What’s your body trying to tell you? How lesser known indicators can indicate how well you are

Written by
Evergreen Life

Your Health Indicators check asks about some less commonly noticed signs and symptoms that our users have told us are important indicators of their overall health. The score has been developed and scored according to Evergreen Life app users’ feedback.

Prevention is better than cure

It’s well-established that diet contributes heavily to many major illnesses including Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s also clear that prevention is better than medication. And one way to prevent disease is to notice and address signs of sub-optimal wellness before they progress to illness.

What are health indicators?

We invite you to notice those areas that people consider important when thinking about their overall health and wellbeing.

Signs and symptoms that might show up early before they progress to something more serious that the doctor might diagnose and treat.

For example; you might worry about your skin, bad breath or being overly gassy when you’re out at a social event, but these physical symptoms could be more than surface-level. They can communicate a great deal about your wellbeing.  

We’re very accustomed to paying attention to symptoms that might be indications of illness or something going wrong, but we rarely focus our attention on those signs that might represent good health and wellbeing.  

People spend large amounts of their disposable income on looking better but it’s often without regard to what’s going on the inside. In an attempt to identify those areas that are important to people, we conducted a survey amongst Evergreen Life app users.

Understanding your Health Indicators check

Your Health Indicators check has been created thanks to Evergreen Life user feedback from the first version of the survey.

In the first version of this survey, we asked some well-established powerful questions from the scientific literature about health. We also combined questions that we know to be important contributors to wellbeing and how people feel about themselves, for example, in relation to their skin, hair and nails. We included a question on dental health based on recent findings which suggest dental infection might be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.  

In the first version, we asked two questions for each sign: one about satisfaction, the second about significance to health. For example, “How satisfied are you with your sleep?” followed by a question asking whether they felt it was important: “Do you feel that sleep is an important indicator of your overall health??”

Based on the results, we ranked the questions according to how important people felt each Health Indicator to be. This helped to inform your score. Before we go through the results, it’s important to note that some symptoms can be a pointer to serious disease.  

If you’ve noticed: 

  •  Any unintentional weight gain or loss, 
  •  Persistent unexplained tiredness,  

We recommend getting it checked out by your doctor.  

If you have any concerns, please go to www.nhs.uk to explore further. You could also try this symptom checker which helps you understand what symptoms might mean.

Feedback from Evergreen Life community

The top five areas that people felt were most important indicators of their overall health were:  

  1. Sleep Satisfaction
  2. Having Enough Energy
  3. Frequency of Bowel Movements
  4. Unintentional Weight Loss or Gain  
  5. Physical Pain  

The Evergreen Life approach

Now that you’ve completed your check, we’ll be responding to your feedback based on areas you said you want to focus on first. We’ll be offering personalised wellbeing coaching strategies, information and tools to help you feel better.  

As you’ve agreed to be a Data Donor, your feedback can also help yourself and the wider Evergreen Life community learn about what works well everyone.  

For many, pursuing a healthier lifestyle brings the difficult challenge of changing old habits and beliefs. In the face of these hurdles, the Evergreen Life app is here to help – providing support and encouragement to empower people to step into their best selves.

Validated questioning in Evergreen Life

The important thing to note – we’re not just asking you any old questions! There are special types of questions that are statistically associated with health outcomes.

These questions can then be put together in validated questionnaires which can be looked at as precision measurement instruments. A great deal of care goes into their development and they measure subjective health and they shouldn’t be altered.

Beyond doing things that have been done before, we want to improve the way things that are currently done. There’s very little time in GP and hospital schedules to adequately ask for feedback from patients. Our healthcare system has only recently begun to shift its focus towards wellness rather than sickness. There’s a lot to learn and that’s where the Evergreen Life community comes in.

If we can use tried and trusted self-measurement questions for our own personal use and for sharing, we can use them as sign-posts that we’re on the right track towards improvement. We can also use this information in addition to all the other pieces of health information (blood tests, fitness data, food apps, microbiome data).  

Health Indicators: a new approach

A validated Health Indicator check hasn’t been done before. Therefore, we can’t use validated questionnaires but the questions we’ve asked and scores are ranked based on feedback from the Evergreen Life community - important indicators to people of their overall health.  

It’s a starting point and we hope that useful correlations and questions will emerge with which to measure wellness which we might over time validate.

You may like to retake the test after you’ve made changes (typically after 4 weeks) to see if your score changes within your Evergreen Life app.

Self-Rated Health and Global Self-Rated Health

An introduction to the concept of powerful questions

Following on from the concept of personal (subjective) or self-rated wellbeing, it’s been known for a very long time that certain questions are very powerful. One such powerful question (asked in slightly different ways) has been shown quite accurately to predict how long we are likely to live. That question is the Global Self-Rated Health question:

In general, how would you rate your health?

Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

Even as early as 1997, a review paper of 27 studies shows impressively consistently that Global Self-Rated Health is an independent predictor of mortality in nearly all studies.

This question is a recognition that what a person thinks and feels is almost the most important thing to notice. The good news is that with practice, we can learn to think with new eyes in ways that serve us better regardless of our starting point.  

Self-assessing whether your health has changed over time can also be more predictive of hospitalisation. For example, question two:

Compared with 12 months ago would you say that your overall health is…

Much better, A little better, About the same, A little worse, Much worse

Keep a record

In your Evergreen Life app, you can create a record of any health indicators that are important to you. This can help you to form a more complete picture of your health over time and help improve your health indicator. To start your record:

  • Write down your symptoms on paper (e.g. in a journal)
  • Take a photo of the latest journal entry
  • Take a photo showing your health indicators if applicable (e.g. your nails)
  • Upload both images to your app in the documents & letters section
  • Add relevant notes and include the date in your entry  

That’s it! Now you’ll have made a start to taking control of your health – and hopefully improving some of your health indicators.  

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