Your body is its own unique ecosystem that helps support you throughout every moment of your day from the inside out. At the center of that ecosystem is your gut microbiome, a complex environment that helps turn food into fuel to help you thrive.
But if your gut microbiome is disrupted, your whole body may feel out of balance.
So what are the signs of an unhealthy gut? And what are the steps that can be taken to ensure proper gut health for a fully balanced body?
Let’s dive in.
What is Gut Health?
Your gut’s job is to break down food so that your body can absorb the micro and macronutrients it needs to keep you healthy. When you have a healthy gut, it means all the components of your digestive system are working together to ensure you’re properly absorbing all of those essential components from food.
Here’s what good gut health looks like:
Organs in perfect sync – Organs such as your esophagus, stomach, and intestines are functioning normally to break down food without causing you discomfort.
A battalion of helpful gut bacteria – Your gut biome is full of good gut bacteria that help the digestion process. In fact, a person has about 300-500 different species of bacteria that all work together to encourage proper digestion and a healthy gut.
Effortless elimination – After the “good stuff” has been extracted from the food you consume, the rest is eliminated through bowel movements about once or twice a day. The stool should be easy to pass and well-formed.
All these elements indicate that your gut is in top shape. But when even one of these components struggles to do its part for your digestion, your gut health as a whole may be affected, impacting more areas of your life than you may think.
9 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Listening to your body helps you learn how to nourish it, so you can feel fit and healthy from the inside out. If you think you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, your body may be trying to tell you that you may be experiencing a gut imbalance and it’s time to prioritize your gut health.
Even after cups of coffee, tea, or energy drinks, do you feel tired? Do you wake up feeling worn out even after a nourishing night’s rest? Then you might be experiencing symptoms of an unhealthy gut.
A study published in the medical journal Biome showed that individuals who had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome often had a severe gut imbalance in their microbiome.
Translation? There wasn’t enough healthy bacteria to support the proper digestion of food, the body’s energy source.
The gut’s main job is to help turn food into the essentials your body needs to survive—that includes breaking down food sources so your body can convert them into energy.
#2 An Upset Stomach
When your stomach doesn’t feel well, it can be hard to do some of the activities you love. Your gut, after all, is at the very center of your body. When your stomach is upset because of digestive issues, that discomfort can feel like it's emanating out to every limb.
An upset stomach is your body sending a clear message—something isn’t working in your gut. When your body struggles to digest food, it means some aspect of your system is in need of help.
Here are some common symptoms of upset stomach associated with poor gut health:
- Gas and bloating – Gas is a normal byproduct of gut bacteria breaking down food. In fact, most healthy people pass gas 14-23 times a day! But excessive gas and bloating (meaning gas has not been passed, but is staying in your stomach) may be a symptom of harmful bacteria in the gut. When the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria in your body, it can take longer for your body to absorb food in healthy ways.
When there’s balance in your bacteria, the nutrients in your food are digested primarily in the small intestine, where good bacteria break down the particles so your body can absorb the good stuff. From there, the leftovers move through the large intestine.
But when there isn’t enough good gut bacteria to digest food in the small intestine, your body is forced to break down food through the large intestine, where bad bacteria live. The chemical reaction between bad bacteria and food results in excess gas, leading to bloating and discomfort. (Follow the link provided to learn how to get rid of bad bacteria in the gut!)
Constipation – Constipation occurs when food takes too long to move through the digestive system. This occurs when your stomach struggles to extract the necessary nutrients from your food and can be caused by:
An excess of difficult-to-digest foods in your diet like processed foods, dairy, or meat products.
Not enough water, which helps your digestive tract function.
Diarrhea – Bacteria, viruses, or food sensitivities can cause watery, loose stool. Diarrhea is your body’s way of saying “get out!” to harmful elements that make their way into your gut’s system. So if you’re experiencing diarrhea, something is likely amiss in your gut. (For a guide outlining the worst foods for gut health and the best foods to cleanse gut intestines, click the link provided)
Heartburn – Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, but everything to do with your gut health. When stomach acid backs up into your esophagus—the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach—you may experience a burning sensation behind your breastbone. This is heartburn. Stomach acid is supposed to stay in the (you guessed it) stomach. So when you experience heartburn, something isn’t quite right in your gut.
