50 Signs You’re Healthy from Every Type of Doctor
Not everyone has an apple a day, so how do you know if you’re healthy enough to keep the doctor away? We asked medical professionals of all stripes—dermatologists, GPs, dentists, surgeons, psychologists, nutritionists—their top indicators of good health. Here are their 50 gold-star seals of sound, strong health.
If you’re a woman, your menstrual cycle is regular
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“Regular menstrual cycles (intervals of 27 to 35 days) are a sign of reproductive health. Regular cycles suggest normal ovulation, and that reflects balanced hormone levels from the brain down to the ovaries. Women who are unhealthy because they’re overweight or underweight tend to have more erratic or even absent periods; the brain shuts down ovarian function and ovulation doesn’t happen or happens unpredictably.” —Janet Choi, MD, reproductive endocrinologist, CCRM-New York. To make sure you’ve got the best information for your reproductive health, these are the 22 health myths gynecologists want you to ignore.
You have thick hair and strong nails
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“Thick abundant hair and firm, fast growing nails tend to be a sign of good health. The opposite, thinning hair, brittle or cracked nails, are often a sign of marked nutritional deficiencies such as lack of iron, Vitamin D, and other key vitamins.” —Arielle Levitan MD, founder of Vous Vitamin, LLC. There’s plenty you can do to take charge of your well-being, so here are 16 medical facts every doctor and nurse wants you to know.
You tend to have a lot of energy
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“If you spring out of bed each morning, ready to hit the gym and face the day, you are likely doing pretty well. Many illnesses and vitamin deficiencies can leave you sluggish, lacking energy and fatigued.” —Arielle Levitan MD, founder, Vous Vitamin, LLC
You can deal with your emotions and others’ emotions
“We’ve all got needs—for connection, nurturing, respect, autonomy, to name just a few—and being able to recognize, express, and pursue these creates better relationships and a happier life. Healthy people also try to understand and meet the emotional needs of others. They’re curious and attentive to how others feel. When they do something that’s hurtful, they make amends and they make changes.” —Holly Brown, marriage and family therapist. For more insight into emotional health, learn the 22 secrets your therapist won’t tell you.
You don’t get many headaches, and they don’t last long
“Headaches—we all get them. They are the result of stress, or tense musculature, and are normal. In a healthy person, they pass in time and do not linger. An occasional migraine or other headache is not uncommon, but if medications no longer work, and other medical causes have been ruled out, you may benefit by exploring other options such as Botox, or even surgery, depending on the origin or type of headache.” —Matthew Kaufman, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Co-Director of the Center for Treatment of Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. While a headache isn’t a condition that’s immediately apparent, these are the 11 things your doctor knows about your health just from looking at you.
You breathe well, even when you’re sick
“Breathing well is definitely something people take for granted. Until it becomes more difficult, that is. When a cold sets in, a healthy person will feel congested in the nose, head, or chest. In seven or so days that should ease. If it does not, there may be some abnormalities in the nasal passages that can be resolved with a functional nasal surgery (which may be combined with rhinoplasty/nose job).” —Matthew Kaufman, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Co-Director of the Center for Treatment of Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
Your circulation is good
“With good circulation, you might occasionally have an arm or leg fall asleep and get that ‘pins and needles’ feeling which clears up fairly quickly. It may occur with sitting or lying in an odd position. However, if tingling, numbness, or weakness endures, it may signal compression of a nerve—often called a pinched nerve. Prolonged symptoms should not be ignored, since they may indicate a problem which requires a variety of surgical solutions.” —Matthew Kaufman, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Co-Director of the Center for Treatment of Paralysis and Reconstructive Nerve Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. If you think surgery could be in your future, you will want to know 50 things your surgeon won’t tell you.
You have fresh breath
“The smell of your breath is a large clue into your overall health, since much of your immune function takes place in the gut. Fresh breath is a good indication that your gut health is balanced. For example, overly fruity smelling breath can be an indication of diabetes, foul smelling breath can be associated with reflux, a fishy smell could mean kidney failure, a sour mouth can be a sign of sleep apnea.” —David Borenstein, MD, founder of Manhattan Integrative Medicine in New York
You don’t have an afternoon crash every day
“The goal is to feel energized when you wake up in the morning, and maintain a good stable energy level all day. No major crashes demonstrates a healthy adrenal function, and stable blood sugar levels.” —David Borenstein, MD, founder of Manhattan Integrative Medicine in New York. If you find yourself yawning around 3 o’clock, try these 18 ways to beat an afternoon slump.
