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7 Symptoms Of Poor Gut Health And What You Can Do About Them

Millions of people experience symptoms of poor gut health every day. These symptoms may seem normal, but they can be very unhealthy. Heartburn, bloating, gas, and fatigue can get worse over time and can often leave us confused about what to do. And because your digestion is the foundation of your health, when it’s not…

Reviewed by Bryan Hardy
Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn
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Millions of people experience symptoms of poor gut health every day. These symptoms may seem normal, but they can be very unhealthy. Heartburn, bloating, gas, and fatigue can get worse over time and can often leave us confused about what to do. And because your digestion is the foundation of your health, when it’s not working right, everything gets worse. 

There are many ways that poor gut health can manifest, so the symptoms associated can vary a lot. This is not an exhaustive list of all potential gut health challenges/fixes–it’s an overview that brings attention to your problems. We also provide a few simple and actionable solutions. Don’t try to do everything on here immediately, instead, identify your challenges and start with 1-2 things at a time. Better yet, work with a functional medicine practitioner to address the root causes.

To improve your gut health, you must understand what’s actually happening so you can make changes from an informed position. This is precisely what we’ll cover in this article, so stay tuned for all the powerful insights coming your way.

1. Indigestion

Sad unhappy woman suffering from a stomachache

Indigestion after meals is common for many people, and by indigestion we’re specifically referring to the following symptoms:

  • Nausea after eating
  • Upper abdominal pain or pressure after eating
  • Feeling full prematurely 
  • Belching and excessive gas
  • Acidic taste in the mouth
  • Burning in the stomach

If we look beyond these symptoms, we often discover that poor gut health is at the root. It could be something as simple as lactose intolerance, which personally plagued me for years before I discovered lactase. It could be from eating meals with a lot of dense proteins and fats alongside large amounts of carbohydrates and starches. 

Some people experience great relief from combining food properly. By simply adjusting the composition of your meals, you can often enhance your digestion and eliminate symptoms. Combining food involves separating dense animal proteins from fruits and starches. Eat fruits alone, eat non-starchy vegetables with either proteins or starches, and eat fat with anything besides fruits. 

Indigestion can also occur from eating a lot of beans or other tough to digest foods that haven’t been properly prepared. For grains, nuts, and seeds, this could mean soaking, sprouting, and cooking thoroughly to reduce digestive inhibitors like phytic acid. It could also be that your system simply isn’t able to produce the enzymes needed to digest certain things.
Whatever the root, there are a few easy things you can try such as:

  • Take digestive enzymes and betaine HCl with each meal, especially when you eat foods that are difficult to digest, such as dairy and beans
  • Chew each bite thoroughly, 30 chews per bite, no chunks remaining
  • Eat slowly and in a relaxed fashion
  • Don’t lay down immediately after eating
  • Go for a 15-20 minute leisurely walk after eating to support digestion
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes or using nicotine vapes
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Reduce coffee and tea consumption

Alongside these simple shifts, you may want to try something specifically designed to support gut function from within. Checkout the link below to learn about our Gut Stack.

If you have persistent symptoms after implementing some of these changes, consider seeing a health professional for more personalized support.

2. Constipation 

Woman with a stomach ache

Not having at least 1 complete bowel movement every day is a serious issue that is often overlooked. Anytime our digestive tract is backed up, it creates conditions that lead to a higher chance of toxin exposure and reabsorption. Constipation can also lead to energy and mood challenges. Consipation commonly co-occurs in those suffering from depression.
To start moving in the right direction, ensure that you are:

  • Drinking enough liquid to stay hydrated (usually 64 oz or more daily)
  • Consuming fiber from 4+ cups worth of leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables each day
  • Exercising regularly in both cardio and strength training 3-5 times per week
  • Supplementing with a probiotic, such as P3OM, to promote regularity
  • Sitting on the toilet in a squat position with your feet up on a stool

If you implement these points and still strain to have a daily bowel movement, then consider counterclockwise abdominal massage. Many of us carry a lot of tension in our abdominal muscles and connective tissues which slows things down. Belly massages done at home can really loosen things up and allow easier flow through the gut. 

(Ad) If necessary, an herbal laxative such as Herbal Power Flush can provide temporary relief for constipation.

The last area to check as a cause of constipation would be pathogens and parasites and typically involve more sophisticated testing. Herbal Parasite Guardian and Biome Breakthrough may be helpful for these. However, you should speak to a Functional or Naturopathic medicine physician to get tested.

3. Bloating After Meals

Bloating is an uncomfortable and classic sign that your gut health could use some support. Whether it’s from gas production, inflammation, constipation, or a combination of them all, you should pay attention to it.

Extreme bloating after meals can indicate Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), which is something you can get tested for with a functional medicine doctor. If you do test positive for SIBO, then a specific protocol to kill off and rebalance intestinal bacteria can provide relief. 

If you notice that it’s only certain foods that trigger your bloating, keep track of those to help identify patterns. Oftentimes it’s certain fermentable fibers and starches or food additives and binders that are triggers of bloating.

