An unhealthy gut can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms and negative impacts on your overall health. Some common signs of an unhealthy gut include abdominal pain, bloating, changes in bowel movements (such as diarrhea or constipation), and unexplained changes in weight. In addition to digestive issues, an unhealthy gut can also cause fatigue, skin problems, and a weakened immune system. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the cause and find the appropriate treatment.
The make-up of microbes in your gut includes bacteria, yeasts, and fungi and they are collectively known as the gut microbiome. These microbes can directly impact your mood and overall wellness by producing a variety of compounds that affect your brain. Your gut produces about 95% of your body’s supply of serotonin, which is the “feel good” hormone. The other 5% is produced in your brain. Your brain and gut communicate with one another, which is known as the gut-brain axis. In the same way, unhealthy gut symptoms can have a detrimental affect on your overall mood.
Types of Bacteria
Certain bacteria in your gut can produce a compound known as GABA which is a neurotransmitter that plays a particularly key role in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. In a similar fashion, other types of gut bacteria can produce compounds like norepinephrine and dopamine that help with your body’s stress response, regulation of sleep and alertness, and can also impact your motivation, pleasure, and perception of reality. Moreover, if the make-up of your gut bacteria, yeast and fungi are not well balanced, then your mood can suffer from decreased amounts of these compounds and their ability to communicate with the brain.
A healthy gut microbiome will significantly improve your ability to digest and absorb nutrients from your food. These nutrients are involved in providing your body with energy, especially the B-vitamins. B12 is specifically synthesized by gut bacteria. In addition, your gut microbes produce a number of metabolites and microbial compounds that affect nutrient uptake. Serotonin in your gut affects sleep and prolonged sleep disturbances can lead to chronic fatigue. Instead, the ability to get energy from properly digested food and have adequate serotonin levels to improve sleep are all undoubtedly affected by your gut health.
It’s no surprise that your gut health impacts your bowel movements. The metabolites and microbial products your gut microbes produce affect your gut motility. One of the common signs your gut is unhealthy is frequent diarrhea, meaning there is likely malabsorption of key nutrients. The good microbes in your gut are a huge factor in decreasing cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. A healthy gut will increase your ability to process food and eliminate waste with less unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms.
Having a balanced microbiome means that your good bacteria and bad bacteria can co-exist in your gut without negative outcomes. Therefore, if the population of gut bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts are unbalanced, then pathogens can enter the body and get into the bloodstream to cause disease. This is an underlying sign of an unhealthy gut. Henceforth, a healthy gut microbiome will protect against an overabundance of pathogenic bacteria and thus protect against chronic disease.
Gut microbes affect production of your appetite hormones. Undeniably, a balanced gut microbiome will reduce sugar cravings and weight fluctuations. Subsequently, an unbalanced gut microbiome will make it more difficult for you to absorb nutrients and regulate your blood sugar. If you cannot properly control your blood sugar levels, you can develop insulin resistance leading to unwanted weight gain and in some instances, type II diabetes. On the other hand, certain diseases involving gut microbes like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause unwanted weight loss.
In summary, your mood, energy levels, gastrointestinal symptoms, maintenance of a healthy immune system and body weight are all affected by your gut microbes. Chronic issues in any of these areas could be caused by a variety of things but could also be a sign that your gut is unhealthy.
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