The status of your gut health has become an indicator of overall health and wellness, or so it seems. The benefits of a healthy gut microbiome (gut bacteria) ranges from producing 90 percent of the body’s serotonin to supporting our immune system, so it’s important to have a healthy gut. There are warning signs when the bacterial balance of the digestive system is off. Some symptoms are nonspecific and can be associated with other health conditions, but knowing these few will help you to take steps for a healthier gut!
Sugar has its place in the functioning of your body – that is true. You need a certain level of sugar to feed your brain, preferably the natural sugars you get in the food that you eat. It’s sucrose, or white table sugar, that’s the culprit. Sugar is added to processed foods, sodas, and processed juice drinks and is highly addictive.
Once sugar gets a foothold in your gut, it feeds the bad bacteria, creating an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. That imbalance of bad bacteria creates more intense sugar cravings because it wants to be fed. An excessive craving for sugar is a sign that your system is out of balance.
Your skin is full of immune system cells to protect against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances. When something is “off,” whether from the outside or the inside, a reaction occurs that can lead to inflammation or, as it is commonly referred to, a red, itchy rash. When gut bacteria is compromised, whether from a food allergy or a food intolerance, various skin conditions can result, like eczema, hives, and psoriasis.
The gastrointestinal tract is extremely sensitive to emotion, and the brain-gut relationship is quite intimate. Each one of your emotions can set off reactions in your stomach, ranging from discomfort to diarrhea. Over 100 million nerve cells, which are part of an intricate system called the enteric nervous system, line the gastrointestinal tract.
Not only can your mood affect your gastrointestinal track, gastrointestinal bacterial imbalance can affect your mood. Approximately 90 percent of the body’s serotonin is produced by bacteria in the gut. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is considered a natural mood stabilizer that, among other things, regulates anxiety and reduces depression. Even the slightest imbalance in gut bacteria compromises the body’s ability to synthesize serotonin. An onset of moodiness, anxiety, or depression can signal an imbalance.
Chronic Bloating and Gas
Bloating and gas are very important symptoms to take note of. Although these symptoms don’t necessarily point to a serious medical condition, they are a clear indication that something is going on in your digestive tract. Gas and bloating can occur when the digestive system is unable to properly digest what has been consumed.
If you have gas and bloating, keeping a diary of foods eaten aids in identifying a particular food or food group that may be causing these symptoms. For example, individuals with Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID) lack the enzyme to digest sucrose, which is plain-old, white table sugar. When they consume anything containing sucrose, a range of symptoms result, including chronic gas and bloating.
Breath that smells less than fresh is a symptom of dysbiosis, the imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut, as well as too much yeast or candida in the gut. You may even notice that your bad breath gets worse when you’ve eaten too much sugar. That’s because the yeast, candida, and bad bacteria feed on sugar and thrive when your diet is loaded with the sweet stuff.
Chronic, explosive, or unpredictable episodes of diarrhea are a more serious sign that something is amiss in your digestive tract. Diarrhea is a common symptom of many gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Diarrhea can be viewed as a red flag of sorts when it comes to gut health and definitely requires attention. Chronic diarrhea leads to other problems, such as malnutrition since your system is not able to absorb any nutrients from the food you eat because it is moving so quickly out of your body.
A food intolerance, like CSID, is a response to a food your system has trouble digesting. In the case of CSID, the body lacks an enzyme essential in digesting sucrose. However, it is also believed that some food intolerances may be caused by poor-quality bacteria in the gut, which can lead to difficulty digesting the trigger foods, resulting in unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea.
An unhealthy gut may also contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia, which can lead to chronic fatigue. As mentioned above, the majority of the neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin is also responsible for aiding the sleep cycle. So gut damage can impair your ability to sleep well.
Taking care of the body is an inside job. Watching what goes into it has a profound effect on the delicate balance of gut bacteria needed for you to thrive. Paying attention to subtle changes can have a huge impact down the road.
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