4 Sneaky Signs You May Have an Unhealthy Gut, According to a Gastroenterologist

These symptoms might surprise you.

Reviewed by Dietitian Emily Lachtrupp, M.S., RD

When we think of poor gut health, things like bloating, irregular bowel movements and abdominal pain may come to mind as obvious symptoms. But what are some of the lesser-known symptoms of an unhealthy gut? Gastroenterologist Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, M.D. just revealed some signs that you may be overlooking.

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Getty Images

"Classically, we think of a damaged gut microbiome, termed dysbiosis, as manifesting with gut symptoms," the doctor and cookbook author wrote in a recent Instagram video. "Bloating would be the classic one, but of course there are many."

Want to know what these symptoms are? Read on to find out—as well as the science behind the gut's connection to them.

Related: The #1 Ingredient to Add to Your Coffee, According to a Gastroenterologist

1. You Experience Frequent Headaches

If you're unsure of what's causing your headaches, it could be your gut health. Bulsiewicz linked to a 2020 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain that migraines can be associated with gastrointestinal disorders (like IBS) and gut inflammation. The study also shows that headaches or migraines can be improved through "dietary approaches with beneficial effects on gut microbiota" like including enough fiber in your eating pattern. High-fiber fruits and vegetables are great places to start.

2. You Constantly Feel Tired

Do you get enough sleep, but you're still groggy throughout the day? Physical and mental fatigue is another symptom of poor gut health. Bulsiewicz referenced this 2020 study shared by the National Library of Medicine that presented the connection between fatigue and the state of the gut microbiome. Fatigue can also be linked to specific digestive issues such as constipation.

Related: 3 Sneaky Reasons You Wake Up Feeling Tired, According to a New Study

3. You Have Eczema

While eczema can be an inherited condition, your skin irritation may flare up depending on your gut health. This 2018 study published by the journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica showcased the role of the gut microbiota in atopic dermatitis (eczema). The study showed that an "altered" gut microbiome can correlate with symptoms of eczema. Further aggravating the gut microbiome is the occasional prescription of antibiotics for certain skin conditions, including eczema flares. Bulsiewicz has previously discussed the effects on the gut microbiome after taking antibiotics, with constant use causing symptoms of dysbiosis like chronic fatigue, inflammation and digestive issues. While a lot of antibiotics prescribed are necessary, talk to your doctor if you're having these problems and are taking a long-term antibiotic to see what's best for you.

4. You Have Increased Stress or Anxiety

With 95% of our body's serotonin being produced in our gut, according to Frontiers in Psychiatry, it's no wonder that stress levels and gut health are connected. Bulsiewicz referenced this 2019 study from the Journal of Neuroscience Research that explored the relationship between gut inflammation and anxiety and depression risk, and the study showed the gut microbiome playing a huge role in stress response. At EatingWell, we have been covering this connection for quite some time, and to help with this, we curated a list of the top anti-inflammatory foods for relieving anxiety for you to try adding to your diet.

The Bottom Line

"So when you are dealing with migraines, eczema, anxiety and fatigue be sure to recognize the common connection to the gut and incorporate that into your diet and lifestyle strategy," Bulsiewicz concluded. Talk to your healthcare provider for a personalized plan if you think these symptoms are related to an unhealthy gut. Adding gut-healthy foods into your eating pattern can help relieve these symptoms, so check out this 30-day anti-inflammatory, gut-healthy dinner plan.

Up next: I'm a Food Writer & This Easy, High-Protein & High-Fiber Breakfast is My Morning Staple

Read the original article on Eating Well.