10 Warning Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut and What to do About It

Your gut is the entire digestive tract that runs from your esophagus to your rectum. It does more than just take in food and excrete food, however.

Experts refer to the gut as the second brain. The microbes and nerves in the gut can launch communication with the brain, affecting everything from hunger to mood. If your gut is healthy, you have a proper balance of good and bad bacteria. Your stomach secretes the right amount of acid to help process your food, and your liver and pancreas release the right enzymes to further digest your food. The right balance of what you eat feeds your body. It also feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut that allow your food to be used effectively by the body. If your gut is healthy, your body and mind probably are too. 

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You might think that the signs of an unhealthy gut would be obvious. Of course, symptoms like digestive distress, bowel movement problems, and abdominal pain can signal that something is unhealthy in your gut.

However, other physical, emotional and mental warning signs can signal that your gut needs some serious TLC.

Here are 10 warning signs that you have an unhealthy gut and some tips for getting yourself back in balance.

1. Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

The lining of your intestines is filled with nerves that contain similar tissue like the brain. These nerves communicate with the brain. Your intestines also release the same feel-good neurotransmitters that are responsible for making you feel good. If your gut bacteria are in balance, you’re more likely to feel mentally balanced too.

2.You Get Sick a Lot

If you find that you catch every sniffle that goes around the office, all the vitamin C in the world may not help. According to the Gut Health Project, more than three-quarters of your immune system is found in your gastrointestinal tract.  Healthy gut bacteria to lose weight healthy microbiome, the balance of bacteria in your gut, produces healthy mucus that traps unwanted bacteria, viruses, and toxins and helps remove them from the body. Healthy mucus also allows your body to absorb the right vitamins and minerals to help support your immunity. If your gut is unhealthy, thick, harmful mucus can help the wrong bugs thrive and limit your body’s ability to use vitamins and nutrients properly, leading to what may seem like a constant sickness.

3.Skin Problems

Whether you have persistent acne, rosacea, eczema, dandruff or itchy, flaky skin, even the most intensive skin care routine may not fix the problem. That’s because your skin problems may be coming from your gut.

Skin experts refer to a gut-brain-skin axis that explains how gut health affects inflammation throughout the body, which in turn affects the skin. Acne is something that I have personally struggled with for YEARS! It was never so terrible that I needed to go to a doctor for it, but it was still constant and frustrating. So I cut those out, and then finally kicked the rest of it when I cleaned up the rest of my diet and started taking probiotics again. I had taken them regularly a few years ago, but I stopped for whatever reason at the time (and sorely wish I hadn’t

4.Stubborn Weight

If you have trouble losing weight no matter what you do, it may be due to an unhealthy gut. The bad news is that people who are overweight or obese have a different balance of intestinal bacteria than people who are at a healthy weight. The balance of microbes that you have from birth can set the stage for your weight throughout your life. The good news is that as overweight people lose weight, their gut becomes more balanced. Taking a probiotics supplement has also been shown to help with weight loss.

5.Autoimmune Disease

Gut health has been linked to autoimmune disease. Although experts aren’t sure exactly what causes autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and lupus, they do know that they occur when your immune system attacks its own healthy cells.

6.Acid Reflux

Frequent, unrelenting acid reflux is often caused by an unhealthy gut. This may explain why nothing seems to help your constant heartburn. Acid reflux, bloating, and burping is often caused by a buildup of unhealthy bacteria in the GI tract and stomach. Acid-reducing medications can actually help this bacteria thrive (3). Normally, stomach acid kills the bad bacteria. If you’re always neutralizing your stomach acid, however, you’re letting that bad bacteria grow.

7.Yeast Infections

Yeast can grow out of control when your system is imbalanced. The imbalance in the gut can show up as digestive issues, fungal infections of the skin, constant fatigue or even fibromyalgia. This can also cause a condition known as candida.

8.Lack of Energy

Lack of energy due to an unhealthy gut If you find it hard to dredge up any energy even when you’ve had enough sleep, you may have an unhealthy gut. An unhealthy balance of bacteria in the gut can prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients it needs from foods, leaving you tired all the time. An unhealthy gut can also be permeable, meaning that it lets in toxins through the intestinal walls. These unhealthy chemicals can also affect your energy levels.

9.High Cholesterol and Triglycerides

LiveScience explains that your gut microbes may influence your heart health. There are 34 microorganisms in the digestive tract that can influence the levels of fat in your blood. Researchers are also starting to find links between HDL, “good” cholesterol, and a higher biodiversity of gut bacteria.


If you have asthma, it might have been caused by the balance of bacteria that you had in your gut around the time of birth, according to this Time article.Dr. Hyman explains that balancing your gut can help improve asthma symptoms.

How Can You Build a Healthy Gut?
You might want to know what to do about your unhealthy gut. Maintaining a healthy gut involves making consistent healthy lifestyle choices, such as the following:

Eat whole, nutrient-rich foods – Eating a variety of clean, colorful foods provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to operate properly. Chemically processed foods often contain compounds that feed the bad bacteria and cause imbalance.
Eat less sugar – Sugar is another culprit that feeds the unhealthy bacteria. Eliminating it from your diet can help rebalance your intestinal microbiome.
Chew your food – When you don’t chew your food well enough, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to in order to feed the healthy bacteria and promote healthy digestion.
Stay hydrated – Water is necessary for just about every bodily function, including maintaining a healthy gut.
Detox – Following a gentle detoxification program can eliminate many of the factors that are causing inflammation on a daily basis, giving your gut a chance to heal and rebalance itself.
Drink apple cider vinegar – Adding a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water can boost the amount of acid in your stomach, helping your digestion to function properly.
Consume more probiotics – Eating fermented foods or taking probiotic supplements can help restore the balance in your gut.

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Written by Rachel Wilson