6 Telltale Signs Your Gut Needs a Health Boost, As Revealed by a Nutritionist

6 Key Indicators Your Gut May Be Lacking Optimal Health, as Pointed Out by a Proficient Nutritionist

Gut Health

Let me break it down for you: most of the so-called “healthy” processed foods we consume are just a bunch of lies. We’re being sold on labels like “heart healthy” and “organic” (but newsflash, organic sugar is still sugar). These foods can wreak havoc on our digestive system, cause inflammation, and mess with our blood sugar levels. But fear not, my friends! Once you know how to decipher an ingredient list, you’ll see right through these deceptive claims. Today, we’re diving deep into the signs of bad gut health and the ingredients you should avoid. Yes, that includes those sneaky additives and “natural” flavors found in everything from non-dairy milks to sparkling water. So if you’re a fan of oat milk, keep reading. Everything you need to know about improving your gut health is just a scroll away.

Featured image by Riley Reed.

Woman Pouring Tea

Meet Edie Horstman, a double-certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant. She knows her stuff when it comes to women’s health, fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness. Find her on Instagram and check out her nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie.

What the Gut is Going On?

When we think of our gut, we often think of our belly. But the gut is more than just a party zone for food. It’s a complex system of organs that includes the mouth, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, gallbladder, colon, and rectum. Think of it like a fancy club for digestion, except sometimes things get a little out of hand. You see, the gut microbiome (a community of bacteria) has a big impact on our overall health and well-being, from stress levels to our mood.

Camille Styles Drinking Tea

6 Red Flags of Bad Gut Health

The signs of bad gut health can vary from person to person, like fashion trends or cat memes. But there are some common indicators that your gut might be in trouble. Here are six physical red flags:

1. Digestive Issues

We’ve all had those moments of bloating, gas, or an unruly stomach. But if you’re experiencing constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, or other digestive woes on the reg, your gut might need a serious pep talk.

2. Unexpected Weight Loss or Gain

If you’re shedding or gaining weight without any changes in diet, stress, or exercise, your gut could be to blame. An imbalanced gut can mess with nutrient absorption, blood sugar regulation, and fat storage. So if you’re feeling like a yo-yo, it might be time to give your gut some love.

3. Constant Fatigue

Feeling tired all the time? It could be more than just your Netflix addiction. A lack of diversity in gut bacteria has been linked to chronic fatigue and sleep disorders. Turns out, your gut plays a big role in producing the hormone serotonin, which affects sleep and mood. So if you’re not getting those ZZZs, your gut might be the culprit.

4. Skin Conditions

Your gut can have an impact on more than just your digestive profile pic. Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne have been linked to gut inflammation caused by food allergies, a poor diet, and a lack of good gut bacteria. So if your skin is acting up, it’s time to look within (your gut, that is).

5. Food Intolerances

If certain foods are causing your stomach to throw a tantrum, it might not be a food allergy. Your gut bacteria might just be playing favorites and not breaking down certain foods properly. It’s like the gut version of a picky eater, except not as cute.

6. Mood Changes

They don’t call it the “second brain” for nothing. Your gut has a direct and powerful connection to your mood. Anxiety, depression, and mood swings can all be tied to the state of your gut. It’s all about those fabulous gut bacteria that support mood-enhancing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. So if you’re feeling a little off, it might be time to give your gut some TLC.

Lemon Water

Ingredients to Avoid Like the Plague

Because we’re all unique creatures, what messes with your gut might not mess with mine. But there are some universally known villains when it comes to gut health. Brace yourself, because here they come:

Artificial Sugars

These sneaky devils are at the top of the “stay away” list. Artificial sugars are made from chemicals and have been linked to everything from weight gain to brain tumors. They’re found in diet drinks, salad dressings, and processed foods, lurking behind names like aspartame and sucralose. So next time you’re looking for a sweet fix, try honey, stevia, monk fruit, or xylitol instead.


No, it’s not a Harry Potter spell. Glyphosate is a weed killer that’s used on crops, like wheat. Unfortunately, it can make its way into the food we eat and wreak havoc on our gut. So when possible, opt for organic and keep an eye out for “glyphosate-free” labels. But fear not, clean oats do exist.

Guar Gum

Have you met guar gum? It’s a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer found in many processed foods like oat milk, coconut yogurt, and ice cream. But for sensitive tummies, it can be a real party pooper. If you have gut issues like SIBO or IBS, it might be time to ditch the guar gum and see if your gut says “thank you!”

Inflammatory Oils

These bad boys promote inflammation and can lead to gut issues and inflammatory diseases. Vegetable and canola oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fats, throwing our omega ratios out of whack. So next time you’re reaching for some chips or fried foods, check the label and say no to canola oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, and grape seed oil.

Natural Flavors

They may sound all innocent and “natural,” but natural flavors are not always what they seem. These flavoring agents can be found in sparkling beverages, canned cocktails, protein bars, and more. While the FDA hasn’t exactly defined what “natural flavors” are, they can be a source of physical reactions, including gut issues. So be on the lookout and read those labels carefully.

Peach Baked Oatmeal Recipe

So there you have it, a guide to gut health that’s humorous, lovely, and emotionally rich. Remember, listening to your gut is about more than just indigestion. It’s about nourishing your body from the inside out and embracing a lifestyle that supports your overall well-being. Now go forth and give your gut some love!

Salads and Olive Oil