5 Signs Your Gut Is At The Root Of Your Health Problems

Author and Professor of Medicine By Terry Wahls, M.D.
Author and Professor of Medicine
Terry Wahls, M.D. is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Iowa, where she conducts clinical research on the use of diet and lifestyle to treat brain-related problems. She received her Master’s in Medicine from The University of Iowa, as well as her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas.

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Most physicians are trained to quickly make a decision about what medication to recommend for a symptom or disease. Sadly, they are not so well-trained to identify the root causes of those symptoms or how to educate people to address those root causes. That's especially true when it comes to gut health.

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms below, it could be a sign that your gut is at the root cause of poor health:

1. You have constipation or chronic diarrhea.

Your bacterial mix determines if stool is hard or soft and easily passed. When a person is constipated, they are more likely to have a mix of more inflammation-raising, disease-promoting bacteria living in their bowels. Likewise, frequent diarrhea indicates that the person has a mix with too many disease-promoting bacteria living in the bowels.

These problems will not resolve until a mix of more health-promoting bacteria are established.

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2. You're experiencing mood problems.

Many people recognize that serotonin is a neurotransmitter that's very important when it comes to experiencing joy and happiness. It turns out that 70 percent of serotonin is made by the nerve cells that are in the gut, called the enteric nervous system. So if you have a mood or a mental health disorder, your gut is involved.

Restoring the health of the gut and tending your "gut garden," that is the mix of bacteria living in your bowels, is key to helping to improve your mood.

3. You have skin rashes.

Rashes are often tied to the presence of a leaky gut. That's when the gates between cells that line the small bowel are opened, and as a result, bacterial fragments and incompletely digested foods flow into the bloodstream. It's a bit like having a leaky roof on one's home. The result can be an increased risk of food sensitivities and autoimmune conditions.

In addition, leaky gut is associated with the development of "leaky skin." In that condition, the skin is more likely to react to animal dander, pollen, and dust mites. Rashes occur, which can be blistering or not blistering in nature. Healing the leaky gut can help quiet the rashes.

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4. You regularly use pain medications.

The medications you're using for pain can affect your gut. They affect the transit time—that is, how quickly things move through your gut—which shifts what bacterial species will survive. In addition, many of the pain medications act as fertilizer to bacteria, encouraging the overgrowth of more disease-promoting bacteria.

5. You're experiencing other gut symptoms.

This includes heartburn, reflux, nausea, bloating, difficulty swallowing, and belly discomfort or pain. All these symptoms point to some trouble with your gut. Your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant should evaluate you to be sure these are not the sign of something more serious, like cancer. Once you know that cancer is not the cause, making diet and lifestyle changes to improve your gut health will greatly reduce and often completely eliminate the troublesome GI symptoms.

We are not plants. We can't rely on sunlight and water to make everything we need to run the chemistry of life. We must take in food, digest it into small enough parts that we can then absorb into our bloodstream, and transport it to our cells, where we'll use it to run the chemistry of life and make and repair what our cells need to function. When that process begins to break down, eventually our health will break down.

In my therapeutic lifestyle clinic, I teach my patients that their gut is the foundation of health. We talk a lot about food, poop, and how to get their gut healthy again. Time and time again, as their guts become healthy, their pain steadily declines, their mood improves, their joy returns and so does their health.

If you want to learn more about your gut, how it's connected to your pain, mood, and health, and most importantly, how you can improve your gut health, check out my class, The 5-Step Guide To Diagnose Your Gut Problems, Rid Yourself Of Stomach Pain & Achieve Optimal Digestion.

Terry Wahls, M.D.
Terry Wahls, M.D.
Terry Wahls, M.D. is a professor of medicine at the University of Iowa, where she conducts clinical...
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Terry Wahls, M.D.
Terry Wahls, M.D.
Terry Wahls, M.D. is a professor of medicine at the University of...
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