Is your gut healthy? Do you know what kinds of symptoms to watch for? People who regularly visit chiropractors and integrative health specialists usually know what the “gut” is and how its overall health status can affect the entire body in many ways.
And we’re talking about symptoms that can range from irritating to potentially fatal. Ignoring the health of your gut can lead to long-term, serious problems. If you aren’t sure exactly what the gut is, or don’t know the common warning signs of an unhealthy gut, consider the following:
Know what the “gut” consists of: For starters, the gut is not the same as the stomach. Actually, the stomach is just one part of the entire gut system, which begins at the mouth, where our teeth and salivary glands emulsify the food we eat. The next part of our food’s journey through the gut moves from the esophagus to the stomach, and then on to the pancreas.
The final section of the gut includes other areas that help process what we eat, like the gallbladder, the liver, and the entire system of small intestines. After that, the colon and rectum make up the last two portions of what medical professionals call “the human gut.” So, it’s much more than just the stomach and intestines, as is commonly, and incorrectly, thought.
By the way, don’t be confused by the common use of the word, which has nothing to do with the digestive tract of which we speak. For example, you’ve probably heard people say they have a “gut feeling,” or were punched in the gut. That’s just a layperson’s way of referring to intuition or the center of the abdomen, respectively. Don’t get the medical and common terms confused.
Know what to do if you notice symptoms of an unhealthy gut: If you suspect that your gut is not doing its job, is leaky or is malfunctioning in any way, seek medical help from a professional who has experience treating gut-related issues.
Gut Health Affects Every Bodily Process in Some Way
Many books and medical papers have been written on the topic of gut health. Some focus on just one or two symptoms while others catalog the entire range of maladies that can result from a leaky, or otherwise malfunctioning gut. If you suspect that you suffer from poor gut health, you might experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Hair loss
- Poor mental health, including severe depression and anxiety
- Skin problems like acne, psoriasis and excessive dryness
- Yeast infections
- Generalized inflammation
- Brain Disorders
- Unintended weight loss or gain
- Dangerous blood pressure extremes, both high and low
- Severe headaches, including migraines
- Hormonal imbalances
- Unexplained, extreme mood changes
Five Ways a Leaky Gut Can Damage Your Health
When the gut is in bad shape, your entire well-being suffers. That means you might notice symptoms in various parts of the body, both inside and out. Even worse, many signs of a leaky or otherwise malfunctioning gut are virtually invisible. In fact, there are dozens of ways, both obvious and not-so-obvious, that poor gut health can affect you. The five most common areas of concern include the following:
- General Health: Some of the more severe symptoms of an under-performing gut are listed below, but it’s safe to say that our general health is directly affected by a leaky or unhealthy gut. For example, routine symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include unintended weight changes, the onset of headaches that seem to be unrelated to stress, an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, and blood pressure readings that seem way out of line compared to our normal readings.Because the gut is involved in so many diverse bodily processes, it’s accurate to say that any type of gut problem will affect our general health in some way, shape or form. The question is how.
- Skin and Hair: A weak or malfunctioning gut will often produce extremely dry skin and hair. In severe cases, people will lose their hair completely. This happens to men and women of all ages when they gut leaks or breaks down in some way.Be on the lookout for hair that turns dry and breaks off when you brush it, or falls out during showers or baths. When the gut leaks out the fat cells that should be moistening our skin and hair follicles, the result is general dryness of the arms, legs, torso, face and scalp.
- Brain: In addition to mood imbalances, anxiety and depression, a leaky or diseased gut can stop sending vital nutrients to the brain, forcing it to slow down in order to survive. When that happens, we begin to have trouble thinking clearly, concentrating on simple conversations and having trouble with everyday tasks.
- The Entire Body: From head to toe, we can suffer symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Hair can fall out, the skin on our face or anywhere else can become as dry as sandpaper, we can suffer from inflammation, develop yeast infections and look horrible from lack of sleep. Whoever first said that a malfunctioning gut affects the entire body was 100 percent right.
- The Hormonal System: Partly connected to the brain and its general functions, the hormonal system affects literally hundreds of anatomical processes. From sexual development to general mental health, your hormones are an essential piece of the human body’s chemistry. When the hormones are “out of whack,” your entire life can be interrupted until you get proper medical help.Our bodies employ a wide range of hormones to maintain good physical and mental health, three of which are dopamine, serotonin and insulin. You’ve probably heard of the vital role insulin plays in keeping us free from symptoms of diabetes. Additionally, we need serotonin and dopamine to maintain a normal mood and stave off problems like anxiety and depression.When the gut leaks, we lose the essential building blocks of these hormones and can end up with serious mood disorders, dangerous levels of depression and even diabetes.
The Importance of Keeping Your Gut Healthy
There’s no reason to stay in the dark about gut health. We treat hundreds of people every year who want to improve gut function and get on with their lives. The good news is that prevention and knowledge can go a long way toward stopping gut problems before they become serious health hazards.
Contact our office any time you have questions about gut health, prevention and care. One of our staff members will be happy to answer any questions you have. A healthy gut means a healthy body and a long, happy life. Don’t ignore symptoms or wonder, “Is my gut healthy or not?” Find out the facts and get the help you need before annoying symptoms become major health issues.