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

The Health Indicators Check in the Records section of the Evergreen Life app asks about signs and symptoms that our Evergreen Life community have confirmed are important indicators of their overall health. Some are obvious signs, whilst others you might be a little surprised by.

In this article, we explore what health indicators are and why they can be important to pay attention to.

Prevention is better than cure

A person with a line of dominoes in front of them. Some of them are red and falling, but the person's hand is stopping the rest falling onto the green dominos to represent the concept of prevention.

It’s well-established that diet and lifestyle choices contribute heavily to many major illnesses including Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s also clear that prevention is better than treatment. One way to prevent disease is to notice and address signs of suboptimal wellness before they progress to illness.

What are health indicators?

A person walking on stepping stones, representing that noticing your health indicators can be the stepping stones towards optimum health.

Health indicators can be positive: signs that might represent good health and wellbeing. But they could also be signs and symptoms of an underlying root cause that, if not addressed, might progress into something more serious.

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.

If it helps – think about health indicators as your body trying to tell you something. It’s an invitation to notice how you’re feeling in your body in the present moment, which can be an entry point to uncovering if there’s anything that can be done to optimise your health and wellbeing.

Signs of suboptimal health to notice

The distinction between good and poor health and wellbeing is fuzzy, especially as we age. The changes are often gradual and mimic ageing. So, it’s hard to tell when the balance shifts from wellbeing to sickness. But there’s an intermediate stage which, although not clearly defined, often includes vague indicators like aches and pains, fatigue, indigestion, sleep disorders, nervousness, distraction, and low mood.

Understanding the Health Indicators Check

A person looking at the Health Indicators Check on their Evergreen Life app.

In our Health Indicators Check, we invite you to notice those areas that people consider important when thinking about their overall health and wellbeing.

The questions are not exhaustive, and a low score doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ill, but it might be a clue that your health and wellbeing are out of balance.

We’re very accustomed to paying attention to signs and symptoms of illness, but we’re less used to preventing it and accessing tools to help us stay well.

Warning in a circle with a green border

However, if you’ve noticed any of the following, we highly recommend getting this checked out by your doctor:

– Any unintentional weight gain or loss

– Persistent unexplained tiredness

– Persistent change in your bowel movements or blood in your stool,

– Memory lapses

– A recurrent feeling of bloating

– New, persistent pain.

If you’ve any concerns, please go to www.nhs.uk to explore further.

How can noticing your health indicators help you take control of your health?

A couple sat by the edge of a river.

Whatever your baseline health, there are benefits to be gained by taking a more proactive role in your personal health and wellbeing.

Your Health Indicators Check includes self-rated questions on aspects of both good health and wellbeing in addition to aspects of suboptimal health. It’s an invitation to broaden your focus to include some signs that you might not have previously considered.

Based on your answers to the Health Indicator Check in the Evergreen Life app, you’ll be offered personalised wellness information, tips and tools that can help you stay well for longer. Often, this will be in the form of recommendations and actions in your Evergreen Life app, relating to your nutrition, happiness and movement.

Taking note of some of your health indicators may help you make positive lifestyle changes that can have a ripple effect in these other areas. For example, changes in nutrition could have a positive impact on health indicators like sleep or energy levels.

Let’s now dive deeper into some of the specific health indicators we ask about in the check.

Diving deeper into specific health indicators

The following are just some of the different areas we ask about in the Health Indicators Check in the Evergreen Life app:

Skin, hair and nails

A person looking at their skin, hair, and nails health indicators in the mirror.

Not only can skin, hair and nails be a useful indicator of suboptimal health but they may also impact how we think and feel about ourselves. For example, changes in your weight, gut microbiome, stress, nutrition, and hydration may all have an impact on skin, hair and nails.

Energy and sleep

A person asleep in bed, representing the energy and sleep health indicators.

Quality sleep and having plenty of energy are important elements of good health. Yet, many of us can find ourselves struggling with one or both and it can quickly become the norm. When things become the norm, we tend to lose sight of how things should be, and so we just accept the status quo without question.

Indigestion, excessive wind and bowel movements

A person's abdomen with their hands in the shape of a heart framing their belly button. This image represents the gut and digestive health health indicators.

We include questions on things like gut and digestive health, which are given much more attention in other countries like Japan and Germany where flat bottomed loos are common for the purpose of noticing and inspecting the quality of their bowel movements. It’s an age old concept as Hippocrates famously said “all disease begins in the gut”.

Your gut contains a complex ecosystem of micro-organisms that carry out many essential functions within our body, so it’s important to understand what more you can do to nourish its balance. You can find out more about gut health in our article on the gut microbiome.

Oral health

A person brushing their teeth, taking care of their oral health which is another health indicator.

We also include a question on oral health based on recent findings which suggest dental infection might be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. You can read more about it in our oral health article.

Keep a record of your health indicators

A person recording their health indicator - dry skin- in the Personal Health Record (PHR) section of their Evergreen Life app.

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

  • Write down your symptoms on paper (e.g. in a journal)

  • Take a photo of what you’ve written

  • If relevant, take a photo of your symptom (e.g. rash on skin)

  • Upload both images to your app in the Documents & Letters section (within the Personal Records area)

  • Add relevant notes and include the date in your entry

  • In the measurements section of Personal Records, you can also enter any markers of change, such as weight or blood pressure, whilst keeping an eye on the actions you’re taking to support this change.

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

You may like to retake the Health Indicators Check if you make changes (typically after 6 months) to see if your score changes within your Evergreen Life app.

Did you know lightbulb icon in a circle with a green border

If you haven’t already, why not take the Health Indicators Check in the Records section of the Evergreen Life app?

Reviewed by:

Anna Keeble MA BA Wellbeing Expert

Dr Claire Marie Thomas MRCGP DFSRH DTMH DipNLP MBChB BMedSci Medical Expert

Halitosis the Multidisciplinary approach

Donimy SS, Lynch C, Ermini F, et al. (2019) Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors. Scientific Advances 5 (doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3333).

Suboptimal health

Bi J, Huang Y, Xiao Y, et al. (2014) Association of lifestyle factors and suboptimal health status: a crosssectional study of Chinese students. BMI Open 4: e005156 (doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005156).

Skin health

Taylor H (2018) Opinion: How our skin reflects our physical and mental wellbeing. IOSH.

Nail health

Marks DH, Penzi LR, Ibler E, et al. (2019) The Medical and Psychosocial Associations of Alopecia: Recognizing Hair Loss as More Than a Cosmetic Concern. Am J Clin Dermatol. 20: 195-200. (doi: 10.1007/s40257-018-0405-2).

Holman H and Lorig K (2004) Patient Self-Management: A Key to Effectiveness and Efficiency in Care of Chronic Disease. Public Health Rep.119: 239-43 (doi: 10.1016/j.phr.2004.04.002).

Self-rated health

Gunasekara FI, Carter K, Blakely T (2012) Comparing self-rated health and self-assessed change in health in a longitudinal survey: Which is more valid? Social Science & Medicine 74: 1117-1124 (doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.11.038).

Bowling A. (2005) Just one question: If one question works, why ask several? J Epidemiol Community Health 59: 342-5. (doi: 10.1136/jech.2004.021204).

International Hub for Quality of Life Research (n.d.) About quality of life and the WHOQOL Group. International Hub for Quality of Life Research.

Picture of Nicky Verity

Nicky Verity

Nicky Verity is a wellbeing researcher at Evergreen Life. A former clinical pharmacist, Nicky is passionate about empowering others to help themselves.