The microbiome is located within the large intestine and is home to a vast array of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses. This complex system aids in digestion regulates the immune system and produces critical vitamins. Thus, when something goes wrong with the balance in the microbiome, it can lead to infection, chronic illness, and other serious health implications.
When your gut health is on track, you won’t even notice the microbiome working in your favor. Yet, factors such as poor dietary choices, exposure to toxins, and certain medications can throw off the delicate balance of good to bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. Fortunately, there are usually telltale signs you can watch for to see if your gut health may need some attention. Here are just a few to consider:
Occasional gas, bloating, and diarrhea could be normal. Yet, when these symptoms become frequent, it’s important to rule out underlying intestinal issues, including conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
If your weight is changing without any differences in diet and exercise, take note. Metabolism is largely influenced by gut health, and if your microbiome is unbalanced, your body may be struggling to properly absorb and use nutrients. You could lose weight due to a lack of good bacteria, or gain as a result of overeating to compensate.
Researchers have identified a connection between certain skin conditions and gut inflammation. In particular, watch for sudden flare-ups of acne, psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea.
There are several potential causes of bad breath, including dental issues. Yet, it’s also possible for an odor to come from deeper within the body – including the microbiome. If the balance is off, your entire digestive system could be impacted, potentially leading to bad breath-inducing issues like heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Anxiousness or Mood Swings
Oftentimes, an upset stomach and anxiousness go hand-in-hand. This makes sense, since the gastrointestinal tract may have more to do with emotional health than we previously thought. While anxiety can worsen gut issues, it’s also possible that intestinal imbalances could lead to mood changes. This is likely due to the fact that the majority of the body’s serotonin, a critical hormone-regulating emotion, is located in the gut.
If you think your gut health may need a bit of attention, here are a few ways you can improve it:
- Reduce your sugar intake. Added sugars can disrupt the microbiome’s balance, so try to cut back on heavily processed, sugary foods.
- Maintain a diverse diet. Keep gut health in check by incorporating many different vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources, healthy fats, and whole grains into your meals. Fermented foods, such as yogurt and sauerkraut, are also beneficial, as they have probiotics to support gastrointestinal wellness.
- Get plenty of fiber. The nutrient is important for healthy digestion, but the American diet often lacks sufficient fiber. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables are all good sources, but incorporate the nutrient slowly to avoid overwhelming your system.
Of course, if you have any GI symptoms which persist for more than a few days even after switching up your diet, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor.
Another option is to seek a functional medicine doctor or a provider that can test for key nutritional deficiencies. Stemedix offers this comprehensive personalized testing, contact a Care Coordinator at 800-531-0831 for more information.