For many of us, gut health might be the last thing on our minds. But did you know, the well-being of our gut directly impacts our overall health? Often, an unhealthy gut can manifest in ways we least expect.
In this blog, let's dive deep into the various signs of an unhealthy gut and why understanding them can be the first step towards better health.
What Is Gut Health And Why Is It Important?
Your gut encompasses your gastrointestinal system, which includes your stomach, intestines, and colon. It houses about 200 diverse species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, collectively known as the gut microbiome, which play a pivotal role in breaking down food into usable nutrients. However, it is essential to note that while many of these bacteria are beneficial, some can be harmful. The variety and balance of bacteria determine your gut health, implying that a possible imbalance in the gut microbiome can lead to poor gut health.
Gut health is of paramount importance in determining your overall well-being. According to research, an unhealthy gut can lead to several diseases, such as mental health problems, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders like type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and many more. Therefore, identifying the signs and symptoms of poor gut health is extremely important.
Symptoms Of Poor Gut Health
- Stomach Disturbances
Everyone experiences stomach problems once in a while, but consistent symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and heartburn can be indicators of poor gut health. These disturbances hint at a struggle in processing food and eliminating waste. A balanced gut typically doesn’t face such issues.
- Skin Conditions
Unhealthy gut signs aren't just internal. Skin conditions like psoriasis might be linked to the types of bacteria residing in your gut. A dearth of beneficial bacteria could affect your immune system, subsequently influencing other organs, including your skin.
- Unexplained Weight Changes
If you are gaining or losing weight without any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine, you might want to check on your gut health. An unhealthy gut can affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat.
- Food Intolerances
Unlike food allergies that arise from the immune system's reaction to certain foods, food intolerances stem from the difficulty in digesting them. Research suggests that such intolerances, including popular ones like lactose intolerance, might result from the gut's poor bacterial quality. This can lead to distressing symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and nausea.
- Sleep Disturbances and Chronic Fatigue
Do you struggle to get a good night's sleep or constantly feel tired? Research indicates a potential link between an imbalanced gut and fragmented sleep. The underlying causes are still a bit murky but seem tied to factors like inflammation, metabolic functions, and even mental health.
- Autoimmune Conditions
The gut and immune system share an intricate relationship. Many studies suggest that an unhealthy gut might amplify systemic inflammation, disrupting the immune system’s functioning. Such disruption can pave the way for autoimmune diseases, where the body mistakenly attacks itself.
Inflammation may indicate poor gut health. It is usually caused by regular consumption of processed foods and added sugars, which diminishes the good bacteria and diversity in the gut, potentially leading to increased inflammation. Remember inflammation is also a key indicator and cause of several other diseases like cancer.
- Increased Frequency Of Infections
As discussed, your gut health is intricately linked to the strength of your immune system. When your gut health is compromised, it might result in poor immunity, making you more prone to infections, such as the common cold.
- Bad breath
Poor gut health can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can potentially cause bad breath.
According to research, migraine and gut health are closely connected with each other. Patients with poor gut health often suffer from persistent headaches or migraines.
How To Fix Your Gut Health?
- Manage Your Stress Levels
One of the foremost culprits of an unhealthy gut is chronic stress. Therefore, manage your stress with the help of calming techniques like meditation, yoga, massages, etc. Also, spend more quality time with friends and family.
- Prioritise Sleep
Insufficient or poor-quality sleep can impact gut health, leading to even more sleep-related issues. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. However, if you are having sleep challenges, consult a doctor for assistance.
- Stay Hydrated
Drinking ample water can boost the diversity of bacteria in your gut. Besides preventing constipation, it is a straightforward way to promote gut health.
- Add More Fibre
Gut health flourishes with adequate fibre. This component helps improve not only digestion but also nutrient absorption, and stool quality. Some of the high-fibre foods include vegetables, beans, fruits, bread, nuts, and seeds.
Additionally, also try to minimise intake of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods for better gut health.
- Practise Mindful Eating
Taking time to chew food thoroughly and consuming meals slowly can minimise digestive discomfort, reducing symptoms like gas and bloating.
- Take Probiotics and Prebiotics Supplements
Prebiotic and probiotic supplements contain vital bacteria, like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, that help promote a balanced gut microbiome. Taking such supplements can, therefore, help improve your gut health considerably.
- Identify Food Intolerances
Symptoms like bloating, pain, diarrhoea, and fatigue might indicate food intolerances. By eliminating potential trigger foods, one can pinpoint and avoid foods causing digestive distress, thereby enhancing gut health.
The state of our gut health plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being. From manifesting in physical symptoms to impacting our mental state, an unhealthy gut can have far-reaching consequences.
By recognizing the signs of poor gut health and taking proactive measures, we can ensure a balanced gut microbiome and a healthier life.