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Signs of an Unhealthy Gut and the Simple Steps You Can Take to Improve It

Updated on November 28, 2019
EllieCampbell profile image

Ellie is a Glasgow-based writer who loves to write about a variety of topics, including travel, business, finance, DIY, beauty and fashion.

Introducing probiotics and prebiotics in your diet will help your gut health.
Introducing probiotics and prebiotics in your diet will help your gut health.

Looking after your gut is something that we should all know how to do in this day and age but with the exception of picking up the odd multipack of probiotic yoghurts when they’re on offer at your local shop, many of us are still winging it when it comes to our digestive health!

There are many factors in our modern lifestyles that can contribute to poor digestive health including eating too much processed, high sugar foods, not getting enough sleep and generally living a more stressful lifestyle. By not taking steps to improve our gut health, we run the risk of damaging our gut microbiome which could affect other aspects of our overall health, such as our skin, our weight, hormone levels and run the risk of increasing our chances of serious illnesses like autoimmune diseases and even cancer.

Stress is one of the biggest enemies of your body. Why not fighting it with some yoga?
Stress is one of the biggest enemies of your body. Why not fighting it with some yoga?

Symptoms of an unhealthy gut

There are many ways that the gut can show symptoms when it’s not too happy. Here are some of the most common to look out for:

  • An upset stomach including gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn – These can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. When your gut is well balanced, processing food and eliminating waste becomes much easier for your body.

  • Weight changes – if no changes have been made to your diet or exercise habits and you are gaining or losing weight, this can be a sign that your gut is imbalanced. If you are experiencing weight loss, this may be caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, while weight gain may be caused by having the urge to overeat because absorption of nutrients has been decreased.

  • Sleep disturbances and chronic fatigue – Serotonin, the hormone that affects your mood and sleep is largely produced in the gut. Therefore, it’s not too much of a leap to think that an unhealthy gut can affect your ability to sleep well. Consistent poor sleep can lead to chronic fatigue and mood swings.

  • Irritated skin – If your gut is inflamed either due to a poor diet or food allergies, this can cause the leaking of proteins into the body which can irritate the skin and cause conditions such as eczema.

Of course, any of these symptoms can be down to other aspects that are going on in your life, so sometimes it’s worthwhile seeking the help of a professional who can help you clarify if your symptoms are down to an unhappy gut and advise on how best to address it.

A little change in your habits could help you feel healthy and full of energy again.
A little change in your habits could help you feel healthy and full of energy again.

So how can you improve your digestive health?

Here are some simple changes that you can take to improve your gut health:

  • Change your diet - A diet that is high in fibre and low in fat and sugar can have a positive impact on the gut, as can eating plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein. Check out Healthline’s article on the best food to improve your digestion.

  • Stay hydrated – drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest ways towards a healthy gut. This can help balance the good bacteria in your gut and have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines.

  • Get more sleep – If you’re not getting at least 7-8 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep, you run the risk of having a serious impact on your health. Speak to your GP if you’re having problems sleeping.

  • Lower your stress levels – Living a stressful lifestyle can have a negative impact on your whole body, not just your gut. Try to incorporate ways to reduce stress into your daily routine such as meditation, walking, yoga, decreasing your caffeine intake or getting a massage.

  • Eat slowly – Many of us eat too quickly. We don’t take the time to sit down to a meal and fully enjoy it and reap the benefits from eating our meal slowly. Chewing your food thoroughly and more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  • Check for food intolerances – If after eating, you experience cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, an upset tummy, rashes, nausea, fatigue or acid reflux, you may have a food intolerance. When it comes to food intolerances, it can be difficult to narrow down exactly what is causing the issue. That’s why it is recommended that you do a process of elimination and reintroduce the foods back into your diet slowly to identify the food or foods that are contributing to your symptoms.

  • Take a prebiotic or probiotic – Another great and easy way to improve your gut health is to add a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet. Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live good bacteria. It is always best to consult a healthcare provider to make sure you choose the right supplement for you.

Do you think you could be suffering from a poor gut health? Don’t delay and make the changes today. Your tummy will thank you for it later!


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