ems_gut health

7 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

How is your gut health?

A question you may be asking yourself more as research continues to prove the importance of good gut health and the way it affects our overall health. The role our gut plays and links to a wide range of health concerns. 

2500 years ago Hippocrates said ‘All disease begins in the gut’ he was onto something…

When we think of poor gut health we may think indigestion, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea but recent research shows the link between our gut and conditions which are quickly increasing within society such as diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune conditions, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, mental health and the list goes on! 

Symptoms of an unhealthy or unbalanced gut. 

You may have already been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or suffering from bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhoea but there are many other signs that your gut is out of whack, a few you’ve probably been experiencing your whole life without realising it could be your bodies way of telling you ‘somethings up’ .

  1. Digestive upsets (bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation)
  2. Sugar cravings
  3. Food allergies or sensitivities
  4. Mood swings (anxiety, depression)
  5. Skin concerns
  6. Autoimmune diseases and low immunity
  7. Low energy
 

  1. Digestive upsets including bloating, gas or diarrhoea

These are the distinct indicators that something’s up with our gut. This is related to our health, the bacteria living in our gut, intestines, stomach and colon and our digestive enzymes – which is also known as our gut microbiome.

When we have too many ‘bad’ and not enough ‘good’ bacteria, this is known as a microbiome imbalance. This is when we can notice irregular bowel movements and sensations such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and gas.

To support our gut back to balance we can add more prebiotic and probiotic foods and less inflammatory foods or foods which may set our gut off and result in digestive upsets. 

A sign that food is fermenting our gut is gas. Gas in the gut occurs when we have insufficient stomach acid or an imbalance of bacteria to break down the food we’ve eaten. It can also be the result of eating too much, too fast or foods that are too hot.

  1. Sugar Cravings

Research has proven that the bacteria in our gut actually releases special proteins that are similar to the hunger-regulating hormones; leptin and ghrelin. These are the proteins that affect our cravings for food and our mood. 

These bacteria are smart, they try to get us to eat the foods they thrive on. So, if you eat a lot of sugar you’re feeding the bacteria that love it which then releases proteins to make you crave more sugar. 

This is why nourishing the gut with the right bacteria in the form of probiotic and prebiotic foods can help eliminate the bacteria that causes us to crave sugar. 

  1. Food Allergies

If you react to foods such as gluten or dairy this is almost always a result of leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut is when the barrier of your gut lining is compromised, this barrier is the gatekeeper which decides what gets in and what stays out of your digestive system.

Anything that isn’t digested will pass through the gut and out the other end and is one of the most important functions of the gut; preventing foreign substances from entering the body and the blood stream. 

When this intestinal barrier weakens and the junctions of the gut lining separate this is known as leaky gut syndrome. This is when large food particles can then escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong outside of the digestive tract, the body activates an immune response and attacks them and shows up as food intolerances. Common food intolerances and their effect on your immune system can be tested. The elimination of gluten and dairy products are a great way to start testing possible causes to an upset in your gut and symptoms such as bloating, gas and indigestion.

  1. Mood Swings

Studies show there is a firm link between mental health and an unhealthy gut. Even when someone who suffers from mental health disorders, chronic or minor has good nutrition, a leaky gut, lack of good bacteria or an imbalance in stomach acid may mean they are unable to absorb nutrients properly.

An unhealthy gut or imbalance will affect our ability to use serotonin (a natural mood stabiliser that controls wellbeing and happiness) and dopamine (a chemical released in the brain that makes you feel good a.k.a our happy hormones – and vitamin D within our body. Most of the serotonin and about half of the dopamine we produce is made in our gut. If we have a leaky gut, our body will lose much of the serotonin and dopamine it produces. So if we are suffering from a mood disorder (increase our happy hormones and support a more stable mood) we should look at balancing our good gut bacteria and stomach acid. 

  1. Skin conditions

The skin is often a great barometer for what’s going on inside the gut. A common sign of inflammation in the gut is skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. We can look at our skin conditions as a ‘tag’ or ‘mark’ type message from the body of food proteins that have leaked from our gut causing the physical symptoms of food intolerances on the skin. These skin problems can vary from mild to severe but in a lot of cases can be repaired and eliminated by readjusting the diet and avoiding trigger foods which cause gut and skin inflammation.

  1. Autoimmune diseases and low immunity

The gut is where 70 percent of our immune system lies. It’s where we make nutrients, metabolise hormones and detoxify enzymes, neutralise pathogens and make neurotransmitters. The link between gut inflammation and autoimmune conditions is significant and associated with changes in the body’s microbiome. Therefore we know that reversing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases depends on healing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and then avoiding triggering foods to stop the gut becoming inflamed and imbalanced. 

  1. Low Energy

A study published in April 2017 in the journal Microbiome found that people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome may have imbalances in the gut microbiome which consists of the bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, and viruses present in the gastrointestinal tract. These researchers also found that almost half of the people with fatigue also suffered from IBS. 

If you experience any of these symptoms it may be time to start determining if your symptoms are due to an unhealthy gut or other factors. Once we begin to understand the role our gut plays in our health and diet we can then find ways to nourish and repair it. Improving our gut microbiome, increasing stomach acid naturally and healing the gut lining are the starting blocks to improving overall health and wellbeing. 

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