Evidence-Based, Simplified Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies


9 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut: 1 in 4 Suffer with Gut Disease

9 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut: 1 in 4 Suffer with Gut Disease

If you watched any of my YouTube videos, Nutrition with Judy podcasts, and social media microblog posts, you know that I focus on getting to the root cause, usually by supporting the gut with a meat-based elimination diet (hey, Carnivore Cure).


But what does a healthy gut look like? And what does an unhealthy gut look like? And does this even apply to you?


64M Americans suffer from gut disease


If you take a look at the back of Carnivore Cure, there are saddening statistics about the health of Americans. One of the statistics is about gut disease: one in four Americans suffer from gut disease. Carnivore Cure is rooted in leveraging a meat-based elimination diet to get back to optimal health. A meat-based diet focuses on eating meat to feel optimal.


Why Eat Meat-Based for Gut Health?

The diet removes most of the toxins from processed foods such as excess sugars, inflammatory seed oils, and lab-made ingredients like food dyes, preservatives, fillers, MSG, etc. But it’s because the meat is the most bioavailable and nutrient-dense food you can eat.


The body can break down and absorb meat even with a less than optimal functioning gut.


For many, eating only meat will help heal the inflamed gut, help the stomach to start producing more stomach acid, and the liver/gallbladder to start making more bile to break down fats. And since a variety of meat has all the essential nutrients needed for optimal health, well you have a better chance of breaking down (and absorbing) foods for nutrition.


As an example, a healthy gut is needed to break down plant-based foods to use short-chain fatty acids for gut-nourishing butyrate. Similar conversions need to be made for K1, beta-carotene to vitamin A and non-heme iron to heme-iron or… I could go on.


Or you can eat the more bioavailable form of these nutrients, which are in animal-based foods. Butyrate, for example, is the richest in butter. Raw dairy is always ideal.


Now many people can’t tolerate butter (or dairy) and this is when extra gut healing is required. Or getting the cleanest source of A2 raw grass-fed butter is required but these people will be far better off on a meat-based diet than any plant-based one.


Plant-based foods are not friendly on the gut: either from too many antinutrients, too many pesticides (even organic isn’t safe), too much fiber for the digestive process to handle, or not enough gut health to extract bioavailable nutrients from these foods.


9 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

One of the things I dislike about imbalances and illness is that the symptoms are all similar. This is why doctors or dietitians can easily misdiagnose a patient.


Here are some clues in seeing if you have an imbalanced gut. The more symptoms you have, the higher likelihood you probably have some gut healing to do. Another way to know is by taking my symptom burden test. It’s one of the tests I use to support new clients.

  • Food sensitivities. This can look like a histamine response or digestive aches after a meal. This is different than a full IgG response. While many people do have immune responses from an unhealthy gut, sometimes people are born with food allergies or intolerances like nuts.

  • Bloat after every meal. If you get bloat as soon as you eat, that may be more upper GI-related, like the stomach. If you get bloat an hour or two after you eat, it may be related to your small or large intestine.

  • Inconsistent stools and excess gas. If you don’t have consistent brown, solid stools that sink to the bottom of the toilet, you have inconsistent stools. If you have loose stools one day and are constipated another, that may be a sign of an unhealthy gut.

  • Feel better not eating. If eating causes gut pain, then you may need some gut healing. Now, if you have worse energy after a meal, that may be related to blood sugar imbalance. Blood sugar imbalance can have a role in exacerbating imbalanced guts but the feel better not eating is related more to physical pain in the body after eating.

  • Skin imbalances. The skin microbiome has just as many trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and small microbes as the gut. This is why I’m not a fan of hand sanitizers. The gut and skin biomes are very connected. If you struggle with eczema, acne, psoriasis, and other skin flares, you probably need gut healing. Maybe it’s not a nutrient deficiency issue but a nutrient absorption issue.

  • Sleep disturbances. If you can’t sleep through the night on most days and you’ve ruled out blood sugar imbalances, you may have an unhealthy gut. Sleep is required for the balance of ghrelin and leptin, two very important hormones that regulate hunger and fullness. One study showed that just one night of sleep deprivation increased ghrelin levels (our hunger cue hormone) and feelings of hunger in normal-weight, healthy men.