Your skin looks healthy
“The skin is in many respects the largest organ of the human body. The state of skin of the face and the neck not only reflects the person’s genetic characteristics and health, but also reflects the impact of environmental factors. The color of skin should be well vascularized and somewhat pink and even toned.” —Fred G. Fedok, MD, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS)
Your face is full-looking
“The fullness or roundness of the facial soft tissues is generally a youthful and healthy sign. In contrast, in illness, dehydration, and undernourishment, the skin can lose its natural vigor and look sunken and sagging.” —Fred G. Fedok, MD, President, AAFPRS
Your eyes are clear
“As facial plastic surgeons, we are always noticing minute details about a person’s face. We spend considerable time speaking to patients, making eye contact and watching the movement of their facial muscles. The eyes can reveal many things about the general health and psychological state about an individual—whether they are well rested or tired, bright and energetic, or sad and depressed. The eyes may be white and clear or bloodshot or yellow, indicating the possibility of minor or serious illness. The animation of one’s face while answering questions may similarly reflect aspects of their physical and well as psychological health.” —Fred G. Fedok, MD, President, AAFPRS. Want to find out more about what your eyes are communicating? Learn the 13 things your eye doctor won’t tell you.
Your body fat percentage is normal
“In all my years of working as a registered dietitian, the most important sign of daily health is body fat percentage. Directionally, as your body fat gets higher, it means your body is accumulating more fat tissue than lean tissue, such as muscle. Body fat impacts your metabolism, blood sugar balance, movement, momentum, and emotional well-being. Specifically, movement and momentum—the higher your body weight and body fat, the less you’re able to move spontaneously, such as a quick run, walking up the stairs, or any form of physical activity.” —Robert Wildman, PhD, Chief Protein Officer for Premier Protein.
You don’t break out with acne
“Acne in adult women can be a sign of hormonal abnormalities. It may be also associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome—PCOS—which is a condition caused by abnormal hormonal production by ovaries with symptoms of acne, hirsutism, [heavy hair growth] alopecia, [hair loss] irregular periods, and infertility. Adult women with acne and other symptoms of PCOS may need a hormonal workup.” —Gary Goldenberg, dermatologist and co-founder of Goldenberg Dermatology
You make time to be active
“There’s just no substitute for physical activity. It benefits every part of your body. It burns off excess body fat, improves circulation to your muscles and extremities, lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol, increases oxygen to all the muscles and organs, helps you sleep better, and it even improves your regularity. Your heart is a muscle. It doesn’t need to be beefy, just strong. Exercise and physical activity do all of that.” —Keith Ayoob, RD, diet and lifestyle nutritionist and dietitian. Get some more expert advice by reading about 45 things that heart doctors do to protect their own hearts.
You pay attention to what you eat
“Do you eat enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dietary calcium sources, especially dairy foods? It’s my quick screening for looking at the quality of someone’s diet. Get enough of these foods and I can almost guarantee your diet is good. Why? Because these are the foods most people are likely to be missing. Only about 3 percent of the population gets enough of them.” —Keith Ayoob, RD, diet and lifestyle nutritionist and dietitian
For women: You have vaginal discharge
“While it may be annoying, vaginal discharge can be normal. Pay attention to the color and odor. Foul smelling and discolored (thick green) discharge can be a sign of an infection; clearish discharge is normal. Vaginal discharge can change throughout the menstrual cycle (based on hormone levels) but it will almost always be there!” —Jaime M Knopman, MD, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist at CCRM of New York. Just like talking about discharge, other issues about your reproductive health may not be easy to bring up, but these are 18 embarrassing questions you need to ask your gyno.
For women: You have cramps, but they’re manageable
“Periods are not fun, period! But they shouldn’t be so painful that you can’t work, you can’t walk, and you can barely talk. With some over-the-counter pain medications (aka Advil or Tylenol), you should be able to function. Severe debilitating pain can be a sign of an inflammatory process like endometriosis. This can have an impact on your fertility and so it is not something to be ignored.” —Jaime M Knopman, MD, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist at CCRM of NY
You give yourself breaks
“With everything the average American has on his or her plate these days, it’s easy to burn out. Sometimes we get so focused on checking off the items on our to-do list, we forget to check in with ourselves and don’t even realize when our stress levels are rising. Suddenly, you are stressed out, sick, or worst of all, in the hospital and you don’t even know how it got so bad. Those that regularly take time out for themselves are the ones that stay healthy.” —Sarah Schewitz, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist. Not sure if you’re overwhelmed? Learn the 7 signs you’re heading for work burnout.
