Many illnesses and health problems stem from an unhealthy gut. Think about it, most of the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health start out as food or supplements. If your gut is not properly breaking down those vitamins and nutrients for your body to absorb, they are not benefiting your health at all.
Your gut is the entire digestive tract that runs from your mouth to your rectum. About 80% of your immune system resides within your gut along with 300-500 different kinds of bacteria. Some bacteria can be detrimental to your health while others are incredibly beneficial. The ratio of good to bad bacteria is key.
Your gut even has its own nervous system (the enteric nervous system), so it’s sometimes referred to as your second brain. It is in constant communication with your brain, helping your body regulate hormone production, immune system function, digestion and metabolism, appetite, mood, and stress responses.
Your gut microbiome can affect every organ in your body. It is understood that there are direct links between gut health and the immune system, mental health, endocrine disorders like type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, cardiovascular disease, cancer, sleep, and digestion.
So, how do you know if you have an unhealthy gut? Your gut microbiome can be affected by a few things you have control over: stress, too little sleep, lack of physical activity, eating too many processed foods, smoking and/or alcohol consumption, and taking antibiotics. There are also things outside of your control that will affect gut health: environment, age, natural birth or c-section, and whether you were breast or bottle fed as an infant.
Being able to identify the signs of an unhealthy gut is key. Here are ten signs of an unhealthy gut:
1. Stomach discomfort:
Like gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. If you gut isn’t healthy, it can’t digest food optimally.
It’s estimated that 90% of your body’s serotonin, the sleep-inducing “happy” chemical, is produced in your gut, meaning that gut damage can impair your sleep and energy.
3. Food cravings:
Eating processed foods and a high intake of refined sugars can compromise the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut and cause food cravings. This can increase inflammation which is the precursor to a number of diseases.
4. Weight changes:
Difficulty losing weight may be a sign of an unhealthy gut because an imbalance can limit your body’s ability to store fat, regulate blood sugar, and respond to hormones that control appetite.
5. Skin irritation:
Your skin’s appearance is a reflection of what’s going on internally. Imbalances within your gut microbiome have been linked to conditions such as eczema, acne, dermatitis, and rosacea.
Changes in your gut microbiome can make you susceptible to allergies.
7. Autoimmune conditions:
A poor ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut can predispose your body to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, diabetes, IBS, and multiple sclerosis.
8. Mood issues:
An imbalance in the gut microbiome and inflammation of the gut have been linked to several mental illnesses including anxiety and depression.
An increasing number of gastrointestinal disorders have been linked to the occurrence of migraines suggesting that gut microbiota might play a pivotal role through the gut-brain axis.
10. Weak immune system:
If you are often sick, it’s a clear sign that your gut health could be improved.
Besides addressing diet, exercise, sleep, and stress, there are a few other things you can do to help gut health. The first may surprise you. It’s chewing. The better you chew your food, the easier time your gut will have in breaking down whatever it is you are eating.
We recommend that pretty much everyone take a good probiotic and may also direct you to a digestive enzyme if you are showing signs of an unhealthy gut. For those with severe gut issues, we have a protocol designed especially for you to restore gut health.