Healing Poor Gut Health: A Guide

Poor gut health can be debilitating and lead to other long-term health problems. Learn how to recognise the signs of poor gut health and address them with simple lifestyle changes.

By URLife Team
25 Jan 2023

Gut health is a crucial aspect of overall health and well-being. Recent research has shown that an imbalanced gut microbiome can contribute to various health issues, including immune dysfunction, chronic inflammation, and even mental health disorders. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health (USA), an estimated 70 million suffer from digestive disorders.

It's important to note that the gut microbiome is not a standalone system, it impacts and interacts with the body in different ways, affecting the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and more. A healthy gut can improve the overall function of these systems, and conversely, an unhealthy gut can lead to dysfunction.

Keep reading to know the signs of bad gut health, the potential causes and, most importantly, ways to recognise and address the problem.


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Signs of Bad Gut Health

It's no secret that your gut health can have a huge impact on your overall well-being. From digestion to immunity, countless functions in the body rely on a healthy gut. But what if you're not sure if everything is running smoothly? It can be hard to tell how well your digestive system is functioning, and identifying signs of bad gut health can be tricky. Here's what to look for:

1. Gastrointestinal Distress

Gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea are all common symptoms of poor gut health. When the gut is not functioning properly, it can lead to problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients, which can cause stomach discomfort. Additionally, an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut can also cause the fermentation of undigested food, resulting in gas and bloating.


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2. Unintentional Changes In Your Weight

The connection between gut health and weight is a well-established one. A balanced gut easily processes food, eliminates waste and maintains regular bowel movements. When this happens, weight fluctuations occur only when there is a direct change in eating habits or physical activity.

However, gut health and weight are also linked in other ways beyond regular digestion. Some gut bacteria affect the number of calories extracted from food, and studies have shown that the richness of gut microbiome is linked to adult Body Mass Index (BMI) and metabolism. This means that the gut microbiome plays a role in weight gain and weight loss. So, if you are eating normally, but slowly gaining or losing weight, poor gut health and lack of diversity in the gut microbiome may be the cause.

It's important to note that unintended weight loss or weight gain can also be a sign of serious health conditions such as cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.


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3. Issues With Your Skin

You may have observed that certain foods, such as those high in refined sugar or saturated fat, can cause skin breakouts. A recent study published in MDPI (Switzerland) 2021 suggests that this may be related to the bacteria in our gut. The study found that consuming such foods can lead to an imbalance of gut bacteria, contributing to various skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff.

The connection between gut health and skin health is further highlighted when we compare the microbiome of individuals with and without inflammatory skin conditions. The study also found that individuals living with rosacea are more likely to experience gastrointestinal issues, and people with irritable bowel disease are more likely to have psoriasis. This emphasises the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome for optimal skin health.


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4. Problems With Your Mood And Mental Health

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in mental health, influencing how we react to stress. The exact mechanisms are not fully understood, but research has shown that hormones called gut peptides, which are produced in the gut, regulate the communication between the gut and the brain. Additionally, there are neural pathways that connect the gut and brain, which are known as the gut-brain axis.

When these pathways of gut-brain communication are disrupted, it can lead to issues such as anxiety and mood imbalances. Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for optimal mental health.


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5. Fatigue And Insomnia

Having trouble sleeping or feeling excessively tired may indicate poor gut health. The gut plays a significant role in regulating sleep and mood. The gut produces a significant amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood and sleep. Additionally, the activity and function of the gut interact with our eating, sleep patterns, and emotions.

It's a two-way street, as maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is essential for a good night's sleep. Adequate sleep is vital for maintaining a healthy gut, and a lack of sleep can lead to digestive problems, contributing to a vicious cycle of poor sleep and poor gut health. If you are experiencing sleep issues, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional to determine if gut health may be a contributing factor and to discuss appropriate treatment options.


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6. Sugar Cravings

Microorganisms in the gut have a wide range of dietary preferences, similar to humans. Some thrive on carbohydrates, while others prefer dietary fibres or specific types of fats. Yeast, in particular, feeds on sugar. This means that when we indulge in cravings for certain foods, it can lead to an overgrowth of the microorganisms that thrive on those foods.

This perpetuates the cycle and can lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, with inflammatory bacteria that thrive on sugar taking over. This overgrowth can lead to other health issues. Therefore, it's essential to keep in mind the impact of our food choices on the balance of our gut microbiome to support overall health.


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Healing Your Gut Health

Healing your gut health is essential for overall well-being, and there are several ways to achieve this. Here are a few tips for improving gut health:

1. Prebiotics And Probiotics: Incorporating prebiotics and probiotics into your diet can help improve gut health. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, and asparagus are good sources of prebiotics.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed in sufficient amounts. These can be found in fermented foods such as curd, buttermilk, pickles, and supplements.

2. Fermented Foods: Fermented foods like curd, buttermilk, pickles, idli, dosa, and dahi vada are rich in probiotics and can help to improve gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

3. Eating Plants And Nuts: Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nuts can provide your gut with a variety of beneficial fibres, vitamins, and minerals.

4. Limiting Alcohol And Processed Foods: These foods can be harmful to the gut, so it's best to limit their intake.

5. Exercise: Regular exercise can help to improve gut health by promoting regular bowel movements and reducing inflammation.

6. Managing Stress: Stress can be harmful to gut health, so it's essential to manage stress through techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.

7. Consider Supplements: If needed, consult a healthcare professional to determine if supplements such as probiotics or digestive enzymes may benefit your gut health.

8. Hydrate All Day Long: Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining good gut health. Proper hydration ensures that your digestive system is functioning optimally and can help prevent constipation and other digestive issues.

Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water throughout the day. If you're not a fan of plain water, try infusing it with fruits or herbs to add a bit of flavour. Other hydrating options include coconut water, herbal teas, and soups.


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Good Gut = Holistic Wellness

Maintaining good gut health is crucial for overall well-being. Recognising the signs of poor gut health and taking action to address them is essential to prevent potential health issues. By following the tips discussed in this blog, you can improve your gut health.

Taking care of your gut health is an important step in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. If you're experiencing any signs of bad gut health, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A healthcare professional can work with you to develop an individualised plan to improve your gut health and overall well-being.

Scheduling regular health risk assessments can also help identify potential problems early on. These assessments typically include an evaluation of your medical history, physical examination and laboratory testing. A dietitian can also help you create a personalised diet plan to improve your gut health.


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