In This Article
In This Article
Your gut flora or microbiota consists of good and bad bacteria. An imbalance favoring bad bacteria results in an unhealthy gut and certain digestive problems.
A lot of factors can trigger gut flora imbalance. These include medications, illness, and eating foods that are bad for your gut.
Many symptoms are related to digestion, such as irritable bowel syndrome, but you can also experience symptoms unrelated to digestive health.
The gut is essential for many reasons. Your body relies on your digestive tract to:1
A healthy gut will show positive signs and be able to function correctly. You’ll feel better overall—mentally and physically.
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Gut imbalance can develop when there are too few good bacteria or an excess of bad bacteria in your gut. This is called bacterial overgrowth.
Usually, there's a delicate balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. In the case of bacterial overgrowth, bad bacteria disrupt the balance, causing some health concerns.
Some of the factors that cause this imbalance are out of your control. For instance, you can’t change how old you are or if you need to take antibiotics for an infection.
Other factors that affect your gut flora are within your control. For example, eating gut-healthy foods helps maintain a healthy gut and balance gut microbes.
Here are ten signs of an imbalanced gut microbiota:
Do you experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or heartburn after eating? It could be a sign your gut is out of balance and struggling to process and eliminate the food you’re eating.
You should talk to your doctor about any pain or discomfort, especially when they arise after eating certain foods. But in many cases, you can relieve your symptoms by restoring your gut flora.
Scientists discovered a link between your gut and energy levels. People with chronic fatigue had an imbalanced gut microbiome. They were also likely to experience leaky gut syndrome.2
Prebiotics and probiotics are believed to be a component of healthy gut flora. They produce short-chain fatty acids, which are vital for energy production.
You can take prebiotic and probiotic supplements to help correct any imbalance.
Many common food intolerances are linked to gut flora imbalance.3 If you have issues with certain foods, it’s best to avoid them.
In some cases, balancing your gut allows you to re-introduce problem foods into your diet without triggering any negative symptoms.
If you’re unsure, you can take at-home tests that check for food intolerances.
Food cravings aren’t always caused by emotional eating or bad eating habits. It may be a symptom of a gut flora imbalance.
In many cases, overeating sugar and artificial sweeteners causes bad bacteria in the gut to develop. An altered gut microbiome can affect the foods you want to eat.4
Gut bacteria imbalances and digestive issues are known to cause skin problems, such as:5
Conditions that cause them include small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s, and celiac disease. Studies show that treating them either reduces your skin problems or completely reverses them.
An altered gut microbiome can also increase your risk for infections and gut irritation. It can also affect your immune system. Both can trigger stress and immune system response, leading to poor health.6
Over the past decade, researchers have linked gut bacteria to autoimmune conditions. Examples include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, thyroid problems, and lupus.7
If you have an autoimmune disorder, you are more likely to have an unhealthy gut.
Signs that you may have an autoimmune disease include:
Unexplainable weight fluctuations may be a symptom of gut dysbiosis. When your gut is imbalanced, your body will struggle to absorb nutrients, store fat, and regulate blood sugar.8
This can cause you to gain or lose weight.
Try using a food tracking app to watch the foods you eat. The best food trackers we recommend suggest healthy foods that are also good for your gut.
They can provide nutritional information, such as the amount of calories and types of nutrients they contain.
Serotonin, a hormone that plays a role in sleep quality, is mainly produced in your gut. When your gut isn’t healthy enough to produce enough serotonin, this can affect your sleep.9
Headaches have been linked to poor gut health. Research shows that people who frequently experience digestive issues like nausea, diarrhea, reflux, and constipation also get more headaches than those who don’t have them.
Digestive conditions such as IDB and celiac disease have also been linked to migraines. If you have them, treatment can help reduce your headaches.10
Having a positive attitude is difficult when you don’t feel your best. This is true when you’re dealing with gut flora imbalances. Mood disorders like anxiety may be caused by gut problems as well.11
Here are some ways to improve gut health:
Consume more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Plant-based foods provide essential fiber that nourishes beneficial gut bacteria.
