I’ve been bloated since I was a kid. I don’t recall ever having a flat stomach after I ate anything and I thought nothing of it. I thought it was normal.
Back in the ‘80s when I was young, no one talked about bloating. I was put on pills and told I had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and that was it. No one asked questions. No one was curious. No one thought to look deeper to see what was really going on inside my little belly.
So, I spent the majority of my teens and 20s in and out of doctors offices with belly aches that no one could figure out. I just accepted it as a normal part of life and took a lot of over-the-counter stomach ache, chalky liquids to cover up my symptoms.
It wasn’t until I landed on disability in my early 20s and was given 24 hours to live with c-diff colitis that I stopped in my tracks and I knew something wasn’t right here. I decided to go beyond Western medicine and dive into a decade of understanding gut health in hopes to heal myself, get off the cocktail of pills I was put on by doctors, and learn how to actually enjoy food again without looking pregnant after eating.
What I discovered was fascinating. Seventy to eighty percent of our immune system is located in our gut, which is a pretty big deal when you think about it. That means, if you experience recurring colds, the flu, arthritis, asthma, eczema, autoimmune disease, thyroid issues and more, your gut is the place to start. Why? Well, if your gut isn’t healthy, you won’t be healthy. It's as simple as that. So, what causes our guts to be so unhealthy?
Processed foods, alcohol, sugar, gluten, vegetable oils, pharmaceutical pills, over-the-counter medicines, as well as stress, emotional traumas and more are a few things that can cause an unhealthy gut. Knowing that, you can probably now see how so many of us are really suffering with a much deeper issue than just a symptom.
This isn’t to say that we should all be eating perfectly because we live in a time where we are busy and traveling and it’s not easy for us to have a home-cooked meal every night. That said, life is meant to be enjoyed and not lived in deprivation so these suggestions are about doing everything in moderation and trying to remove the above stressors that cause our guts to be unhealthy.
When your body is trying to tell you something (aka a symptom), I highly suggest you listen to it. Use your body as a feedback mechanism and start to take a deeper look at what you are eating, drinking, and putting into your body that may be triggering your health issues.
Your symptom or diagnosis (ex: arthritis) is just a name for something going on inside your body that you may be feeding every day with your diet and lifestyle. To heal, you must address the root cause and not just put a Band-Aid on top of your symptoms. That won’t do anything but backfire on you in the future with a likely much bigger health issue.
The way you can start to rebuild your gut health is to get tested to see what is going on. Is it SIBO? Is it Candida? Is it the lining of your gut that’s too thin due to the inflammatory foods and stress you’ve been dealing with?
From the Organic Authority Files
It’s important to take a deeper look into your symptoms to see where they’re coming from. If you are experiencing any of the below symptoms that I address, you can work with a functional or integrative M.D. for special testing.
A leaky gut test and a stool test may help you see what’s going on and what specific strains of probiotics can help rebuild your gut. Aside from taking this test, in my book, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body I will help you understand what inflammatory foods you can remove such as gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and processed foods.
I also suggest finding ways to deal with the stress in your life because we’re living in a stressful time and it’s inevitable that we’re going to run into it. We cannot hide from stress but what we can do is find ways to relax our nervous system such as spending more time in nature, meditation, deep breathing, spending time with positive people and saying ‘No’ so that we can have more time to ourselves to recharge.
Now, let’s talk about how to know if your gut needs some extra support.
Signs of a Healthy Gut
- You rarely experience gas, cramps, bloating or pain after eating.
- You have at least 1 healthy bowel movement per day.
- You’re energized instead of feeling lethargic and depleted after eating a meal.
- Your stomach is not bloated after a meal.
- You do not notice undigested food in your stool.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
Some people experience numerous symptoms when they have an unhealthy gut while others may only experience one of the below symptoms. This list is not to scare you! That’s the last thing we want to do here. This list is to make you aware that the symptoms below that you may be treating with an over-the-counter pill may actually have a deeper root cause that needs to be addressed.
- Brain fog
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Low energy
- Hormonal imbalances
- Food sensitivities
- Joint pain
- Thyroid imbalance
- Muscle pain
- Bad breath
- Weight gain, inability to lose weight
- Gas after eating
- Seasonal allergies
- Skin rashes, hives, eczema, or rosacea
- Sugar cravings
- Salt cravings
If you answered yes to one or more of the signs of an unhealthy gut above, it may be time to take a deeper look into your gut health. Reach out to your local functional or primary care doctor, get some tests done and find out what's really going on with you. Until you do this, you will just be guessing at what's really going on in your gut.
Amie Valpone is the founder of TheHealthyApple.com and the best-selling author of "Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body." She recently healed herself from a decade of chronic health issues such as Lyme disease, C-diff colitis, Hypothyroidism, Leaky Gut, Candida, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), toxic levels of mold and heavy metals, and more through detoxification and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
The views expressed in this article are intended to spark conversation and highlight alternative studies and is for information purposes only. We are not here to diagnose or treat any health or medical conditions, nor should this be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, even if it features the advice of health experts, medical practitioners or physicians. When making any lifestyle or health changes, consult your primary care physician. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Organic Authority, Inc.
Read more by Amie Valpone:
6 Signs You're Stressed Out and Living in Flight or Fight Mode and Need a Reset
Quitting Sugar? Here's How to Handle the Withdrawal
13 Toxic Inflammatory Foods to Cut Out Now According to Holistic Health Expert Amie Valpone