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 bellyaches that no one could figure out. I just accepted it as a normal part of life and took a lot of over-the-counter stomachache 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 you’re gut isn’t healthy, you won’t be healthy. 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? 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, my 30 Day Reset 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. These are a few simple ways to get started on your gut health journey and we’ll be diving deeper into gut health in my 30-Day Reset where you can learn more about what specific foods to remove, how to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, and how to dive deeper into understanding the imbalances in your body. 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.
If you are experiencing symptoms that are not on this list, but you are not experiencing the Signs of a Healthy Gut (above), I suggest you work with my 30-Day Reset to dive deeper into what’s going on in your body.
- 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, I suggest you look into my 30 Day Reset. Following this 30-Day Reset may help you to repopulate beneficial bacteria, fight unwanted inflammation by eating clean, whole, organic foods. I’m going to hold your hand along the way during this Reset so that you know what foods you can remove and how you can still enjoy life and feel your best while you’re healing your gut.
Generally, this article reads like a personal anecdote and then all of a sudden you’re like - but if you have these signs you need my detox. Maybe you need to tell your story in one post by itself? Because you don’t give the reader any real basis or scientific evidence for that matter as to how or why these symptoms are related to gut health. This list ^^ is the most important part of the article to the reader yet gets the least amount of attention. I think you also need to tell people that sometimes these things are normal -- eating a new food that gives you gas, burping from your beer, a breakout before your wedding, etc. The gut is an ecosystem and sometimes there are things that can upset that but it doesn’t mean you need to run off and do a whole detox because you ate some funky tacos...Give the reader a bit more nurturing and supportive tone and explanation as you introduce this all to them.
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, which are discussed in her new online program: The 30-Day Reset on sale here.
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: