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GI distress

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Gastrointestinal distress (GI distress) is the most obvious sing for an unhealthy gut. Your symptoms of this may include acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating and this may be due to your lifestyle choices and stress. Nothing is a quick and easy fix, but some ways to help this is by staying hydrated, eating small and frequent meals, and getting a good nights rest.


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If you have had a mental or physical fatigue long term, then you may also be a sufferer of having an unhealthy gut microbiome. This is predicted as gut bacteria plays a big role in the energy of the metabolism. A way to attempt to make your gut healthy is by reducing your animal protein, and instead eating a variety of plant-based foods.


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If you have a good, quality sleep, then the health of your gut should should be of a high quality too. However, if you suffer with insomnia, your guts will have a ripple effect. Gut bacteria regulate sleep through the gut-brain axis. This allows the brain and gut to communicate with one another. Insomnia disrupts the internal clock of our bacteria, making our gut deteriorate in health.

Food intolerance

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In the depletion of health guy bacteria or a ‘leaky gut’, where the intestinal barrier isn’t functional, toxins and bacteria may enter your body through undigested food in the intestinal lining and, subsequently, bloodstream. This can be extremely uncomfortable and limiting, as you become unable to eat foods that you used to enjoy.

Food cravings

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You must ensure you have a healthy and balanced gut flora. A gut flora is made up of friendly bacteria and other microbes. Having an unbalanced gut flora, caused by a poor or ill-functioning gut, can make you crave unhealthy foods. Cravings are natural, but a balanced gut flora will not alter our taste receptors in this same way or to the same intensity.

Weight changes

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The gut flora also effects our energy, in terms of how efficiently the energy from our food is used and stored. Therefore, having an unhealthy gut often results in obesity-related disorders due to fatigue and unhealthy cravings. The actual structure of our gut microbiome can also be negatively impacted by this, as our gut is massively impacted by what we consume and vice versa.

Skin irritation

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The link between the health of our gut and skin irritation is not fully understood. It has been predicted, however, that there is communication between the gut and skin – similar to the way in which the gut and brain communicate. Studies suggest that if there is an overpopulation of certain bacteria then there may a risk of ‘leaky gut’ and inflammation due to skin conditions like psoriasis.

Auto-immune conditions

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When bacteria is passed through the gastrointestinal lining, it can often cause an inflammation due to bad bacteria being detected within the gut. This then forces the immune system to become triggered to attack healthy tissue. Chronic auto-immune disorders like lupus are infamously difficult to tackle, however, there are new therapies that target the bacteria instead.

Mood Changes

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90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, therefore an unhealthy gut can affect your mood. This is because serotonin carries messages through the body and regulates biological functions, like mood. So if you have an unhealthy gut, the gut will communicate this through the vagus nerve to the brain, causing you to have mood swings. You can often treat this with SSRI’s (serotonin reuptake inhibitors).


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Now, not all migraines are correlated with poor gut health, but they are commonly know to be a key symptom of an unhealthy gut. There is a need for further studies on the theory, however, researchers have theorised that there may be a link between the two – citing potential links to the diet and hydration habits of the sufferer.


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17.8% of Americans in 2023 report currently living with depression, and it can impact anyone at any time. You might not think it, but poor gut health and depression can be inextricably linked. Healthcare professionals apparently consider gut health as a factor when patients present symptoms of depression, as the connection between brain and body is a very real one.


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Another issue to consider when it comes to gut health red flags is anxiety. This is a mental health problem that impacts more than 42 million adults in the USA each year. Similarly to depression, the link between poor gut health and anxiety is closer than many think, making it essential to get this issue dealt with as soon as possible.

Chronic diarrhea

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One of the biggest red flags that may signify poor gut health is chronic diarrhea, which is defined as occurring three or more times in 24-hours. Of course, chronic diarrhea can be caused by a number of issues, but it is important to understand that this is something that can be linked to poor gut health, so you can be treated ASAP.

