What exactly is the gut?

The gut is a long hollow tube that starts from the mouth and ends with the anus. Assisting this hollow tube are a few accessory organs (liver, gallbladder, pancreas) that facilitate the digestive process. Towards the end of the digestive tract, the large intestine is home to a multitude of beneficial gut bacteria that serve many functions but their main role is in keeping our gut healthy and happy. If any area of the digestive tract is not working efficiently, problems can arise.

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms on a consistent basis, you may have an imbalanced gut:

  • Belching, bloating, or flatulence
  • Irregular Bowel Movements: diarrhea, constipation, or alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

An unhealthy gut can contribute to a whole host of other symptoms, as our digestive tract has influence on other organ systems. Here are some uncommon signs and symptoms associated with an unhealthy gut:

  • Low energy
  • Skin symptoms (eczema, psoriasis, rashes)
  • Headaches
  • Stubborn weight
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory disturbances
  • Joint Pain
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Thyroid disorders

Your stool is a great indication of your gut health. What should you look for in a healthy stool?

  • Regularity: 1-3 bowel movements per day set the stage for eliminating toxic waste products from the body and maintaining a squeaky clean digestive tract.
  • Form: your stool should be well formed and easy to pass – see the Bristol stool chart below to learn what a healthy looking stool looks like.
  • Color: depending on your diet, your stool can range a bit in color. However, if you have consistent chalky or dark colored stools, mucous, or blood in your stool, that is a sign that there is an imbalance that needs medical attention.
  • Odor: if you continually experience a foul odor with your stool, it can be a sign that you are not producing enough enzymes or stomach acid, have inflammation in the gut, or are not properly absorbing your food products.

Be well,
Dr. Yas