Top Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

November 13, 2020 5 min read

Top Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

“All disease begins in the gut.” - Hippocrates 

2000 years ago Hippocrates seemed to be onto something, and we are just now scratching the surface of how important gut health actually is.  Research has exploded around gut health in the past two decades and we are finding out how gut health is critical to overall health, and that an unhealthy gut can actually be related to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue, and other auto-immune conditions. 

You don’t have to deal with these diseases to know you have a gut problem, there are many other symptoms that can reveal something being not quite right in the stomach.  

Are you constantly fatigued? 

Feeling down a lot? 

Dealing with chronic bloating, constipation, or diarrhea? 

Trying to manage skin issues like eczema or psoriasis? 

All of these issues, and more, can be traced back to gut health, and more specifically, the gut barrier (gut/intestinal lining), and intestinal microbiota (aka gut flora).  Before we dive a bit deeper into symptoms and solutions, let’s first briefly discuss the in’s and out’s of the gut. 

GUT MAKE-UP 

Gut Lining 

Fun fact: the gut is a hollow tube that goes directly from your mouth to your anus, so anything that you consume, and is not digested, should go right out the other end.  Which means that anything we consume is actually not INSIDE the body, and that is a main function of the gut - to keep foreign substances out of the body.  Think of a tunnel that you drive through that goes under-water - that is similar to how your gut works, or should work. 

Gut Flora 

Our gut is home to more than 100 trillion microorganisms (SOURCE).  That number is so large, that it is actually almost impossible to comprehend. One trillion dollar bills laid end-to-end would stretch from the earth to the sun – and back – with a lot of miles to spare. 

The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body.  We are actually more bacteria than we are human.  Crazy, right?  We’ve really only begun to understand the extent to which the gut flora impacts our health.  These bugs do a lot - they digest our food, promote GI function, help regulate our metabolic function, produce B and K vitamins, which helps blood clot when needed, they provide protection from infection and help support our immune system - about 75% of our immune system resides in the gut (SOURCE)!  

SYMPTOMS OF AN UNHEALTHY GUT

If our gut bacteria is out of balance - too much bad bacteria, not enough good guys - or if our gut lining is compromised, like a leaky gut, then we start to become compromised in terms of our ability to digest food and absorb nutrients from our food.  

If you’re noticing any of the following symptoms, you may want to look to your gut for the causes and answers: 

  • Food sensitivities or allergies
  • Digestive problems like gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Weight changes
  • Skin issues
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor sleep 
  • Achy joints 

Nearly all of these symptoms tie back to high levels of inflammation in the body, and it is when inflammation becomes chronic that it can lead to problems.  

CAUSES OF GUT PROBLEMS 

As you can tell, the integrity of our gut is quite important, and keeping our gut flora in balance is a delicate dance that can easily get tilted in the wrong direction.  The health of your gut starts getting impacted as soon as you come out of the womb...literally.  We won’t dive into that today, but as an adult, there are a lot of things you can be doing that can shift the microbiome make-up and cause negative symptoms: 

  • Eating a lot of processed foods - Highly processed, refined and cooked foods contain no enzymes at all.  These enzymes are necessary for digestion and absorption of nutrients. 
  • Chronic stress - Stress has been shown to decrease stomach acid, which in turn makes it very hard for our body to break down and digest food and can lead to bloating.  
  • Alcohol consumption or certain pharmaceutical drugs - Long-term use of Prilosec, one of the most potent acid suppressing drugs, reduces the secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in the stomach to near zero (SOURCE). 
  • Getting sick/stomach bugs - Parasites, pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria, and fungi can all cause a low-grade, chronic inflammatory condition. 
  • Toxin exposure - Pesticides and other chemicals like BPA have been shown to disturb inflammatory cytokine production. 
  • Losing or gaining large amounts of weight
  • Traveling overseas or to new environments
  • Antibiotics consumption
  • Being born by C-Section vs. Vaginal birth 

GUT HEALTH SOLUTIONS 

Although it can be challenging to control everything, like getting sick or how we were brought into this world, there is so much we can control to help create the best environment in our gut!  

Improving your gut starts with what you eat, and the lifestyle you lead - and you can also support it with certain forms of supplements.  

1. Remove Processed, Inflammatory Foods from your Diet 

Transition to a whole foods-based, nutrient dense diet including lots of vegetables and fruits. The main inflammatory foods include gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol.  Bad bacteria in the gut love sugar and feed off of it. 

2. Up Your Fiber Intake! 

The good gut bacteria are considered the ‘probiotics’, and the probiotics need to eat!  They feed off of prebiotics, which you can get from foods rich in soluble fiber like sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, asparagus, avocado, and legumes.  You can also get great prebiotics and enzymes in supplements like our GREENS powder, if it is hard for you to fit in all of the food sources.  

You can also add in fermented foods to help bulk up the ‘probiotics’ to help restore the healthy gut microbiota and intestinal barrier.  Things like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir provide great sources of probiotics!  

3. Get More Sleep! 

Getting 7-8 hours a night of quality sleep is necessary to support your gut.  Some things that can help are keeping a regular bed-time routine with similar sleep and wake times, avoiding blue light exposure at night, and if you are still struggling, you can utilize all-natural supplements like our SLEEP product.  This product includes all natural ingredients like magnesium, GABA, valerian root, and melatonin to help you fall asleep easier and stay asleep better!  

4. Create a Consistent Exercise Routine

Exercise that is sustainable for you can help keep your gut microbes in shape. Exercise can also reduce stress, which can be helpful to reduce levels of inflammation in the body. Working out also boosts the levels of gut microbes that produce butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that provides many health benefits like curbing hunger and improving cell turnover and proliferation.  

Gut health may be one of the most under-valued areas for achieving optimal health and wellness.  As you can see, many conditions, diseases, and symptoms can be brought on or worsened by issues with the gut or gut lining.  The good news is that there is so much we can control and do to improve our gut health, and in turn, our overall health! 


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