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How Can You Tell If You Have Bad Gut Health?

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Published By: Dr. Jeffrey Mark
Date: June 17, 2024

Gut health is crucial to overall wellness, but how do you know if yours is up to par? Many of us ignore subtle signs that our digestive system may be off track. This introduction will guide you through the common indicators of poor gut health. You’ll learn to spot the red flags, from bloating and irregular bowel movements to unexpected mood changes. 

Understanding these signs can lead to better health decisions. So, let’s dive in and explore how tuning into your body’s signals can pave the way to improved well-being. Poor gut health can lead to a variety of symptoms and health issues, making it essential to recognize the signs and take proactive steps to improve it.

Key Takeaways

  • Poor gut health can manifest through digestive issues such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • Unintentional weight changes and chronic fatigue are common indicators of an unhealthy gut.
  • The gut-brain connection means that mental health issues like anxiety and depression can be linked to gut health.
  • Dietary choices, medications, and environmental toxins can negatively impact gut health.
  • Improving gut health involves dietary adjustments, probiotics, and stress management techniques.

Common Signs of Poor Gut Health


You may notice a few symptoms if you have reduced gut health. Here are seven of the most common signs:

Digestive Issues

Stomach disturbances can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. They include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn

A balanced gut will have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste, likely leading to fewer symptoms.

Unintentional Weight Changes

Unintentional weight gain or loss can be a sign of poor gut health. An imbalanced gut can impair your body's ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat. Mood issues, brain fog, acne, fatigue, food sensitivities, and hormone imbalances are all common but misunderstood symptoms of an unhealthy gut.

Fatigue and Sleep Disturbances

Chronic fatigue and sleep disturbances may also be linked to gut health. The gut's ability to produce and regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, which affects sleep and mood, can be compromised. Over ninety percent of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut. This can lead to feelings of tiredness and disrupted sleep patterns.

It's important to recognize these signs early and take action to improve your gut health. Simple changes in diet, lifestyle, and stress management can make a significant difference.

If you're wondering how you can tell if you have bad gut health, these symptoms are a good starting point for evaluation.

The Gut-Brain Connection


Impact on Mental Health

The connection between our gut and brain is profound. With 95% of our body's serotonin being produced in our gut, it's no wonder that stress levels and gut health are connected. This relationship is often referred to as the gut-brain axis. Our gut and brain communicate via physical and chemical connections, linking gut health to mental health. 

For instance, over half of patients with irritable bowel disorder also experience depression, anxiety, or sleep problems. Contrary to what most people think, the gut sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends signals to the gut. This highlights the significant role our gut plays in our overall mental well-being.

Stress and Gut Health

Stress can have a direct impact on our gut health. When our brain is in overdrive from anxiety or depression, the nerves that stimulate the brain are constantly firing. The same thing happens in the GI tract. This creates a cycle where psychological symptoms worsen GI symptoms, and vice versa.

Breaking this cycle often requires a combination of medications, lifestyle, and dietary modifications. It's essential to understand that our gut is often called the second brain, loaded with nervous tissue and in direct communication with our big brain.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are closely linked to gut health. The gut microbiome plays a huge role in our stress response. Certain bacteria in our gut produce or stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which send chemical signals to our brain. 

This means that a healthy gut can help us withstand stress better. Conversely, an imbalance in gut bacteria can lead to increased gut permeability, often called “leaky gut,” which can cause inflammation and illness throughout the body. Optimizing the gut-brain axis is critical to maintaining good mental health.

The gut is one of the most important organs for the health of your brain. Keeping the good and bad bugs in proper balance is essential to your mental health.

Factors That Harm Gut Health

Dietary Choices

Our dietary choices play a significant role in maintaining gut health. Consuming a Western diet high in processed and sugary foods can negatively impact the balance of bacteria in our gut. Processed and sugary foods may diminish the diversity of our gut microbiome, making it more susceptible to disease-causing bacteria. Additionally, foods high in refined sugars and artificial sweeteners can further disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria, leading to gut dysbiosis.


