Gut health affects all parts of the body, and many symptoms you may think are unrelated could actually be caused by an imbalance in the bacteria within your digestive system. This can include heartburn, food sensitivities and unexplained weight gain.
A diet rich in prebiotics (foods that feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract) and low in processed foods can help improve digestion.
A healthy digestive system is able to move waste and stool easily through the colon. Stool is made up of a mix of water, undigested food nutrients, insoluble fiber and intestinal bacteria. The muscle contractions of the colon massage waste down the length of the large intestine and it is then removed from the body through the anus.
When constipation sets in, this is a sign that your digestive system isn’t working properly. Usually, it occurs when the colon absorbs too much water from poop, making it hard in consistency and difficult to push out of the body. Other reasons for constipation include a low-fiber diet, not drinking enough fluids, and putting off the urge to go to the toilet. Constipation may also be caused by a medical condition such as diabetes or a thyroid problem.
If you’re suffering from chronic constipation, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider. They will ask about your symptoms and history of bowel movements. They will also do a physical exam, including a rectal examination using a gloved hand and lubrication. Your healthcare provider may order blood work to check for other conditions that can cause constipation such as anemia and thyroid disease.
2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
If you’re suffering from abdominal pain and changes in your bowel habits, it’s time to visit a doctor. Irritable bowel syndrome is a GI disorder that’s caused by multiple factors. These include a dysfunctional gastrointestinal tract, visceral hypersensitivity (extra-sensitive nerves in the intestines), and brain-gut dysfunction (miscommunication between the gut and the brain). IBS can interfere with daily life activities and cause stress for many people.
The condition is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. It is more common in women and tends to occur in early adulthood. Fortunately, IBS doesn’t do any permanent damage to the intestines and does not lead to other serious bowel conditions.
While it’s impossible to cure IBS, there are some steps you can take to reduce your symptoms. For example, try eating smaller meals and avoiding foods that can trigger your symptoms. Also, consider working with a registered dietitian to follow a diet that may help ease your IBS symptoms. One such diet is the low FODMAP diet. This diet is a great option for reducing IBS symptoms, including bloating, cramps and diarrhoea. It also helps if you avoid stress because it can cause your symptoms to worsen.
3. Food Cravings
Food cravings are common, but they don’t always indicate a nutritional deficiency. Cravings can also be triggered by the environment or the context of eating. For example, watching football may seem incomplete without nachos and wings.
Research suggests that certain foods, such as sugar and fats, can trigger cravings because they release serotonin in the brain to counteract stress and anxiety. This may explain why people crave these foods when they are anxious or in a foul mood.
It is important to not let your food cravings go too far, as consistently giving into them can lead to weight gain and unhealthy habits over time. Instead, try to eat regularly throughout the day and find healthy alternatives to your favorite snacks.
Keeping a food craving journal can help you identify your triggers. Write down the time of day you experience cravings, the emotion you were feeling when you experienced them, and what type of food you were craving. This can help you identify patterns, such as a sensitivity or allergy to a particular food that causes your cravings. Also, be sure to get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep can contribute to digestive issues like GERD and IBS.
Fatigue can be a sign that something is wrong with your digestive system. People with poor digestion often experience fatigue due to a lack of healthy bacteria, which can interfere with nutrient absorption and lead to a variety of other health problems.
Fatigue is a feeling of low energy and inability to perform your normal daily tasks. It can affect both physical and mental performance. It is different from drowsiness, which is the feeling of needing to sleep. Fatigue is also different from apathy, which is a general feeling of indifference and inability to concentrate or feel motivated.
Most people feel tired at some point, but unrelenting fatigue may be a sign of a medical condition that needs treatment. This could include anemia (a condition in which your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells), sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or vitamin deficiencies.
Fatigue is best treated by getting enough good quality sleep, eating a balanced diet, and staying active. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can interfere with sleeping patterns. Try keeping a fatigue diary to find patterns throughout the day and see if there are any changes that can improve your energy levels.
5. Gas and Discomfort
Some gas and belly pain is normal, but persistent bloating or discomfort might be a warning sign of a digestive issue. A change in bowel habits, mucus or weight loss could also be symptoms of an imbalance of gut bacteria, says gastroenterologist Kyle Staller. Cleanse, detox, and support digestion with Digestion and detox products.
Everyone swallows air when they eat and drink, which can contribute to excess gas in your digestive tract. This happens when good bacteria in your large intestine ferment carbohydrates in your diet and create gases that are passed through your mouth (belching or flatulence). But if you have gas frequently or it’s very smelly, this may be a sign of an imbalance of your digestive bacteria, which can lead to indigestion and nutrient deficiencies.
Increasing your intake of water and cutting down on foods high in sugar and fat can help prevent excessive gas. You can also avoid dairy products if you’re sensitive to lactose, as well as foods that are known for causing gas and bloating, like beans and cabbage. In addition to drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly can also help decrease belly discomfort. This works because it helps to move any food and liquid through the GI tract more quickly, which can help reduce excess gas.
6. Brain Fog
Brain fog is a feeling of being spacey or confused. It can make it difficult to concentrate, remember things, or stay on task.
Posters on Reddit described brain fog in association with a broad range of circumstances, including illness and disease (such as COVID-19), neurodevelopmental disorders, prescribed and non-prescribed medication use or discontinuation, recreational drug withdrawal and self-perceived masturbation.
If you’re experiencing brain fog, the first thing to do is talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to take a look at your medical history and do some blood work if necessary. They may recommend vitamin supplements or change your medications if they’re causing your brain fog.
A healthy gut microbiome is critical to brain function. It is also important to get adequate sleep and exercise, which can help improve your memory and cognition. Another easy and natural way to improve your mental clarity is to try intermittent fasting, where you eat only small meals throughout the day. It can help reduce symptoms of depression and other health conditions that affect brain function, like thyroid disorder or nutrient deficiency. It can also help with weight loss, as eating smaller meals over a longer period of time helps to reduce cravings and promote satiety.
7. Weight Gain
If you’re noticing unintended weight changes, it could be a sign of poor digestive health. The gut is responsible for breaking down food, absorbing vitamins and nutrients, and secreting waste. When it’s not working properly, the whole body can be affected.
Food allergies, sensitivities, and imbalanced bacterial populations can lead to digestive issues like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. If you think you may have one of these conditions, try keeping a food journal to help identify which foods trigger your symptoms. It’s also important to get enough sleep as this can improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the GI tract.
Medications can also disrupt the bacterial balance in the gut and cause gastrointestinal symptoms. If you’re experiencing a change in your digestion after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor about it.
To improve your digestive health, limit processed and high-sugar foods and start eating smaller meals throughout the day. Eat more fiber-rich foods and add probiotics to your diet. You can find probiotics in supplements or from foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. It’s been shown that hydration can reduce the symptoms of IBS, acid reflux, and GERD.