The gut is a complex and dynamic system, home to trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that are responsible for helping breakdown the food we eat, synthesising important nutrients, producing vital short-chain fatty acids that help keep the gut healthy and playing a role in almost all aspects of human health. When a healthy gut talks, the body responds positively. On the flipside, when your gut microbiome isn’t functioning at its best, you might experience various symptoms throughout your body. But how do you know if your gut health isn’t quite right?
Signs and symptoms of gut health issues
There are a number of bodily clues that can indicate your gut health might need a little TLC. These include:
- Frequent abdominal discomfort and bloating – Occasional bloating and discomfort can be normal. Especially after overeating, eating too fast or consuming too many rich foods or fizzy drinks. Some foods are also naturally gas and bloat-inducing like beans and lentils, cabbage and broccoli. These types of foods contain a source of fibre that beneficial bacteria love and happily feed and thrive on and gas is a natural by-product of their digestion. Bloating and discomfort can signal a gut health problem if they bother you regularly, they get worse, or they’re accompanied by other symptoms.
- Regular constipation or diarrhoea – Everyone’s bowel habits are different. It might be normal for one person to go twice a day and for someone else to go every few days. But if you’re suffering from constipation or diarrhoea more often than normal bowel movements, it could suggest a problem with your gut health. There is growing evidence that alterations of the gut microbiome can contribute to constipation and constipation-related symptoms.1
- Frequent illness or allergies – The gut microbiome is intricately linked with the immune system and plays a key role in the balance of immune and inflammatory responses.2 As such, if you seem to be coming down with regular illnesses or your allergies are playing up, it might indicate a gut health problem.
- Skin health problems – Skin conditions like mild eczema and acne can be linked to an unhealthy gut in some cases. The gut microbiome influences the skin through a number of immune and inflammatory mechanisms.3
- Stress and mood – The internal workings of your gut play a key role in your emotional wellbeing and how you respond to stress via a vital communication system known as the gut-brain axis.4 Suboptimal gut balance might negatively affect how you feel, how you cope with stress and your ability to focus and concentrate.
What actions to take
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to get checked out by your GP. Consistent digestive symptoms like pain, abdominal discomfort and poor bowel habits can signal a lot of different things and may not be indicative of poor gut health in every person.
Once you’ve been checked over to rule out other causes, there are a number of ways to get your gut health back on track. Nourish the good bacteria in your gut by moving regularly, incorporating stress-relieving practices like meditation, deep breathing or yoga and including prebiotic food sources into your daily diet like bananas, garlic, leek, white peaches, chickpeas, asparagus, beetroot, peas and lentils. Prebiotics are what feed and fuel the good gut bacteria. It’s important to note that prebiotic foods can aggravate digestive symptoms in some people, especially those with medically-diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. If this is the case, seek assistance from a naturopath or other healthcare practitioner who can recommend tailored food and supplements.
Finally, taking a high quality, researched backed probiotic targeted to your health needs can help bring your gut health back into balance.
How probiotics can help
The benefits of taking a probiotic supplement are extensive from supporting general health and wellbeing to relieving gut discomfort, gas and bloating to restoring gut flora balance for skin health or stress management and focus. Inner Health has a range of tailored probiotics to suit your individualised gut and body needs.
Inner Health Plus Double Strength contains researched-backed probiotic strains to support balanced gut health, maintain digestive function and support healthy immunity.
Inner Health Digestive Defence can help relieve gas, bloating and digestive discomfort and maintain normal bowel function.
Inner Health IBS Control is specifically tailored for people suffering from medically-diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome and provides extra-strength symptom relief from gut pain, discomfort, intestinal gas and bloating and supports healthy bowel function.
Inner Health Daily Immune might be appropriate for those feeling run down and experiencing regular illness. It’s been formulated with specific probiotic strains to aid immune health and support healthy recovery from colds.
Inner Health Skin Shield is a combination of probiotic strains plus vitamin D to reduce the occurrence and symptoms of eczema and acne when sun exposure is limited and supports skin health, healing and repair.
Inner Health Neuro Balance provides support for gut and brain health. Researched-backed probiotic strains help maintain emotional wellbeing, support a healthy stress response and assist mental focus, recall and clarity.
- Zhao Y et al, 2016, ‘Intestinal microbiota and chronic constipation’, Springerplus, vol 5, no 1, p 1130
- Belkaid Y et al, 2014, ‘Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation’, Cell, vol 157, no 1, pp121-41
- De Pessemier B et al, 2021, ‘Gut-Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions’, Microorganisms, vol 9, no 2, p 353
- Madison A et al 2019, ‘Stress, depression, diet and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition’, Curr Opin Behav Sci, vol 28, pp 105–110