We hear so much now about how gut health affects our health as a whole, both physical and emotional but what does that actually mean? And how do we know if our gut is in need of some TLC?
The gut, also known as the digestive system, is an essential body system responsible for breaking down food into nutrients that can be absorbed and used by the body.
Unfortunately many people’s gut is not functioning at an optimal level, and the effects this has on physical as well as emotional health is profound. Weight gain, bloating, fatigue, skin issues, anxiety…these are all related to a gut that is a hot mess, and can lead to more serious issues down the line if left unchecked.
THE GUT MICROBIOME
The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms. These microorganisms are collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. The microorganisms present in your digestive system include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Many microbes in the gastrointestinal tract are beneficial for our health. Some species of bacteria are even essential in the digestive process. These microorganisms also help us by enabling our bodies to maintain homeostasis and general well-being.
However, there are also species of microorganisms present in the gut that can be harmful, especially when they multiply. The human gut is healthy when there is a balance of microorganisms in the gut. This means that the number of good bacteria should overwhelm the number of pathogenic microbes. When you have the right balance of good and bad bacteria, you have good gut health.
SIGNS THAT INDICATE YOUR GUT NEEDS SUPPORT
#1 Stomach Aches
A common sign that’s indicative of gut issues is constant stomach aches. Constipation, inflammation, poor gut motility, and a disruption in the gut microbiome can lead to cramping, painful gas, and uncomfortable bloating. Because these signs are so common, we tend to focus on suppressing these symptoms with over the counter remedies versus identifying the root cause. So we are pretty much band-aiding the issue instead of knocking it out for good.
#2 Gas and Bloating
Gas is a common issue clients come to us for. It is often painful and causes discomfort and bloating. Gas can be caused by several things, including a digestive system that is struggling, eating certain foods you are sensitive to, overeating, eating processed foods and a disruption of the gut microbiome.
#3 Multiple Food Sensitivities
A food sensitivity can manifest as headaches, bloating, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, constipation or diarrhea, weight gain and even mood changes. If you experience these reactions after eating, you may be sensitive to the foods you are eating. We use food sensitivity testing at Nutritional Zest to identify exactly which foods are causing a negative reaction in your body. Reach out if you’d like more info on this.
#4 Weight Issues
Gut bacteria play a crucial role in regulating hunger and digestion. Since the food you eat influences the microbiota in your gut, these bacteria help your body maintain a healthy weight. An unhealthy diet will lead to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. When more harmful bacteria are present, most of your regulatory systems are thrown out of whack. You will be more likely to feel hungry when this happens. Besides this, bad gut bacteria and yeast like Candida are also responsible for specific unhealthy cravings, such as craving sugary foods. These bad boys literally send out their own hunger signals for sugar! If you feel like your sugar cravings are literally out of your control….they just may be!
#5 Skin Problems
Frustrated with blotchy skin, rashes, and breakouts that won’t go away no matter what you do? Digestive problems often shows up externally as skin irritation and breakouts. Skin conditions like eczema, acne, and dry skin is the body’s way of communicating to you that something is wrong.
Your gut is in direct contact with your brain. Certain species of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract are responsible for the production of Lipopolysaccharide, a toxin that causes inflammation. A breakdown of communication may cause too much of this toxin to pass through the leaky gut into the blood leading to headaches and other problems.
#7 Constipation or Loose Stools
Constipation and loose stools are common gut problems. If you feel like you can’t get these in check no matter what you do, you probably have a gut issue.
Having a pro-inflammatory environment inside your body can be exhausting, and you might not even know it. Your gut might be the reason why you feel so tired even though you had plenty of sleep. A healthy gut can help you feel energetic and ready to take on the day.
#9 Bad Moods
Recent studies show that there is a complex connection between the brain and the gut. This means that your gut health is affected by the brain and your gut may even affect your mental health. The gut microbiota influences the interaction between the gut and the brain. They also play an important role in regulating what is absorbed by the body and what is excreted. A breakdown in the communication between the brain and the gut will affect the functioning of the gut and the relationship with the gut microbiota.
#10 Autoimmune Diseases
Research has shown intestinal permeability plays a role in immune dysregulation. Intestinal permeability is known as leaky gut. It is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes more permeable. Because of this hyper-permeability, the small intestines fail to work correctly, allowing substances like toxins, partially digested food, and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream.
The foreign substances that leak into the bloodstream may trigger autoimmune responses in the body. This results in allergic and inflammatory reactions such as irritable bowel, eczema, food allergies, and fatigue. Other symptoms include nutritional deficiencies, chronic diarrhea and constipation, low immunity, and migraines.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
I believe in the “Test Don’t Guess” motto to find out exactly what is going on in your gut so that we can make a personalized, strategic plan to balance you out. We use a super convenient stool test that you can do at home and mail in. Check out all of the info you will get from stool tests here and here. That combined with a food sensitivity test has allowed us to get right to the root cause of your gut issues. Gut health is our passion and we’d love to get you feeling, and looking your best.