10 Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut
Your gut interacts with almost all the cells in your body, influencing everything from your digestion, to your brain and your immune system. When your gut is healthy, the rest of your body hums along happily. When you have an unhealthy gut, it can cause a whole array of issues.
While digestive symptoms, like gas, bloating, burping, constipation and diarrhea are some of the more apparent signs of an unhealthy gut, there are some less obvious signs too.
Poor concentration, fatigue and skin problems can also point to gut issues. And this is something that needs to be addressed.
Here’s how to tell if you have an unhealthy gut and exactly what to do about it.
10 signs you have an unhealthy Gut:
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria along with Yeast and viruses that live among this bacterium. Collectively, these microorganisms are called your Gut Microbiome.
Everyone’s Microbiome shares some similar characteristics. However, there are also very vast differences. Your microbiome can be likened to a fingerprint, its one of a kind!
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 the other way, and the bad bacteria can take over the good, it can lead to an unhealthy gut (also called Gut Dysbiosis) which negatively affects the rest of your body.
Here are some of the symptoms to look for:
1 - 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 can lead to excessive fermentation, trapping gas in the gut and creating bloat.
2 - Diarrhea.
Occasional loose stool affects everyone at some point, but chronic or acute diarrhea (more often than not) can be a sign of bacterial overgrowth or an infection with Clostridioides difficile (C-Diff), a type of bacteria that lives in the gut in small numbers, but can create problems when it multiplies.
Diarrhea can also make gut health worse by pushing out the good bacteria in your gut, contributing to even more gut dysbiosis.
3 - Constipation.
Although researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a single underlying cause of constipation, the evidence overall points out that functional constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with constipation (IBS-C) is connected to gut imbalance.
People who suffer from constipation typically have lower levels of certain types of bacteria, including Bifidobacterium, in their stool samples.
4 - Mood Disorders.
Your microbiome plays a vital role in your mental health, and the way you respond to stress.
Although the exact mechanisms aren’t completely clear, there’s a lot of evidence that certain hormones that are made in the gut control the signalling between your gut and brain (and vice versa). If this hormonal balance is thrown off it can contribute to anxiety and other mood disorders.
5 - 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.
6 - Skin Inflammation and Acne.
Topical skin care products are often recommended for Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis and other inflammatory (Rosacea) skin problems. But in most 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.
Your skin also has a microbiome of its own and the bacteria in your gut directly influence the balance of bacteria on your skin. An imbalance in your gut can cause an imbalance in your skin that results in things like acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
7 - Sugar Cravings.
The microbes in your gut are really good at trying to manipulate you into eating the types of food that feed them and help them grow! Different types of microbes like different foods.
For example: Yeast thrives on sugar! Bifidobacteria love dietary fibre and Bacteroidetes prefer fats. If your gut contains too much yeast it can lead to intense sugar cravings that ultimately perpetuate the unhealthy gut cycle.
8 - Chronic Fatigue.
Research shows that people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have abnormal levels of certain types of gut bacteria. In fact, the connection between an unhealthy gut and chronic fatigue is so strong that one study estimates 80% of people with chronic fatigue could be diagnosed just by looking at their gut bacteria. (If only this had been picked up on earlier for myself, I wouldn’t have struggled for so long – however it has led me to why I am so passionate about educating and helping others)!
An unhealthy gut can also negatively affect your Circadian Rhythm. Which can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling tired during the day.
9 - Weight Gain and Obesity.
There are several factors that contribute to weight gain. But the bacteria in your gut is one that’s overlooked. One study looked at the gut microbiome in lean and overweight twins and found that the overweight twins had reduced bacterial diversity – or fewer types of bacteria in their gut.
Certain types of bacteria can also influence weight gain, since bacteria help break down food and the way your body absorbs nutrients.
10 - Auto-Immune Diseases.
Your gut microbiome directly influences your immune system. When your gut is healthy, your immune system is healthy. But when things become imbalanced, it can lead to immune abnormalities, like autoimmune diseases.
Research has connected an unhealthy gut to several autoimmune disease. Including, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Type 1 Diabetes and autoimmune liver disease.
Another study found that when a certain bacterium called, Enterococcus Gallinarum, multiplies too much, it can travel outside your gut to your liver and other tissues where it contributes to the development of autoimmune disorders.
So, what causes gut issues?
Poor diet is certainly one of the biggest causes of gut issues. While good bacteria thrive on things like fibre and plant foods, bad bacteria and yeast love processed foods, sugar and any form of junk food. And when your diet is full of these foods, as most western modern diets are, the well-fed bad bacteria start to overtake the good.