The gut is said to be the body’s second brain, and when it’s unhealthy, the whole body can suffer. To understand why this happens, you first need to know how a healthy gut works.
Signs of good gut health
Your digestive tract begins with the mouth and ends with the anus. Its role is to absorb food, digest it, absorb nutrients and expel the remaining waste products.
But how do you know if it is working well?
A healthy bowel is usually functioning properly when you have a bowel movement once or twice a day, and the stools are well formed and easy to pass. These daily bowel movements should be free of symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and loose stools. Other signs of a healthy bowel are the absence of rectal symptoms like hemorrhoids and abdominal symptoms like gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
In other words, the gut just works. With a well-functioning digestive system, you are not reactive to food or outside inputs such as stress or environmental factors. You are also less susceptible to conditions such as skin disorders, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory reactions, and other health issues.
Common signs of an unhealthy gut
On the other hand, an unhealthy gut can be linked to various symptoms throughout the body, including:
1 Stomach discomfort
If your stomach is frequently upset with symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain, these may be signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common condition that affects the large intestine. A review published in July 2018 in the journal F1000 Research suggested that imbalances in gut bacteria, called dysbiosis, may play a role in the development of IBS in some people.
A study published in April 2017 in the journal Microbiome found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome may have imbalances in the gut microbiome, which is made up of the bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, and viruses found in the gastrointestinal tract. . Researchers also found that nearly half of people with fatigue also had irritable bowel syndrome.
Eating too much sugar can lead to an abundance of “bad” bacteria in the gut and dysbiosis. Research published in August 2014 in the journal Bioessays suggested that one way to change eating habits is to change what’s in the microbiome.
4 Unintended weight changes
Research has found differences in the gut microbiomes of lean and obese people. A study published in July 2016 in the journal Nutrition Today suggested that a Western-style diet high in fat and refined carbohydrates may promote obesity-linked gut bacteria.
5 Skin irritation
Research has also shown a link between an unhealthy gut and skin problems such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. A review published in July 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology stated that the gut microbiome influences the skin through complex immune mechanisms and that probiotics and prebiotics can help balance the gut and thus prevent or treat these inflammatory skin issues. .
Another review published in July 2018 in Frontiers in Microbiology found that an unhealthy gut can play a complex role in allergic conditions, including respiratory allergies, food allergies, and skin allergies. Thus, the gut microbiome can influence nutrition, the skin, and even the lungs.
7 Autoimmune conditions
A study published in August 2018 in the journal Clinical & Experimental Immunology stated that a particular gut bacterium, called Bacteroides fragilis, produces a protein that can trigger the onset of autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis.
8 Mood issues
There’s a well-documented connection between the gut and the brain, and the gut’s influence may also extend to your mood. A review published in September 2017 in the journal Clinics and Practice found that gut disturbances and inflammation of the central nervous system can be potential causes of anxiety and depression, and that probiotics can help treat these conditions.
A February 2020 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that while the link isn’t entirely clear, the gut-brain connection may also impact migraines. The review found that there is also a link between migraines and other conditions related to gut health, including IBS.
How to Balance Your Gut Health
If you have any of these various symptoms, it’s best to see a doctor to determine if your symptoms are due to an unhealthy gut or other factors. From there, you can also consult a naturopath who specializes in gut health.
A naturopath may choose to put you on a specialized diet or perform tests to see if you have any food triggers and sensitivities that could be causing an imbalance in your gut. The very first step in healing the gut is to identify and eliminate the offending foods. If you stop eating the food that affects the intestinal lining, it can give your digestive tract a break and give it a chance to heal.
From there, he’ll likely recommend suitable foods and supplements that can help repair your gut, including probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, glutamine, fish oil, and more.
It can also help you change your lifestyle. Balancing other aspects of health can restore your gut to optimal functioning. For example, it’s amazing how stress plays a role in digestion, as well as sleep.