You wake up tired, struggle to focus, and crave caffeine and sugary foods throughout the day. Despite hydrating yourself regularly and eating a fairly balanced diet, you experience irregular bowel movements, and inconsistent gut symptoms including bloating, indigestion, stomach pain.
Digestive problems can be harmless and may go away on their own, however, when they persist, they are a sign of imbalance in the gut or elsewhere in the body.
If you experience one or some of these, speak to a Registered Nutritionist to investigate things further.
Gut health statistics in the UK
- It is estimated that 40% of the population suffer from at least one digestive issue symptom, according to Dr. Emmanuel at University College Hospital in London.
- 50% of IBS cases are undiagnosed (IBS is a common digestive condition resulting in altered stool type, abdominal pain, and bloating).
- ⅔ of the people who experience gut issues are female.
While it’s important to consult a health practitioner to diagnose rather than self diagnose, here are some signs to look out for:
1- Chronic Constipation and/or Diarrhea
A sudden and unexplained change of bowel habits must be investigated as soon as possible. While chronic constipation and diarrhea are fairly common gut issues, they still need to be addressed especially if they have been going for more than a week. Both can be signs of gut imbalance, overgrowth of bacteria or parasites but also hormonal imbalance.
Halitosis is the most common cause of poor oral hygiene, but can also be a sign of gut imbalance due to disruptive bacteria.
SIBO/H Pylori may be present with halitosis; this is due to the bacteria associated with these conditions causing an odor that can travel back up through the digestive tract. Similarly, GERD (i.e. reflux) can cause bad breath due to stomach acid and contents from the stomach rising up into your oesophagus. Constipation can lead to intestinal toxicity, meaning that toxins from your stool are absorbed into the bloodstream, creating an odor that can present as halitosis.
If your symptoms are persistent, please check with your doctor/health practitioner.
Tips for good oral health:
- Floss daily ideally after each meal
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Tongue scraping in the morning to remove food debris, fungi and toxins
- Oil pulling with Coconut Oil is a great way to also refresh your breath
- Probiotics mouthwash
- Regular visits to your dentist
3- Fatigue and Sluggishness
This is something that I see often with clients that do not detoxify well.
There may be constipation and/or irregular bowel movements, meaning toxins are not being excreted and therefore are circulating around the body, causing a strain on the liver’s ability to detoxify.
Side effects of infection may be causing fatigue or sluggishness, where pathogenic bacteria are releasing lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which can cause stress to the immune system and load the liver with more toxins to detoxify.
4- Burping, Gas, Flatulence, Bloating
Although gas is a normal part of our functioning digestive system, an excess of gas (due to an increase of bad bacteria) can lead to these symptoms. Additionally, low stomach acid can produce these symptoms as the body needs an adequate amount of stomach acid to digest foods, so when stomach acid is low, food can sit in the stomach for longer and cause excess fermentation of the foods. Excess fermentation = trapped gas = bloating / burping/flatulence
5- Skin Rashes, allergies
The skin and the gut are directly linked via the skin-gut axis, meaning that the bacteria in your gut influence the bacteria in your skin (yes, your skin has its own microbiome!).
Redness of the skin, dry patches, eczema, psoriasis, all of these skin conditions (and more) can be due to gut health.
6- Nausea post meals
If you’re feeling nauseous after eating, there is a chance that you’re not digesting your foods as well as you should be, and this could be due to a lack of digestive enzymes.
The first step would be to investigate the foods that are causing the nausea.
You will then be able to relate this to your nutritionist, which will then recommend the appropriate support/supplement. Lack of digestive enzymes may not be the cause; nausea after eating can signify a more serious health condition such as gallbladder disease or a stomach virus, which is why you should always consult your doctor.
7- Intense sugar cravings (coupled with fatigue, anal/vaginal itching)
Many strains of bad bacteria in your gut thrive off of sugar, including yeast. Therefore, too much yeast in your gut can lead to more intense sugar cravings – it’s a vicious cycle!
Candida is a yeast-like fungus that in small quantities is totally normal. But when it overgrows it causes gut dysbiosis and symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, anal itching, sugar cravings amongst others.
Aside from gut bacteria, blood sugar imbalance is also a very common driver of sugar cravings.
No matter what the cause, a balanced diet low in processed sugar but rich in healthy fats and protein is a great way to combat those cravings.
As always, consult a nutritionist or your doctor to understand the root cause of your symptoms.
All recommendations you read online are general guidelines to support you and help you go in the right direction.