From brittle nails to breakable bones – the 7 surprising signs your gut is in trouble

Good gut health has many benefits.

Experts have already said that taking care of your tummy can help lower your risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Experts have found that poor gut health can manifest itself in surprising ways


Experts have found that poor gut health can manifest itself in surprising ways

Many of us wouldn’t be able to tell if we’re doing this — and if our bodies are warning us that there’s something wrong with our gut.

We usually associate abdominal pain or bloating with signs of poor gut health.

However, according to experts, there are a number of ways your gut can warn you that it’s not happy.

The Sun spoke to gut health specialists about some surprising ways poor gut health can reveal itself.

1. Brittle skin, hair and nails

Does your skin look sallow or irritated? Does your hair feel dry and do your nails break easily?

These could all be signs that something is wrong in your gut, Lucy Kerrison, a registered dietitian at The Gut Health Clinic, told The Sun.

2. Break bones easily

Poor gut health means more than just breaking nails.

IBS nutritionist Kirsten Jackson said frequent fractures could indicate you have a condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or celiac disease.

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IBD describes two long-term conditions that involve intestinal inflammation: ulcerative colitis – which affects your large intestine – and Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the digestive system.

Meanwhile, the NHS says celiac disease is a condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten, damaging your gut so you can’t absorb nutrients.

According to Kirsten, the damage these disorders cause to your small intestine means you can’t absorb adequate amounts of calcium.

This could lead to osteoporosis, which weakens your bones, making them brittle and more prone to breakage.

“I once had a client who didn’t have any noticeable digestive problems but kept breaking bones too easily, and later found out he had undiagnosed celiac disease,” Kirsten recalled.

3. Going to the bathroom several times a day

Being able to poop regularly means my gut is fine, right?

Not necessarily, Kirsten shared.

“People assume that if they open their bowels every day, they don’t have constipation,” she explained.

“In fact, their bowel might have trouble ‘fully evacuating’ and so they end up having to make several ‘mini’ trips.”

4. Gas and bloating

One of the ways poor gut health can make itself felt is through excess gas or gas, Lucy said.

You can also put stomach noises to the test.

5. Fatigue

Are you constantly tired and lacking energy?

Fatigue could be another sign of an unhappy gut, Lucy told The Sun.

6. Feeling down or depression

Kirsten said, “The gut and brain communicate with each other through something called the ‘gut-brain’ axis.

“This means your poor gut health can send signals to your brain that have negative effects.”

So gut health could be at the root of bad mood or depression aside from mental health struggles.

7. Frequent coughs and colds

Do you always pick up the cough or cold?

Lucy explained that “70 percent of your immune system is in your gut.”

She noted that some people may not have any symptoms of poor gut health at all.

What can I do to improve my gut health?

There are a number of changes you can make—both dietary and non-dietary—to jump-start your gut health.

When eating lunch and dinner, Kirsten advised that you should aim for between one-third and one-half of your plate to be made up of vegetables.

This “will help feed your microbiome and produce so much poop that your body can pass out,” she said.

For Lucy, it’s also about eating a variety of plant-based products.

“Aim for 30 different plant-based products a week,” she said.

You should also try to eat 30g or more of fiber per day, although studies show many benefits from eating more than 50g per day, Lucy added.

Good sources of fiber are starchy foods such as oatmeal, oat bran, high-fiber breakfast cereals, sweet potatoes, skinned potatoes, whole wheat bread and pasta, and beans and legumes, vegetables
Fruits, nuts and seeds, according to the NHS.

Lucy added herbs and spices to the list.

It’s not just about what you eat: How you eat your food can affect your gut health, Kirsten said.

She recommended that you eat your lunch away from your desk and Instagram scroll.

“When we’re distracted, we tend to overeat and sometimes overeat,” she explained.

“If we don’t take the time to chew food, large chunks of food end up in our gut, which is more difficult to process,” Kirsten continued.

“Eating too much can cause more gas to be produced, making you feel sluggish and uncomfortable in the afternoon.”

You can add a cup of fresh coffee to your morning routine, Kirsten said.

“Coffee contains polyphenols that can help feed your gut microbiota, and the caffeine can help stimulate the first bowel movement of the day.”

“If you suffer from loose stools, opt for decaffeinated coffee to reap the benefits without the added stimulation.”

Non-diet hacks to improve gut health

Regular exercise can do wonders for your gut health, Lucy said, because it can independently increase the diversity of gut bacteria — and this will improve your overall health.

Meanwhile, Kirsten said, “Going for 30 minutes of exercise per day can be really beneficial for improving gut microbiota, reducing bloating, and improving the severity of digestive symptoms.”

Lucy’s two additional tips for improving gut bacteria were getting a good night’s sleep — most of us need seven to nine hours of sleep a night — and spending time outdoors and in nature.

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Kirsten emphasized, “Indigestion isn’t normal, so you’ll need to see your doctor for some routine checks to rule out underlying conditions.”

These can include constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, and excess gas. From brittle nails to breakable bones – the 7 surprising signs your gut is in trouble

Emma James

Emma James is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma James joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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