A few things to try to support healthy digestion include:

  • Using digestive enzymes like Masszymes or Gluten Guardian along with HCl breakthrough
  • Use a probiotic that inhibit the growth of other microbes such as P3OM or Biome Breakthrough
  • Eliminating gas producing foods like beans and dairy
  • Considering a gut cleanse to reduce bad bacteria and yeast
  • Simplifying how many ingredients are in each meal, less is more in this regard

4. Food Sensitivities And Intolerances

Woman having a bad experience feeling sick

In my experience with clients, when the gut lining is damaged you can become more susceptible to developing food sensitivities and intolerances. This may be because a leaky gut allows particles of undigested food to pass into the blood which triggers chronic inflammation. This is why I recommend rotating foods, especially proteins, so that you don’t over consume particular items and develop sensitivity.
To start reversing sensitivities, it’s important to stop consuming the food(s) you’re reacting to in order to stop the immune triggers. Then, focus on removing gut pathogens as well as nourishing the gut lining to seal up any “leaky” areas. Following an elimination diet is the gold standard for identifying which foods you are reacting to. Afterwards, you’ll definitely know with greater certainty which foods to avoid and which are ok. There are many books and blogs that cover elimination diets so if that interests you it’s a great place to start.

In addition, we also have a very powerful leaky gut powder that can support your gut healing. It nourishes the lining of the gut with bone broth and collagen, while IgYmax promotes a balanced inflammatory response. At the same time, IgYmax helps escort out unfriendly microbes, while reseeding helpful probiotics and prebiotics to assist in reestablishing a healthy flora that feeds the gut lining.

5. Heartburn And Acid Reflux

Senior Asian man with eyes closed holding his chest in discomfort, suffering from heart burn

Acid reflux and heartburn after eating are other common symptoms of poor gut health. Heartburn can also be an indicator of Helicobacter Pylori infection, which should be ruled out by a qualified health professional.
How heartburn and gut health interface with each other is dependent on the individual case. Essentially, imbalanced stomach acid levels compromise digestion and can result in conditions that allow pathogens to multiply in the stomach. Because H. Pylori weakens the protective mucosal layer in the stomach, it can lead to tissue damage in the stomach and throat.

That said, if you experience heartburn regularly, consider avoiding the following or figuring out if they trigger your heartburn:

  • Very spicy foods and peppers (black pepper, white pepper, chilis, cayenne etc.)
  • Carbonated and/or caffeinated sodas
  • Alcohol, especially hard liquors 
  • Gluten and gluten containing grains/breads
  • Mint (tea, leaves etc.)
  • High fat foods
  • Red meat
  • Caffeinated beverages, especially black coffee or tea on an empty stomach

For a deeper dive into all things heartburn, checkout this article where we cover it in much greater depth.

6. Unexplained Weight Loss 

If you find yourself losing weight unexpectedly and without attempting to do so, it may be a sign of poor gut health. This can happen when your body isn’t actually digesting and absorbing the nutrition you’re consuming, regardless of why. Whatever the cause, malabsorption is a common sign of small bowel disease.
It could be that you have a parasite or another nutrient-stealing pathogen that is consuming your nutrition. It could be that your stomach or small intestinal lining has become damaged due to toxic injury.
Either way, if you haven’t made significant changes to your diet or lifestyle, then weight loss should not be happening. First, see a doctor to rule out serious causes. If there is nothing medically significant, consider seeing a naturopathic doctor to do a more in-depth screening. Remember, if you have poor gut health or pathogens living inside your system, you are feeding them every time you eat.

7. Post Meal Fatigue And Brain Fog

Sleepy woman stirring coffee in the morning

The final potential symptom(s) of poor gut health we’ll explore here are post meal fatigue and brain fog. Particularly, fatigue or brain fog that consistently comes on shortly or within a few hours after eating a meal. The kind of fatigue or brain fog that doesn’t have any other logical explanation. If you are living the same way as before, yet you now feel drained or foggy after a meal, something’s up.

When ruling out potential medical conditions, if all tests come back “normal” then it could be related to poor gut health. Again, if you’re not digesting and absorbing nutrients, then fatigue is often the inevitable result. Furthermore, if you drink coffee/energy drinks regularly, these can be harsh on the gut lining. The stimulants can also stress your system into producing adrenaline. Also, caffeine can increase your adenosine receptors, which can also lead to fatigue over time.

If your symptoms get noticeably worse in the 30-120 minutes immediately after eating, then it could be a food sensitivity response. This can also be addressed through the elimination diet and smart supplementation. Checkout our gut health supplements to learn more now.

For targeted brain fog support, checkout Cognibiotics within the supplements linked above. It combines probiotics with Chinese herbs to produce a gently clarifying and mentally uplifting effect that I really appreciate.

Wrapping Up

Clearly there are many ways that poor gut health shows up in the body. But fortunately, there are many remedies and solutions you can implement to improve the situation. The key is preventing the situation from getting extreme by optimizing your gut health today.

So whatever symptoms you might be experiencing right now, know that there are proven tools, foods, and supplements that can help you turn things around. Try our best supplements for leaky gut to support your gut health and gut lining.

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References
  1. Liu X, Liu H, Wei F, et al. Fecal metabolomics and network pharmacology reveal the correlations between constipation and depression. J Proteome Res. 2021;20(10):4771-4786. doi:10.1021/acs.jproteome.1c00435
  2. Croci S, D’Apolito LI, Gasperi V, Catani MV, Savini I. Dietary strategies for management of metabolic syndrome: Role of gut Microbiota metabolites. Nutrients. 2021;13(5):1389. doi:10.3390/nu13051389
  3. Oustamanolakis P, Tack J. Dyspepsia: Organic versus functional. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012;46(3):175-190. doi:10.1097/mcg.0b013e318241b335
  4. Parfenov AI, Krums LM. Malabsorption is a leading clinical sign of small bowel disease. Ter Arkh. 2016;88(8):4-9. doi:10.17116/terarkh20168884-9
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