People have been saying they have a ‘gut feeling’ for hundreds of years. As it turns out, they’ve been telling us what modern science is only just discovering, which is that the gut is responsible for much more than just digestion. We now know that gut bacteria affects the entire body and that poor intestinal health can create a wide range of symptoms. If you suffer from any of these conditions without cause, your intestinal health may be to blame!
- Upset Stomach – The most common symptom of an unhealthy gut presents itself as an upset stomach with feelings of bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn and gas. When food is fermented in your gut due to insufficient acid or an imbalance of bacteria, it often leads to irregular bowel movement and excessive gas.
- Moodiness, Depression or Anxiety – Around 90% of our happy hormone, serotonin, is produced in the gut. If you have a ‘Leaky Gut’, where there’s an imbalance of this neurotransmitter, it can lead to severe mood swings and changes.
- Chronic Fatigue – Serotonin affects your sleeping patterns. Constant fatigue, disturbed sleep or insomnia is often caused by poor intestinal health affecting serotonin levels. An imbalance can lead to fibromyalgia, which is a common cause of chronic fatigue and muscle soreness.
- Bad Breath – Also known as halitosis, bad breath is a symptom of health concerns such as kidney infections or neglected diabetes, which can be caused by an unhealthy gut. What typically occurs is having less-than optimal gut flora, leading to odor-inducing microbes residing in your teeth, gums and tongue.
- Diabetes – People who have poor intestinal health are more likely to be pre-diabetic, with a risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Scientists have linked unhealthy gut microbes to the development of diabetes, finding that microbiota including Blautia, Serratia and Akkermansia bacteria are far more prevalent in people with diabetes.
- Sugar Cravings – A decrease in good bacteria in your gut can cause abnormal sugar cravings, which can cause further damage to your intestine. When high amounts of refined sugar are digested, you are feeding the bacteria that crave it, creating a cycle of unhealthy habits.
- Unintentional Weight Loss/Gain – If your weight is always going up or down without you actively trying to lose or gain weight, you could have an unhealthy intestine. This is when bacteria colonise in your small intestine, otherwise known as Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), in which they interfere with natural absorption of fat, vitamins and minerals, leading to weight gain and loss.
- Skin Irritations – Intestinal inflammation caused by allergies or an unhealthy diet can lead to proteins leaking out of your gut, causing skin conditions or irritations like eczema.
- Autoimmune Conditions – An unhealthy gut can cause systemic inflammation, which can suppress your immune system and lead to autoimmune conditions developing. Known as ‘Leaky Gut’, when protein molecules leak into your bloodstream, the body will mount an immune response to attack them.
- Food Intolerances – If eating certain foods causes bloating, gas, nausea or cramping, your body is struggling to digest it. The most common intolerances include gluten and dairy, and similarly to ‘Leaky Gut’, as explained above, your body’s natural reaction is to fight these foreign substances that aren’t digested properly.
Some of these symptoms may seem like small issues in the scheme of your health, but it’s always important to be aware of the messages your body and digestive system is sending you. Pay attention to your gut so you can make any necessary changes to your diet, lifestyle, and choice of supplements.