bumps on your tongue can also be from grinding your teeth or biting your tongue. “We see lots of benign masses and ulcerations on the tongue … just from bite trauma,” says Dr. Kauffman.
Ease stress with exercise, yoga, or meditation–and slow down while you’re chewing.
Meet Zsa Zsa, the winner of the World's Ugliest Dog contest .
That tongue! Those teeth!
Your Tongue Color Can Reveal At Least 13 Health Problems
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This Is What Your Tongue Has To Say About Your Health!
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