How are you feeling today, Beauty? Feeling vibrant, beautiful and joyful? You should be! 🙂 But sometimes there are days where you just don’t feel your best. It happens to everyone.
Even if you’re eating well, sometimes you just don’t feel your best and feel it in your gut. If you’re consistently feeling crummy in your tummy, it could be a sign that something more serious needs to be addressed.
When your gut isn’t impaired or out of balance it can be an indication there are other health issues, but how do you know if you have an unhealthy gut? Especially if you’ve been living with one for a long time.
If you know what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to tell when your gut health deserves some attention.
Here are seven surefire signs of an unhealthy gut— some of them may surprise you!
Before first, let’s talk about why your gut health is so important.
What is Gut Health and Why is It Important?
Your gut is a lot more complex than you may think! It isn’t just where you digest your food. In fact, your gut health play a major role in your overall health. If your gut is unhealthy, likely you have other health issues too!
Your gut microbiome— the millions of microorganisms that live in your gut— is a necessary part of what keeps your body healthy.
Your gut health is connected to your immune health, your weight, your blood sugar and your skin health. Poor gut health has also been connected to skin conditions, endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases, and even some forms of cancer.
Can Poor Gut Health Affect Your Mood?
Yes— as well as being vital for your physical health, your gut health is key to positive mental health too. Digestive problems or an upset stomach can definitely make you feel cranky and unwell— but this isn’t the only effect that poor gut health can have on your mood.
That’s because your gut essentially has its own nervous system. This is why it’s often called your “second brain.” Because of this, your emotions and your entire state of mind are often communicated between your gut and your brain.
Your gut also creates many of your body’s “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. So if you’re feeling a little gloomy, less vibrant, or your stress levels are out of control, then it could be a sign that things are not quite right in your gut.
What is Leaky Gut?
A leaky gut can wreak havoc on your gut health. Leaky gut— or increased intestinal permeability— is when bacteria and toxins are able to “leak” through your intestinal wall. Normally, your intestines can prevent this but an unhealthy gut lining can make it much more likely that unwanted matter leaks through.
This can lead to inflammation, as well as imbalanced gut flora. When your gut microbiome becomes unbalanced, it can hinder the good bacteria’s ability to flourish while also allowing more bad bacteria to thrive. It can also cause bloating, gas, food intolerance and abdominal pain.
One important thing to know about leaky gut is that it’s not actually a medical condition, Beauty. So if you’re wondering, “can you test for a leaky gut,” no, you really can’t. However, if you have a leaky gut it’s a sure sign that something is not right.
What Are Signs of a Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut doesn’t have symptoms that are unique to itself. Instead, leaky gut symptoms are similar to a lot of other gut issues. A few of these symptoms include:
- Skin conditions, including acne, eczema or rashes
- Focus problems or difficulty concentrating
What Does Leaky Gut Feel Like?
Because leaky gut doesn’t have any unique symptoms, it’s hard to know for sure if you have a leaky gut. However, if you’re feeling backed up, uncomfortable or sluggish, then you may be dealing with an unhealthy and imbalanced gut.
Let’s look at this a little closer, Beauty.
7 Signs That You Have an Unhealthy Gut
Your gut health is probably something you don’t often think about much— until you’re having problems. So much of your overall health is influenced by your gut that you may be surprised what can go wrong with an unbalanced gut microbiome!
If you’re wondering, how do I know if my gut is healthy or unhealthy, here are seven signs to look for that will reveal whether you have an imbalance or an unhealthy gut that needs healing.
1. You Have a Lot of Gas or Bloating
Let me be clear, Beauty— some gas is a normal part of digestion! Digestion and your gut’s fermentation process naturally produce gas as your body breaks down food.
Gas is especially normal if you eat high fiber or high protein foods— or are just starting off on a plant-based diet.
Here’s an example. Everyone knows about how beans are the “musical fruit—” even though they’re legumes! That’s because beans are both high fiber and high protein, both of which are major causes of gas. And it’s normal to have some gas after you eat a lot of high-fiber or high-protein foods.
But there is a difference between gas and bloating. While intestinal gas can cause bloating, bloating is not something that is part of normal digestion. Bloating is caused by a buildup of gas in your intestines— or in other words, too much gas. It can also be caused by excess liquids like urine or even too much stool in your GI tract.
Feel Gassy or Bloated Often? This Might be Why
Your body may produce more gas or may be prone to bloating if you’re changing your normal diet. This is especially true if you’re a new vegan or following a plant-forward diet and your body is adjusting to all that new fiber in your diet. This isn’t a sign to cut back on the veggies though! Remember, your body will adjust to a new diet in time.
However, if you’re feeling gassy or bloated often, it may be a sign of another medical condition or that you’re eating the wrong foods. Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, lactose intolerance and irritable bowel disorder (IBD) can cause gas and bloating.
A poor diet or eating foods that don’t agree with your body— like gluten, carbonated drinks or dairy— will create excess gas and cause uncomfortable bloating. The best way to avoid this is to cut those foods, as well as processed food, out of your diet.
Some of the healthy bacteria in your gut produce more gas than others as they work also. However, if you have an imbalance in your gut microbiota— with more of these strains than you need— this can cause excess gas and bloating.
A good way to help address this is to take a digestive enzyme supplement. But not just any supplement— you need one with the specific strains that will help your body break fiber down more efficiently. My Feel Good Digestive Enzymes are formulated to do just that! 🙂
2. Your Skin is Dull and More Prone to Skin Conditions
A healthy gut microbiome is so important for healthy skin! I even devoted an episode How You Can Improve Your Microbiome for Great Skin on my podcast to this topic.