Difficulty focusing

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It may come as a surprise but, if you feel like you are experiencing difficulty focusing on important elements of your day to day life, it could be because of poor gut health. Inflammation in your gut can lead to to inflammation in your brain, which can prevent your brain from operating at the optimum level, making it harder to carry out daily tasks.


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Gut health is directly linked to a number of skin breakouts such as eczema. This is something that can impacts your appearance, self-esteem, confidence, and more, as well as proving to be particularly sore or uncomfortable. Bacterial overgrowth in the gut is known to contribute to these breakouts so, to clear up the issue, you need to improve your gut health as soon as you can.

Hormonal imbalance

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Gut microbiome can be impacted by hormones and the environment in the gut plays a role in hormone balance, as well as impacting the immune system. Bacteria in the gut known as estrobolome can cause an excess or deficiency of microbiome, which throws off the body’s hormonal balance and can play havoc with your mind and body.


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Bloating can be uncomfortable, annoying and is undeniably linked to poor gut health. If you are observing a poor diet or poor lifestyle choices, your gut will be the first to know about it. An irritated gut will be prone to intense bloating and similar issues but, luckily, is something that can often be avoided with simple lifestyle changes. Try consume a balanced diet, plenty of water and get sufficient rest.


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Nausea can be a very debilitating condition, and this can be one of the biggest indicators that you are experiencing poor gut health problems. Of course, there could be other issues involved in this as well, but this can be one of the biggest red flags that you need to work on a healthier gut.

Abdominal pain

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There are a lot of issues that can be linked to abdominal pain but one of the biggest ones could wind up being poor gut health. This is because your digestive system is struggling to process food and drink, as well as remove waste. It’s an obvious one but, if you are experiencing stomach issues or related symptoms, it could be worth seeing a professional to find the root cause.


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Constipation can sometimes be as uncomfortable and distressing as diarrhea and is, similarly, often linked to poor gut health. If your diet is low in fiber or you have an upset gut, it can lead to constipation that elevates discomfort, stress and other physical health issues. It can also, often, be linked to mental health issues – as physical discomfort is known to provoke depression and anxiety.


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If you are feeling particularly sluggish, with no known root cause behind it, then it’s a good bet that poor gut health is linked. The gut is in constant communication with your brain and this is why poor gut health can leave you feeling demotivated and lethargic. If you’re suffering with this, consider seeking professional advice to perk you back up.

You’ve just finished a round of antibiotics

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It is medically proven that antibiotics can alter gut microbiome and cause things like nutrient deficiencies. Antibiotics are essential for helping you to heal, but they can also destroy a lot of the good bacteria in the body as well. This is something that can result in poor gut health and probiotics can improve this, once you’ve finished with the medication.

Increased chance of illness

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An increase in your chances of illness is something that can also be heavily linked to poor gut health. This is because gut microbiome is essential for boosting your immune system, and therefore, poor gut health tends to link to poor health long-term. This may result in you getting ill more frequently or experiencing more intense symptoms.


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Irritable bowel syndrome is something that can cause a lot of problems in your life, and this is also something that you need to address as soon as symptoms begin to show. It can be one of the biggest indicators of poor gut health, with things like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) being heavily linked to this disorder.

Thyroid issues

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Thyroid issues are among the biggest autoimmune issues that you face as someone with poor gut health. This can cause long-term health problems that need to be addressed before they worsen and cause more potential harm. Seeking medical help to deal with your thyroid problems is absolutely essential, as it will improve your life long-term.


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Arthritis is typically something we associate with people going into old age, but it’s something that can impact people of any age. One of the big factors that is a red flag for poor gut health (and a warning sign for other issues that may subsequently develop) is rheumatoid arthritis. It is both unpleasant and signifies the beginning of other health concerns so, if you’re experiencing symptoms, get checked out.

