Is Poor Gut Health Ruining Your Social Life?
Have you ever had such an uncomfortable tummy that you just couldn’t bear to leave the house? Or perhaps you feel so run down, depressed or exhausted that you keep cancelling plans?
You could be suffering from poor gut health. And it’s in danger of destroying your social life!
When your gut flora is “out of balance”, it means there are more ‘bad’ microorganisms in your intestines than ‘good’. As you’d expect, this can result in a host of unpleasant symptoms: bloating, gas, indigestion, and general discomfort.
If left untreated, these symptoms can progress to serious, chronic health problems, such as poor nutrient absorption and an overall lack of energy. And who feels like socializing when they have no energy?
Here’s how to tell if your gut health is to blame for your inability to get out and about!
The Warning Signs
The severity of gut health problems can range from a few bad microbes to severe dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is the term used to refer to microbial imbalance in the gut, and is often associated with pathogenic microorganisms like Candida albicans or H. pylori. Some of the symptoms of poor gut health can include:
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Muscle pain/fibromyalgia
- Poor focus or inability to concentrate
- Brain fog
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Headaches or migraines
- Cravings for sugar or carbohydrates
- Gas and bloating
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Body odor
It’s fairly obvious why some of these symptoms would affect your social life! But beyond the unpleasantness of bad breath and gas, there are other ways that an imbalanced gut microbiome can affect the way you interact with the rest of the world.
Why Poor Gut Health Damages Your Social Life
Poor nutrient absorption
Your gut microbes play a huge role in the way you absorb nutrients from food. The gut microbiome works to harvest, store and deliver energy obtained from the diet.
Scientists have found that the intestines are responsible for most of your nutrient digestion and absorption. Without a healthy balance of microbes in your gut, the nutrients in the food you eat would simply be eliminated through your stools.
When you’re not absorbing nutrients properly, you’re not getting as much energy as you could from your food. All of your bodily systems require vitamins and minerals in order to function properly. If these nutrients aren’t being obtained from your food, you have nothing to run on.
Your brain, heart, muscles, and bones all require nutritional support. Without a steady supply from your gut microbes, you’ll feel lethargic and weak. Not exactly the best way to face a night out with friends!
Poor gut health can result from a bad diet, gastrointestinal illness, antibiotics, or stress. Many of the foods that feature in a typical Western diet (such as sugar, grains, dairy, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods) can cause the gut to become inflamed.
This inflammation can leave you tired and vulnerable to infection. Around 70 percent of your immune tissue is in your gastrointestinal tract, so restoring your digestive health should be your first step in improving your overall health, energy, and immunity.
Chronic inflammation may begin with typical digestive problems such as gas, diarrhea, bloating, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
However, as the inflammation continues to weaken your intestinal barrier, more serious health conditions can develop. Skin issues such as acne or rosacea are common, as well as hormonal imbalances and food sensitivities.
All of these will wreak havoc on your ability to function normally in social situations. There are even links between chronic inflammation and depression, which is sure to put a downer on any social plans that you might have.
Toxins released by gut-based pathogens
Some of the pathogenic microbes that live in your gut are worse than others. Candida albicans is a yeast that lives quite naturally in your body, on your skin, in your gut, and in the genital area. However, when it grows out of control, it can produce large amounts of toxins that can leave you tired and wreck your digestion.
For women with Candida infections, managing the recurrent symptoms of these infections is an unpleasant challenge with a clearly negative impact on the quality of their social lives. Research has shown that many women report frustration and mood disorders, intimacy changes in their relationship, and self-consciousness of body door.
Candida’s other weapon is the way in which it releases two harmful toxins into the body: acetaldehyde and gliotoxin. These toxins can run wild when your body’s ecosystem is out of balance, allowing Candida grow out of control even more and take over the gastrointestinal environment. An accumulation of acetaldehyde has been likened to alcohol poisoning, causing brain fog and potentially leading to more serious conditions. Gliotoxin, on the other hand, is believed to cause cells to die off prematurely and also destroy important tissues.
These problems are extremely damaging to your overall wellbeing, and can cause you to feel exhausted, miserable and unsociable.
Boost Your Gut Health and Save Your Social Life
Overcoming a gut imbalance is vital if you want to get your social life back on track. It’s impossible to enjoy time out with friends and family if you’re feeling fatigued, sick, or suffering from constant digestive issues.
Here’s a 3 step plan to get your gut health back where you want it:
Improve your diet
Avoid antibiotics (where possible)
Don’t be one of those people who asks the doctor for antibiotics when they’re not necessary! Antibiotics won’t help with viral infections, and most bacterial infections will go away with rest and a healthy diet. Antibiotics can permanently change the composition of your gut flora, and not for the better.
Take a probiotic supplement
If you’re not getting enough probiotic bacteria from the fermented foods in your diet, find out a high-quality probiotic supplement. This will help to restore the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut so that pathogenic yeasts and bacteria will be crowded out. Find one that uses time-release tablets to get its bacteria safely past your stomach acid.
When your gut is functioning properly, you’ll be able to digest food and absorb the nutrients your body needs to run optimally. And when your body is running optimally, so is your brain – and your sense of fun!
Lisa Richards is a nutritionist and the creator of TheCandidaDiet.com. She has been featured on Today, Women’s Health magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Reader’s Digest. On her website, she writes about the importance of gut health and the benefits of a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet.