We’re all well acquainted with the occasional upset stomach after eating something that doesn’t quite agree with us. But chronic symptoms can be a sign of something else going on. Paying attention to how you’re feeling and responding appropriately can save you some time and money and make you feel a whole lot better.
Unhealthy Gut Symptoms
There are several ways to determine whether you have a healthy or unhealthy gut. Your microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms, sometimes called microbes or microbiota, working together to ensure your body functions properly. When your gut’s balance is disrupted, it affects other areas of your body.
The microbiome of billions of “good” and “bad” bacteria you have in your gut is pretty sensitive to its surroundings and responds to adverse circumstances by letting you know that it isn’t happy. The “good” bacteria in your gut can be overwhelmed by the “bad” bacteria, causing an unhealthy system with severe side effects.
There are a myriad of signs that your gut is unhealthy. Here are a few of the most common and recognizable symptoms:
1: Consistent Digestive Issues
2: Problems Sleeping or Unexplained Fatigue or Sluggishness
Fatigue can have many causes, but it is indicative of an unhealthy gut in some cases. Your gut produces 95% of the serotonin in your body, a hormone that affects your sleep and mood. So maybe the reason you’re still tired no matter how much sleep you get is related to problems in your gut.
3: Autoimmune Conditions
Researchers have consistently found links between gut health and the balance of your immune system. If you’re suddenly having problems with your immune system, you may be experiencing some symptoms of an unhealthy gut.
4: Unexpected Weight Changes
Whether weight gain or weight loss, unexpected weight changes affect the efficacy of your gut’s ability to digest foods. An unhealthy gut can impair how your body absorbs nutrients in the foods you eat, stores fat and regulates your blood sugar. All of these factors can affect your weight. When your gut’s microbiome lacks bacterial diversity, it can be a precursor to obesity.
5: Intolerance to Certain Foods
Food intolerance is indicative of an unhealthy gut. When your gut cannot perform its digestive role properly, the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria may be off. A food intolerance (an immune system reaction to specific foods) is not the same as a food allergy. If you’re wondering whether your food issues are an intolerance or an allergy, consider reaching out to your healthcare provider to get tested.
What You Can Do to Heal Your Gut
So now that you know some of the indicators of an unhealthy gut, what can you do to try and heal it? One of the first things is to look at your diet and possibly make some changes. What you eat has a significant impact on your gut health. If you’re eating lots of added sugars or a high-fat diet, your gut is going to react negatively. Making sure that you’re eating balanced meals and getting sufficient fiber in your diet is a meaningful first step towards healing your gut.Staying hydrated throughout your day will also help balance your microbiome.
Lowering your stress levels can also have a big impact on working towards a healthy gut. High cortisol levels have intense effects on the whole body, including your gut. So maybe it’s time to try some classic methods of stress reduction like meditation, spending time with loved ones, taking your dog for a walk, yoga or other forms of exercise.
Another way to maintain a balanced microbiome is to take probiotics. This can easily be achieved by adding foods to your diet that naturally possess live bacteria. Plain yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and kimchi are some examples of natural sources of probiotics. Probiotics help heal your gut by adding “good” bacteria to your microbiome and balancing existing bacteria.
A Parting Reminder
Maintaining the balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome is an essential aspect of overall health. You can manage the symptoms of an unhealthy gut by taking precautionary steps to improve the balance in your microbiome. Healing your gut is a great way to improve your overall health. As always, if you have any questions about your gut health, feel free to reach out to your primary healthcare provider for specific recommendations.