You’re able to set boundaries
“Setting healthy boundaries is about knowing when to say no and when to take care of your needs before anyone else’s. It may seem selfish at first, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Setting boundaries is an important part of staying healthy and happy and avoiding feeling resentful or burned out.” —Sarah Schewitz, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist
You have healthy gums
“One sign that your body is doing well is healthy gum tissue. That means your gums are not inflamed, they don’t bleed easily, and they have normal texture and color. Normal gum tissue is firm, pyramidal between teeth, and uniformly follows the curved edge of the tooth.” —Andrew Fried, DMD, MSD, periodontist. Daily habits like brushing your teeth are the cornerstone of good health, but make sure you’re not also engaging in 15 everyday habits that are secretly ruining your health.
You eat regular meals
“This suggests you’re well-nourished and makes it much more likely that you eat in a balanced way because you’re not reacting to extremes of hunger or grabbing food mindlessly. Eating regular meals also prevents gastrointestinal symptoms that result from chaotic eating.” —Adina Pearson, RD
You feel satisfied when you eat
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“Many people are overly concerned with controlling their eating, restricting portions, or otherwise shrinking their meals. This leaves them unsatisfied and more prone to grazing or overeating later in the day or in the week. Satisfaction with meals suggests you’re good at including enjoyable foods and people who eat foods they enjoy tend to have a healthier relationship with food and to seek out variety over time.” —Adina Pearson, RD. For more expert advice about how that works in practice, here’s what nutritionists eat to maintain their weight.
You say what’s on your mind
“Someone who is willing to talk about issues that are bothering them, instead of bottling them up. This shows trust, assertiveness, and the knowledge that it is not healthy to carry that kind of stress and animosity around. That addressing things right away is the best thing for everyone involved.” —Nikki Martinez, PsyD
You don’t have to be depressed to seek therapy
“Healthy people understand that therapy is not only for people with mental disorders, it is for everyone. We can all use an unbiased third party to talk things through with, and it helps show us that we are capable of coming to smart and healthy resolutions to our problems with the right tools in place.” —Nikki Martinez, PsyD. It’s also good to make sure you know these 50 hospital secrets every patient should know.
Your muscles have definition
“Can you actually see your muscles? Are they firm? They’re not soft and covered with fat? These are signs that you’re healthy. Atrophy—wasting—of muscles is sign of poor muscle health. Also, look for asymmetry in your arms and legs: If one leg looks bigger than the other in the thigh, for instance, it could be a sign that you’re overcompensating on one side due to an undiagnosed condition. You might have a nerve problem with the smaller side.” —Claudette Lajam, MD, orthopedic surgeon, NYU Langone Medical Center
You can do everyday tasks with ease
“Are you able to walk up a hill without stopping? Can you carry a bag of groceries? Can you touch your toes? Can you balance on one foot without holding onto something? Can you squat all the way down and stand back up without holding on to anything? If your answer is ‘yes’—then these are all healthy signs!” —Claudette Lajam, MD, orthopedic surgeon, NYU Langone Medical Center
You’re not obsessed about food
“Although I certainly want people to be mindful and proactive with their food, being mentally consumed can be a sign of restrictive or disordered eating. When you’re confident in your choices and eating the correct quantity, your brain can take a rest rather than being so focused.” —Tara Coleman, clinical nutritionist. A healthy relationship with food is the best place to start, and then you can incorporate these 37 tips nutritionists won’t tell you for free.
You poop at least once a day
“What you put into your body is important, but so is what comes out! Not having a daily bowel movement could be a sign of something that is off in your digestive process. Examples could be a deficiency in magnesium, not properly digesting or absorbing nutrients, or even emotional stress.” —Tara Coleman, clinical nutritionist. Then find out more about what your bathroom habits can reveal about your health.
You aren’t short of breath during normal activity
“Your airways are basically a lot of pipes leading to a bunch of balloons—your lungs—stacked on top of one another. Everyone has blown up a balloon and if you can imagine the lining of a balloon, this is where ‘air’ and ‘blood’ interact with one another. Air has oxygen which our cells in our body use to make energy. If the balloons ‘pop’ we call that emphysema which is essentially dead lung. As you can imagine, the fewer balloons you have, the more opportunity you have to be short of breath.” —Cedric Rutland, MD, pulmonary specialist
You live and seek a balanced lifestyle
“This is a sign of health because it means you won’t neglect important aspects of your life, such as your loved ones, your fitness, or your emotional health. Balance allows you to function and live in a more complete way.” —Yvonne Thomas, PhD, psychologist. If you’re feeling out of balance, however, here are 9 signs you might need a therapist.
