Did you know that your gut is responsible for more than just digesting food? It also plays a crucial role in regulating your mood, energy levels, and immune system. So if you’re feeling run down, stressed out, or sick more often than not, it’s worth checking to see if you have a gut disorder.
Here are six ways to know if you have a gut disorder:
You’re always tired
If you’re frequently exhausted even after a good night’s sleep, it could be a sign that your gut is out of balance. That’s because your gut health is closely linked to your energy levels. When your gut is healthy, it’s able to absorb more efficiently and produce energy-boosting compounds like vitamins B and K.
But if you have a gut disorder, your body may not be able to properly absorb these nutrients, leading to fatigue.
You have digestive issues or abnormal stool appearance
Digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas are another common sign of a gut disorder. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it could be a sign that your gut is inflamed or not functioning properly.
The Center for Gastrointestinal Health has a useful guide on understanding the different types of stool, which can help you figure out if you might have a gut disorder.
You’re always getting sick
If you find yourself getting sick more often than not, it could be a sign that your gut is out of balance. That’s because a large part of your immune system is located in your gut. So when your gut is healthy, it’s better able to fight off infection and illness. But if you have a gut disorder, your immune system may not be as effective, you are more susceptible to sickness leaving.
You’re anxious or depressed
Your gut health is also closely linked to your mental health. In fact, your gut has been nicknamed the “second brain” because it produces many of the same chemicals that regulate mood, including serotonin. So if you’re feeling down or anxious, it could be a sign that your gut is out of balance.
You have food allergies or sensitivities
If you find that you’re suddenly allergic or sensitive to foods that you used to be able to eat without issue, it could be a sign of a gut disorder. That’s because a healthy gut is able to protect your body from foreign invaders, like food allergens. But if you have a gut disorder, your body may not be able to properly filter out these allergens, leading to an allergic reaction.
You have blood in your stool
Blood in stool is often a sign of inflammation in the gut. If you see blood in your stool, it’s important to consult with a doctor to rule out any serious underlying causes.
Now that you know how to spot a gut disorder, let’s discuss some common gut conditions that doctors see in daily practice.
What are some common gut disorders?
The most common gut disorders include:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a functional disorder of the gut. This means that there is no structural damage to the gut, but there is dysfunction in the way it works. IBS is characterized by long-term abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is a group of disorders that cause inflammation in the gut. The two types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD is characterized by chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. One important sign of IBD is blood in stool, which is a good way to differentiate it from IBS.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD is a disorder that causes stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn, chest pain, and a sour taste in the mouth. GERD is often treated with over-the-counter antacids or prescription medications.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease is characterized by bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. Unfortunately, the only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong gluten-free diet.
Functional dysepepsia is a disorder that causes chronic indigestion. It is often characterized by upper abdominal pain, bloating and nausea. Just like GERD, functional dysepsia is also treated with antacids.
How to maintain good gut health?
Although there’s no sure-fire way of preventing the disorders discussed above, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing them. These include:
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that is high in fiber and low in processed foods is important for maintaining a healthy gut. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is best.
Exercise is important for gut (and overall) health. It helps with gut motility and promotes a healthy weight, which is important for gut health.
Stress can have a negative impact on gut health. Try to reduce stress in your life by meditating, spending time with friends and family, or doing something you enjoy.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is important for gut health because it helps the body repair itself and optimize its functioning. Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night is ideal. Here is how you can build a better sleep routine.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for gut health. They can be found in yogurt, fermented foods, and dietary supplements.
Avoid excessive antibiotics
Antibiotics are important for treating bacterial infections, but they can also kill the good bacteria in your gut. Try to only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary.
The gut is a complex and vitally important organ — it’s time to start paying attention to it! If you think you may have a gut disorder, be sure to consult with your doctor. And, remember, you can promote gut health by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and taking probiotics.