If your body gave itself awards, your gut would likely win in the category, “Most Valuable Organs.” Your gut drives so many of your body’s functions, from your immunity to your body’s ability to produce serotonin and digest nutrients. When your gut is misaligned and not performing at its best, your body finds ways to tell you. The symptoms of an unhealthy gut make you miserable. If this sounds familiar, don’t be discouraged - it’s possible to get your gut health back to its healthiest and happiest with our easily actionable insights.
What is Your Gut Microbiome?
First, it’s essential to understand what your gut is and how it functions. Your gut is the gastrointestinal tract that traverses from your mouth to your rectum. It plays host to what’s known as your gut microbiome, which is made up of trillions of microscopic organisms, including bacteria, yeast, and viruses that begin forming at your birth. Each person’s microbiome is as unique as their fingerprint, with its own distinct compilation of microbes.
Most of the bacteria that inhabit your gut are healthy, some are neutral, and some are harmful. When these bacteria live in harmony, your gut can operate without you thinking about it. But, when your gut environment isn’t ideal, it can cause your bacteria to become unbalanced - the bad bacteria can eventually outnumber the good. Your gut may not have enough good bacteria or may not have enough bacteria variety. These result in gut dysbiosis, otherwise known as an unhealthy gut.
Several factors affect your gut’s natural balance and can disrupt your microbiome health, including:
- The aging process
- Certain medications
- Weight changes
- Use of recreational drugs or alcohol
- An unhealthy diet of too much sugar, fat, or processed foods
- International travel or environment changes
When your gut health shifts, it’s hard to overlook, especially when your unhealthy gut manifests itself in noticeable ways.
Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut
The saying, “Listen to your gut,” can refer to more than just your instincts. It’s also an apt description of the signs your body sends when your gut health is not as it should be — these range from emotional symptoms to gastrointestinal issues, even bad breath, and everything between.
Bowel Changes and Abdomen Discomfort
When you suffer frequent bouts of loose stools, diarrhea, constipation, gut pain, or other symptoms of an irritated bowel, these are all signs your gut bacteria balance needs resetting.
Considering a large percentage of serotonin is produced and stored in the gut, it’s no surprise that when your gut suffers, your body’s ability to regulate your mood is impacted too. When your serotonin levels are insufficient, you may experience depression, anxiety, insomnia or interrupted sleep, memory difficulties, or decreased libido. Gut health and anxiety have a symbiotic relationship in that an unhealthy gut can cause anxiety, and anxiety negatively affects gut health, leading to a vicious cycle.
Your gut acts as your body’s natural barrier, protecting your circulation from what’s inside your digestive tract. When your gut becomes inflamed, it signals the digestive tract nerves to increase the stress response, and the barrier weakens. An inflamed gut can cause protein leakage into the body, leading to skin irritations and the flare-up of certain skin conditions. Studies suggest that an unhealthy gut can exacerbate some skin problems such as inflammation, rashes, eczema, acne, or rosacea.
If your gut cannot properly break down nutrients for cellular energy production, you won’t be able to use those nutrients for energy. Further, your gut microbiome plays a role in producing B vitamins, directly affecting your energy levels. And, when your gut doesn’t function properly and helps regulate your blood sugar levels, these fluctuations can zap your energy fast.
According to an article in Microbiome, gut microbiome imbalances were commonly found in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, further suggesting that improved gut health could positively affect energy levels and alertness.
The more sugar you ingest, the more your body craves it, and overeating sugar negatively affects your gut health. Your gut’s good bacteria don’t get the nutrition they need, and instead, your bad bacteria can multiply. Sudden sugar cravings can signify that your gut is imbalanced.
Weight Gain or Loss
Gut health plays a vital role in your body’s metabolism. Having excess microbes in the small intestines can prohibit your body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, control blood sugar, and store fat, resulting in weight loss. Contrarily, when microbes can harvest more calories than they should, you can gain weight.
Steps to Fix Your Unhealthy Gut
Fortunately, there are simple ways to help your unhealthy gut get back in balance, including:
- Stress management
- A regular sleep schedule
- Increased water consumption
In addition to these changes, what you put into your gut can significantly impact how well it functions.
Improve Your Diet
Changing what you eat is one of the easiest ways to return your gut health to its best. By implementing a healthier diet, you help prevent your gut’s harmful bacteria from multiplying or overtaking the good bacteria. The following are some preliminary steps to take.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine
- Decrease or eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Cut out dairy or gluten as needed
- Eat fresher foods and avoid processed foods
- Watch your carb intake such as pasta, potatoes, and rice
Replace unhealthy foods with non starchy vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and plant-based nutrients, and add fiber to your daily diet.
Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Antibiotics
Prebiotics are dietary fiber sources of food that feed probiotics, or your gut’s healthy bacteria. When you add certain high-fiber foods to your diet, it maximizes probiotics’ efficiency and aid to your gut health. Some prebiotic foods include asparagus, onions, garlic, oats, soybeans, and artichokes.
To introduce probiotics to your body, you can eat fermented foods, such as yogurt, homemade pickles, miso, or kombucha. But, it’s important to remember that probiotics need the aid of healthy food. If you continue to eat poorly, you are unlikely to experience the positive effects of the probiotics.
Antibiotics help eradicate viruses in your body, but they have the unfortunate side effect of potentially killing off good bacteria simultaneously. When taking antibiotics is considered medically necessary by your physician, combat its adverse effects on your gut health by adding a probiotic to your daily routine.
Help Your Gut Health Get Happy
At Dr. Randolph’s Wellness Store, we offer both a Daily Probiotic DF and a more powerful version Max Probiotic DF that supports a healthy intestinal microecology and natural immune system response while aiding digestion and bowel regularity.
Being aware of how much of your overall health and well-being is affected by your gut health, it is vital to treat your gut as kindly as possible so it can return the favor. If you are suffering from an unhealthy gut, contact Dr. Randolph’s Ageless and Wellness Center today. Our evidence-based medical insights and beneficial vitamins and supplements can help you restore and maintain your gut health, to help you get back to living your best life.