There are times in your life when you just know something isn't right. Maybe it happens all of a sudden. You might be feeling great for as long as you can remember and then suddenly you have pain, upset stomach, nausea, bloating, diarrhea or constipation that seems to happen too often. Maybe it happens slowly over several years with symptoms that are annoying but you think it will go away. Then it doesn't.
An unhealthy gut is one of the most debilitating, embarrassing and life altering illnesses. When you can't enjoy food for fear of becoming ill or needing to run to the bathroom, life becomes very difficult. It affects your social life, family life, work life, your mood and overall mental health. But what symptoms clearly indicate that your gut is unhealthy versus just an occasional reaction to food or stress?
Before we get to the symptoms, we should look at how the gut is linked to more than just the stomach. Our gut health begins when we chew our food. Depending on how well the chewing process goes, it will impact the rest of our digestive system. Chew your food thoroughly and digestion will likely occur easily. Chew your food haphazardly and swallowing big chunks of food, will make the gut's job that much harder.
The digestive system consists of the stomach, small intestines, large intestines and the pancreas. Often when we think of gut health, we only think of the intestines. But all parts have to be working properly in order for us to have optimal gut health. When one part of the system is not being supported with clean food and water, it can impact the other parts. Another part of gut health that we don't often think about is our stress levels. Stress can have powerful effects on our gut health. Overtime, if we are continually stressed, our digestion will be impacted. Now, let's look at the symptoms of an unhealthy gut.
BLOATING AFTER EATING
One of the most common effects of an unhealthy gut is being bloated. I'm not talking the kind of bloating you get after you eat a large holiday meal. This type of bloating happens even when you eat a tiny serving of food. Your stomach swells to the point it may look like you are pregnant (if your female). It is painful, uncomfortable and makes you feel horrible. Why does this happen?
Bloating can be caused by any number of digestive issues. You may have a food allergy or sensitivity to a food. Bloating that happens within 1-3 hours of eating may indicate that the pancreas is not working properly. Bloating that happens later than 1-3 hours may indicate an overgrowth of bacteria, yeast or fungus. If the bloating you are experiencing is frequent and does not resolve easily, your gut is unhealthy.
ALTERNATING DIARRHEA AND CONSTIPATION
If you have alternating diarrhea and constipation, it may be leaky gut or IBS causing it. Both leaky gut and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) are the result of the intestinal lining being damaged. The damaged lining allows undigested food, waste products and infections get into the bloodstream. Once the bloodstream is contaminated the body, it wants to get rid of the contaminates. Sometimes the body can quickly get rid of the contaminates (diarrhea) other times, the body can't and constipation occurs.
If you are feeling tired, your gut health can be to blame. The nervous system is embedded in the intestinal muscle layers. When we are under constant stress, the nervous system activates and restricts the movement of food through our digestive tract. Stress tells the body to protect itself from the perceived attack, which means our bodies divert energy from functions like the digestive system. (Source: Harvard Health) This results in our bodies getting tired and open for illness and disease.
Could your acne be related to an unhealthy gut? Absolutely! When our gut is not healthy, it starts to leak proteins out into the body which can irritate the skin. (Source: Healthline) Skin rashes indicate that the bacteria naturally found in the gut are not balanced. Research has shown that when our intestinal bacteria gains access to the bloodstream, it gathers in the skin and results in rashes. (Source: NIH)
BEING IN A BAD MOOD
Negative thinking, feeling down or just not able to shake a bad mood may indicate an unhealthy gut. I'm not talking about the serious type of depression that needs specialized therapists and integrative Doctor's. I'm talking about just not being able to get out of a funk. Not being able to see the goodness in life, the people around you or having happy feelings is linked to your gut health.
In two large studies in Europe, researchers discovered that people with depression were missing several species of gut bacteria. What wasn't clear is if the missing species happened first or if the illness of depression is the effect that impacted the gut bacteria. Regardless, it is another data point that the health of the gut is linked to our moods. (Source: Science Mag) Paying attention to the overall balance of the bacteria in the gut can help us be happier and in a better mood.
I hope you found this post about the symptoms of an unhealthy gut informative. If you would like to discuss your gut health, book a FREE 15 minute consultation with me by clicking here. I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist ready to help you restore your gut.
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