Your gut microbiome is fragile environment. It can affect our immune system, our weight and many other aspects of health. So how do you know if our gut bacteria is unbalanced?
Is My Gut Bacteria Unbalanced?
Gut health is important. Probably more important than most people think. Research shows the state of a person’s gut microbiome can influence many other areas of their health.
It’s not just a case of gut pain and intestinal gas, there’s an ever-growing mountain of evidence that shows the statue quo between good and bad bacteria in the gut can have far-reaching effects.
It can influence immune function, mood, and various aspects of physical and mental health.
Autoimmune diseases, eczema, and other skin conditions, endocrine disorders, and other diseases. Research reveals unbalanced gut bacteria can affect the human body in staggering ways.
There’s a lot going on deep in the bowels of the body. Who knows what secrets future research may reveal?
The fact that you are reading this article suggests you may suspect your gut bacteria may be unbalanced and wish to confirm your suspicion.
There are many signs that can indicate a gut bacteria imbalance. However, before digging in, let’s take a quick look at the gut microbiome.
There are around 300-500 different species of bacteria living in the human intestines
Things to Know About Your Gut Microbiome
“Gut microbiome” is a term that refers to all the living microorganisms present in the intestines.
Our understanding of human biology is continually expanding. There was a time when medical experts thought the intestine was nothing more than a long tube curled up inside the abdomen.
Of course, in reality, that’s all it is. Digested food passes through the tube. Nutrients and energy pass through its thin walls and enter the blood and the things the body cannot use are eventually passed as poop.
Early medical pioneers never dreamed the intestinal tube could be home to important microorganisms but it is.
There are around 300-500 different species of bacteria living in the human intestines. Some of them are bad, others are beneficial. Collectively, they form the gut microbiome.
Probiotic bacteria is the term we use for describing the good bacteria strains. The term has somewhat superseded the name “gut flora” but the term gut flora is still used as well.
Probiotic bacteria serves many roles. One of the things it does is keep levels of bad bacteria under control. Our intestines are a battleground and the probiotic bacteria normally retains the upper hand.
If probiotic bacteria levels are too low and levels of bad bacteria are too high, the gut becomes “unbalanced.” This causes various problems and makes us more susceptible to disease.
We can help improve our bacteria levels by choosing probiotic foods that aid digestion such as cheese and kombucha.
Disruptive Factors (Things that Can Influence Your Gut Microbiome)
Various lifestyle factors can disrupt your gut microbiome. Alcohol, smoking, stress, lack of sleep, poor food choices; these are just a few of the things that can help the bad gut bacteria to gain an unhealthy prominence.
Antibiotics disrupt the microbiome as well. Doctors prescribe them to fight infections by killing bacteria. Antibiotics are important medications that can save lives but they are murder on the gut microbiome because they kill the good bacteria along with the bad.
Regardless of the cause, when gut bacteria levels become unbalanced it affects the health in many ways. A variety of ailments and conditions may provide an indication that things are not right in your gut.
6 Signs That May Mean Your Gut Bacteria Is Unbalanced
Before reading any further, it’s important to remember gut bacteria is not the only thing that influences human health. The list below reveals things that may indicate a gut imbalance but could be attributable to other things too.
1. Stomach Upsets and Bowel Problems
Stomach upsets and bowel problems often indicate a problem with the gut microbiome. Intestinal gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, or diarrhea; if you experience problems like these it may reveal your gut health is not as it should be.
2. Sleep Disturbances and Fatigue
If you have difficulty sleeping or find you awake multiple times during the night, it might be a sign your gut bacteria is unbalanced.
This may seem an unlikely scenario but it’s not as strange as it appears.
The hormone serotonin influences mood and sleep. Although 10% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the brain, the rest is manufactured in the gut. Once you know that the relationship between gut health and sleep becomes a little easier to understand.
Anything that disrupts sleep can cause daytime fatigue. Unbalanced gut bacteria is one of the things that do it. So, if you have difficulty sleeping or feel unusually fatigued, it may indicate your gut health is poor.
3. Weight Changes
Weight gain is a problem that’s usually due to bad lifestyle choices. It’s what normally happens when you continue putting too much food into your mouth.
However, if you suddenly begin gaining weight out of the blue when your lifestyle remains the same, it could be due to an unhealthy balance in your gut microbiome.
When gut bacteria is unbalanced, it can impair your ability to absorb nutrients. It may also influence your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and store fat.
As well as causing unexpected weight gain, changes in the gut microbiome may also result in weight loss. If you suddenly find you are losing weight for no apparent reason, it may be due to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/)
4. Skin Irritations
Eczema and certain other skin problems may also provide an indication of issues in the gut.
When the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can cause intestinal Inflammation. This may allow certain compounds to leak through the intestines into the blood, causing eczema and similar issues.
5. Food Intolerances
Food intolerance happens when the body has problems digesting certain foods. It’s a little different from a food allergy.
Food allergies are the results of an immune reaction to the offending food. There’s evidence to suggest food intolerances may be due to poor quality gut bacteria. Instead of an immune response, the food triggers gut problems such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
So if you have noticed you get gut problems after eating certain foods, it may be possible to treat the “intolerance” by taking steps to naturally improve your gut microbiome.
6. Autoimmune Conditions
Autoimmune diseases cause the body to attack itself instead of invading pathogens. Some research suggests unbalanced gut bacteria may be one possible cause.
Experts speculate this might happen when gut imbalances increase systematic inflammation that causes modifications in the way the immune system normally works.