Did you know the gut is called the second brain? That’s because the gut is incredibly closely linked to our brain and is a key part of our central nervous system. This also means gut problems usually come with other health problems.
In fact, poor gut health has been linked to several specific health issues. On the other hand, good gut health can strengthen your immune system, improve your mood, and prevent autoimmune diseases and some types of cancer.
There are many things that can negatively affect our gut health. But how do you know if your gut is healthy or not? What should you be watching for? Well, poor gut health can actually manifest in several ways. Here are a few signs you can watch out for that may point to an unhealthy gut.
One of the most obvious signs of poor gut health are digestive issues: gas, bloating, and diarrhea. These digestive issues are usually a result of unbalanced or underfed gut bacteria.
The bacteria living in your gut, stomach, intestines, and colon are often called the microbiome. Both good and bad bacteria make up this microbiome — and that’s a good thing! When there is an imbalance in the microbiome (for example, too much bad gut bacteria and not enough good), the result may be gas, irregular bowel movements, or even diarrhea. To restore balance, it’s best to focus on your diet and add in prebiotics.
Gas can also be a sign of food fermentation in the gut. This can happen when there is not enough stomach acid to break down food. To help, you can add digestive enzymes to your diet to boost stomach acid and help break down food.
Food Allergies or Intolerances
Dairy and gluten intolerances are more common today than ever before, and they are often symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the gut barrier is compromised and your gut actually kinda… leaks! A leaky gut is an unhealthy gut.
- If your gut is healthy, it controls what passes through it and into your bloodstream.
- If your gut is not healthy, other things like partially digested food, proteins, and toxins escape into your body.
As an example, consider someone with a gluten intolerance. If they have leaky gut, large protein molecules (such as gluten) escape from their digestive system and move into their bloodstream because the gut barrier is permeable. Since these large gluten protein molecules do not belong anywhere outside of the gut, the body creates an immune response to attack these proteins. This immune response manifests as a food intolerance, and it could look like bloating, a skin rash, inflammation — lots of things!
Our microbiome releases special proteins that are similar to leptin and ghrelin (our hunger-regulating hormones). These special proteins can affect our food cravings.
The food we eat feeds our gut bacteria. And so, it makes sense that our gut bacteria want us to eat the foods that help them thrive. If we get too much of certain bad gut bacteria, our sugar cravings can become intense. What’s the solution? Cutting out sugar won’t necessarily help, and that will result in a constant battle of willpower. What will help is taking prebiotic supplements or drinking them. This will help feed good gut bacteria, restore balance, and curb cravings.
Our microbiome contributes to our overall health. When it’s healthy, it can help strengthen our immune system and prevent certain diseases. However, your gut can also manifest a wide range of health issues if it’s unhealthy. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the signs of an unhealthy gut; then we can make adjustments in our diets and lifestyle.
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