Listen to Your Gut: Seven Signs of an Unhealthy Gut That Could Spell Trouble for Your Long-Term Health
Do you have gut concerns? If you’re wrestling with gut issues, you may already be aware of the link between gut health and overall health. It’s important to understand that symptoms that manifest in the gut can quickly impact your total health. Unfortunately, allowing gut issues to go untreated can increase your risks for a variety of diseases and chronic conditions. Take a look at seven signs of an unhealthy gut to be looking for if you’re worried that “tummy troubles” could be part of a more serious underlying issue.
1. You’re Always Tired
Most of the serotonin that your body produces originates in your gut. Serotonin is a hormone that plays a big role in helping us to regulate sleep. That means that restless nights may be linked to an imbalance in the gut that is preventing your body from making proper serotonin output. Leaving reduced serotonin levels unchecked can set you up for long-term sleep disturbances that chip away at your health, energy levels, mood and cognitive abilities.
Many people who try to tackle chronic tiredness never think to check gut health because they are unaware of the serotonin-gut link. While good sleep hygiene is always the first line of defense against tiredness, it’s important to consider if your gut health is out of whack if all the conventional tips for getting a good night’s rest aren’t working. You may need to consider changing your diet to change your sleep quality!
2. You’re Constantly Dealing With Gas, Bloating, Discomfort and Diarrhea
Gas and discomfort are the two big telltale signs that something is wrong with your digestive system. A number of things could be going on if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort. First, there’s a good chance that there’s an imbalance with the bacteria living in your digestive system. This includes your stomach, intestines, colon and gut. You may either have too much or too little of certain key bacteria types in your microbiome. In addition, chronic gassiness is a sign that your gut doesn’t have the stomach acid needed to properly break down food.
3. You Can’t Get Rid of Your Bad Breath
A breath mint is really just a bandage if you’re suffering from halitosis caused by gut issues. Chronic bad breath can form when microbes that live in your mouth are out of whack. Many people with kidney issues or diabetes stemming from improper flora balances in the gut also experience bad breath “without explanation.”
4. You’re Suffering From an Autoimmune Condition
It’s becoming impossible to ignore the potential links between autoimmune conditions and gut health. The truth is that the medical world has not had a good grasp on the origins of autoimmune disorders until fairly recently. We now know a lot more about how inflammation in the gut can trigger very serious and life-altering immune responses in the body. An immune response occurs when the body attacks its own cells because the signal has been given that an outside “intruder” has entered the body. People with gluten or dairy intolerances will experience these “attacks” whenever they consume these substances. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition, it’s worth investigating how your diet may be creating immune-response triggers.
5. You’re Experiencing Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiencies
A compromised gut could be to blame if you’re running into vitamin deficiencies even though you eat a balanced diet. The reality is that we should be able to get most of the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to function through diet. Some vitamins and minerals have a hard time getting absorbed when gut bacteria is not in balance. Here are the deficiencies linked with poor absorption caused by gut issues:
- Vitamin B12.
- Vitamin B7.
- Vitamin D.
- Vitamin K.
How can you know if you’re suffering from a vitamin deficiency? While this can be a difficult thing to detect, there are some warning signs to know about. Here’s a look:
- Signs of a Magnesium Deficiency: Muscle cramps, muscle seizures, numbness, tingling and abnormal heart rhythms.
- Signs of a Vitamin-B12 Deficiency: Yellow skin, sore tongue, mouth ulcers, poor vision, paraesthesia (pins-and-needles feeling) and irritability.
- Signs of a Vitamin-B7 Deficiency: Brittle hair, hair loss, lethargy, hallucinations, scaly skin, conjunctivitis and depression.
- Signs of a Vitamin-D Deficiency: Fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness and depression.
- Signs of a Vitamin-K Deficiency: Slow wound healing, excessive bleeding, heavy periods, blood in stool, blood in urine and oozing gums.
It’s important to speak with a medical professional if you suspect that you’re suffering from a vitamin deficiency. A vitamin panel should be enough to confirm a deficiency. You can then investigate the root causes of any deficiencies with an eye on the state of your gut.
6. You’re Experiencing Mood Issues
There is a real gut-brain connection that we cannot ignore when treating mental health. Unfortunately, a gut that is compromised due to poor digestion and absorption can greatly reduce your ability to produce and use serotonin and dopamine. This is significant because both serotonin and dopamine greatly impact our ability to maintain happy, stable moods. Many people resort to taking prescription medications that boost serotonin and dopamine levels when they experience anxiety and depression. However, there is a possibility that creating a balanced gut can help to restore those levels naturally without medication.
7. You’re Dealing With Painful, Unsightly Skin Issues That Aren’t Helped by Creams or Ointments
While many people rush to the pharmacy for beauty treatments for rashes and breakouts, there may be another answer. Many skin conditions are actually linked with poor gut health! Here’s a look at some very painful skin issues that may be linked with a gut imbalance:
According to researchers, our gut microbiome acts as a major regulator of the gut-skin axis. Many of the skin conditions that we can see on the surface actually originate in the gut as inflammatory responses that trigger what researchers call a “cutaneous immune response.” This is why topical treatments for many common skin ailments are often ineffective. Many people inadvertently cause harm to their skin by using harsh exfoliating and astringent topical solutions because they mistakenly believe that excessive oiliness on the surface of the skin is causing breakouts.
What to Do If You Suspect You Have an Unhealthy Gut
It’s important to explore the relationship between your gut and long-term health if you’re experiencing any of the seven warning signs of gut trouble on this list. In most cases, a change in diet that introduces more whole, gut-friendly foods that promote the production of good bacteria is enough to steer the ship in the right direction. However, you may also feel the need to explore the possibility of food allergies and sensitivities causing inflammation or immune responses that are creating debilitating symptoms. Exercise and physical activity can also help to boost gut health! In one study, researchers found that exercise modifies the gut microbiota with positive health effects. The bottom line is that being good to your gut is good for everything from your mental health to the appearance of your skin!