Certain medications, such as antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can harm our gut health. Antibiotics, while essential for treating infections, can also kill beneficial bacteria in our gut, leading to an imbalance.

This imbalance can leave our gut vulnerable to more invasive types of bacteria, diminishing the overall diversity in our microbiome. It's important to be mindful of the medications we take and their potential impact on our gut health.

Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxins, including pesticides, heavy metals, and bactericidal chemicals in water, can also negatively affect our gut health. These toxins can disrupt the balance of bacteria in our gut, leading to increased gut permeability, often referred to as "leaky gut." This condition can cause inflammation and illness throughout the body. To protect our gut health, we should minimize exposure to these environmental toxins whenever possible.

Maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for our overall well-being. By being mindful of our dietary choices, medications, and environmental exposures, we can support a diverse and balanced gut microbiome.

How to Improve Your Gut Health

Dietary Adjustments

To improve your gut health, we should focus on making dietary adjustments. A diverse and plant-rich diet is essential. Aim for a variety of whole foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Eating a rainbow color of vegetables would be ideal. These foods offer plenty of dietary fiber for your gut microbes and micronutrients for you. 

Reducing the amount of processed, sugary, and high-fat foods can also lead to better gut health. Additionally, foods high in micronutrients called polyphenols, present in vegetables, fruits, coffee, tea, and wine, can positively impact your gut.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into our diet is another effective way to improve gut health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are found in fiber-rich foods such as jicama, onions, leeks, and garlic. These foods help feed the good bacteria in our gut, promoting a healthy balance.

Stress Management

Managing stress is crucial for maintaining good gut health. Chronic stress can negatively affect our gut flora, leading to imbalances and digestive issues. Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and regular exercise can help reduce stress levels. Ensuring we get enough sleep and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are also important steps in managing stress effectively.

Improving gut health is a holistic process that involves dietary changes, incorporating beneficial bacteria, and managing stress levels. By taking these steps, we can support a healthy gut and overall well-being.

The Role of Gut Bacteria

Good vs. Bad Bacteria

Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, including both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Maintaining a balance between these good and bad bacteria is crucial for our overall health. The beneficial bacteria help in digesting food, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful pathogens. On the other hand, an overgrowth of harmful bacteria can lead to various health issues, including infections and inflammation.

Importance of Balance

The balance of gut bacteria is essential for a healthy digestive system. When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to conditions such as leaky gut, where the intestinal barrier becomes too permeable. This can cause inflammation and other health problems. Factors like diet, stress, and medications can significantly impact this balance, making it important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Effects on Overall Health

The gut microbiome influences many aspects of our health beyond digestion. It plays a role in our immune system, mental health, and even our skin health. For instance, the production of several metabolites from the gut microbiome influences our body's functions in various ways. A healthy gut can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being.

The gut microbiome is a microscopic world within the world of your larger body. The trillions of microorganisms that live there affect each other and their environment in various ways. They also appear to influence many aspects of your overall health, both within your digestive system and outside of it.

Testing and Diagnosing Gut Health Issues

Common Tests

To determine the state of our gut health, healthcare providers may use a variety of tests. These include blood tests, stool tests, and breath tests. A breath test, for instance, can measure different gasses in your breath that are byproducts of certain bacteria in your gut. Gut health tests help identify bacteria and microbes in your gut microbiome that can affect your health. However, it's important to note that these tests can't diagnose health conditions directly.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience persistent symptoms such as gas, bloating, or abdominal pain, it may be time to consult a healthcare provider. They can help determine if your symptoms are due to an unhealthy gut or other factors. From there, you may also want to visit a naturopathic doctor or registered dietitian who specializes in gut health.

Interpreting Results

Interpreting the results of gut health tests can be complex. It's crucial to review the results with your gastroenterologist to understand what they mean for your health. While at-home microbiome testing is still in its infancy, much progress has been made. If you do decide to get one of these tests, always review the results with your healthcare provider to ensure you are taking the right steps for your health.