Having the right balance of gut bacteria can protect your skin against harmful bacteria, but it can also reduce the appearance of skin conditions. So if you suffer from acne, rosacea, psoriasis or eczema, your gut may be the problem! 
Acne is another common issue that can be a sign of poor gut health. I know this from experience, Beauty. I struggled with acne for years, and even when it was mild it kept me from looking and feeling my best.
One of the biggest myths about acne is that it’s caused by dirty skin. This typically isn’t the case though— acne can be caused by a variety of factors, including your diet!
High-fat foods and dairy products can cause inflammation, which can cause breakouts. On the other hand, a wholesome plant-based diet that’s low in fats, sugars and starches can help clear up your skin and help you feel beautiful both inside and out.
3. You Don’t “Go” Enough— or You “Go” Too Much
Diarrhea and constipation are both signs of an imbalance of bacteria in your microbiome.
In fact, one of the main culprits of constipation is an unbalanced gut microbiome. This is because some types of good bacteria— like Bifidobacteria— help keep you regular.
When you don’t have enough of those good strains, then you’ll begin to feel irregular and uncomfortable. You may not have enough of these good strains in your system if you’re not eating the right foods, or if you’re taking the wrong probiotic supplement.
On the other hand, some strains of bacteria can make you go too much if there are too many of them in your system. More specifically, strains like Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) are pathogens that can cause diarrhea.
A balanced gut microbiome has just the right amount of both good and bad bacteria. But when the bad bacteria start to outnumber the good, that’s when you begin to feel irregular and even sick.
4. You’re Grumpy and Irritable
We’ve all felt cranky and out-of-sorts when we have tummy trouble. Not only is it uncomfortable, but your digestive health has a much bigger effect on your mood than you might expect!
This is because your gut essentially has its own nervous system— earning it the nickname “the second brain.” Because of this, your state of mind and many of your emotions can be communicated to your brain from your gut. So if you’re not feeling like yourself, your gut may be trying to tell you something.
That’s because a majority of your “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are created in your gut. When you have an unhealthy gut, your body produces less of these vital neurotransmitters. As a result, you start to feel crabby, out of sorts, and less joyful.
5. You Can’t Focus
It can be hard to concentrate on an empty or unsettled stomach, but that isn’t the only way your gut can impact your ability to think clearly and focus.
When you have an imbalance of the right gut microbes it can negatively affect your learning, memory, and make it harder for you to concentrate. 
6. You’re Sick More Often
Your gut microbiome has a direct influence on your immune system. So if you’re having digestive issues, you may also start to feel under the weather.
It’s now known that 70-80 percent of immune cells are present in the gut.  It’s the interplay between the bacteria in your gut that has the greatest impact.
Your gut microbiome isn’t just all the healthy gut bacteria you need— it’s a very particular balance between both beneficial bacteria and potentially harmful strains.
Think back to what I said earlier about the importance of a balanced gut microbiome. If there are too many “bad” bacteria in your digestive tract, that can affect your immune system’s ability to fight disease and keep you healthy.
7. You’re Overweight or Gaining Unwanted Weight
Having a diverse and flourishing system of gut flora is important to maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, reduced diversity in your gut microbiome— or having fewer species of bacteria in your gut— may make you more likely to be overweight.
Remember when I mentioned that your gut is your body’s second brain?
A healthy gut is very good at letting you know what your body needs. However, having an imbalance of certain gut bacteria may make you more likely to crave— and consume— things that aren’t great for you.
These cravings can include excess fats as well as sugar. It may make your brain happy in the moment to eat those “comfort” foods, but in the long run this can really sabotage your gut health! 
Eating fruits and vegetables with lots of fiber helps feed the “good” bacteria strains that can crowd out the “bad” bacteria in your gut that increases cravings for sugar and unhealthy processed foods.
Signs of a Healthy Gut
You now know the signs of an unhealthy gut. Here is what you can expect with a healthy gut microbiome. Beauty, it’s like a complete transformation. When your gut microbiota is healthy, you’ll experience so many health and beauty benefits like:
- Regular digestion, and healthy waste elimination
- Glowing, beautiful skin
- A flatter, smoother tummy
- Soft, shiny and strong hair
- A healthier immune system
- A sharp and focused mind
In short, a healthy and functioning gut can make you feel beautiful both inside and out! But having an unhealthy gut can make it so much harder to live life to the fullest. But don’t worry Beauty— you don’t have to live with poor gut health.
Once you know the signs of an unhealthy gut, you can take the steps you need to heal! But if you’re wondering how to heal your gut, it’s much easier than you might think.
A healthy lifestyle goes a long way in helping you feel vibrant, centered and in tune with your body. Listen to your body— it won’t lead you astray.
With love and healing,
- Ellis, Samantha R, et al. “The Skin and Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Common Dermatologic Conditions.” Microorganisms, MDPI, 11 Nov. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc6920876/.
- Liu, Xiaofei, et al. “Modulation of Gut Microbiota-Brain Axis by Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Diet.” ACS Publications, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 25 Aug. 2015, pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02404.
- Wiertsema, Selma P, et al. “The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies.” Nutrients, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33803407/.
- Boesmans, W, et al. “Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Amplifies Neurotransmitter Responses and Promotes Synaptic Communication in the Enteric Nervous System.” Gut, BMJ Publishing Group, 1 Mar. 2008, gut.bmj.com/content/57/3/314.short.