#3 A High-Sugar Diet
Sugar and processed foods are the kryptonite to your super-powered good bacteria. They keep your body from producing the specific proteins that allow good bacteria to flourish and keep your gut microbiome healthy.
Increased amounts of sugar in your diet can lead to increased sugar cravings. If you find yourself hankering for sweets more than usual, there may already be too much sugar in your diet.
#4 Unintentional Weight Changes
Both unintentional weight loss and unintentional weight gain may point to an unhealthy gut. Your body may be struggling to absorb necessary macronutrients like carbohydrates and fats to sustain you. This can trigger weight loss, or it can cause your brain to send an emergency response to your body to eat more, resulting in excess cravings and overeating.
#5 Skin Irritation
If you regularly experience a rash or skin irritation, the culprit may not be a lotion or a brush with poison oak—it may be in the status of your gut.
When your gut is unhealthy, it can trigger an immune response in your body. Just like individuals allergic to certain foods will break out in a rash or hives at allergen exposure, your body will send a distress signal for your gut through your skin.
#7 Food Intolerances
Unlike a food allergy, a food intolerance occurs when your body has extreme difficulty digesting certain foods. A food intolerance can occur because of low levels of good bacteria, hindering your body from expelling waste and extracting nutrients.
#8 Changes in Your Mood
The health of your gut can impact the health of your mental well-being. Researchers have connected the production of certain mood hormones to gut health. And when there’s an imbalance of mood hormones in your body, you may start to feel less than your best.
Mood symptoms of an unhealthy gut include:
- Feelings of depression
A review published in The Journal of Headache and Pain may have found a connection between poor gut health and migraines. This publication has linked conditions related to gut health, such as IBS, to frequent migraines.
While scientists still have some work to do to solidify their theories, the brain-to-gut connection isn’t too far-fetched. Just as researchers have theorized that certain mood hormones are produced in the gut, researchers believe the production of certain neurotransmitters occurs in your digestive system as well.
How to Improve Your Gut Health
Your gut health may affect your wellness from your head to your toes. There are plenty of things you can do to help ensure your gut microbiome is flourishing, including:
Eat probiotic-rich foods – A plethora of good bacteria helps your body break down food easily and absorb nutrients. You can keep those good bacteria levels high by adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet like:
Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated keeps the lining of your intestines healthy as well as promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Limit foods high in fat and sugar – Sugar and fat can be difficult for your body to digest in high amounts. Keep your gut happy by opting for treats once in a while instead of all the time.
Keep your microbiome balanced with Cymbiotika – Help your gut thrive with, Cymbiotika. Our nutrient-rich gut health supplements are designed for maximum absorbency and made from the most premium ingredients, so you can enjoy a whole new world of wellness.
If you want to improve your gut health, try our Bio-Charged Activated Charcoal to cleanse your body of toxins using the power of charcoal and help promote gut health. Our Synergy Vitamin D3 + K2 + COQ10 was developed to ensure your body is getting ideal amounts of gut-loving nutrients like Vitamin A and prebiotics.
Cymbiotika for a Good Gut Feeling
At Cymbiotika, we know the power of a gut feeling. When your gut health is at its best, your mind and body can be in a more perfect homeostasis. Experience better gut health and all around health with Cymbiotika.
UC Davis Health. What is ‘gut health’ and why is it important? https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/what-is-gut-health-and-why-is-it-important
Healthline. What’s an Unhealthy Gut? How Gut Health Affects You. https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
Everyday Health. Signs of an Unhealthy Gut — And What You Can Do About It. https://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/signs-of-unhealthy-gut-and-how-to-fix-it/
SpringerLink. Fecal metagenomic profiles in subgroups of patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40168-017-0261-y
US National Library of Medicine. Gas and Bloating. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5350578/
Mayo Clinic. Gas and Gas pains. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gas-and-gas-pains/symptoms-causes/syc-20372709
Mayo Clinic. Constipation. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354253
Mayo Clinic. Diarrhea. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352241
The Journal of Headache and Pain. Gut-brain Axis and migraine headache: a comprehensive review. https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s10194-020-1078-9#Sec16