The gut is one of those parts of the body that most people don’t particularly enjoy talking about.
Gas, bowel habits, bloating… it’s something we’d prefer not to think about, right?
But while it might not be much fun to talk about, your gut is something you need to pay attention to – especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
That’s because your gut has around 39 trillion bacteria and fungi cells (yes, really) that help with things like your digestion, metabolism, brain health and more.
And if those bacteria get out of balance, it can lead to a whole domino effect of issues inside your body that can make it really hard for you to lose weight.
The good news is, if you do have a gut imbalance, there are some simple things you can do to turn it around.
In this article, I’m going to share 7 signs of an unhealthy gut to look out for, as well as my top tips to bring your gut back into balance so you can achieve your weight loss goals.
Sign #1: Stubborn weight loss (or weight gain)
The first sign you might have a gut imbalance is if you’re struggling to lose weight (or gaining weight).
Why? Well, if you have too many ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut, this can:
- impact your body’s ability to metabolise (break down) carbohydrates and fats
- lower the production of hormones that make you feel full and satisfied
- make your body store more fat
- make it more difficult for your body to release the stored energy in your fat cells.
Losing weight is challenging enough, but add in the above and you’re really facing an uphill battle!
That’s why getting on top of your gut health is so important if you want to lose weight (and keep it off for good).
Sign #2: Bloating
For most women, a bit of bloating is a part of life.
You might experience it at certain times of your menstrual cycle, or after you’ve had a big meal.
But bloating that builds up as the day goes on and gets worse at the end of the day isn’t normal – and it could be a sign there’s a problem with your gut.
For example, it could mean you’re not tolerating some rapidly fermentable sugars in your diet, you’re not digesting protein properly, or that you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine.
These are all causes of bloating, and are big signs that your gut health isn’t as optimal as it should be.
Sign #3: Gas and/or burping
Like bloating, a little bit of gas is common and normal.
Or, to put it another way, everyone farts (even if we don’t like to admit it!).
The average is 5 to 15 times a day, although what’s ‘normal’ varies from person to person.
However, if the gas you’re producing is particularly smelly, this can be a sign that your gut is out of balance.
Too many sulphur-producing bacteria can lead to that rotten egg smell that can be embarrassing and, in some cases, debilitating.
For example, many clients have told me that their smelly gas stops them from going out and doing the things they love, and some have even told me it makes it difficult to date.
So, if gas is affecting your lifestyle or giving you any physical discomfort, this is definitely a sign you need to get your gut health in order.
Sign #4: Reflux or heartburn
Acid reflux is a fairly common condition that happens when stomach acids and other stomach contents come back up into the oesophagus.
But just because it’s common doesn’t always mean it’s normal!
Common symptoms of reflux include:
- a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night
- chest pain
- difficulty swallowing
- regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- feeling like there’s a lump in your throat.
Reflux can just be a sign that you ate too much or too quickly.
But it can also be an indication that you have an undiagnosed food intolerance, that you’re not producing enough stomach acid for proper digestion of nutrients, or that your gut just isn’t in the best shape it could be.
Sign #5: Constipation and/or diarrhoea
There’s a big range of normal when it comes to how often you open your bowels.
But it’s astonishing to me how many clients think it’s normal to have diarrhoea multiple times a day, or to only go to the toilet once a week because that’s all they’ve ever known.
I’m here to tell you, this isn’t normal, and it’s a sign your gut health needs to be addressed.
To assess whether your bowel movements are normal or not, pay attention to how often you’re going to the toilet. Anywhere between 3 times a day to once every 3 days is within the ‘normal’ range.
You should also be passing a solid motion (like a sausage or a snake – type 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart), have a feeling of complete evacuation, and not feel any discomfort.
Sign #6: Stomach pain or discomfort
Another sign of an unhealthy gut is any sort of stomach pain.
This might be pain that feels crampy, achy, dull, intermittent or sharp, and may or may not be associated with diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or gas.
If you regularly experience stomach pain after eating, this is a sign there’s something going on with your gut health.
But, if you’re experiencing stomach pain or discomfort that has gone on most days for 3 months or more, it’s definitely worth heading to your GP for a chat.
Sign #7: Constant hunger
If you always feel hungry, you might think your body just needs more food.
But constant hunger can be a sign of imbalanced hunger hormones due to an unhealthy gut.
It can also be a sign that you’re not absorbing all the nutrients from the foods you’re eating, which can be the result of a condition called SIBO.
If SIBO is left untreated, it may lead to malnutrition, so it’s important to talk to your GP so you can rule this out.
How to bring your gut back into balance
If you’re experiencing any of the above signs, it’s likely your gut is in need of some TLC.
So, what can you do to bring it back into balance?
Well, this is something I help my clients with, and there are 3 key things I recommend:
Increase your fibre
This first is to increase your fibre intake, aiming for at least 30 grams a day.
You can do this by choosing wholegrains where possible, eating more fruit and vegetables (at least 2 serves a day and ideally more), and consuming legumes at least twice a week.
Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics, which are good bacteria for your gut.
Kombucha, kefir, kimchi, sourdough bread, tempeh, miso and sauerkraut are all examples of fermented foods that can improve your gut health (and they taste good too!).
Eat more prebiotics
Polyphenols are chemicals that occur naturally in plant foods that increase and feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut.
Good sources of polyphenols include extra virgin olive oil, green tea and red wine, so these are all foods to regularly include in your diet.
Dark chocolate is another great source of polyphenols, and I recommend eating 2 squares most days (I bet you weren’t expecting that!).
So now you know the signs of an unhealthy gut to look out for, and what you can do to bring your gut back into balance so you can achieve your weight loss goals.
Want to lose weight and keep it off so that you can say goodbye to dieting and hello to being the energetic hands-on mum you want to be?
What you need is a new approach, some support, and accountability to help set you on the right track.
That’s where I can help!
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It’s the exact same framework that I teach my 1:1 clients in my Eating Made Easy program.
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