5 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut & Ways to Improve It
Is gut health that important? Yes, because it affects other parts of your body such as your digestion to your brain and to your immune system. When your gut is not healthy, you can experience several digestive symptoms from mild to severe as well as other physical symptoms. Let's first dissect what symptoms may point out whether you have an unhealthy gut as well as some strategies to help improve it!
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
What is the gut? In other words, it is your gastrointestinal system, also referred to as the gastrointestinal tract, digestive system, digestive tract. It consists of a group of organs that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, etc. Your gut is home to billions of bacteria called your gut microbiome. When the bacteria, yeast, and viruses that live in your gut are in balance, you have a healthy gut. However, if there's an excess growth of bad bacteria, it can take over the good bacteria, leading to an unhealthy gut and thus negatively affecting your body.
The following are a few possible symptoms:
We're not talking about the occasional sprouts we get from time to time, but chronic diarrhea. Diarrhea can make your gut health even worse as it flushes out good bacteria from your gut, contributing to an even more unbalanced microbiome.
- Gas & Bloating
Although gas is produced as a normal part of our digestive process, certain strains of bad bacteria may produce more gas than others. When you have excessive amounts of bad bacteria strains producing gas in your gut, it could become trapped and cause bloating.
- Mood Swings
Your gut health plays a vital role in your mental health. Our mood and energy levels are largely affected by our blood sugar levels. When we can't digest our food efficiently, it can lead to imbalanced blood sugar levels that cause low energy levels & mood swings.
- Poor Concentration
Since your gut produces neurotransmitters that are directly connected to your mental health - that includes other cognitive abilities such as concentration. Research has shown that an imbalanced microbiome can negatively impact our learning ability and memory.
Research has shown that people with chronic fatigue syndrome have abnormal levels of certain good bacteria in their gut. An unbalanced microbiome can also negatively impact your circadian rhythm, which in turn disrupts your sleep and causes you to feel drained during the day.
So What Causes Gut Issues?
Poor diet is the leading cause of an unhealthy gut. Good bacteria live off of fiber and plant foods, however bad bacteria and yeast love processed foods and sugar. If your diet is full of processed foods and sugar, it can cause the bad bacteria to outgrow and overtake the good bacteria.
Although diet is a big cause for gut issues, other factors that contribute to it include:
- Frequent antibiotic use
- Food intolerance
- Poor sleep
5 Steps to Improve Gut Health:
- Load up on fresh foods, whole grains, and nuts.
Whole fresh vegetables such as beans and fruits help feed the good bacteria in our gut. Eating more whole grains and nuts has been shown to increase the good bacteria strains in our microbiome. These fresh, whole foods have fiber in them that help move things through our intestines.
- Eat Fermented Foods
You probably already heard about eating more yogurt because it contains a lot of good bacteria. However you can also try eating more fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, and more! These foods contain L. bacteria which are beneficial for your gut health.
- Brush & Floss Regularly
Did you know that there's a link between your gut and your teeth? Although it may not seem important, keeping your teeth clean can help prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria in your mouth which may get into your stomach and cause other gut issues.
- Add Some Spice!
Throwing in some extra spices such as garlic, turmeric, ginger not only can make your dish extra tasty, it can actually help aid in ridding your gut of bad, harmful bacteria without affecting or hurting the good bacteria! Double score!
Gut Health Supplements
Digestive enzymes are essential for the process of healthy digestion in the body. Although our bodies naturally secrete enzymes on their own, the production of enzymes can decrease with age. This can result in poor digestion & cause various negative symptoms which is why supplement may be popular alternative for many.
Although an unhealthy gut can cause bloating, diarrhea, gas, loss of concentration, skin troubles, and so forth, fortunately there are a lot of things you can do to improve your gut health, such as the ones mentioned above. While adjusting your diet is the first step, taking probiotics & other digestive supplements, reducing stress, and exercising regularly can also play a big role in getting your gut back to optimal health! And remember, don't hesitate to contact your doctor or health care provider to see what works for you.