7 Signs of an unhealthy gut
Modern life creates conditions like high-stress levels, insufficient sleep, unhealthy food, and antibiotic use that destroy our gut bacteria. This has a direct impact on other aspects of our health like the brain, heart, immune system, skin, weight, hormone levels, nutrient absorption, and even cancer risk.
There are many ways an unhealthy gut might manifest itself. The following are the most common manifestations of unhealthy gut health
1. Upset stomach
Bloating, excessive gas, irregularity, and acid reflux are all indications of an unhealthy gut. When you have a healthy gut, food is processed more efficiently and it is easier to expel waste.
2. A high-sugar diet
A diet high in processed foods and sugars decreases the number of good bacteria in your gut, which can cause you to crave sugar, even more, damaging your gut even more. High sugar consumption, in particular high-fructose corn syrup, has been linked to a heightened state of inflammation in the body. This inflammation can be the precursor to diseases and even cancer.
3. Unintentional weight changes
Gaining or losing weight without making dietary changes or increasing exercise can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. Imbalanced gut health can result in impairment of the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Loss of weight may be caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), while gain of weight may be caused by insulin resistance or the need to overeat because nutrients are being inefficiently absorbed.
4. Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue
A bad gut can lead to problems such as insomnia or bad sleep and therefore lead to chronic fatigue. The majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. Damage to the stomach may impair your ability to sleep well. Certain sleep disturbances have also been associated with an increased risk of fibromyalgia.
5. Skin irritation
Eczema can be the result of increased leakage of proteins that could be caused by gut inflammation, leading to poor diets or food allergies.
6. Autoimmune conditions
Researchers believe that an unhealthy gut may cause increased systemic inflammation and alter the functioning of the immune system. This may lead to autoimmune diseases where the body attacks itself instead of foreign substances.
7. Food intolerances
Food intolerance is the result of difficulty digesting a particular food (that is different than a food allergy, which is caused by an immune system reaction to a particular food). It is thought that food intolerances may be caused by the poor quality of bacteria in the gut. Food sensitivities can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea as well as trouble digesting foods.
7 easy steps you can take to take care of your gut health
1. Lower your stress levels
Chronic high levels of stress are hard on your whole body, including your gut. Some ways to lower stress may include meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, diffusing essential oils, decreasing caffeine intake, laughing, yoga, or having a pet.
2. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough or sufficient quality of sleep can have serious impacts on your gut health, which can, in turn, contribute to more sleep issues. Try to prioritize getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Your doctor may be able to help if you have trouble sleeping.
3. Eat slowly
Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. This may help you reduce digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Staying hydrated is a simple way to promote a healthy gut.
5. Take a prebiotic or probiotic
Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet may be a great way to improve your gut health. Prebiotics provide “food” meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live good bacteria. People with bacterial overgrowths, such as SIBO, should not take probiotics. Not all probiotic supplements are high quality or will provide benefits. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider when choosing a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to ensure the best health benefit.
6. Check for food intolerances
If you have symptoms such as cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux, you may be suffering from food intolerance. You can try eliminating common trigger foods to see if your symptoms improve. If you can identify food or foods that are contributing to your symptoms, you may see a positive change in your digestive health by changing your eating habits.
7. Change your diet
Reducing the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods that you eat can contribute to better gut health. Additionally, eating plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein can positively impact your gut. A diet high in fiber has been shown to contribute tremendously to a healthy gut microbiome.
4 types of food you can eat to improve your gut health
To maintain a healthy gut, avoiding processed foods, high-fat foods, and foods high in refined sugars is important because these foods kill good bacteria and encourage the growth of damaging bacteria. Besides simply keeping a diet free of potentially harmful bacteria, certain foods contribute to overall health. These foods include
1. High-fiber foods
High-fiber foods such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, and leeks have shown a positive impact on gut health.
2. Garlic and onion
Garlic and onion may have some anti-cancer and immune system-enhancing properties based on various studies, which are closely tied to some of the primary functions of the gut. Some of these benefits are anecdotal, although some research has been done.
3. Fermented foods
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kefir are great dietary sources of probiotics.
4. Collagen-boosting foods
Collagen-rich foods such as bone broth and salmon may be beneficial to overall health and gut health specifically. Many of these benefits are anecdotal conclusions and further research could be done. You could also try to boost your body’s collagen production through foods. Try adding a variety of foods, like mushrooms, good dairy, or certain meats.
Eat, sleep, and be healthy
Our guts are far more complex than previously thought and affect our overall health. A healthy gut has many positive impacts like increasing our immune system, heart health, brain health, mood, sleep, and digestive function. This can also prevent certain cancers and autoimmune diseases. There are a variety of ways you can lead a healthier lifestyle to maintain good gut health and overall well-being.