Improve Gut Health: Recognise the Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Our gut is essential for maintaining overall body health by promoting nutrition absorption from food, but we often ignore the cries for help from our gut. Millions of people suffer from gut-related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Gut health can be influenced by a number of factors, ranging from genetics to what we eat on a daily basis to Stress.
When our gut is functioning properly, there is a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut that helps process food, absorb nutrients, fight against diseases, and remove toxins from the body. But when the gut is upset, a person may experience gut-related problems such as diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, gas, and abdominal bloating.
However, we often fail to recognise the warning signs our gut gives us before it gives way. Modern life has the potential to affect the gut microbiome. High levels of stress, too little sleep, excessive antibiotic use, and a diet rich in highly processed foods can lead to weight gain, disrupt hormone levels, and contribute to the development of diseases.
Here are 10 warning signs of reduced gut health before gut-related issues crop up.
10 Warning Signs of Unhealthy Gut
1. Upset Stomach
The most common and most prominent warning sign of an unhealthy gut is an upset stomach such as gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation or diarrhoea. A healthily working gut can help to process food properly and eliminate waste matter from the body effectively.
2. Intolerance to Certain Foods
Food intolerance may be caused by the presence of poor quality bacteria in the gut, which causes disruption in the digestion of food. This can lead to symptoms of gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhoea, and sometimes abdominal pain.
3. Extreme Food Cravings
A high sugar diet, especially one which consists of processed foods and preservatives and additives, can decrease the amount of “good bacteria” in the gut. This can even lead to inflammation throughout the body, which can be a precursor to many critical diseases, even cancer.
4. Gaining or Losing Weight Unintentionally
If there has been no change in the diet or exercise habits yet an individual is experiencing weight gain or weight loss, it can be a sign of poor gut health. Improper balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut can impair the body’s ability to absorb nutrients as well as the ability to process sugars and control the storage of fat. A person may suffer from unintentional weight loss due to malabsorption of nutrients.
5. Chronic Fatigue
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can cause chronic fatigue due to the malabsorption of nutrients. Individuals who experience fatigue due to a lack of a proper diet, causing an imbalance in gut bacteria, may also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
6. Sleeping Troubles
When the balance of gut bacteria is off, nutrients may not be absorbed properly, which can lead to fatigue as well as sleeping difficulties. Hormones known as serotonin, responsible for the regulation of mood and sleep, are mainly produced in the gut. When there is an imbalance in the gut, it can affect the quality of mood and sleep.
7. Headaches & Migraines
People with poor gut health may be prone to gas problems and may experience GERD frequently. Experiencing gas problems can lead to frequent headaches and even trigger migraines. Some people may even experience nausea and vomiting along with headaches.
8. Autoimmune Conditions
Some studies have shown a connection between gut problems and the immune system. Due to an imbalance in the bacterial biome of the gut, many problems can occur, including systemic inflammation of the body, which can eventually lead to improper functioning of the immune system. This can gradually weaken the body to the point where autoimmune diseases may develop, in which the body’s immune system attacks the body itself.
9. Skin Irritation
Skin conditions may develop due to an imbalance or an increase in certain bacteria in the gut. This can lead to irritation or the development of skin conditions, such as psoriasis. Sometimes, an unhealthy gut can cause conditions that affect other organs, indirectly leading to skin conditions.
10. Frequent Mood Changes
Frequent inflammation in the nervous system due to gut problems can lead to mood changes.
How to Improve Gut Health?
It is possible to improve gut health through dietary and lifestyle changes. Consider trying one or more of the following things:
1. Manage Stress Levels
It is important to manage and lower stress as it is a significant factor influencing gut health. Activities such as walking, jogging, running, practising yoga, exercising, meditating, etc., can help manage stress levels.
2. Exercising Regularly
Staying physically active helps improve gut health and increases healthy microbes, especially good bacteria, while also maintaining overall body health. Regular exercise aids in efficient bowel movement, prevents many diseases, and assists in weight management.
3. Get Ample Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep helps prevent the exacerbation of gut-related problems, particularly those linked to stress, overeating, or eating too close to bedtime, which can cause indigestion.
4. Staying Hydrated
Drinking and replenishing water and fluids help alleviate gas problems and aid in digestion. Sufficient water intake is crucial for addressing gut-related issues
5. Add Probiotic to Diet
Probiotics are important for the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which can be available in the form of yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, etc.
6. Limit Intake of Processed Foods and Added Sugars
It is extremely important to avoid eating junk food items. Instead, adding lean proteins and plant-based nutrients to the diet can help promote good gut bacteria.
7. Avoid smoking
Smoking and consuming tobacco-based products can harm the digestive system in many ways, even leading to ulcers and cancer. It is important to avoid smoking and using tobacco products as much as possible.
8. Being Mindful of Food
Certain foods can cause indigestion and trigger intolerance-related symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and acid reflux. Therefore, it becomes important to identify and determine the trigger foods and avoid them as much as possible to prevent indigestion and gut-related problems.
Getting an annual checkup is important to ensure optimal gut and overall health. Get expert nutrition counselling and an overall health assessment by booking an appointment with our top primary care doctors at Omni Hospital.