gut health - Science Nutrition Lab

10 Common Signs of an Unhealthy Gut – and 5 Proven Strategies to Help

Millions of people have gut health problems.

Common signs of an unhealthy gut include bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea.

However, gut health problems can also lead to lesser-known symptoms like sleep problems, sugar cravings, depression, anxiety, and skin rashes.

Today, we’re highlighting some of the most common signs of an unhealthy gut – and 5 proven strategies you can use to support gut health.

1) Constipation, Diarrhea, Bloating, and Other Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms

We’ll start with obvious gut health problems: if you regularly experience constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and other IBS symptoms, then it could be a sign of poor gut health. These issues are not normal, and they could be a sign of IBS or other diagnosable gut health conditions.

2) Skin Irritation, Rashes, Psoriasis, and Other Conditions

Have you noticed skin rashes, acne, and other visible signs of skin problems in recent years? It could be a sign of gut health. Many skin conditions are traced back to bacteria in your gut. If you have an excessive balance of bad bacteria relative to good bacteria, then it could increase your risk of psoriasis and other skin conditions.

3) Autoimmune Conditions

Some research suggests around 70% of your immune system is linked to your gut. Your gut plays a critical role in immunity. It can prevent negative substances from entering your body, filter problematic ingredients out of your body, and ensure your immune system functions optimally. Over time, poor gut health can lead to chronic inflammation, which increases the risk of autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune conditions occur when your body attacks itself instead of harmful pathogens. Common autoimmune conditions include celiac disease, Graves disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.

4) High Stress

Do you have a stressful life? Have you recently faced stress in your personal or professional life? High stress could worsen gut health. And, poor gut health could make stress worse. As your body becomes more stressed, it impedes digestion. As your digestion becomes worse, you become more stressed as your body struggles to absorb nutrients and break down the foods you’re eating. Over time, poor digestion is also linked to depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

5) Cravings for Sweet, Sugary, Fatty, or Unhealthy Foods

Do you frequently crave sweet, sugary, or fatty foods? Don’t blame poor self-control; instead, many people have excessive cravings because of gut health issues. Some people experience sugar cravings because of gut health problems, for example. Imbalanced gut microbiota can encourage you to reach for unhealthy foods in your kitchen.

6) Unexplained Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Have you lost or gained weight recently without a significant change to your diet or exercise program? Poor gut health may be to blame. Some unexplained weight gain and weight loss is linked to poor gut health. Your body may be struggling to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Or, leaky gut could cause excessive toxins to enter your body, making it harder to lose weight.

7) Fatigue, Low Energy, or Sluggishness

Gu health problems can lead to energy issues. If you frequently feel tired, have excessive lethargy, or lack motivation throughout the day, then your gut could be at fault. Your gut may be struggling to process food into energy, for example. Or, it could be spending so much energy digesting your food that there’s little energy leftover for you.

8) Difficulty Sleeping

If you have bad gut health, you’re more likely to have a bad sleep. Poor gut health makes it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and enjoy a restful sleep. You might wake up in the middle of the night due to poor gut health. Or, you could fail to enter the deep sleep or REM cycles of sleep because of your gut health problems.

9) Mood Imbalances & Irritability

Your gut health plays a crucial role in mood. If you’ve been struggling with mood imbalances, irritability, or other issues lately, then your gut could be to blame. Your gut plays a critical role in your sense of wellbeing. Multiple studies have shown a connection between gut health, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

10) Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, and Other Unexplained Mood Disorders

If your mood issues progress to a point where you’re dealing with chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, and other unexplained disorders, then gut health could be to blame. Many people with depression and anxiety have perfectly healthy guts. However, numerous studies have connected gut health to depression, anxiety, and other disorders.

5 Science-Backed Ways to Support Your Gut

You can support gut health using various proven strategies. Although serious gut disorders require medical diagnosis and treatment, you could support gut health by eliminating certain foods, taking specific supplements, and drinking more water, among other strategies.

Here are some of the best, most science-backed ways to support your gut:

Eat Probiotic-Rich Foods: Probiotic supplements are more popular than ever. However, many experts recommend focusing on probiotic-rich foods instead of probiotic supplements. Kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt are all rich with billions of colony forming units (CFUs) of probiotic bacteria. Your gut needs these bacteria to break down the food you eat, extract their nutritional value, and maintain regular digestion.

Eat More Prebiotics: 95% of Americans don’t get their daily recommended intake of fiber. That’s a problem, because fiber is a valuable prebiotic. Your body needs fiber to fuel the probiotic bacteria in your gut. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to supply your gut bacteria with the prebiotic fuel needed to support good digestion.

Drink More Water: Many people experience relief from certain gut health symptoms just by adding more water to their diet. This tip is particularly important if you drink a lot of soda, coffee, supplement drinks, or other beverages. In many cases, your gut simply need water to support good digestion.

Eat Slowly: Your digestive system can only process so much food at once. If you chew slowly, you give your gut more time to catch up to your mouth. Eating slowly breaks food into slower parts. Studies also show eating slowly can lower the risk of obesity and similar conditions.

Consider Seeing a Doctor: Sometimes, you do everything right but still experience symptoms of gut health problems. Consider seeing a doctor for gut health recommendations from a medical professional. The gut health problems listed above could be signs of a serious condition.

Final Word

Your gut health is crucial for overall health. From immunity to skin health to energy to mood, your gut is more valuable than you may think.

Learn to spot symptoms of gut health before they become serious. By spotting gut health issues today, you can tackle them as soon as possible.

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