5 Signs That Your Gut Health Hangs in the Balance
by Tracey Pollack
Your gut isn’t likely to cross your mind unless you have a gut instinct. But it’s been on the minds of medical experts who have found a direct link between the health of your gut and everything from your immune system and skin conditions, to your mood, mental well-being, autoimmune disorders and cancer. See, your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that make up your gut microbiome. There’s normally a balance of good and bad bacteria, which enhances your overall health. But if the bad outweighs the good, your gut can become unbalanced, which can lead to a number of health conditions. Learn how to spot the signs of an unhealthy gut and how to tip the balance in favor of better health.
- Digestive Distress
An unhealthy gut can be hard to stomach. An upset stomach, bloating, gas, constipation and cramps are all tell-tale signs that your gut is trying to tell you something and shouldn’t be ignored. An unhealthy balance of gut bacteria may be causing this digestive discomfort, and the effects can cause trouble with more than just your tummy.
- Mood Changes
Your gut microbiome plays a role in your mental well-being. See, the level of good bacteria in your gut support the production and regulation of major mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, which help promote a positive mood. Imbalances in your gut can lead to mood swings, anxiety and depression.
- Exhausting Fatigue
Constantly feeling tired may be a wake-up call that your gut is out of whack. The mood-boosting serotonin produced in your gut also affects your sleep. When your gut’s not working properly, it can’t regulate serotonin, which can disrupt your sleep and leave you tired all the time.
- Weighty Issues
Unintentionally gaining or lose weight may be a sign that your gut is out of balance. That’s because your metabolism is linked to the health of your gut microbiome. If your gut becomes unbalanced, your body isn’t able to properly absorb nutrients, store fat or signal that you’re full. If you’re gaining or losing weight unexpectedly, an unbalanced gut may be to blame.
- Irritating Skin Problems
If your skin is breaking out or acting up, it may be due to an unhealthy gut. Research has shown has inflammation in your gut caused by a lack of good bacteria can lead to skin conditions, such as eczema, acne, psoriasis and rosacea.
Ways to Strike a Healthy Balance
- Eat a Balanced Diet – Your diet has a direct effect on your gut’s balance of bacteria. Choose nutrient-rich foods to support the growth of good bacteria, while avoiding processed, sugary, fatty foods that make bad bacteria grow.
- Go to the Pros – This not only means consulting a healthcare specialist, but reaching for probiotics, which can increase the good bacteria in your gut. You’ll find probiotics in many fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. It’s also a good idea to supplement with a high-quality probiotic supplement.
- Fill Up on Prebiotic Fiber – Prebiotics are fibers that enhance the power of probiotics by supporting the growth of good bacteria. Get your fill of prebiotics by enjoying prebiotic foods like bananas, onions, asparagus, garlic and leeks.
- Fall into a Better Sleep Routine – A poor night’s sleep can affect the balance of bacteria in your gut. But getting enough sleep can help promote a healthy gut.
- Soothe Away Stress – Reducing stress can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Find ways to manage stress, from yoga and meditation, to spending time with friends and family.
So trust your gut and try these tips to keep your gut balanced and healthy.