Incorporate prebiotics into your diet. These are non-digestible fibers that feed probiotics. Prebiotics include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and bananas.
Plant-based foods offer a wide range of nutrients that your gut and the rest of your body need to function well. Many of these foods have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe your gut and reduce the risk of gut problems.
Consulting with a registered dietitian can be a game-changer in making healthy food choices and improving your eating habits. They can provide you with guidance to help you achieve a healthy gut.
Overeating sugar or processed foods can be bad for your gut. Excess sugar and processed foods can disrupt the balance of beneficial gut bacteria and lead to irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, and unintentional weight gain.
Minimize your intake of sugary snacks and heavily processed meals to improve gut health.
Proper hydration is vital for healthy digestion and overall gut health. Drink eight to ten glasses of water throughout the day.
Take antibiotics only when needed, as they can disrupt the healthy gut microbiome. Always follow your doctor’s advice when taking these medications.
Regular exercise contributes to a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. Target for at least 150 minutes of moderate workout per week.
Physical activity also reduces stress. You can ensure a healthy gut with stress kept to a minimum or eliminated.
Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night to improve gut health. Poor sleep patterns can negatively impact your gut.
There’s a gut-brain connection. The gut is usually called the “second brain” because it communicates directly with the actual brain and affect your mental and overall well-being.
When your gut is healthy, it has the right balance of good bacteria to digest food and absorb nutrients properly.
When knocked out of balance, it can lead to digestive problems, make you crave sugary foods, and even impact your mental health.
If your digestive symptoms and overall health are still severely impacted, it may be good to check in with your healthcare provider.
Keeping your gut healthy is vital to your overall well-being. It affects your immune system and even your mood and mental health.
A healthy gut microbiota can help calm your immune system, making it less likely to overreact to food. Food allergies happen when your immune system goes out of control and attacks harmless food. Gut imbalances can worsen food allergies.
Food intolerances usually occur when your gut has trouble breaking down certain parts of food, like not being able to handle dairy or gluten. Gut imbalances can increase the chances of having intolerance symptoms.
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiota is important to being healthy.
A balanced digestive system ensures you can carry out your daily activities without discomfort and lowers the risk of developing illnesses requiring medication.
Many bacteria in the gut are beneficial and essential for health. So, it's not recommended to thoroughly "flush out" all gut bacteria. Yet, there are measures you can take to rebalance your gut microbiome by reducing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Making a change in your diet can significantly impact your gut health. You can flush out the bad bacteria by increasing fiber intake, reducing sugar and processed foods, and prioritizing probiotic foods.
High-fiber foods promote a healthy gut microbiota.
Bad bacteria feed on sugar and processed foods. To eliminate them, starve them by significantly reducing your sugar intake and processed food consumption.
Fermented foods rich in probiotics are great for keeping the gut healthy.
Consider taking probiotic supplements with specific strains known to fight bad bacteria. Consult with a registered dietitian for guidance on choosing the right probiotic.
Add herbs and spices with antimicrobial properties to your diet, such as oregano, thyme, garlic, and ginger. They are great for improving overall gut health and flushing bad bacteria.
A gut or colon cleanse is a process used for detoxing and keeping your gut clean. It is often associated with colonoscopy.
Both gut and colon cleansing aim for the same goal but go about it differently.
Gut cleansing focuses on making your gut clean by making dietary changes, altering your lifestyle, and using supplements or herbs to naturally cleanse your digestive system.
On the other hand, colon cleansing often involves pumping around 16 gallons of water into your colon through a tube inserted into your backside, followed by an enema to flush it all out.
Figure out when and how you'll do your gut cleanse. It should fit your lifestyle to avoid surprises like sudden bathroom trips.
If you suspect an overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria or are experiencing persistent digestive issues, consult with a registered dietitian. They can conduct tests and provide targeted treatment if needed.
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