What state is your gut in right now? Are you a nutrition ninja or a miserable farty failure?
Your answer to that question may well be: ‘I’m not sure, how can I tell?’
Gut health is important but I would say that, I’m a gut geek. Don’t take it from me, take it from Justin, one of our many success stories. More about him in a moment.
What does it mean to say our gut is unhealthy? It means two big things aren’t right:
a) Our gut bugs – also known as our microbiome – have got out of balance, so that there’s not enough good bacteria.
b) Our gut wall has become damaged and leaky. If you’d like find out whether your gut is leaky, take our quiz.
The Signs of Gut Problems
For some people with gut issues, it’s very obvious that their gut is unhealthy because they suffer from all sorts of digestive distress such as diarrhea or bad gas.
However for others it’s far less obvious that their gut is unhealthy because the symptoms show up in other areas of the body, while their digestion remains more or less completely normal.
If you have a health issue that falls into one of these 5 broad categories, there’s a very high chance that your gut is unhealthy.
The good news is that the gut is at the root of many of these problems. This means that when you fix your gut, most of the related issues will be greatly improved or disappear completely.
It also means that as long as you keep your gut in good condition, these related health issues while stay gone, ensuring that you remain vibrant and healthy long into old age, rather than sliding slowly into problems obesity and dementia.
1. Digestive System
The first category is anything to do with our Digestive System.
For example you may have:
- Acid reflux
- Excessive and/or foul-smelling gas
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
These are just some of the problems that crop up when our digestion isn’t working properly, and they are all clear signals that our gut and microbiome are unhealthy.
2. Immune System
The second broad category is the Immune System.
Inflammation is part of our body’s response to something harmful, and it’s generally a helpful process. However, our immune system can get confused and misfire, setting up inflammation against stuff that isn’t actually a threat to us. This can show up with:
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Seasonal allergies – like hay fever
- Autoimmune conditions – like multiple sclerosis or coeliac disease
- Joint problems – like arthritis where we have aching and swollen joints
- Chronic tiredness – which can be caused by leaky gut and low-grade inflammation throughout the body
These are some of the problems that crop up when our immune system isn’t working properly, and they are all clear signals that our gut is struggling.
Why? Because our gut and immune system and very closely connected. So close that certain species of friendly bacteria are in communication with the cells of our immune system, guiding our cells on when to react and when not to.
In this category I’d also mention Candida, which is a yeast that’s always in our body but sometimes gets out balance, causing itchiness, thrush and other unpleasant symptoms.
Candida is normally kept under control by the natural balance of friendly bacteria in our body but runs rampant when the gut is unhealthy.
The third category is metabolism and weight control. Like many people you may have trouble:
- Losing weight
- Gaining weight
Being overweight is a clear signal that our gut is unhealthy. Why? Because our gut bugs can directly affect our metabolism, for example by controlling how many calories are extracted from the food we eat and the kinds of cravings we feel.
Being underweight is also common in folks with chronic gut issues, as they may be unable to absorb enough nutrients and energy from their food.
The fourth category is skin. For example you may have:
The fifth category is brain and mental health – for example you may have:
- Difficulty focusing or recalling stuff
These are all clear signals that our gut is unhealthy. Why? Because of the strength of the gut-brain connection.
Scientists have discovered that there is constant communication between the gut and the brain, so that whatever affects our gut affects our brain and vice versa.
Our friendly gut bugs also help produce important brain chemicals such as the neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine.
If you’d like to learn more about the possible reasons your gut is struggling, take a look at Why Your Gut Is Broken.
I’ve just given you a long and depressing list of ailments. That’s because the gut is like the roots of a tree: problems there will spread throughout our system.
But I don’t want to leave you with that. I prefer to focus on solutions. So, let’s take a quick look at one of our success stories.
Justin is a taxi driver and bodybuilder from the UK. He developed terrible Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) but didn’t receive much help from his doctors, who ran tests and said he was fine, when he knew he wasn’t fine at all.
Around that time he started following my Twitter feed and began using some of the strategies I talk about.
Fast forward to a year later and Justin said this:
Isn’t that awesome? You can read more about Justin’s journey in his blog post here.
Justin I salute you, you’re our Gut Geek of the Week!