5 Surprising Signs You're Due for a Gut-Check
Sunday, November 6, 2016
LifeTime WeightLoss in Becca Hurt, gut health, gutfix

Nope. I’m not talking about gas, bloating, constipation, IBS, acid reflux, diarrhea or any other common offender in regard to your gut health. For most, those symptoms make it quite obvious (to you and others) that things are not-so-hot in the realm of tummy health.

This article is for those of you who may have otherwise skipped over this topic thinking, “Nah, my digestion is fine. I feel fine after I eat and I’m fairly ‘regular’ with my bathroom visits.” While you may not think you have gut issues, some of the ailments you DO complain about could in fact be correlated to your gut and its health (or lack thereof).

“All disease begins in the gut.” –Hippocrates. That guy was on to something!

Scope out the five signs below in which your body might be telling you you’re due for a gut-check. You just might be surprised with what you find.

Skin Issues

Your skin is your largest organ, yet I think so many forget that and think it’s just an outer “shell” that we have, so-to-speak. Our perception is that what we put on it has more impact than what we put in to it. In reality, the skin issues that we see on the exterior of our body can be telling signs of destruction and turmoil that’s happening inside our bodies; specifically your gut.

The gut actually plays a super critical role in how our skin functions and appears. While it may not seem as though what you put in your mouth would dictate the condition of your skin, it most certainly does.

Have you noticed slight skin irritations or a rash lately? Examples include blemishes, acne, or even more severe issues such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, etc. In a study from 2012, it was shown that a medication typically used to help treat symptoms of psoriasis also was shown to decrease negative symptoms of Crohn’s disease (a chronic inflammatory bowel disease).

When your gut health has been compromised and its lining damaged, inflammation ensues, which may in turn impair your skin cells’ health, durability and function. 

There are countless skin products that promise relief from redness, dry skin, itchiness, etc., yet have you ever really found that any of them truly work? Most likely not. Only when your attention turns to your overall gut health, will you most likely start to see your complexion enhance.


So maybe skin issues aren’t typical problems for you, but how about that scale that won’t budge, or the pesky 5-10 pounds that just won’t come off? One of the biggest game-changers for many of my clients is when they turn their attention from the scale to their health habits. Don’t get me wrong, the scale can be a great assessment tool and helpful for weekly accountability, (weekly, not daily, or hourly) but it only paints a fraction of the picture of what’s actually happening with your health and weight loss efforts.

Sounds crazy, right? How can your gut (that may feel fine) be impeding the effects of all your intense workouts and diligent efforts at eating right? Well consider this: Have you ever used antibiotics? Oral birth control pills? Or eaten a high-sugar/processed food diet? Those factors, along with a slew of others, can offset the beneficial bacteria in your gut that help regulate digestion, metabolism, appetite, cravings and your body’s ability to properly manage weight. Once the good bacteria are negatively impacted, (either killed off or when bad bacteria start to out-number the good) the other healthy habits that you’re practicing don’t make nearly the impact as they should when your gut is not able to properly digest and utilize the nutrients.

Therefore, those cravings or feelings of always being hungry and needing an extra late-night meal or snack are real. But until you address the issue at its root, (healing your gut) it’s going to be quite difficult to overcome them, and reach your weight loss goals.

Frequent Colds and Infections

Sniffles, colds, viruses, you name it and you’re usually plagued by it? Are you the co-worker at the office that is constantly sneezing and hacking? Or maybe you’ve been dealing with years of horrible allergies. While you may just have bad luck and always get sick, more than likely your gut health could be to blame for your continual sickness or seasonal allergies.

Over 75% of your body’s immune system resides in your gut. That’s right, your intestines contain more immune cells than the rest of your entire body! However, our daily exposure to toxins such as personal care products, pesticides and herbicides, medication and/or antibiotic use, air pollutants, etc., can disrupt our gut microbes. On top of that, the standard American diet (that so many people indulge in) is laden with processed foods and artificial ingredients that further break down our gut, rather than nutrient-dense foods that help heal it. If this is one area you can relate to, consider your cold(s) as a sign from your gut telling you, “Help! I need a fix!”

Brain Fog, Low Energy and the Blues

Can you recall a time when you felt like you just had a gut-feeling about something? Like your head was telling you one thing, but your gut was telling you another? The more researchers are learning about our gut, the more this phenomenon is seeming true! This “second brain” as it is commonly referred to, is the enteric nervous system (ENS) that resides in our gut. It doesn’t have the same capabilities that our ‘big’ brain has per se, but the two do communicate and impact one another. Evidence may now be showing that when our gut has been damaged and inflamed, it sends signals to the central nervous system, which triggers mood changes.

Anxiety and depression have been linked to GI conditions and it was once thought that many gastro intestinal diseases may lead to anxiety and depression. What studies may now be showing is that it may in fact be the opposite; that the gut condition may impact anxiety, energy and mood.

If you’ve noticed a decrease in your energy, brain clarity and alertness, or shift in mood, it is definitely worth a deeper look into your gut health (as well as mental health) to potentially help alleviate these symptoms and conditions. It may be your “second brain” that needs fixing first!

Unmanaged Stress

OK, chances are we’re all guilty here. If you think you’re the one exception to this, I hate to break it to you, but you’re most likely incorrect. Do you work in a building lit by florescent lighting? Are you always on your phone? Do you look at a screen for more than an hour or so a day? Is your nutritional intake 100% perfect?

It is nearly impossible to avoid stress (in fact, I’d argue it IS impossible to avoid) and it affects us in countless ways. However, a key factor in how stress affects you is determined by whether or not you practice stress management. It’s our unmanaged, chronic stress that can really cause havoc on our health and especially our gut health. Changes in gut motility, gastric secretion, etc. commonly appear when the body is under stress. And chronic exposure to stress may lead to GI conditions such as food sensitives or allergies, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

If you’re feeling overly stressed lately and haven’t been proactive about better managing it with relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, daily walks, etc., the recurrent sense of being overwhelmed may be a sign that your stress is harming more than just your mental and emotional well-being.

Now What?

At this point, you may be thinking, “Thanks for these symptoms and info, but now what the heck can I do about it?” The good news is that there IS something you can do to feel better. In fact,  there are actually many things you can do. One of the best methods to start to improve your gut health is to assess the quality and types of foods you’re eating: do your meals include quality protein, ample veggies and healthy fats or are they typically prepackaged, boxed or from a local drive-through? Your gut is responsible for breaking down and digesting the products you put into your body, and therefore the closer they resemble whole-foods, the less stress is put on your gut.

To also help improve your food choices, another way to increase nutrient status is by incorporating supplements into your day. A great foundation to help gut health includes a quality multivitamin, probiotics and digestive enzymes.

In addition to quality nutrition choices that help “minimize the fire” so-to-speak, the inflammation that has been induced, it is imperative to also help your gut repair and “put out the fire.”

If you can relate to one or more of the symptoms above, the Life Time GUT.FIX digestive health program could be the answer to many of your ailments. This is a brand new program, designed by the experts at Life Time, to guide you through the restoration and healing of your gut through gut-friendly nutrient dense foods and quality supplements to help repair it.

For many of you who have been dealing with these adverse symptoms for years (maybe even decades), it’s time to work from the inside out rather than trying every other remedy out there that acts as a temporary band-aid to “fix” it. For more details about the program, check out the program’s website here.

Feel free to email with any questions you may have as well to GUT.FIX@lifetimefitness.com.

In health, Becca Hurt – Assistant Program Manager – Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader. 

Article originally appeared on LifeTime WeightLoss (http://www.lifetime-weightloss.com/).
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