It’s commonly said that the gut is the second brain. The gut is a very complex system, and its health can affect our entire body. The signals that it sends can provide health benefits to the body, or on the contrary, it can even make it feel sick.
Many factors can affect your gut health. From your diet to genetics, all play an essential role in balancing your gut microbiome. When your gut functions correctly, you feel at your best since the bacteria in your gut are in balance. However, when we start to have digestive issues, it might indicate that our gut might not be in its best shape.
In this article, we will learn about seven signs of an unhealthy gut and what we can do to improve it.
Importance Of Good Gut Health
In your intestines, you have bacteria (both good and bad). We say that you have good gut health when there is a balance between them.
Your body’s gut microbiome has particular roles in your body, like producing serotonin, helping digest fiber, and most importantly, it plays a crucial role in your immune system.
An imbalanced gut microbiome can negatively affect your body, like making you gain weight or even affecting your overall health. That is why it’s essential to take care of it.
Symptoms Of An Unhealthy Gut
1. Stomach Discomfort
Stomach discomfort like bloating, stomach pains, gas, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea could be part of an unhealthy gut. When your gut microbiome is balanced, you have fewer gastric problems like the ones mentioned before.
2. Problem Sleeping
If you are constantly tossing and turning at night, the problem might be related to your gut health. An unhealthy gut could lead to insomnia and poor sleep. Serotonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep. Most of the body’s serotonin (95%) is produced by our gut microbiome.
Thus, an unhealthy gut could reduce your serotonin levels, affecting your sleep quality and overall mood, leading to chronic fatigue.
3. Skin Conditions
An unhealthy balance of the gut could lead to a more permeable intestine. This means that more toxins and proteins can escape from the intestines causing harm to other organs of your body.
Increased inflammation led by an unbalanced gut microbiome, and more proteins escaping from the intestine, could lead to skin conditions like eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
4. Poor Digestion
The difficulty of digesting a particular food (food intolerances) can be another common sign that you have an unbalanced gut. With poor quality gut, you might have trouble digesting food that you previously had no problem with. This could lead to having symptoms like bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
The good thing is that once your gut microbiome is healed, you might find yourself having a better tolerance for those foods you previously didn’t.
5. Increased Food Cravings
Research shows that your gut can have some control over your appetite. The production of certain proteins by the gut could increase your appetite levels leading to more food cravings during the day.
The type of bacteria you have in your gut could determine your cravings. Some prefer a diet higher in fat, while others prefer a high sugar or high sodium diet. If you find yourself constantly craving sweets, donuts, or pastries, the reason might be linked to your gut.
6. Constant Migraines
Certain foods can increase your chances of a migraine. For example, wine, chocolate, and high sodium foods are some trigger foods that could lead to a migraine.
A study where people took a probiotics supplement saw a decrease in over 40% of their migraines over an 8-12 week period. While more research needs to be conducted to find the link between them, the evidence shows promising results.
7. Constantly Getting Sick
There is a correlation between a good gut microbiome and your immune system. It’s said that our gut microbiome regulates over 70% of the immune system. Thus, if you are constantly getting sick, the composition of the bacteria in your intestines might not be correct.
Ways To Improve Your Gut Health
1. Choose Low FODMAP Foods
A low FODMAP diet is the best option to help improve digestion for those with constant food intolerances. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. They are fermentable carbs that your gut uses and produces gas and bloating once they reach your intestines.
People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can highly benefit from this type of diet. Some foods that you might want to avoid are gluten products, lactose, legumes, and alcohol-based sweeteners (xylitol and sorbitol).
2. Include Prebiotics
Including probiotics (healthy bacteria) can significantly impact the health of your gut microbiome. Some sources of natural probiotics are fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha. If you are not too keen on any of these, you can always supplement.
3. Add Some Prebiotics
While some people focus on probiotics, they often forget the importance of Prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food that feeds those healthy bacteria. They are primarily found in fruits and vegetables. It is crucial to have 4-5 portions of fruits and veggies throughout the day, to help feed our gut microbiome.
For those that have a hard time eating their fruits and veggies throughout the day, you can always opt for a refreshing green smoothie.
4. Reduce Your Stress
Stress increases your cortisol levels, increasing inflammation and the permeability of your intestines. Finding ways to manage your stress is essential to having a healthy gut. Meditating once a day for 5-10 minutes can decrease your stress levels significantly.
Also, having constant interaction with nature (like grounding) can decrease your stress levels and increase your serotonin.
5. Diversify Your Foods
Each food has a particular nutrient and benefit. While it is convenient to eat the same thing every day, you are not getting a diversity of nutrients. Make sure that you have different color fruits and veggies during the day, have a variety in your protein choices, and switch the carbs you are eating.