Posted on by Village Green Nutrition Team
If you're having problems with your gut, you're far from alone. For a country of 330 million people, it might surprise you to learn that between 60 and 70 million Americans are affected by digestive conditions every year.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to address an unhealthy gut, but it all starts with knowing the signs. Let's talk about some signs of an unhealthy gut and what you can do about it!
Risks of an Unhealthy Gut
Your gut is very important for proper digestion and overall health and well-being. Its ecosystem – your microbiome – is delicate and plays a powerful role in many body systems.
Killing the important bacteria in your gut (e.g., taking antibiotics) or allowing unhealthy bacteria to flourish can have negative effects on your overall health. Some symptoms of an unhealthy gut include constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, IBS, gas and bloating, and skin issues (eczema, psoriasis).
The list goes on, and an unhealthy gut can lead to many complications in your body. For example, autoimmune conditions and mental health issues have been shown to be linked to microbiome imbalances. If you are having serious gut problems, reach out to your health care provider.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Here are some common signs that your gut may not be functioning optimally.
1. Upset Stomach
An upset stomach could mean a lot of different problems, and it isn't always a reason for concern. However, if you frequently experience abdominal pain, heartburn, diarrhea, or other discomfort, you should contact your primary care doctor.
2. Chronic Fatigue
Believe it or not, gut problems are one of the most common causes of fatigue, as your digestive system requires such a large energy expenditure in order to combat ailments. In fact, a study showed that 21 out of 50 people who suffered from chronic fatigue also had IBS.
3. Trouble Sleeping
Insomnia can be connected to gut problems. Microbiome imbalances can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and result in difficulty sleeping.
4. Food Intolerance
Food sensitivities can be a sign of poor gut health. Inflammation can cause your immune system to react to a variety of food proteins. If you are developing new intolerances to different foods, this could be caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria or leaky gut.
5. Weight Fluctuation
Unintended weight loss or weight gain can be an effect of poor gut health. Bacteria imbalances, inflammation, and hormone changes can all play a role in weight management.
6. Mental Health Changes
High levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and even migraines can often be linked to gut problems, as the digestive system and the neurological system are strongly connected.
7. Food Cravings
Food cravings are common for everybody, but they may be more extreme for those with poor gut health, especially cravings for sugar. The bad bacteria in your gut rely heavily on sugar for rapid growth, which causes cravings.
How to Address an Unhealthy Gut
There are many ways to support gut health, including taking specific supplements, as well as making diet modifications. Some gut issues may require further support from a health care provider.
Taking a probiotic or other supportive gut health supplements, such as digestive enzymes, can be a good first step to getting your gut health back on track. Probiotics help promote long-lasting gut health and are often recommended for ongoing health.
Identify Offending Foods
Determining the foods that contribute to your gut problems and removing them from your diet can be a helpful step toward healing your gut. Experiment with your diet and see what works for you and keep track of any noticeable improvements or worsening symptoms as you try out new eating habits.
It is also important to limit/avoid processed and refined foods high in sugar and artificial ingredients that contribute to inflammation and poor gut health.
Balance Your Diet
Eating a well-balanced, whole-foods diet that is rich in micronutrients is an important way to ensure long-lasting health benefits. This will also serve as your best preventative measure to protect yourself from future gut problems.
Colorful fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein and healthy fats provide antioxidants, help with inflammation, and promote healing. The more colorful your meals are, the better the nutritional portfolio.
Produce is particularly important for the high levels of fiber, which is critical for gut health. Although, eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds throughout the day is the best way to ensure long-term overall health.
Hydration is important for your overall health, and absolutely critical for your gut. The good bacteria in your gut rely on high levels of hydration to thrive.
Lab tests are a great way to determine the underlying factors that are contributing to your gut issues. Your test results can provide great insight into your specific needs. Doing specialty testing, such as a Digestive Health Panel or Food Sensitivities test can be very helpful.
More HelpNow that you know the signs of an unhealthy gut and how to treat it, it's important to remember that avoiding the need for treatment is an even better solution. Eat healthy foods, avoid harmful ones, stay hydrated, and protect the health of your gut! Stay up to date with our latest health news and don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.
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