Our gut is often referred to as the body’s second brain. “Although it can’t compose poetry or solve equations, this extensive network uses the same chemicals and cells as the brain to help us digest and to alert the brain when something is amiss. Gut and brain are in constant communication,” per Harvard Medical School.
Because it plays such a vital role in the overall health of our body, it’s important to the functions of a healthy gut and the symptoms of an unhealthy one. Here are blank signs to know if your gut health is in jeopardy.
1. Digestive issues
Perhaps the most obvious sign of an unhappy stomach is digestive struggles. There are uncontrollable factors such as genetics and body build that can affect your gut health, but diet can be changed.
If you are frequently experiencing an upset stomach, your gut is sending an alarm to your brain that something is wrong. “Frequent discomfort, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and heartburn could be signs that your gut is having a hard time processing food and eliminating waste,” per Frederick Health.
Piedmont Healthcare recommends eating foods rich in natural probiotics, high-fiber fruits and vegetables and avoiding highly-processed foods. “If your great-grandparents wouldn’t recognize a food, reconsider eating it,” said Dr. Diondra Atoyebi, a Piedmont family medicine physician. “Don’t fall for gimmicks that claim processed foods have added vitamins or minerals. Instead, go back to eating what we’ve been eating for thousands of years — vegetables and fruits.”
2. Lacking energy
If you are feeling groggy and lacking motivation but get a full night's sleep, it could be your gut. A study published in PubMed in 2022 found a connection between gut bacteria and fatigue in young active athletes.
According to the study, “Energy and fatigue are unique traits that could be defined by distinct bacterial communities not driven by diet.”
This is one of many studies in recent years that scientists have researched to find the connection between our body’s microbiome and its role in our overall health. “Scientists (have) found a correlation between the severity of a participant’s fatigue symptoms and the levels of specific species of gut bacteria, per Medical News Today.
3. Skin irritation
Although skin irritation is often a genetic issue, poor gut health can cause symptoms to flare up in diseases like eczema, gastroenterologist Dr. Will Bulsiewicz told Yahoo Life.
Scientists believe skin flare-ups may be a result of the immune system reacting to bad microbes in the gut. “Dysbiosis in the gut and on the skin may cause this. It may be that the immune system is detecting harmful levels of ‘bad’ microbes on the skin, and so reacts to them. Dysbiosis and eczema may then create a cycle of inflammation that perpetuates symptoms,” per Medical News Today.
4. High stress levels
“Ninety-five percent of the serotonin production in the body takes place in the gut, mainly by the intestinal enterochromaffin cells,” according to a study published in Frontiers.
Stress is the body’s natural response that something is not right and needs attention. Everybody experiences stress at different degrees.
“Stress can affect health through its impact on gut bacteria. The autonomic and circulatory systems carry distress signals to the gut. ... The heightened inflammation that frequently accompanies stress and depression triggers blooms of pathogenic bacteria that encourage dysbiosis and a leaky gut,” per the National Institute of Health.