You identify negative patterns
“Being self-aware to catch, understand, and interrupt negative patterns is a sign that someone is healthy. The ability to break a negative cycle means you can let go of old baggage and unresolved issues and lead a freer, lower stress life.” —Yvonne Thomas, PhD, psychologist
You can ask for help when you need it
“This is a sign of health because it demonstrates that the person knows that vulnerability can actually be a sign of strength. Asking for help will lead to finding solutions, rather than letting your situation get worse because self-pride or fear stopped you from getting assistance.” —Yvonne Thomas, PhD, psychologist
Your joints don’t hurt when you move
Joint, bone, and muscle health is essential to an active lifestyle. What you want is pain-free motion. Another sign of a healthy joint is a full range of motion. Joints that do not move through their full motion are signaling a problem. We tell our athletes that are recovering from injury that they may return to sport when they have no pain and their motion is normal.” —Jeffrey R. Carlson, MD, President of the Orthopaedic and Spine Center. For more information about the best ways to treat pain, find out the 24 secrets your pain doctor won’t tell you.
Your urine is clear
“The simplest marker for your kidney’s health is your urine. The kidneys keep the electrolytes in the body in balance by filtering out excess and waste. Clear urine is a good sign that you are well hydrated. Foamy urine or blood in the urine indicates damage to the kidneys and should prompt a visit to your doctor.” —Dara Huang, MD, kidney specialist, founder of New York Culinary Medicine
Your tongue is pink
“I look for a light red or pinkish hue with a thin white coat and no tooth-marking or discoloration. Any other colors or coatings can be an indication that you have a dysfunction or imbalance in your body. It will show up in your tongue.” —Amy Landolt, licensed acupuncturist. Now learn the 16 signs you’re not as healthy as you think.
You recover quickly from surgery
“As a breast cancer surgeon, I notice that the ability for a patient to recover post-op is often indicative of her overall health and how she will respond to upcoming treatments. When the body experiences trauma, or wounds created from surgery, we are equipped with the amazing ability to self-heal. A healthy person’s body rushes white blood cells and neutrophils to the surgical site to prevent infection, and monocytes to control inflammation. When I evaluate a patient at a post-operative appointment, if I see that she is healing quickly I know that she will fair will with any chemotherapy or radiation treatments.” —June Lee, MD, Director, Breast Program at Catholic Health Services. That said, keep things in perspective with these 29 things you think cause cancer but are actually harmless.
You think realistically
“Is your thinking realistic, constructive, and does it help you? Unhealthy examples include thinking, ‘I am going to fail’ or ‘I am a failure.’ A healthy person knows feelings aren’t facts, and that they must weigh the evidence. You can perform a healthy interrogation of the facts to reach the truth.” —Bill Prasad, counselor. Get more insight into positive thinking with 15 tips life coaches won’t tell you for free.
Your skin bounces back when you pinch it
“The kidneys are responsible for water balance in the body. Quick tests of skin turgor is helpful. Pinch the skin on the top of your hand or press the skin of the ankles or calves: It should return back to normal quickly. ‘Skin tenting’ or a delayed bounce back is a sign of dehydration. Conversely, a prolonged depression of the lower legs is a physical sign of fluid overload from kidney, heart or liver problems.” —Dara Huang, MD, kidney specialist, founder of New York Culinary Medicine
You can get up from sitting cross-legged without help
“This simple exercise was developed to assess strength and flexibility and to predict likelihood of early death. Called the sitting-rising test, it involves sitting down with your legs crossed and standing full upright without using any equipment. The physicians who developed this test found that people who couldn’t stand from a seated position were five times more likely to die in the next decade than people who could complete the test. However we don’t use this test as a predictor of early death, but as a measurement of a patient’s power, flexibility and balance. If you can’t complete the test, you may be more likely to be injured in a fall or suffer other medical problems. Being able to complete the test is a great sign that you are in good physical shape.” —Liam Champion, physical therapist at Physiwiz. Interested in more quick ways to gauge your physical health? Try these 10 other everyday fitness tests too.
