Your stomach, or gut, houses a wealth of healthy bacteria that line the intestinal wall and fill the digestive tract. The gut undergoes a huge process to make sure that your body absorbs nutrition, removes toxins and other waste, and provides energy. Studies have shown that gut health is linked to the autoimmune system, mood, mental health, the immune system, endocrine disorders and cancer. However, many sneaky symptoms can reveal that your gut is unhealthy, even those you might pass off as minor or unrelated. Here are five signs to watch out for regarding gut health and what you can do to treat them.
Digestive problems that persist
Do you have problems with bloating, gas or stomach pain that doesn’t go away? This may be a sign of your stomach telling you that something’s wrong or that it cannot digest what you’ve eaten. According to Healthline, “It’s thought that food intolerances may be caused by poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting the trigger foods and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea.”
The remedy: Get rid of the foods that are causing digestive problems and eat foods that aid in digestive health. Eat more probiotics, whether through vitamin supplements or through eating yogurt, kimchi, pickled cucumbers, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and naturally fermented pickles.
You feel depressed, have mood swings, or have anxiety
Feeling irritable, depressed, or anxious is usually associated with mental health, which doesn’t have anything to do with gut health, right? Not so. According to Jay Pasricha M.D. of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, “Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.” This means that your stomach’s problems may be what’s affecting your mental stability.
The remedy: Rule out any digestive or gut issues before you talk to a therapist or psychiatrist. Reduce stress and indulge in activities that increase endorphins and make you feel good.
You get sick a lot
You might not know it, but your gut is also linked to your autoimmune system, which helps fight off sickness and disease. Having an unhealthy gut can lead to increased susceptibility of getting sick, and not just from colds and the flu, but from more serious conditions. According to Bindiya Gandhi, M.D of MbgHealth, “Studies show that increased inflammation in the body predisposes the body to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus, type 2 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis—just to name a few.” The less healthy bacteria you have in your stomach, the more likely you are to have toxins enter your body from the digestive tract.
The remedy: Change your diet to support your gut and get rid of foods that cause irritation. As previously mentioned, supporting your digestive health and incorporating more probiotics into your diet will help your gut health in the long run.
Eczema and other dry skin issues plague you
Itchy, dry, red skin can occur from a number of factors like diet, dehydration, stress and gut health. Yes, there is a link between having an unhealthy gut and having prominent dry skin problems, as hard as that might be to believe. According to Dr. Liz Lipski, Ph.D., CCN, “A skin rash or eczema is a sign that the body is trying to slough out toxins. It’s trying to eliminate a problem the best way it knows how.” When the gut bacteria in your stomach is unbalanced or toxic, it causes what is called dysbiosis which can manifest as dry, itchy skin.
The remedy: Reverse dysbiosis and heal your skin by focusing on your gut first. Make necessary dietary changes to balance your gut’s healthy bacteria and increase your skin’s oil production through regular showers and hydration.
You have trouble maintaining a healthy weight
When your gut isn’t healthy, it can be hard for you to lose weight no matter what you eat. Your current weight is also linked to how much gut bacteria is in your digestive tract. If you’re overweight or obese, it will be more difficult for you to lose weight due to the changes in your gut. According to Healthline, “Obesity was associated with lower gut bacteria diversity, meaning there were fewer types of bacteria in the gut. Other studies have shown that if the gut bacteria from obese people are put into mice, the mice gain weight.” This suggests that your gut bacteria are a factor in determining your weight.
The remedy: Implement more probiotics and ingest more foods that support healthy gut bacteria. Fiber, unrefined whole grains, nuts and seeds, green tea, dark chocolate, and fruits and vegetables are all good options. Supplement exercise with your new diet as well.