7 Signs You Might Have an Unhealthy Gut
Do you assume that symptoms like heart burn, constipation, bloating are just consequences of every day life? How often are you sidelined by these annoying symptoms? These common symptoms can happen to all of us at one time or another, but they shouldn’t be happening so often that it negatively affects your life.
You may be suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorder in the US. IBS comes as a collection of common symptoms. Can you relate?
- Did you wake up bloated or feel bloated at the end of your day?
- Did the pants you put on this morning feel tight at night?
- Do you experience changes in your bowel movements that include diarrhea and/or constipation?
- Do you often feel pain in your abdomen?
- Do you experience excessive gas at inopportune times?
- Do you cramp after eating certain foods?
- Do you feel more tired than you think you should?
So, what’s really going on? Consider this…your brain and your gut (technically speaking, it is called the microbiota gut-brain axis) are constantly communicating. That communication influences how our food makes us feel by affecting the flow of digestive enzymes, how quickly foods move through our system, and the experience of pain after we eat. This disorder can be embarrassing and often disrupts your daily life, but the good news is that there is something you can do about it.
Several factors impact our gut health including how we manage our stress, what and how we eat, poor sleep habits and lack of physical activity. When you don’t feel good it seems overwhelming but small changes can give you big results.
Think about how when you experience anxiety or stress you often feel it in your gut in the form of butterflies, nausea or a quick trip to the bathroom….the gut really is connected to the brain.
When we experience the “stress response” there are chemical changes that happen in our body. When our stress becomes chronic these changes begin to wreak havoc on our health.
Our food choices and eating habits also play an important role in our gut health. Often eating becomes a coping skill when we are stressed, and poor food choices can create oxidative “stress” which can cause inflammation wreaking havoc on our health.
The release of chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol cause a chemical cascade which results in:
- Changes in heart rate, blood pressure and energy level.
- Increases blood sugar levels which over time cause insulin resistance.
- Changes in the gut flora (bacteria) by reducing beneficial bacteria and increasing harmful ones.
- These changes create inflammation in the cell lining causing intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”.
- Inflammation disrupts our immune response which can put us at risk for infections and exacerbation of disease.
Are you “stressing” yourself out trying to find a solution? Have you followed too many diets that your friend or coworker recommended that didn’t work for you? Is it gluten? Should I avoid dairy? Does organic matter? Sugar is in everything! How do I avoid that?
The solution you are after may just be working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Sometimes figuring out which foods are aggravating your symptoms can be an overwhelming experience, this is where the expertise of a dietitian can help. A plan developed with you in mind helps you better manage stress by putting you in control of your food choices.
You don’t have to do it alone! Call The Nutrition Professionals to help guide you and find relief today.
Stephanie Espinoza, MA, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
The Nutrition Professionals | nutritionpro.net
Leandra Durham, Dietetic Intern, University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Nutrition Professionals is a team of registered dietitian nutritionists who provide evidence based medical nutrition therapy to improve health through improved nutrition. We assess the nutrition and lifestyle needs of our clients and develop an individualized plan that achieves specified health goals.