1. Autoimmune Illnesses
An autoimmune disease occurs when your body recognizes healthy cells as foreign, and starts to attack them which results in inflammation and a total breakdown of your immune system. When our immune system is busy targeting healthy cells, it renders us defenseless.
Although the exact cause of autoimmune diseases are unknown, it is speculated that they occur when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the body. There are over 80 known autoimmune illnesses to date, with many of these sharing similar symptoms and difficult to diagnose. Some of these diseases include: rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis.
2. Mental Health
In our fast-paced, high-stress world, more and more people are reporting issues with chronic stress, anxiety and depression. But what you may not realize is that all of these signs are clear indicators of problems with your gut health. It’s hard to believe our gut and the bacteria in it could affect our mental health, but this is exactly what new research is showing.
Embedded in the intestinal wall are 500 million neurons that make up our enteric nervous system (ENS)–which plays an important role in the production of 30 different neurotransmitters. The ENS (or “Second Brain”) is responsible for balancing our mood, reducing stress/anxiety and keeping our overall mental health in check! The collection of neurons in the ENS are made up of the same cellular tissue as the brain, and holds the magic key to influence our thoughts and feelings.
In multiple case studies with mice, researchers were able to completely alter the mice’s behavior by changing their gut bacteria. In one example, they took a group of mice who were shy and reserved and gave them the gut bacteria of another group of mice who were outgoing and adventurous. So what happened next?? Well, the shy mice grew to become similar to the outgoing mice–simply from the transfer of healthy gut bacteria. I know this seems ridiculous, but you can read about study for yourself here! The moral of the story is this: your gut absolutely affects your brain–100%. If you’re struggling form brain fog, mental fatigue, stress, anxiety or depression the first thing you should do is clean up your gut!
3. Poor Immune Health
Did you know it’s estimated that 75% of your immune system is found in your GI tract? Any idea why…? Our microbiome has a HUGE impact on our digestive process and several digestive issues can literally disable your immune system from functioning at full strength. Leaky Gut Syndrome (as an example) is a particularly harmful condition in which your gut/intestinal wall becomes permeable (gets holes in it) and deadly toxins leak out into the body. Layman’s terms: poop spills out into your bloodstream. This is bad! As this happens, your immune system recognizes these foreign invaders as harmful and begins to fight them. This is great news…but over time if not addressed, your immune system will deteriorate from working around the clock to find these foreign invaders. This severely weakened state of being leaves you susceptible to all sorts of infections and bugs as your body has no way to defend itself.
The bottomline is this: If your digestive system is compromised, it weakens and strains your immune system. For a healthy adult (with a healthy microbiome) getting sick is not something that will happen regularly. A healthy individual will naturally develop immunities to common illnesses, but someone who is constantly feeling under the weather should look to their gut health to resolve the underlying issue. An overgrowth in bad bacteria, fungus or yeast can suppress a person’s immune system and invite chronic illnesses to invade. If you are constantly feeling under the weather, or struck with nagging coughs, colds, sore throats and flu like symptoms, toss out the Robitussin and focus on healing your gut!
4. Type 2 Diabetes
In recent studies it has been discovered that there is a direct connection between an unhealthy gut and type 2 diabetes. When studying the gut bacteria of individuals with and without type 2 diabetes, it was found that those with type 2 diabetes had high levels of hostile bacteria that did not support gut health. Dr. Mark Hyman has coined the term, “Diabesity” and he uses it as a way of saying obesity and diabetes are directly linked! He believes if you are obese you will most likely develop diabetes. In his recent book, The Blood Sugar Solution, he says “anyone who is obese is most likely pre-diabetic or diabetic and your odds of becoming diabetic exponentially increase with your weight.”
This weight-diabetes connection is critical to understand when you factor in your microbiome–which has a DIRECT impact on your weight management. In multiple case studies, researchers have found a less diverse microbiome leads to weight gain and obesity. With nearly 75% of Americans defined as overweight (with 20% of those being clinically labeled as obese), diabetes is on the verge of becoming an epidemic. But the truth of the matter is, we now know that this condition is largely avoidable when following a clean, healthy diet and establishing the diverse and healthy microbiome your body needs to stay healthy.
