Do you have cold hands and feet? Are you armed with a stockade of assorted thermal socks and slippers just to keep your toes from freezing? Do your fingers feel like icicles even when other people in the same room are complaining about how warm it is?
It could be your metabolism!
One of the chief signs of a slow metabolism (aka low thyroid function) is cold hands and feet. You might also notice low basal temperature, dry skin, brittle nails and hair, insomnia, low sex drive, tooth sensitivity and a slew of other symptoms associated with a low metabolic rate.
There seems to be a lot of controversy about what affects the metabolic rate (or to put it simply, how your body uses energy). However, when you're walking around all day with cold hands and feet, you know something isn't right. And all you want is a solution that works.
I know because I used to be one of those girls who keeps an extra blanket at the foot of my bed just for my feet. And after sitting at the computer for twenty minutes I felt like I had the hands of a frozen corpse.
Cold hands and feet used to be a consistent and bothersome problem for me, even in the middle of a hot Alabama summer. As I've learned about improving my metabolic health, my cold hands and feet slowly turned into an occasional nuisance rather than an everyday problem.
But no one enjoys icy extremities, and I had to wonder why the problem still sprang up on occasion. And moreover, was it possible to make it go away?
Got Cold Hands and Feet? Read Eat for Heat
Yeah. That totally reads like it came from a Dr. Seuss book. But, anyway, while I spent the afternoon reading Eat for Heat by Matt Stone, I couldn't help noticing my toes were undeniably chilled. It was puzzling, because it was unusually warm for January, and yet those cold hands and feet were still bugging me!
Luckily, I was reading the right book. Within hours of following the advice in Eat for Heat, my cold hands and feet were toasty warm. I'm not kidding. The difference was pretty much immediate and definitely noticeable.
Eating to Stop Cold Hands and Feet
The funny thing about metabolic health is its ability to change--from year to year, day to day, and even throughout the day. Hormones and other biochemicals certainly vary during the course of our day. What does this mean? Our metabolic needs also change throughout the day.
With this in mind, Eat for Heat offers some practical (though somewhat bizarre from a mainstream view) advice for solving the problem of cold hands and feet--with the side benefit of eliminating other negative symptoms caused by a low metabolic rate. Here's a few tips I learned from Eat for Heat:
1. Biofeedback is critical.
This is number one for a reason. Because metabolic needs do fluctuate throughout the days, weeks, and months, what works for one meal, or one day, or even one month, won't necessary work for every meal, every day for the rest of your life. So pay attention! Notice how your body responds to what you eat, and even when you eat what you eat (if that makes sense). By the way, cold hands and feet are definitely biofeedback.
2. Don't Drink Too Much
Not alcohol, silly (that's another discussion). I mean water. Yes, you can drink too much water. And you can also drink it at the wrong times. This is where biofeedback becomes really important, because mainstream advice is to chug, chug, chug that plain old water until you reach some magical quota every day. Don't get me wrong: dehydration is no good. But gulping water without regards to how your body responds is also not so good. Eat for Heat offers a few handy suggestions for determining how much fluid you really need, as well as when you need that fluid. (Hint: chugging half a gallon of plain water in the morning... probably not helping your metabolism.)
3. Do Eat Some Salt
Here we go against mainstream advice again. Ever wonder why they put saline (salt) solution in hospital IVs? Because salt is essential to our survival! But somehow, even though pumping salt through our veins is supposed to be life-saving, eating salt is supposed to be unhealthy? That just makes no sense. There was a recent study that even attributed low-salt diets to strokes and heart attacks. And it's not the only study that warns against eating too little salt. They're popping up all over the place. Probably because restricting salt lowers the metabolism and then all those nasty diseases of aging start showing up.
4. Eating the Right Foods for Warmth
If you've got cold hands and feet, did you know it might have to do with what you just ate? I didn't. But after reading Eat for Heat, I decided to test this out for myself. Like I said, while I was reading the book, my feet were ice cold. What did I have to lose? So I ate a supposedly "warming" meal, not sure if I should be expecting results right away (if at all). But, wham! It was like my body kicked circulation into high gear. I noticed a difference within 30 minutes, and two hours later my feet were actually warm. Since running the heat, wearing extra socks, and loads of other temporary fixes couldn't even get my feet feeling warm that quickly, I was quite impressed.
5. Timing is Everything
Some people have problems with cold hands and feet in the mornings. For others, it might be mid-afternoon or right before bed. The timing of symptoms (which might be cold hands and feet, but can also include irritability, fatigue, lack of focus, frequent urination, etc.) is important, because this is when you need to bring your metabolism into balance. Eat for Heat provides some examples of what a basic eating/drinking structure might look like for various metabolic states. Matt Stone also seriously encourages you to individualize the ideas so they work for your body and metabolism.
Want to learn more? Find out more about Eat for Heat here.
UPDATE: Some of you wanted to know more specifics about what I did to solve my cold hands and feet, so I wrote a follow-up post that gets into the details. Check it out here: How to Eat to Increase Your Metabolism