What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?
From the moment we are born, we begin to build our microbiome. The microbiome isn’t fixed; it develops over time and changes in response to its environment.
What Does the Microbiome Do?
Gut bacteria affect the entire body, including the brain. The beneficial bacteria in the gut have many functions, including the ability to synthesize some vitamins, help with digestion, balance mood, reduce anxiety, and protect against infections and some forms of cancer. Strains of good bacteria in the gut are also associated with lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and various digestive tract diseases. If there are too many bad bacteria or too few good bacteria in the microbiome, serious health problems can arise. The population of good bacteria in your body can be inhibited or killed by stress, surgery, illness, trauma, or unhealthy eating habits. Antibiotics can kill bad bacteria that cause disease, but they also kill off many of the beneficial microbes.
When your microbiome is weakened or damaged, it can “switch on” several potential disease processes throughout the body that may, on the surface of things, seem to have very little to do with your actual gastrointestinal system. Some research suggests that gut microbiota alterations due to unhealthy lifestyle factors and inadequate nutrition may contribute to the pathogenesis of a broad spectrum of diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news is that the intestinal microbiome may be modified by long-term dietary interventions. We can keep our microbiomes healthy by eating foods that feed the good bacteria and avoiding foods that encourage the growth of bad bacteria.
Some signs that you may have poor gut health or need to support your microbiome
There is no one size fits all. Gut health can contribute to (this is not a conclusive list)
- Poor Immune Health – finding yourself sick often.
- Skin Health – eczema, acne and psoriasis are commonly linked to poor gut health
- Weight loss resistance – can be due to gut health (microbiome) imbalance
- Frequent sinus infections and Asthma – has been linked to dysbiosis (imbalanced bacteria)
- Constipation and diarrhoea
- Food intolerances and sensitivities – can exacerbate imbalances in the microbiome and become more severe with an unbalanced microbiome.
- Autoimmune conditions – often connected with gut health, or gut health can be a precursor to an autoimmune condition.
You may need to speak to your functional medicine practitioner, or nutritionist if you suspect your microbiome needs support (they may suggest a stool analysis).
The Gut-Brain connection is so powerful, follow us over the next few weeks as we dive into the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome and how you can optimise yours. There are also some fantastic books that are well researched with further information on supporting the gut, I will refer to these over the coming weeks.
Why not try our Gut Loving Coleslaw to help support your Gut Health?
Tangestani H, Emamat H, Ghalandari H, Shab-Bidar S. Whole grains, dietary fibers and the human gut microbiota: a systematic review of existing literature. Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2020;11(3):235-248. doi:10.2174/2212798411666200316152252
Dr Michael Stone: Health, Nutrition, & the Role of the Microbiome. IFM Insights.
Dr Will Cole: Gut Health: A functional medicine approach