Lack of fiber

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Lack of fiber in the diet is one of the biggest red flags that you have poor gut health. Whilst not a physical ailment, if you’re not getting your fiber in and allowing your gut to suffer, you’ll feel the consequences soon. Low-fiber diets interrupt the relationship between gut microbiota and the intestine, which can exacerbate gut problems.


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Similarly to a lack of fibre, dehydration is also something that is linked inextricably to poor gut health. When you are dehydrated it is more difficult for food to move through your digestive system and can cause painful issues with your gut. Of course, there could be other factors that might be linked to this but it is vital to start addressing these issues with plenty of fluid.

No exercise

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A lack of exercise is something that can cause you a lot of health concerns, and something that is also a major red flag when it comes to poor gut health. Having a strong exercise regime reduces stress, combats inflammation and maintains the integrity of the gut barrier. The research behind it is still in its early phases, but it’s a great starting point to improve your gut and feel better.

Poor diet

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One of the biggest red flags that you need to consider that is linked to poor gut health is poor diet. There are a lot of elements that you need to think about when it comes to improving your diet, and all of them will help your gut health. Adding more fiber into the diet is something that can massively improve your gut health and alleviate any painful digestive problems.

Discomfort after eating

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Experiencing discomfort after eating is something that can be an indicator of poor gut health and is, in fact, one of the most widely experienced symptoms. This discomfort can be linked to a range of issues, from constipation to intense bloating. The first step to a healthier and happier gut, and lifestyle, is through a balanced and gut friendly diet.

Acid reflux

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Acid reflux can be caused by a lot of different things and one of the biggest causes can be poor gut health. Science shows that the gut microbiome in the oesophagus is linked closely with symptoms of heartburn. If you are suffering from heartburn, consider doing some further research into the gut in order to ease any nasty symptoms.


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Believe it or not, bad breath could be a hidden sign of poor gut health, and a sign you need to take action – for the sake of yourself and those around you. Excessive amounts of bacteria in the small intestine can lead to the release of large amounts of foul-smelling gas, which in turn causes you to have bad breath.

Vitamin & mineral deficiencies

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One of the key factors that can be linked to poor gut health is a deficiency with vitamins and minerals. Damage and inflammation in the gut can result in a loss of nutrients through the intestinal wall. This could be a less obvious sign of poor gut health, but this is something that you need to keep an eye on regardless.

Brittle nails

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Brittle nails is one of the less common indicators that you might be dealing with poor gut health. A damaged gut lining affects your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and this can lead to your nails becoming brittle and weak as they struggle to form properly.

Interrupted sleep

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If your circadian rhythm is all over the place, this could be linked to poor gut health. Lack of sleep can unbalance your hormones, which can cause intestinal issues, namely something known as “leaky gut,” a weakening of intestinal walls that allows toxins to seep into the bloodstream. Equally, symptoms of poor gut health may prevent you from getting a full nights rest due to pain and discomfort.

Brain not functioning properly

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According to data, the brain consumes around 20% of the energy we get from our diet, and needs a balanced and healthy diet to function at the optimal level. The gut has to transport the nutrients into the bloodstream and up to the brain, so poor gut health can result in the brain not functioning properly – known by many as ‘brain fog’.

Low libido

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There are several different factors that can cause you to have a low libido, but this is a sign that you might have poor gut health. Around 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut, and, if your gut health is poor your body will produce lower levels of serotonin, damaging your arousal and, potentially, romantic relationships.

Growling stomach

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Having a growling stomach is a big part of what can point to poor gut health, and this is something you need to address if you find it occurring more than usual. If it’s something you experience even after having eaten, this makes it far more likely to be linked to some sort of gut health problems, and these will need to be dealt with.


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Vomiting is a very unpleasant and distressing condition, and it’s also something that can be a sign of poor gut health. Of course, there are a lot of different factors that can lead a person to vomit, but poor gut health is one of the biggest and most impactful. If you’re experiencing inflammation and infections frequently in the gut, your body may induce vomiting to try and reject potential harmful agents.