7 Signs of An Unhealthy Gut

digestion digestive health May 16, 2024
Signs of an unhealthy gut

In a society where wellness trends and "gut health" are buzzwords on everyone's lips, it's easy to overlook the subtle but significant signals our bodies send us when things aren't quite right within. 

We've all experienced those moments of discomfort, bloating, or inexplicable fatigue that we brush off as normal occurrences in our hectic lives. But what if these seemingly minor nuisances are actually our body's way of shouting for attention, signaling deeper issues lurking within our gut? 

Understanding the seven signs of an unhealthy gut and the intricacies of this often neglected aspect of health could be your key to unlocking relief once and for all.

What is the gut microbiome? 

In the human gut, trillions of microorganisms belong to thousands of different species, forming a complex ecosystem. This microbiome interacts with the body in numerous ways, influencing nutrient absorption, producing vitamins, metabolizing drugs, and protecting against pathogens.

The balance of the gut microbiome is extremely sensitive and will sway by factors such as diet, lifestyle, age, genetics, and antibiotic use. 

Why is your gut important?

At its core, your gut is the “engine” of digestion and nutrient absorption, breaking down food into essential components that fuel the body's functions and support growth and maintenance. 

Beyond digestion, the gut houses a significant portion of the body's immune system, actively defending against pathogens and harmful substances that enter the body through food and drink. The stronger your gut is, the stronger your immune system becomes, and you experience illness less often. 

How does the gut affect your health?

Gut health is not solely about digestion or immunity. Your gut's health directly shapes holistic well-being by influencing your mental and emotional health as well, thanks to the gut-brain axis

Your gut affects other areas of your health:

  1. The gut barrier acts like a shield, protecting us from harmful substances, like toxins and bad bacteria, we might accidentally eat.
  2. Our gut also makes specific vitamins to stay healthy and energized.
  3. It helps us get rid of waste from our bodies.
  4. It could play a part in keeping our hearts healthy and reducing the risk of certain cancers.
  5. Plus, having a happy gut could help us live longer and stay healthier as we age.

So, the gut is more than a simple digestive organ – it is a dynamic and essential hub for whole-body health and is smart enough to give you signs of an unhealthy gut. Therefore, nurturing a healthy gut ecosystem through lifestyle choices, dietary habits, stress management, and professional support will positively affect your own natural healing.

7 Signs of An Unhealthy Gut

Recognizing the signs of an unhealthy gut is crucial for reducing your trips to the doctor’s office and finding real answers to your symptoms. When the gut is out of balance, it can manifest in various ways beyond digestive discomfort. These common signs may indicate underlying issues within the gut microbiome or disruptions in gut function. 

1. Upset stomach

Digestive discomforts such as diarrhea, constipation, or the challenging symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) signal that your gut might need extra attention and care.

In a well-balanced gut, the process of digesting food and eliminating waste flows smoothly, resulting in fewer unpleasant symptoms. Put simply, if you frequently experience gas, bloating, acid reflux or heartburn, loose stools, or struggle with infrequent bowel movements, commonly known as constipation, your gut might not be functioning optimally. 

2. You’re sick all the time

Do you feel like you're constantly under the weather, or have you found yourself reaching for antibiotics at least once or multiple times in the past year? 

While antibiotics are often necessary to fight infections, they can wreak havoc on your gut microbiome. Even a single course can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria, leading to unwanted side effects like diarrhea. And if you were exposed to antibiotics during infancy or childhood, the impact can be even more significant.

Antibiotics don't discriminate – they wipe out both good and bad bacteria, compromising your gut health and increasing your vulnerability to illness.

3. Unintentional weight changes

Unintentional weight fluctuations can often indicate underlying issues within the gut. When your gut isn't operating at its best, it will hinder the efficient absorption of essential nutrients from the foods you consume. This can lead to imbalances in your body's nutrient levels, potentially resulting in unanticipated weight changes and even nutritional deficiencies.

If you've experienced shifts in your weight that seem unrelated to changes in your diet or activity level, consider how your gut health could play a role in these fluctuations.

4. A high-sugar diet

Cravings for sugar and a penchant for processed foods can take a toll on the health of your gut. Consuming a diet rich in processed foods and loaded with added sugars can disrupt the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome, diminishing its diversity and overall health.

Studies have shown that excessive sugar intake is linked to heightened inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is a precursor to various health conditions, including the development of chronic diseases such as cancer.

5. Skin irritations

Believe it or not, the health of your skin could be intricately linked to the condition of your gut. The presence and balance of various bacteria in your gut microbiome play a significant role in regulating your body's immune system, which in turn can affect the health of your skin.

Studies have suggested that imbalances in gut bacteria, particularly lower levels of beneficial bacteria, may compromise the body's immune response and contribute to developing or exacerbating skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, acne, and various types of rashes.

6. Autoimmune conditions

Have you ever received a diagnosis or suspected that you might be dealing with an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, celiac disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or others? 

Conditions like leaky gut, when pathogens slip through the gut barrier, and the presence of certain inflammatory bacteria within the gut have been identified as potential contributors to autoimmune diseases.

When your gut isn't feeling its best, it can set off a chain reaction that messes with your body's immune system and, again, sets off inflammation throughout your body. This imbalance isn't just uncomfortable – it could actually ramp up your risk of autoimmune issues. 

7. Food sensitivities

Food sensitivities and intolerances often arise from challenges in digesting certain foods. This differs from a food allergy, where specific foods trigger an immune response. For example, those who are “lactose intolerant” are actually suffering from milk and dairy food sensitivities.

Food sensitivities can stem from various factors, such as a lack of diversity in beneficial gut bacteria, insufficient digestive enzymes, or leaky gut – leading to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Unfortunately, with gut health affecting various bodily functions, these signs are typical of gut health issues, but they're not the only ones you might encounter! Taking note of how you feel after eating and keeping track can shed light on persistent or recurring symptoms and any other cues your body might be sending your way.

Yikes…the signs are resonating…what now?

Realizing the connection between gut health and overall well-being is the first step – especially when symptoms like digestive discomfort, skin issues, autoimmune conditions, and food sensitivities emerge, often rooted in gut microbiome imbalances. So, congratulations are in order! You’ve (hopefully) better understood that connection simply by reading this blog.

While lifestyle shifts such as dietary adjustments can significantly impact your symptoms, identifying the root cause to solve your issues once and for all demands further investigation. 

This is where comprehensive stool testing comes in – work smarter, not harder, right?! A GI Map will offer your healthcare professional crucial data on your gut microbiota makeup, digestive enzyme function, inflammation levels, and more. With these insights, you can work together to get a personalized approach to managing gut health, tackling root issues and cultivating a harmonious gut environment for your body to thrive.

Contact me for a FREE 15-Minute Discovery Call to start your journey to good health.

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