When your stomach is upset, it might be a signal of an unhealthy gut or a bigger problem to keep an eye on. A digestive illness affects approximately 60-70 million people in the United States, according to News in Health, causing uncomfortable symptoms like indigestion and heartburn. IBS is an umbrella term for unpleasant symptoms including abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. People who have IBS experience constipation, diarrhea, or even both. Many more people suffer from other digestive issues such as bloating and stomach discomfort, according to the website. We spoke with Sean Marchese, a registered nurse with over 15 years of direct patient care expertise and a background in oncology clinical trials, about what symptoms to look for and what it can mean to have an unhealthy gut.
1 — What Does “Having an Unhealthy Gut” Mean?
“It’s understood that a healthy gut is essential for preventing numerous ailments. A poor stomach might be caused by a variety of issues in the abdomen. Behavior and lifestyle adjustments may sometimes help to cure or improve an unhealthy gut. If you have frequent diarrhea or constipation and eat the same meals frequently, you might need to examine your food choices and make modifications. If you’re gaining a lot of belly fat, your dysfunctional gut might be a long-term issue that can be treated with diet and exercise changes,” states Marchand.
2 — How A Unhealthy Gut Can Affect Your Overall Health
“A damaged gut can cause apparent digestive problems such as acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or more serious issues including inflammatory bowel syndrome. Long-term or Chronic damage, on the other hand, may be more insidious and difficult to reverse. Inflammation caused by an unhealthy gut may also harm delicate organs like the liver and kidneys over time,” says Marchese.
3 — Unintentional Weight Changes
If your body is storing fat in a different way when you haven’t made any changes to your exercise habits or diet, it’s frequently a indication that your body is reacting and compensating for an unknown problem. Unintentional weight loss or gain might signify that your body isn’t absorbing enough nutrients or that your diet could be out of balance. If you have noticed unintentional weight loss, you should see a physician to determine whether it is due to an underlying disease like diabetes or cancer.
4 — Autoimmune Disorders
“The gut microbiome has a significant role in the body’s immune system,” according to Dr. Marina Marchese, chief of hematology-oncology at City of Hope. “When your immune system is not operating properly, it can begin to damage healthy parts of your body. It’s been discovered that an unhealthy stomach may cause systemic inflammation, which is similar to lupus and rheumatoid arthritis,” she adds.
5 — Gastric Disturbances
“An unhealthy gut might cause frequent gas pains, acid reflux, heartburn, bloating and nausea,” says Marchese. “These problems could be signs of an imbalance in beneficial gut bacteria. Your doctor can prescribe probiotics to help you treat gastric issues if this is the case. Probiotic-rich yogurts and other foods can also reduce bloat and gas pains while improving digestion.”