  • Another reason our gut can disturb our sleep is that most of our serotonin is produced in our gut. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps balance mood, cognition, learning, memory, and many other processes. Well, we need sufficient serotonin to produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. With an imbalanced gut, we won’t produce enough melatonin or serotonin. And this is why mental health is absolutely affected by gut health.

  • Constant fatigue and imbalanced adrenal sufficiency. The gut needs to absorb nutrients for energy. If it doesn’t and if the gut is constantly inflamed because of gut imbalances, low doses of cortisol will be pushed out to support the gut. Eventually, this can cause constant fatigue and poor endocrine health (the system your adrenals are a part of). Constant fatigue can be a sign of small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). If you have more harmful gut bugs than good, it can cause imbalances that include fatigue.

  • Mental health imbalances. Your mood can suffer because of the lack of nutrients to make neurotransmitters. It can also be from the pain experienced. No one likes to be sick. If you feel chronically sick every time you eat, it will wear on your mental health and overall mood. Imbalances in the gut flora can also affect your mood.

  • Weakened immune system. 70-80% of the immune system is in the small intestine. As the small intestine starts to have holes and gaps, you lose the ability to absorb nutrients and ward off invaders. These small food particles and possible toxins get into our bloodstream and you have higher risks of autoimmune illness and additional food sensitivities.


9 signs  and comparison of unhealthy gut and healthy gut with a meat-based diet


Start Supporting the Gut

Figuring out targeted gut support is difficult from guesswork. You may feel bloat in your intestines but the root cause may be stemming from insufficient stomach acid.


This is why I always recommend my gut healing kit as it supports every part of the digestive process. Or if you’ve taken several rounds of probiotics, the probiotic restart kit may be a viable next option.


But if I only had one recommendation for my clients, it would be to clean up the diet. Start the Carnivore Cure elimination protocol and eventually you can reintroduce foods you enjoy (some in moderation). But you must first heal the gut.


Note: the updated Carnivore Cure protocol would recommend little to no liver and kidney. You can see why, here. I also don’t recommend beef only, long-term. I don’t buy into the daily recommended allowances but I still think you need a bit more thiamine, for example.



The ideal situation is to start the Carnivore Cure elimination protocol and see how you do. If you start to have loose stools or other gut imbalances, I’d consider the temporary gut supplements.


You can also take my symptom burden assessment (SBA) to help identify the root cause. From taking the SBA, I knew I desperately needed some stomach acid. I also needed some small intestinal support when I did some lingual neuro testing. Those supports were game-changers when it came to helping me assimilate to a meat-based diet. After 6 months, I didn’t need either supplement and still don’t 3 years later.


I thank a meat-based diet for the healing.


Symptom Burden Comparison Graph


Some say your symptoms are a nutrient deficiency but if your gut is imbalanced it doesn’t matter where the deficiency is. Sure, nutrient support may help a deficiency for a while but get to the root cause.


If your gut is imbalanced, it will affect everything else. The body gets its nutrients and raw materials from the foods that you eat, digest, and absorb. The modern-day diet, unfortunately, doesn’t allow for optimal digestion and absorption.


Focus on healing the gut. Stick to a meat-only diet. Get on a gut-healing protocol, as no food is going to outrun a poorly functioning gut. Ask my clients that are deficient in B-vitamins or show protein needs on a meat-based diet. Yes, sometimes we need extra gut healing with a meat-based diet.


Carnivore Cure chapter 2 shares the why. Chapters 13, 14, and 15 tell you the how.


You can chase symptoms all day long but focus on the root cause. You may be able to get your energy back, get off medications and finally start living your best life.



w️ith ♥ and hope for healing,

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also enjoy these Nutrition with Judy blog posts:


DISCLAIMER: The content is for educational purposes only. While I am a nutritional therapy practitioner, I am not providing medical advice. Whenever you start a new diet or protocol, always first consult with your trusted practitioner.

Nutrition with Judy


  • Mitch Tsenis
    July 26, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    Hi, Im having issues with constipation and disrupted.sleep.Its been 6 years and no sign of improvement. Any suggestions is greatly appreciated. Thanks

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