When our gut is unhealthy, our body sends signals to us – some obvious and some not as much.
If you listen to your body whisper, you won’t have to hear it scream!
If we don’t recognize and address gut problems over time, it could lead to more severe health problems down the road. (For me, poor gut health eventually led to chronic migraines & autoimmune diseases!)
In this blog post, I’ve gathered up 10 ways we can recognize poor gut health (I suffered from them all!)
Plus, I’ve got my favorite tips for healing the gut naturally. Enjoy….
Understanding Gut Health
Did you know? No two people have the same gut microbiome, and yours is as unique as a fingerprint!
The gut is also known as our ‘second brain’ – and with good reason. Its enteric nervous system constantly communicates with our brains, regulating hormone production, immune function, digestion, metabolism, appetite, mood, and stress responses.
When the perfect balance of these bugs is achieved, our body performs like a champ.
And if not, well…let’s talk about that!
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Let’s take a look at what to watch for and how to start improving your gut health today.
1. Tummy Ache (Gas, Bloating, Diaherra)
That gas you get after a night of Mexican food is a byproduct of the natural fermentation process that takes place in our gut.
While some gut bacteria strains produce more gas than others, it’s completely normal.
However, too many gas-producing strains or imbalances can lead to bloating and pain. (Think foods such as wine, cheese, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha are all made through fermentation).
While these foods are healthy, too much can do a number on our gut.
And…. When our gut bacteria is out of balance, we feel the effects of digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and excessive gas.
At my worst, I couldn’t eat ANYTHING without discomfort… every single meal HURT!
2. Craving Processed Foods & Sugar
Believe it or not, the microbes in our gut influence what we eat – they crave specific foods that feed them and help them grow.
Different types of microbes have unique food preferences too — for example, Bifidobacteria is a fan of dietary fiber, but yeast loves sugar!
And…. Eating a lot of processed foods and refined sugars over time alters the balance of good vs. bad bacteria in our gut, leading to inflammation and other health issues.
(So the next time you crave sugar, remember that it’s not just you — it’s the microbes!)
Another reason to feed your body real, whole foods…
3. Regularity (Pooping Too Much or Too Little)
If you’re racing to the bathroom or backed up for days, both can be red flags of an unhealthy gut.
For example, when you have too much Clostridium difficile, a type of bacteria in your gut that should be limited, it can lead to regularity issues (going too much), and even knock out beneficial bacteria, resulting in even more gut imbalances. (Vicious cycle!)
On the other hand, those who swing towards less-frequent poops and constipation have lower levels of Bifidobacteria, among other types of bacteria that keep things MOVING. (If you know what I mean!)
Bottom line: going too much or too little = imbalanced gut bacteria.
Pro Tip: Supplementing with this probiotic can work wonders for digestion whether you’re going too much or not enough 😀
4. Low Mood & Motivation
Did you know that the gut produces 95% of our “happy chemicals,” like serotonin and dopamine, which are normally associated with the brain?
This is because neurotransmitters in the gut and brain frequently communicate in what’s known as the gut-brain axis.
However, when the gut experiences ongoing distress, it affects the brain as well, leading to depression, mood swings and anxiety.
5. Skin Problems
Before you make that appointment with the dermatologist, take a look at your diet. The gut plays a big role in keeping our skin clear and healthy.
Our skin has its own microbiome, and the bacteria in the gut have a big impact on the balance of bacteria on our skin.
When your gut is out of whack, it can lead to a variety of skin concerns, like acne, eczema, dermatitis, and rosacea.
6. Hormone Imbalances
The link between hormones and gut health is for real.
When we have a healthy gut microbiome, it breaks down and absorbs nutrients, which are essential for producing hormones like estrogen, insulin, and cortisol.
However, poor gut health can disrupt this process, leading to imbalances in hormone levels that can have a range of negative effects on your body and mind.
In fact, studies have shown that imbalances in hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, and thyroid hormones can be directly linked to poor gut health.
Hormones can also influence pain sensitivity and inflammation in the intestine.
