How do you know if your gut is working properly? And what are the signs of an unhealthy gut? You’re probably also asking: “And what can I do about it?”– because discovering the signs and doing nothing would be pointless!
The brief answer, therefore, is that if you
- constantly go to the bathroom,
- have digestion issues, such as constipation or an irritable bowel, or
- frequently feel bloated …
…your gut is probably not in its best shape!
And an unhealthy gut means you run the risk of developing more serious health problems than gastrointestinal disorders. For example, weight gain or weight loss (both have wider health effects) – or even Crohn’s or an autoimmune disease.
So – what are the signs of an unhealthy gut and how can you improve your natural gut microbiome and gut health?
In this article we’ll talk in detail about your gut – often known as your body’s second brain – because if you know the warning signs and take action, you’ll protect not only your gut but your overall health.
Diversity is Good: Understanding Your Gut Health
Let’s start by looking at the biology of your gut. We’ll make it easy!
Your gut includes some vital organs of your digestive tract:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
Fun fact: More bacteria live inside your digestive tract than there are cells in your body!
In fact, your gut is home to trillions of diverse microorganisms comprising
- yeast, and
- viruses of thousands of species…
…all living in a symbiotic relationship with their host – YOU!
These bacteria are responsible for 80% of your body’s immune system and many other vital functions, including metabolism, body weight, brain functions, and mood.
In other words, the main reason to avoid an unhealthy gut is because good gut health prevents you from getting sick.
So the diversity of organisms is good – but the balance between the bacteria is essential.
In your healthy gut, good and bad bacteria live peacefully in a balanced and diverse environment and perform their duties – including maintaining the barrier that stops the microbiota, toxins, and undigested food from going into your bloodstream.
On the other hand, when the perfect balance is interrupted (called dysbiosis), harmful ones outnumber the good ones, and your gut starts showing signs of not functioning correctly.
Which brings us to the signs of an unhealthy gut that you asked about.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
We’ll list some main ways your body might be communicating that your gut is not functioning well – and then look at what you can do about it.
1 Upset stomach
This is one of the first signs something is wrong with your gut. The following are not normal conditions of your digestive system and may indicate the development of chronic irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) caused by dysbiosis:
- Food intolerance
- Altered bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
2 Crohn’s disease
This disease falls under the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) category. You would experience inflammation of the digestive tract, leading to
- abdominal pain,
- severe diarrhea,
- weight loss, and
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often painful and debilitating, significantly impacting your quality of life.
3 Food cravings
If you have food cravings at unusual times, this may indicate dysbiosis. And if your cravings are associated with a poor diet, high in sugar, fat, and refined carbohydrates, you may have provoked an abundance of harmful bacteria that are stopping your gut from functioning well.
This can lead to weight change, obesity, high cholesterol, and other health problems caused by a leaky gut barrier.
4 Weight changes
There’s scientific evidence linking gut health and weight.
In addition to affecting how your body absorbs food, the gut microbes also communicate appetite or satiation to your brain.
If they’re out of balance, therefore, lines can get crossed and you’re no longer sure if you’re empty or full!
A 2018 study suggests that your gut microbiome influences not only your digestive system but also your brain and lungs.
Evidence shows that an unhealthy gut can trigger respiratory, skin, and food allergies. If you have any allergies, it’s worth considering your gut’s health.
6 Anxiety, depression, and other mental issues
More and more studies have proved a link between the gut microbiome and the brain, showing that the balance of these microorganisms can influence your mood, emotions, and the way your brain processes information from your senses.
If you’re wondering about these issues, consider your gut and perhaps consult a healthcare provider.
How to Improve Your Natural Gut Health
Since your microbial ecosystem operates as a vital organ in your body – and you know how your gut affects your health – the best way to improve your overall health is by taking proper care of your gut and restoring microbiome balance.
And the most effective way to achieve this is by having a healthy diet, rich in fresh, whole foods, mainly from plant sources like fruit, legumes, beans, and whole grains.
It’s also essential to keep healthy habits and identify and remove from your diet the food you’ve been eating that’s causing bacteria imbalance.
However, we acknowledge it’s not always easy to sort out an unhealthy gut by yourself!
You’ll find that a functional nutritionist is especially helpful in
- providing the proper diagnosis through blood and stool samples,
- working with you to create a customized diet, and
- prescribing probiotics to meet your body’s nutritional needs and restore microbiome balance.
When it’s Time to See a Professional, Nava Can Help
Nava Health specializes in functional medicine and functional nutrition – and is committed to finding the root cause of your health issues so you can solve them.
We know how dysbiosis can affect your quality of life. So, we’re proud to perform the latest GI-MAP (Microbial Assay Plus) stool testing using PCR technology to identify the DNA of the microbes that live in your gastrointestinal tract, including parasites, bacteria, fungi, and more.
It might sound scary, but it’s not. And it’s the best way to sort out signs of an unhealthy gut!
That’s because with these results, we can accurately diagnose if your microbiome is unbalanced and therefore causing your health conditions.
Our Nava Nutritionists are all board certified and will work with you to create a personalized treatment protocol that includes dietary and lifestyle changes, targeted supplementation, and – if necessary – prescribed medications.
Schedule your consultation and start the journey to banishing your unhealthy gut today!