10 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut: Learning How to Fix Bad Gut Health

Key Points:

  • Digestive symptoms aren’t the only signs of poor gut health — they might not even be the first signs your gut is off. 
  • Mood issues, brain fog, acne, fatigue, food sensitivities, and hormone imbalances are all common but misunderstood symptoms of an unhealthy gut.
  • Take action to heal your gut and balance your microbiome with dietary changes as needed, probiotic and/or postbiotic therapy (butyrate), and stress management as your foundation. You may find it helpful to work with a functional medicine or integrative health practitioner to figure out the root causes of your symptoms.

How do you know if you have an unhealthy gut? Searching through the various studies and symptoms on the internet can feel really overwhelming — and leave you with more questions about your gut health than answers. 

It seems impossible that so many illnesses could be connected to bad gut health. 

But it’s not as far-fetched as you might imagine.

We’re just beginning to learn how devastating an unhealthy gut can be to your whole body. Your gut is home to 500 million neurons (yes, the same ones found in your brain!) and 100 trillion strands of bacteria that form your microbiome.

IBS, GERD, and acid reflux are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to common illnesses rooted in the gut. In fact, poor gut health can now be connected to depression and anxiety, as well as inflammatory illnesses and autoimmune diseases.

Here are 10 signs of an unhealthy gut:

  • Mental health issues
  • Difficulty waking up and staying alert
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Food intolerances or sensitivities
  • Brain fog
  • Regular breakouts
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Chronic constipation
  • Inflammation

Let’s take a closer look at each of these 10 signs of an unhealthy gut and what you can do to improve your gut health naturally.

What Factors Contribute to Your Gut Health?

Basic factors that contribute to your gut health include genetics, diet, exercise, and your overall lifestyle. Other factors may include environmental toxins, chronic stress, and even the diet and lifestyle your parents had before they had you. Yep, certain aspects of gut health can be passed down through the generations.

The good news is that you have more power over your gut than you think — and just a few simple changes can help you reverse your poor gut health symptoms and feel healthier.

How Do You Know If You Have a Healthy Gut?

A healthy gut is so important for your overall well-being. If you are curious about the workings of a properly functioning digestive system, here are some common signs of a healthy gut:

  • You have regular bowel movements one to three times a day.
  • Your stool is well-formed and easy to pass.
  • You feel no or minimal bloating and abdominal discomfort after eating.
  • You are eating a diverse diet meeting your recommended daily intake for fiber.
  • You feel that you have stable energy levels throughout the day.
  • Additionally, individuals with a healthy gut often have a stronger immune system.

Recognizing the signs of a healthy gut versus those of an unhealthy gut can be helpful in making better-informed decisions about lifestyle and dietary choices. If you don’t feel that the above factors would describe your gut, keep reading to learn the signs of an unhealthy gut and how to start repairing the incredible microbiome within you.

10 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

You may have heard that signs of bad gut health only include things like loose stool, gas, and diarrhea. While these are certainly symptoms you should investigate, they are not the only red flags you should be aware of.

The gut is home to most of your immune system — plus it breaks down food, absorbs vitamins and other nutrients, and secretes waste. When it’s not working properly, the whole body is affected.

These less common signs of an unhealthy gut may give you some insight into what your gut is telling you.

1. Mental Health Issues (Depression and Anxiety)

Although we associate most “happy chemicals,” like serotonin and dopamine with the brain, they are produced in the gut as well. In fact, the gut produces a whopping 95% of our serotonin! 

Neurotransmitters in the brain and gut regularly communicate with each other — connecting the two in what’s called the gut-brain axis. When the gut is in chronic distress, the brain is almost always affected. 

This is why we see cases of depression and anxiety so often in people with unhealthy gut issues.

2. Difficulty Waking Up and Staying Alert

You jolt out of REM sleep at the dreaded sound of your alarm clock. Groggily you mumble to yourself, “Five more minutes” and proceed to snooze the clock at least seven more times.

When you finally make it to work, you’re running on two giant cups of caffeine and still can’t manage to decipher the spreadsheet your boss assigned last minute.

Does this scenario sound familiar? 

Serotonin is key to quality sleep, and if the gut isn’t creating enough, you may experience an exhausting sleep/wake cycle. Additionally, slow digestion takes energy from your body that could be used to jump out of bed on time — or conquer that spreadsheet.

3. Frequent Heartburn

Sure, you might get heartburn after eating too many acidic foods (even though chocolate is worth it). This may not be cause for concern, but frequent bouts of acid reflux and heartburn could be a sign that more is going on in your gut. If you experience this uncomfortable symptom more than once a week, it’s time to look deeper into your poor gut health.

4. Food Intolerances or Sensitivities

You can’t imagine life without tacos. Are they really that unhealthy? It doesn’t matter. You’ve eaten the same carnitas tacos every Tuesday for as long as you can remember — and all of a sudden, they’re causing uncomfortable cramps and bloating.

The 100 trillion strands of bacteria in your gut (aka, your microbiome), are responsible for protecting your gut lining, regulating your immune system, and helping to control digestion. When this microbiome lining breaks or weakens, your stomach and gut lining are vulnerable to wear and tear. (The gut lining is only a single cell thick!) 