Gut health is a key step towards overall well-being. If you have any concerns, don't hesitate to seek professional advice.

Therapeutic Interventions for Gut Health

Bone broth is a time-honored remedy for gut health. Rich in collagen, amino acids, and minerals, it helps to seal the gut lining and strengthen the intestinal barrier. Many traditional cultures have used bone broth as a base for soups and stews, simmering it all day to extract its beneficial nutrients. Incorporating bone broth into your diet can be a simple yet effective way to support gut healing.

Chronic inflammation can wreak havoc on your gut health. Anti-inflammatory supplements such as fish oil, curcumin, and ginger can help reduce inflammation and promote a healthy gut environment. It's essential to choose high-quality supplements and consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best options for your needs. Reducing inflammation is a key step in restoring gut health.

Lifestyle factors play a significant role in gut health. Stress management techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, and regular exercise can positively impact your gut. Additionally, ensuring adequate sleep and maintaining a balanced diet rich in fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics can further support a healthy gut microbiome. Making these lifestyle changes can lead to long-term improvements in gut health.

Addressing gut health requires a holistic approach that includes dietary adjustments, supplements, and lifestyle changes. By focusing on these therapeutic interventions, we can create a healthier gut environment and improve overall well-being.

Discover the transformative power of therapeutic interventions for gut health with Dr. Jeffrey Mark and his team. Our personalized approach focuses on identifying and treating the root causes of your digestive issues, helping you regain your energy and overall well-being. Don't wait any longer to start your journey to optimal health. Check your free health assessment to learn more and schedule your free discovery call today!


Maintaining good gut health is crucial for overall well-being, as it affects everything from digestion to mental health. Recognizing the signs of poor gut health, such as bloating, constipation, and fatigue, can help you take proactive steps to improve your gut microbiome.

Simple changes like incorporating probiotics, eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, and managing stress can make a significant difference. Remember, a healthy gut is a cornerstone of a healthy life, so take the time to nurture it with care and attention. For a better and healthier life, visit us. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Common Signs Of Poor Gut Health?

Common signs of poor gut health include digestive issues such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn. Other symptoms can include unintentional weight changes, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

How Does Gut Health Affect Mental Health?

The gut is often called the second brain because it is loaded with nervous tissue and communicates directly with the brain. Poor gut health can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress due to imbalances in gut bacteria and increased gut permeability.

What Factors Can Harm Gut Health?

Several factors can harm gut health, including poor dietary choices (high in refined sugars and artificial sweeteners), certain medications (antibiotics, oral contraceptives, NSAIDs), environmental toxins (pesticides, bactericidal chemicals in water), and high levels of stress.

How Can I Improve My Gut Health?

Improving gut health can be achieved through dietary adjustments (eating more fiber-rich and fermented foods), taking probiotics and prebiotics, managing stress, and avoiding foods and substances that harm the gut, such as refined sugars and antibiotics.

What Is The Role Of Gut Bacteria In Overall Health?

Gut bacteria play a crucial role in overall health by aiding in digestion, supporting the immune system, and maintaining the integrity of the gut lining. A balance between good and bad bacteria is essential for preventing inflammation and illness.

When Should I See A Doctor About My Gut Health?

You should see a doctor if you experience persistent digestive issues, unexplained weight changes, severe fatigue, or any other symptoms that significantly impact your quality of life. A healthcare professional can recommend tests to diagnose potential gut health issues and suggest appropriate treatments.

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Dr. Jeffrey Mark
With over thirty years of experience, Dr. Mark is a leading expert in holistic gut health. His integrative approach combines conventional medicine, functional and regenerative medicine, and advanced therapies to heal the gut and transform patient health. Holding 5 board certifications, Dr. Mark offers the comprehensive expertise of five medical specialists during each patient visit. He is dedicated to optimizing wellbeing by addressing the gut-related root causes of chronic health issues.
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