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These Are the Most Common Signs of an Unhealthy Gut, According to a GP

When looking at our overall health and wellbeing, it's now widely recognised that our gut and how effectively we digest our food is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Not only can gut issues make us feel fatigued, foggy and moody, but they can also lead to further health issues such as diabetes, arthritis and autoimmune conditions if left untreated for too long. If you're fueling your body with a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and still aren't feeling in tiptop condition, it's time to look at whether your gut health might require some further investigation. Our bodies send us various signals every day and it can be hard to determine what they mean, so we've enlisted the expertise of Dr Michelle Woolhouse, General Practitioner, Medical Director & Founder of Whole Medicine to help us navigate the most common symptoms to look out for.

Digestive issues
According to Dr Woolhouse, diarrhoea is something that isn't normal for anyone to experience and suggests that there is usually an underlying issue causing the symptom. She explains that your stool should ideally be easy to pass and happen around one to three times a day. Alternatively, infrequent and/or hard to pass stools can also be a sign of an unhealthy gut and should be carefully monitored. It's worth noting that some people may even experience a fluctuation between the two and that any noticeable changes in this regard are worth taking seriously.

Feeling bloated can really weigh you down, both physically and emotionally. Dr Woolhouse explains that bloating is caused by excessive gas production in the intestines and that a range of things can cause bloating, including food intolerances, digestive issues listed above and stress, so it's important to chat to your doctor if you find yourself suffering.

Abdominal pain
If you're experiencing pain regularly, especially around your abdomen area, this could be a clear sign that your gut needs some extra attention. Dr Woolhouse adds that prolonged pain is definitely not normal and this physical symptom is a sign that lets you know that your body is not functioning the way it should be.

Reflux and heartburn
Those who suffer from a painful or burning sensation in their chest caused by inflammation of the stomach or esophagus know that it's an uncomfortable feeling that can make eating an unpleasant experience. While there is a range of various causes for this condition, one of them can be an unhealthy gut. 

Bad breath
If you've been noticing persistent bad breath lately, Dr Woolhouse recommends that your dentist is the first place you should turn, where they can rule out any dental issues or tooth and mouth infections that may be causing the issue. The undesirable and sometimes embarrassing side effect of bad breath, or halitosis, can also be a sign that your gut flora isn't optimal.

Poor appetite
This is something that is personal to each person, as feeling hungry and full are subjective and can change from day to day. Generally though, if you're noticing that your appetite is a bit off compared to usual, your gut could be to blame and could signal that your digestive system isn't properly processing the food you're eating.

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms above and think that your gut might be to blame, Dr Woolhouse says that you should start with a visit to your local GP where they will be able to rule out any serious illnesses and provide the best treatment plan going forward for you.

While you're here, find out whether you're tired or iron deficient, according to a GP.

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