Is Your Gut Bacteria Out of Balance? 6 Signs It Is and What to Do About It

Your gut is swimming with millions of bacteria. All of that bacteria make up the largest part of our body’s micro-biome. The key to good gut health is maintaining a balance between the good and bad bacteria in the micro-biome. If your gut is acting differently than normal, it could be unbalanced. An unbalanced gut can lead to experiencing any number of health issues. 

6 Reasons Your Gut Is Out Of Balance

1. Digestive Discomfort

Constipation, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, acid reflux, or heartburn happen. But, they are symptomatic of an unbalanced gut. A healthy digestive system will have less trouble processing food and getting rid of waste. 

2. Unexpected Weight Change

Losing or gaining weight without changing diet or exercise habits can point straight to an unhealthy gut. A gut that’s not balanced can have trouble absorbing nutrients, regulating blood sugar, signaling that you’re full, and storing fat. Lack of diversity in the gut micro-biome can be a precursor to obesity which can lead to even more serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. 

3. Constant Fatigue

Being constantly tired, even before the day has begun, can be an indication that your gut is acting up. Lack of diversity in gut bacteria has been directly linked with lack of energy, chronic fatigue, and sleep disorders like insomnia and restless sleep. Serotonin, a hormone that affects sleep and mood is produced in the gut. A gut that’s not functioning properly can have a hard time producing or regulating serotonin which can affect your ability to get a good, restful night’s sleep. 

4. Irritating Skin Conditions

Gut health affects everything, even the skin. Conditions like eczema and acne have been linked to inflammation in the gut caused by food allergies, poor diet, and lack of good gut bacteria. When the gut is unbalanced with more harmful bacteria than good bacteria, it can wreak havoc on your skin. 

5. Food Intolerances

When the term “food intolerance” comes up, many people think of food allergies. But, just because a certain type of food, like dairy or wheat, upsets your stomach doesn’t necessarily mean you actually have an allergy, or even an intolerance. The reason that particular food is causing you gastric distress is that your microbiome is probably out of balance. Your gut might simply be lacking enough of the good bacteria needed to effectively break down certain foods. 

6. Mood Changes

The gut has been shown to have so much influence over the body’s functions that it’s often referred to as your “second brain.” Research is confirming over and over that things like anxiety, depression, mood swings, and emotional health are tied to the state of your gut. The presence of good bacteria in the gut support the production and regulation of important mood-enhancing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. 

6 Things You Can Do About It

1. Change Your Diet

Diet has a huge impact on gut health and the balance of good and bad bacteria. Reducing the number of foods that are processed, high-sugar, and high-fat can lead to a healthier gut. Aim for a balanced diet that includes lots of plant-based foods, lean proteins, and fiber. 

2. Get More Sleep

Getting enough sleep can help promote a healthy gut. Sleep deprivation can lead to a decrease in beneficial gut bacteria. In turn, a lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut can lead to more sleep issues. It’s a vicious cycle. 

3. Avoid Unnecessary Medications

Adding more chemicals and medications to the gut will only exacerbate any issues you’re already having. While some medications are truly necessary and serve a purpose, like life-saving antibiotics, limit them to what you really need and what your doctor recommends. Antibiotics, for example, can totally deplete the good bacteria in your gut while fighting off the bad bacteria. Other medications like NSAIDs, antacids, birth control, steroids, and hormone replacers can also harm your gut’s good bacteria. 

4. Supplement with Prebiotics and Probiotics

A great way to improve your gut health is to add a prebiotic and probiotic to your diet. Prebiotics can easily be added to your diet by eating more foods such as bananas, garlic, onions, and leafy greens. Probiotics can be found in yogurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, non-pasteurized pickled vegetables, and kefir. Both can also be added as dietary supplements, but consult with your gastroenterologist to ensure you are taking high-quality supplements that won’t end up harming your gut biome further. 

5. Drink More Water

One of the simplest ways to promote good gut health is to drink more water. Increased water intake can help keep things moving in the digestive tract as well as promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Avoid replacing water with things like caffeinated or alcoholic beverages which can further irritate your gut. 

6. Avoid Stress

It’s easier said than done, but reducing stress can help balance your gut. Small changes like taking a walk, getting a massage, yoga, or something as simple as getting in a few laughs can reduce stress hormones allowing the gut to produce more serotonin and dopamine.