The gut is seen as the body’s second brain, and when you have an unhealthy gut, it can take a toll on your entire body
Your gastrointestinal tract starts with your mouth and ends with the anus. Its job is to take in food, digest it, absorb nutrients, and expel the remaining waste. A healthy gut is usually functioning properly when you have a bowel movement one to two times daily that is well-formed and easy to pass. These daily bowel movements should be free of symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, and loose stools. Other signs of a healthy gut include being free of rectal symptoms like hemorrhoids and abdominal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
The gut just works. With a healthy functioning digestive system, you are not reactive to foods or external inputs like stress or environmental factors. You also have less susceptibility to conditions such as skin disorders, autoimmune conditions, inflammatory responses, and other health concerns.
Common Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Stomach discomfort If your stomach is frequently upset by symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain, these can be signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common condition that affects the large intestines.
Fatigue Studies have found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome may have imbalances in the gut microbiome, which consists of the bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, and viruses present in the gastrointestinal tract. Researchers also found that almost half of the people with fatigue also had IBS.
Food cravings Eating too much sugar can lead to an abundance of “bad” bacteria in the gut and dysbiosis.
Unintentional weight changes A diet high in fat and refined carbohydrates may promote intestinal bacteria that’s linked to obesity.
Skin irritation Research has also shown a link between an unhealthy gut and skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. The gut microbiome influences the skin through complex immune mechanisms, and probiotics and prebiotics may help balance the gut and thus prevent or treat these inflammatory skin issues.
Allergies An unhealthy gut can play a complex role in allergic conditions including respiratory allergies, food allergies, and skin allergies. Thus, the gut microbiome may influence nutrition, skin, and even the lungs.
Autoimmune conditions A particular gut bacteria, called Bacteroides fragilis, produces a protein that may trigger the onset of autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and multiple sclerosis.
Mood issues There is a well-documented link between the gut and the brain, and the influence of the gut may also extend to your mood. Gut disturbances and inflammation in the central nervous system may be potential causes of anxiety and depression, and probiotics may help treat these conditions.
Migraines A study found that while the link isn’t totally clear, the gut-brain connection may impact migraines as well. It stated that there is also a link between migraines and other conditions related to gut health, including IBS.