Happy Gut vs. Unhappy Gut
Written by Georga Holt
Naturopath at GeorgeNat
Our gut facilitates and works quite closely with other regions of our body such as our immune system, our brain, our skin and many more. The gut microbiome plays a major role in these relationships. The microbiome refers to trillions of different microorganisms living in our gastrointestinal system (GIT) and any imbalances in the microbiome can cause a detrimental impact on our health otherwise known as an Unhappy Gut.
How to know if your gut isn’t happy?
If you experience one or more of the below symptoms daily - this is your gut’s way of telling you it isn’t happy:
- Irregular bowel motions
- Irregular bowel forms (such as pebbles, jagged edges, thin & long, cracked)
- Abdominal pain
- Blood or mucous in your stools
- Flatulence (out both ends)
- Bad breath
- Fatigue/Brain fog
What can make our gut unhappy?
There are several factors that can contribute to reducing the happiness of your gut, it could be that you have a pre-diagnosed condition or any of the following factors:
- Certain medications (e.g. Antibiotics)
- Inflammatory foods (sugar, processed foods, gluten, dairy)
- Lack of fibre
- Overgrowth of pathogens/Infection
What are the negative effects of an unhappy gut?
When our gastrointestinal system (GIT) is under significant pressure for a prolonged period it can impact the body negatively and lead to systemic issues. When you break it down, our GIT is the main organ that metabolises & processes our food (aka nutrients). If our GIT is under stress, it will reduce its capacity to absorb nutrients which ultimately leads to nutrient deficiencies.
Another negative effect of an unhappy gut is that it can directly impact our immune system. The majority of our Immune system is built in our gut - so if our gut isn’t happy and working to its best ability then it can reduce the quality of our Immune system. The microbiome plays a critical role in training and developing our immune system, therefore if there is an imbalance in our gut, it leads to an imbalanced microbiome thus leading to a compromised immune system. It can directly impact the way our body reacts to unwanted pathogens & opportunistic bacteria - hello cold’s, flus & recurring infections!
How does an unhappy gut actually make us unhappy?
When there is an imbalance in our microbiome it directly impacts the amount of serotonin we are able to make which in return will impact our mood. Our gut bugs (which make up our microbiome) have the ability to influence the quantity of serotonin produced in our body by directly playing a role in serotonin synthesis. It is known that over 80% of our serotonin is made in our gut. So - if our gut and microbiome are not working properly, then this leads to a direct impact on our mood. Unhappy gut = Unhappy mood.
So - how can we make our gut happy?
- Minimum 2-3L Water per day
- Reduce inflammatory & processed foods
- Wholefoods diet - fruit & veg
- Pre & probiotic foods
You can make your gut happy again with these simple yet effective steps. However, if you are still experiencing an unhappy gut - seek professional help.
Camilleri M. (2009). Serotonin in the gastrointestinal tract. Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity, 16(1), 53–59. https://doi.org/10.1097/med.0b013e32831e9c8e
Camilleri M. (2019). Leaky gut: mechanisms, measurement and clinical implications in humans. Gut, 68(8), 1516–1526. https://doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2019-318427
Evrensel, A., & Ceylan, M. E. (2015). The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression. Clinical psychopharmacology and neuroscience: the official scientific journal of the Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 13(3), 239–244. https://doi.org/10.9758/cpn.2015.13.3.239
Zheng, D., Liwinski, T. & Elinav, E. Interaction between microbiota and immunity in health and disease. Cell Res 30, 492–506 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41422-020-0332-7