7 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut and What to Do
by Dr. Eric Snow on Dec 15, 2020
Having an unhealthy digestive system can wreak havoc on other parts of your body, which strives to be a well-running machine. But think about it--your gut influences everything from digestion to your brain and your immune system.. However, if your gut isn’t at its healthiest, there are some distress signals that include the obvious symptoms of bloating, gas, or constipation. However, there are the other--less obvious--signs of concentration, fatigue, and skin problems that give your body signals that it’s time to get on a healthy path.
The telltale signs
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria along with yeast and viruses that live among this bacteria. Collectively, these microorganisms are called your gut microbiome. Although everyone’s microbiome shares some similar characteristics, there are also vast differences.
When the bacteria, yeast, and viruses that live in your gut are in balance, the rest of your body is in harmony too. However, when things go awry, and the bad bacteria are able to take over the good, it can lead to an unhealthy gut, which negatively affects the rest of your body. Here are some of the signs to look for:
- Gas and bloating - Gas is produced as a normal part of the digestion and fermentation process in the gut, however some strains of gut bacteria naturally produce more gas than others. If you have more of these super-gas producing "bad" strains, it could lead to excessive fermentation, trapping gas in the gut and creating bloat.
- Diarrhea - Occasional loose stool affects everyone at some point, but chronic or acute diarrhea can be a sign of bacterial overgrowth or an infection. Diarrhea can also make gut health worse by pushing out the good bacteria in your gut, contributing to even more gut dysbiosis.
- Constipation - Although researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a single underlying cause of constipation, one scientific review points out that functional constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation is connected to gut imbalance. Individuals who suffer from constipation typically have lower levels of certain types of bacteria, which is often why supplementing with probiotic strains can help improve digestion.
- Mood disorder - Your microbiome plays a vital role in your mental health and the way you respond to stress. Although the exact mechanisms aren’t totally clear, there’s evidence that certain hormones that are made in the gut—collectively called gut peptides—control the signaling between your gut and brain. If this hormonal balance is thrown off, it can contribute to anxiety, and other mood disorders.
- Poor concentration - Your gut produces neurotransmitters that are directly connected to mood, thoughts, and other cognitive abilities, like concentration. Research shows that gut dysbiosis can negatively affect learning and memory and contribute to inflammatory reactions in the brain.
- Skin inflammation and acne - Topical skin care products are often recommended for eczema, psoriasis, acne and other inflammatory skin problems--but in many cases--an unhealthy gut is to blame. Your gut is in direct communication with your skin through what’s called the gut-skin axis. It plays a role in skin homeostasis and inflammatory responses that keep your skin clear and healthy. An imbalance in your gut can cause an imbalance in your skin that results in things like acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
- Sugar cravings - The microbes in your gut are really skilled at trying to manipulate you into eating the types of food that feed them and help them grow. But different types of microbes like different foods. For example, yeast thrives on sugar, If your gut contains too much yeast it can lead to intense sugar cravings that ultimately perpetuate the unhealthy gut cycle.
Let’s not forget the potential for weight gain and autoimmune diseases as well. Both of these factors determine if your gut is healthy, which ultimately means your immune system is healthy. If things become imbalanced, there can be immune abnormalities.
What is the cause of gut issues?
One of the main causes of gut problems is diet. While good bacteria thrive on things like fiber and plant foods, bad bacteria and yeast love processed foods and sugar. And when your diet is full of processed foods and sugar--as many Western diets are--the well-fed bad bacteria start to overtake the good. Your diet is so important that it can cause undesirable changes in gut health even in a short period of time.
Other factors that can contribute to gut issues include:
● Chronic stress
● Frequent antibiotic use
● Food intolerances
● Poor sleep
What to do for a healthy gut
Fortunately, there are ways to support your gut and bring it back into balance. For example--
- Clean up your diet
- Supplement properly
- Identify and eliminate your specific triggers
- Move your body regularly through exercise and wellness practices
- Manage your stress levels
- Consider intermittent fasting
If you’re uncomfortable and you actually can sense that something is off, either consult with your physician or adhere to wellness protocols that are sure to eliminate the discomfort.
Chronic digestive complaints--such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea--are all signs of an unhealthy gut, Yet, it’s important to know that imbalances in your gut microbiome can also cause more widespread problems like difficulty concentrating, skin troubles, and more.
Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to help improve your gut health. While diet is often the first line of defense, taking probiotics, reducing stress levels, and exercising regularly can also play a big role in getting your body back to optimal health. The key is to listen, educate yourself on the issue, see your physician, and eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.