5. Skin Conditions
Its easy to forget that our skin is actually a vital functioning organ…with an average surface are of 21 square feet! Our skin is the largest organ we have and that can say A LOT about our health. Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis and dermatitis can be pretty embarrassing and very uncomfortable…but it’s important to understand that they are a symptoms of something else going on inside our body. Multiple studies published in the Journal of Dermatology have linked gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation, bloating, bad breath and acid reflux to the development of skin issues like dermatitis, acne and rosacea.
In fact, one study showed 54% of acne patients suffered from SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth) … which is significantly higher than the average population. Which is 10x higher to be exact!…Another study showed patients who suffered from skin conditions saw a 40% reduction simply by taking a probiotic supplement to rebalance their gut. Acne patients have higher levels of systemic inflammation than individuals with healthy skin…and gut issues are a major factor in inflammation. The bottomline is…if you’re struggling from skin conditions or irritations the first place you need to look is your gut!
6. Trouble Maintaining a Healthy Weight
We briefly touched on this in #4 but let’s dig a bit deeper here! It has been proven that people at a healthy weight have more balanced and diverse bacteria in their gut than those who are overweight or obese. Multiple studies have shown that obese individuals have very different intestinal bacteria than slim individuals. Two studies supporting this theory – one looking at mice, the other using humans – found that a family of bacteria known as firmicutes (species of bacteria) was more plentiful in the obese (20 percent more), whereas another bacteria called bacteroidetes (more bacteria) was almost 90 percent lower in obese subjects. Firmicutes appear to be more efficient at taking calories out of complex sugars and depositing those calories in fat (which makes you gain weight faster). In fact, when firmicutes were transplanted into normal-weight mice, they gained twice as much weight while eating the same diet!
In the human study, obese people who lost weight increased their bacteroidetes, while the numbers of firmicutes decreased. So what exactly does this mean? It means gut bacteria alters the way we store fat, how we balance levels of glucose in the blood, and how we respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full. Essentially, the wrong mix of microbes, it seems, can help set the stage for obesity and diabetes from the moment of birth. The key is a healthy diversity and balance of good bacteria and the best way to ensure your gut is always balanced and healthy is by taking a daily probiotic.
7. Acid Reflux (Plus burps, gas and bloating!)
This nasty bugger is just no fun! This painful indigestive problem occurs when our stomach overproduces acid that creeps up into our esophagus. For anyone who suffers from acid reflux, you know exactly how miserable this can be. By fixing your gut, you can rid yourself of this irritating condition once and for all.
Gas, burps and bloating are all caused by bacteria during the digestive process. This is normal and the average tooter will pass gas 15-20 times per day (even though we all know ladies don’t toot). As your gut bacteria work to digest and break down food, gases get released in the process. That said, if you constantly experience gas, bloating or burping, this is a telltale sign you have an unbalanced digestive tract. The top 2 symptoms of SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) are gas and bloating. If you experience this annoying and embarrassing bodily function, the cause is a combination of your food and an unbalanced gut. Side note, a high quality probiotic is a great way to reduce acid reflux, gas, burping and bloating…plus it can help your bowel movements improve.
8. Constipation or Diarrhea
After a meal, if you feel bloated and uncomfortable, or perhaps find yourself running to the restroom, this is not how your body should be functioning if your gut is healthy. With a healthy and balanced gut, your elimination should be smooth and easy, with no disturbances or severe urgencies. This one may seem a bit obvious in relation to gut health, but maintaining a healthy gut is the only way that you can regulate your elimination. A healthy gut equals a healthy life. If you struggle with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or just irregular poops, you should absolutely look at cleaning up your gut! Believe it or not, your poops can tell you a LOT about the health of your body and are the biggest sign of digestive issues.
Your digestive system holds the key to unlocking the long-lasting health, energy and vitality you deserve–and the only way to get there is by healing your gut first!