What are the top signs of an unhealthy gut? Research shows that 70 percent of your immune system is located in the gut. It further describes a strong link between the gut microbiome and various health issues, including skin conditions, anxiety, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, and depression.
This clearly shows that your gut plays a fundamental role in promoting overall health and wellbeing. But since gut issues may not always present with digestive symptoms, you could be ill yet unaware that your gut is the main problem.
That’s why it’s essential to understand the critical signs associated with an unhealthy gut and what to do about it.
10 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
1. Weight gain
Weight gain isn’t always an obvious symptom of a health problem. However, sometimes when you’re struggling to lose weight, and you’re not, it might be due to an unhealthy gut!
Unhealthy gut bacteria can lead to weight gain by causing inflammation. Inflammation is responsible for many health problems, including weight gain and obesity. In fact, research has shown that obese individuals have significantly more bad gut bacteria than people who are not obese. Dysfunctional gut bacteria may cause inflammation by producing toxins that damage cells in the body.
Increased inflammatory markers can impact nutrient absorption, blood glucose regulation, and fat storage, causing a drastic change in your weight. What Makes You Gain Weight?
An unhealthy gut can also contribute to weight gain by slowing down your metabolism. Slow metabolism is often associated with excess weight gain because it allows you to consume more calories than your body needs. If a person regularly consumes too many refined carbohydrates or unhealthy fats, it will affect their gut health, causing their metabolism to slow. This will eventually cause weight gain and obesity.
2. Skin irritation
An unhealthy gut can result in inflammatory skin conditions, including eczema, spots, psoriasis, and rosacea (a chronic inflammatory skin condition that usually affects the face).
Skin inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system begins to attack your skin cells. This process can lead to bumps and redness on the surface of your skin, as well as acne. While it’s possible to reduce inflammation and irritation with over-the-counter medication, the best way to get rid of this problem is by improving your diet and overall health.
Skin irritations are often due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut. This can result from a number of factors, including: eating a poor diet that is high in processed foods and sugar; taking antibiotics or other medications that kill off beneficial gut bacteria; and being overweight or obese, which increases stress on the gut.
When these things happen, the overgrowth of bad bacteria can cause inflammation in the gut wall, which then travels to the skin. This inflammation can cause skin irritation, particularly around areas where there is a lot of skin contact.
3. A high-sugar diet
If your diet is often high in sugar, you could, without a doubt, have an unhealthy gut.
Added sugar or dietary sugar alters the composition of your gut microbiome by decreasing the good bacteria that promote healthy digestion and metabolism while increasing the harmful ones. This is because the bad bacteria feed on the sugar, causing them to multiply.
Over time, there will be an overgrowth of “bad” gut bacteria, leading to chronic inflammation with further gut damage. How To Stop Sugar Cravings?
4. Sleep disturbances
An unhealthy gut can cause sleep disturbances and insomnia
Research shows that the gut microbiome can affect a wide range of cognitive abilities, mental health, sleep cycle, brain development, and memory formation.
Most hormones responsible for sleep, such as serotonin, are produced in the gut, but an unhealthy gut can cause serotonin depletion, making it difficult to fall asleep.
The good news is that diet plays a significant role in altering the gut microbiota, and by embracing a healthy diet, you can completely reprogram your sleep cycle and enjoy a night of better sleep. 6 Best Sleep Inducing Teas To Drink At Bedtime.
5. Food intolerances
Food intolerances are common in some individuals, but most can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. This is not the same as food allergy, which is associated with an adverse immune reaction to certain foods, especially proteins.
Food intolerances occur when the gut gets overwhelmed with harmful bacteria, making it difficult to digest trigger foods. This may result in indigestion associated with bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. What Is Quercetin?
6. Bad breath
Gut bacteria play a significant role in our overall health, but their influence can go beyond the gut to include the nose and mouth. Poor gut health can lead to a host of problems, including bad breath. In fact, some scientists believe that bad breath is actually an indicator of gut health issues.
One of the most common ways that gut bacteria can impact bad breath is by producing unpleasant acidic compounds. These acids can damage the protective lining of the nose and mouth, leading to the accumulation of bacteria and plaque. This build-up can cause bad breath and other symptoms, such as sore throat and tooth decay.
There are several steps you can take to improve your gut health and reduce your risk of developing bad breath:
- Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber and probiotics.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water to help flush away toxins and keep your digestive system functioning properly.
- Practice good oral hygiene habits, including regular tooth brushing and flossing.
7. Autoimmune conditions
An autoimmune disorder is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the body’s own cells. A person with an autoimmune disorder may experience a wide range of symptoms, including inflammation, joint pain, skin rashes, and digestive problems. There is no one cause for autoimmune disorders, but scientists believe that gut microbiota (the population of bacteria living in the gut) can influence the development of these conditions.
Studies have found that people with an unhealthy gut microbiota are more likely to develop an autoimmune disorder. In one study, participants with an unhealthy gut microbiota were twice as likely to develop type 1 diabetes than those with healthy gut microbiota. In another study, people with an unhealthy gut microbiota were more likely to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (a condition that causes inflammation in the thyroid gland) than those with healthy gut microbiota. These studies suggest that having an unhealthy gut microbiota can lead to the development of various autoimmune disorders.
Since a large part of your immune system is located in the gut, any disruption in the gut microbiome may result in autoimmune conditions such as ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
8. Brain fog
It’s normal to forget things once in a while, but if you constantly mix up names or have trouble finishing sentences and forgetting words, you might be experiencing brain fog. It’s often a sign of gut health problems like leaky gut syndrome, which makes it easier for toxic substances and bacteria to enter your body through your intestinal wall.
To address brain fog naturally, eat plenty of probiotic foods such as yogurt with active cultures and sauerkraut. You can also try supplementing with L-glutamine powder, an amino acid that helps heal your gut lining. A healthy digestive system means better overall brain function.
9. Constant fatigue
Fatigue is a feeling of weariness and weakness, often accompanied by a decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions. It can be caused by various factors, including physical and emotional stress, lack of sleep, and infection. In some cases, fatigue may be a symptom of an underlying health problem like an unhealthy gut.
There is a growing body of research that suggests that an unhealthy gut can contribute to fatigue. A 2012 study published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that people with a gut imbalance were more likely to experience fatigue.
The researchers speculated that this might be due to the fact that gut bacteria can promote inflammation, which in turn can lead to fatigue.
Another study found that people who had a higher percentage of bad bacteria in their gut were more likely to experience fatigue. This is because bad bacteria suppress the production of important proteins in the gut, causing a disruption of function and fatigue.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests a connection between the gut and brain. Researchers have found that problems with the gut flora, such as overgrowth of bad bacteria, can lead to inflammation in the brain, causing migraines and headaches. In some cases, these problems can be reversed by improving the overall gut health.
Here Are the Things You Can Do to Fix an Unhealthy Gut
1. Lower your stress levels
A troubled mind can affect you mentally, emotionally, and physically. And while short-term stress can diminish your appetite and slow digestion, chronic stress can cause diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, and indigestion, among other gastrointestinal issues.
Some practical ways to combat stress include walking, meditation, massage, and most importantly, addressing whatever issue causing you stress. How To Reverse Adrenal Fatigue?
2. Eat probiotic and prebiotic rich-foods
Probiotics are good gut bacteria that support a healthy gut and digestion.
They can be found in supplement form or in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and fermented vegetables.
Since these foods contain the same bacteria like those in your gut, they will help increase their population, thus leveling out the harmful ones.
To keep your gut bacteria fed and happy, you need prebiotics. This form of fiber cannot be digested but plays an important role in feeding good gut bacteria. Best examples include asparagus, onions, leeks, dandelion root, apples, bananas, flaxseed, radishes, cabbage, and berries. 8 Best Natural Probiotics For Vegans and Should You Take Probiotics With Antibiotics.
3. Get enough sleep
Research shows a strong connection between a healthy gut and sound sleep.
In a study conducted by scientists in Japan, they wanted to ascertain the effects of probiotics (the good gut bacteria) on sleep. So they took a group of students preparing for an exam and divided them into two groups.
One group took a probiotic drink every day for 8 weeks before exams and 3 more weeks after the exams, while the other took a placebo beverage for the same duration. The exam was expected to inflict stress on the students and probably affect their sleep; however, the probiotics group slept better than the placebo. How To Sleep Better?
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking adequate water may also balance good bacteria in the gut and promote a healthy mucosal lining. Water is also a natural lubricant that helps soften stools, thus preventing constipation. Benefits Of Drinking Water.
5. Change your diet
Processed foods, added sugar, and processed oils are the common causes of gut inflammation resulting in a series of gut problems.
Replace processed food with whole, natural foods rich in nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy and function properly. How To Transition To A Plant-Based Diet?
6. Monitor for any food intolerances
Do you experience symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, rashes, diarrhea, nausea, and acid reflux when eating certain foods? You could be intolerant to them, meaning you need to stay off or find a better substitute.
A healthy gut is essential for a healthy mind and body. But to understand whether yours is healthy, it’s essential to understand when it’s not.
An unhealthy gut could demonstrate unexplained weight gain, skin irritation, sleep disturbances, food intolerances, bad breath, and autoimmune conditions.
But it doesn’t stop there; embracing different practices such as opting for a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, managing stress, staying hydrated, and consuming probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods can help restore your gut health and functions.
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