You love music
“Musical exposure, training, and performance have been shown to be beneficial at all life stages of life. From cognitive development in babies to enhancing brain function in adults to fighting cognitive decline in dementia patients.” —Ryan Neinstein, MD, plastic surgeon. On the flip side, other activities aren’t so great for your brain health. Find out the 15 habits you never knew were aging your brain.
You usually get a restful night’s sleep
“This is one of the most important signs of your health. It reflects normal blood pressure, absence of obstructive breathing, and absence of gastroesophageal reflux disorder—GERD. It also indicates normal breathing at night which is crucial for long-term health.” —Murray Grossan MD, otolaryngologist, Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
You might get allergies, but they’re manageable
“A healthy person might have seasonal allergies, but they can be controlled with Zyrtec or other antihistamines. At least 20 percent of people have such allergies, and if they are okay with simple medication, this indicates good health, and an immune system that’s working well.” —Murray Grossan MD, otolaryngologist, Cedars Sinai Medical Center. There’s plenty of misinformation about allergies out there, so be sure you know the 30 worst pieces of advice allergy doctors have heard.
You only get about one cold a year
“This reflects a normal immune system. In a bad year you might get a couple of colds, but more than that might indicate sinus disease, or a respiratory allergy.” —Murray Grossan MD, otolaryngologist, Cedars Sinai Medical Center
You don’t have the TV up really loud
“That means no one else objects to it being too loud. Many seniors have hearing loss and the family objects to how loud the TV is. If a senior plays TV at a comfortable volume for younger family, this indicates good hearing.” —Murray Grossan MD, otolaryngologist, Cedars Sinai Medical Center. To gauge for yourself, learn about the 5 signs of hearing loss everyone should know.
You don’t mind spice in your food
“A healthy person will enjoy cooking and adding spices. Why? This indicates a normal sense of smell and taste. People who have lost smell sense, do not ‘enjoy’ food or cooking.” —Murray Grossan MD, otolaryngologist, Cedars Sinai Medical Center
You’re able to break up with friends when it’s time
“One sign of being psychologically healthy is that you’re able to separate from bad friendships. Maybe you’ve heard the saying ‘a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ when it comes to friendship. Not all relationships are permanent and that’s not a bad thing. Knowing when a friendship is no longer healthy or appropriate and letting it drift away is actually a sign of growth.” —Maelisa Hall, PsyD, psychologist
You have a lot of saliva
“Saliva is responsible for naturally balancing the PH level in your mouth and cleaning your teeth. When you make a lot of saliva, you are less likely to suffer from tooth decay.” —Brent Rusnak, DDS, dentist. To find out more about your oral health, read about the 37 secrets your dentist won’t tell you.
Your jaw doesn’t click when you open wide
“Your temporomandibular joint—the hinge in your jaw—shouldn’t click or pop upon opening. (To find the joint, feel the bump in front of your ear and open and close your mouth.) If you have clicking or popping in the joint, I would ask you about migraines or frequent headaches. Even though you may not currently have them, you are predisposed to having them in the future. When the jaw is in a posterior position, it can lead to compression of the joint and compression of the muscles. By bringing the jaw forward and decompressing it, you can get relief from migraines, headaches, and an overall better quality of life. See a dentist trained in this type of dentistry, and you can get the help you need.” —Nancy E. Gill, DDS, dentist
The skin around your eyes and hands isn’t too thin
“The appearance and feel of skin around the periocular (around the eyes) and dorsal areas (back of hands) are a tell-tale sign of the state of your general health. These are the thinnest skin areas, and therefore, the first to show signs of atrophy (thinning) and photo damage (freckles). Healthy skin will look bright, without prominent blood vessels or mottled color.” —Bobby Buka, dermatologist. Unhealthy skin is often an early sign that something’s wrong with our health. Here are the 9 surprising diseases dermatologists find first.
Your teeth are strong
“Strong teeth also show signs of a healthy body. If you are stressed out, anxious or depressed, you may be at higher risk for poor oral health, clenching or grinding teeth and other ailments.” —Lana Rozenberg, DDS, cosmetic dentist
Your blood pressure is 119/79 or lower
“Blood pressure is easy to measure and says a great deal about the health of a person’s heart and arteries. If blood pressure is high, it can be brought under good control with a healthy lifestyle and if needed, medications.” —Joe Young, MD, clinical hypertension lead with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. Now that you’ve got the doctors’ perspective, find out the 75 secrets nurses won’t tell you.