What your tongue says about your health, according to research

Tongues come in all shapes and sizes but the color of your tongue might tell you more about your overall health

Woman sticks her tongue out and covers her eyes
(Image credit: Getty)

Some people like to stick their tongue out when getting their photo taken but other than this the most of us probably don't spend much time analyzing our tongues in the mirror but perhaps we should be. Our tongues can tell us a lot more about our health than you may think.

Often discolor in the tongue can be down to deficiencies in the body and might just mean you need to rebuild your health by taking things like the best vitamins for women over 50.

However, the color of your tongue can indicate other things in our bodies that concern our health, especially since it is a mirror of our digestive system. The ancient Indian medicine system Ayurveda teaches that the tongue is linked to a number of the body's organs such as the heart kidneys, liver, lungs and stomach. 

Experts from DEJA, home to ancient Ayurvedic herbs & rituals for modern times, say that our bodies use enzymes in our saliva to break down food and when we are at our healthiest your body will begin digesting as soon you begin to eat.

Problems can occur if there is excess buildup on your tongue, blocking your tastebuds, therefore, making it harder for your mouth's receptors to let the brain know to release enzymes. This meddles with the first stage of digestion.

The DEJA team say that tongue color can signal if imbalances are present in the body.

If your tongue appears grey, black, or brown there could be a Vata imbalance A Vata imbalance impacts the nervous system and affects the ability of the digestive system to remove waste from the body. Warm and spicy foods can help to balance out the cool properties of Vata.

If it looks yellow, orange, red, green Pitta toxins may be present. An increase in hot temperatures can increase the volume of pitta toxins in your body, which can settle in the tissues and cause imbalances. Giving spice a miss and instead consuming foods like coconut, watermelon & avocado has been recommended.

You may find your tongue shows a thick white color which could mean your Kapha is off balance. This can upset your digestive system making you feel bloated and could lead to a loss of appetite. DEJA advise cooking with warming spices to aid digestion.

More recent scientific studies also suggest that your tongue can indicate health problems. This 2020 study found that microorganisms on the tongue could help doctors diagnose heart failure among patients. 

Dr Tianhui Yuan, the study author said, "The tongues of patients with chronic heart failure look totally different to those of healthy people," he added, "Normal tongues are pale red with a pale white coating. Heart failure patients have a redder tongue with a yellow coating and the appearance changes as the disease becomes more advanced."

Don't feel alarmed if you look at your tongue and think the color perhaps aligns with certain health problems. 

As mentioned above, your tongue is greatly interlinked with your gut and reading up on how to eat healthily could be a great starting point for protecting your overall health and avoiding serious disease. You are always best consulting a doctor if you are concerned about your health.

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.