What Does an Unhealthy Gut Look Like?

Your gut is home to millions of bacteria, as well as viruses, protozoa, and fungi, which are all collectively known as your gut microbiome. When your microbiome is in balance, your entire body feels harmonious. When your microbiome is compromised, the bad bacteria takes over the good and can lead to a host of issues.

The signs to look for include:

Gas and bloating: While gas itself is normal, produced as part of the digestion and fermentation process in the gut, some bacteria produce more gas than others. Super-gas producing bad bacteria can lead to excessive fermentation, trapping gas in the gut and creating bloat.

Diarrhea: Chronic and acute diarrhea can be a sign of bacterial overgrowth, or a bacterial infection called Clostridiodes difficile. Diarrhea can also rid your body of the good bacteria, resulting in more gut dysbiosis.

Constipation: IBS-C, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation, has been linked to gut imbalance. While there isn’t a single underlying cause for this, people who suffer from constipation have lower levels of certain bacteria.

Mood Disorders: There’s evidence that certain hormones made in the gut control the messaging between the brain and gut. If this hormonal balance is disturbed, it can contribute to anxiety and other mood disorders. Gut disturbances and inflammation in the central nervous system may cause anxiety and depression.

Poor Concentration: The neurotransmitters which are connected to mood, thoughts, and other cognitive abilities, like concentration, can be negatively affected and create inflammation in the brain.

Skin Inflammation, Disorders and Acne: An unhealthy gut can be part of the reason behind eczema, psoriasis, acne and other inflammatory skin problems. The gut is in communication with the skin, through the gut-skin axis. It is essential in keeping your skin clear and healthy. An imbalance in your skin microbiome can cause acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Sugar Cravings: Your gut will try to manipulate you into eating the type of food that helps bacteria to grow and feed them, like yeast. Yeast thrives on sugar. If your gut is overloaded with yeast it can lead to intense sugar cravings.

Chronic Fatigue: People with chronic fatigue syndrome have abnormal levels of certain gut bacteria. One study estimates that 80% of people with chronic fatigue could be diagnosed just by looking at their gut bacteria. An unhealthy gut can also disrupt your circadian rhythm – sleep/awake cycle. It can also show up as insomnia. Serotonin, the hormone responsible for mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. Some sleep disturbances have also been connected to fibromyalgia.

Weight Gain, Loss and Obesity: Certain types of bacteria can promote weight gain, because bacteria helps break down food and the way your body absorbs nutrients. Weight loss can be connected to SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, while weight gain can be caused by insulin resistance or compulsively bingeing due to increased nutrient absorption.

Autoimmune Conditions: An unhealthy gut has been connected to rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis and liver disease. With some bacteria, they have the ability to travel outside the gut to your liver and tissues, developing autoimmune disorders. A protein is also produced triggering the onset of these autoimmune conditions.

Food Intolerances/Allergies: Food interolances may be caused by poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can result in difficulty digesting the trigger foods, bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. The gut microbiome can also influence the lungs, resulting in respiratory allergies.

Migraines: The link isn’t clear, however, it is thought that there is a link in the gut-brain connection which results in migraines. It is also thought of that IBS and other gut health conditions are also connected to migraines.

Bad Breath: Halitosis, or chronic bad breath, comes from odour-inducing microbes that live in your teeth and gums, as well as your tongue. It can also be linked to gum disease.

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