If your gut wall begins to break down, it causes a condition called a leaky gut. Larger particles from your beloved tacos can then enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on your immune system.

When leaky gut becomes an issue, foods you’ve enjoyed plenty in the past — especially those that increase inflammation, like gluten — may cause digestive distress.

5. Brain Fog

Do you ever find yourself staring at your computer screen wondering what in the world you just read? Maybe it’s already happened as you’ve been browsing this article (no worries!). 

Forgetfulness and frequent bouts of brain fog may be linked to your gut. Not only are your gut and brain connected through neurological pathways, but your gut is in charge of sending nutrients and healthy fats to your brain. Without sufficient nutrients, you may find yourself struggling to remember words or keep your thoughts straight.

6. Regular Breakouts

If you suffer from unexplained acne that refuses to calm down no matter what expensive cream or treatment you try, it might be time to look at your gut. Acne has been associated with a gut disorder called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). A leaky gut may also allow bacteria to travel outside of your gut, causing widespread inflammation and eventually seeking your skin as an exit point.

7. Hormone Imbalance

For women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Hashimoto's, and menopause, hormone imbalance is nothing new. Usually, hormone imbalances are diagnosed through blood tests ordered by your doctor.

If you struggle with any of these diseases, you know that maintaining healthy estrogen levels plays an important role in your overall wellness. But did you know the gut is responsible for some estrogen production? 

Taking care of your gut and nourishing your microbiome may help to ease symptoms of estrogen dominance.

8. Weight Fluctuation

Rapid weight gain or loss can be caused by a lot of different things. But if you think your gut health is in distress, and you’re experiencing unintended weight fluctuation, it might be worth looking more into. Since your gut influences how your body stores nutrients, it has a lot of influence over your weight.

9. Chronic Constipation

Except in severe cases, constipation rarely raises the alarm. But maybe it should. 

To maintain healthy digestion, you should be pooping at least once a day. If less frequent, your body could quickly become overloaded with toxins. Healthy BM’s are a sign of a healthy you — so make sure you’re eating plenty of soluble fiber to help your motility stay consistent.

10. Inflammation

Inflammation is always a hot-button topic in the holistic health world. And, it makes sense. Inflammation-driven gut diseases like Crohn’s disease, Lyme disease, and ulcerative colitis, to name a few, are on the rise. If you experience inflammatory symptoms like regular headaches, fatigue, and decreased appetite without a direct cause, it could be linked to a leaky gut.

How Do You Fix an Unhealthy Gut?

Repairing an unhealthy or bad gut might seem daunting, but by making a few crucial changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can restore balance to your microbiome. Here are a few ways to fix poor gut health:

  1. To promote regular bowel movements, slowly increase the intake of foods rich in fiber.
  2. Restore beneficial bacteria to the gut microbiome through eating fermented foods such as kimchi and kombucha.
  3. Practice stress reduction techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation so you can learn how to reduce stress. Which, as stated earlier, can impact a healthy gut.
  4. Of course, remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water with electrolytes as it’s key for proper digestive function.
  5. Consider taking a high-quality postbiotic supplement, such as butyrate, to help support beneficial gut bacteria and nourish the gut lining.*

Fix Bad Gut Health with Bodybio

The symptoms of an unhealthy gut are not only uncomfortable, they can also be embarrassing and seriously impact your quality of life. But there’s no reason to feel ashamed about your body. Your stomach and digestive tract are smarter than you think — they want to heal. And, they’re using symptoms to raise your awareness of the problem. 

Now that you understand the symptoms of an unhealthy gut, learn how you can more efficiently reverse those symptoms and restore your health with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.

At BodyBio, our gut health supplements have been trusted by practitioners for decades. The best part though, they’ve helped so many people remember what life was like before suffering from the symptoms of poor gut health. 

If you’ve tried everything to support a healthy and functioning gut, but with no results, then we have the best butyrate supplement for you! Our butyrate is gluten, yeast, and dairy-free, plus, it comes in two unique formulations: Calcium/Magnesium Butyrate and Sodium Butyrate.

References

Conlon, M. A., & Bird, A. R. (2014). The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human health. Nutrients, 7(1), 17–44. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7010017

Eisenhofer, G., Aneman, A., Friberg, P., Hooper, D., Fåndriks, L., Lonroth, H., Hunyady, B., & Mezey, E. (1997). Substantial production of dopamine in the human gastrointestinal tract. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 82(11), 3864–3871. https://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.82.11.4339

Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis - back to the future?. Gut pathogens, 3(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/1757-4749-3-1

Baker, J. M., Al-Nakkash, L., & Herbst-Kralovetz, M. M. (2017). Estrogen-gut microbiome axis: Physiological and clinical implications. Maturitas, 103, 45–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.06.025

Xu, H., Liu, M., Cao, J., Li, X., Fan, D., Xia, Y., Lu, X., Li, J., Ju, D., & Zhao, H. (2019). The Dynamic Interplay between the Gut Microbiota and Autoimmune Diseases. Journal of immunology research, 2019, 7546047. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/7546047

Khanijow, V., Prakash, P., Emsellem, H. A., Borum, M. L., & Doman, D. B. (2015). Sleep Dysfunction and Gastrointestinal Diseases. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 11(12), 817–825.]

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