And for women, digestive symptoms worsen during different phases of the menstrual cycle. (Have you ever had the ‘period poops’?!)
7. Migraines & Headaches
Migraines and headaches are more common than you think….and similarly to my journey, migraineurs are always on the lookout for ways to improve
And studies have shown that issues with gut flora, such as an overgrowth of bad bacteria, can result in brain inflammation, possibly leading to these ailments.
Improving gut health should be one of the first steps you take to help alleviate or potentially fix discomfort and pain, allowing for a happier and healthier you.
Because aint nobody got time for migraines!
8. Inflammation & Autoimmune Conditions
With approximately 70% of the immune system residing in your gut, any gut imbalance could weaken your immunity and wreak havoc on our body.
Dysbiosis, a disturbance in good and bad bacteria, can compromise your immune system and lead to autoimmune conditions like:
And the list goes on….
So, keeping your gut healthy is key to maintaining strong immunity!
9. Food Intolerances and Sensitivities
Have you ever had some of your favorite foods that could suddenly start causing discomfort?
I have! And if you’re experiencing cramps and bloating, it might be due to a breakdown in the lining of your gut.
That’s right. If your gut wall weakens, it can lead to a condition called a leaky gut, and particles from certain foods (like gluten) can enter your bloodstream and cause inflammation.
When foreign substances enter the body, it triggers an immune response that can make it challenging to digest certain foods.
10. Difficulty Losing Weight
Changes in weight can have several contributing factors, but the bacteria in your gut is one that’s often overlooked.
Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy balance of different bacterial types can help in losing weight since bacteria help break down food and absorb nutrients.
An unhealthy gut can limit your body’s ability to store fat, regulate blood sugar, and respond to hormones that control appetite!
Start Supporting Your Gut
You might be thinking, ‘Damn, I’m suffering from all these issues’ and curious where to start? I’ve been there and am here to help!
Here are a few ways to improve your gut, starting today.
1. Reduce Stress
Stress can totally mess with our gut health, but it’s a normal part of today’s fast-paced world.
Studies demonstrate how high-stress levels can change the composition of our gut bacteria, leading to imbalances and even digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.
We need to find ways to chill out and prioritize self-care.
Sleep, meditation, yoga, or even doing things we love, like hobbies or hanging out with friends, can all help more than you think!
2. Take a Look at Your Diet
Give your gut some love by eating foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics! Probiotics, like those found in sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and fermented veggies, support your gut health and digestion.
To keep them thriving, it’s essential to feed them with prebiotics, like asparagus, onions, leeks, dandelion root, apples, bananas, flaxseed, radishes, cabbage, and berries.
Try a probiotic supplement if you’re not getting enough of these gut-microbiome nourishing foods! Here’s my favorite 🙂
Plus, going gluten-free, dairy-fre, and limiting FODMAPs and sugar can also help. I went on a strict animal-based elimination diet to remove all these triggers and fed my body the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, meat!
Want to check out an animal-based diet for yourself?
Btw, it’s always a great idea to talk to your doctor before trying new supplements or diet regimes, especially if you have health issues or take medications or other supplements.
3. Identify Your Personal Triggers
While there are specific foods known to cause gut imbalances, it’s possible there are other (healthy!) foods that could be causing your symptoms.
So how do you figure that out?
As I mentioned, an elimination diet is a simple method to spot your personal responses to different foods.
Companies also offer at-home testing kits to pinpoint these triggers. Though testing isn’t always 100% accurate, but discovering (at least some!) of your triggers and avoiding them can still do wonders for gut health.
I used 5Strands to identify my personal food triggers and highly recommend them!
Either way, you can start by keeping a food diary and recording your meals; along with any symptoms, you can pinpoint which foods are causing issues.
The Wrap – Signs of an Unhealthy Gut and What to Do?
If you experience digestive issues like gas, bloating, or irregularity, this may indicate a gut imbalance which can impact your health in many ways, including mood, concentration, and skin health.
The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to improve your gut health!
While working towards a healthier gut may seem like a challenging goal, just remember to take it one step at a time!
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