Have you ever heard the term “gut rot”? While it is not yet found in scientific sources, this term is informally used when discussing stomach aches or pain. Fox News, for example, has reported that almost 75% of Americans live with some kind of digestive issue that goes from bloating to diarrhoea and pain (1). This represents a lot of people who suffer from gut rot, and there are even more around the world! In this blog, we’ll discuss the symptoms of this gut issue, its causes, effective remedies, and how to prevent it if possible.
Let’s start with the basics: what is gut rot exactly? The Collins English dictionary defines this condition as “stomach pains” or “an upset stomach” (2). This usually takes place after meals or after taking alcoholic drinks.
As stated before, there’s no consensus in the medical community regarding the term “gut rot” yet, but many studies have been conducted trying to understand what causes an upset stomach (what gut rot refers to, anyway). So, we’re going to use these studies as scientific sources when exploring gut rot in this article.
Gut rot or stomach pains can happen for a wide variety of reasons that go from eating too much to having a chronic digestive disorder, such as Crohn's disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Let’s take a closer look at the main causes of an upset stomach:
As you can imagine, eating too much can cause stomach pain, among other gastrointestinal symptoms, especially if you ingest a lot of food too quickly, without any control (also called binge eating).
A research study carried out in 2009 examined the relationship between binge eating and stomach pain, discovering that eating too much can cause many gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, bloating, pain, diarrhoea, and constipation, among others (3).
Being allergic or intolerant to certain foods can also cause gut rot. Certain studies analysed food allergies and their relationship to IBS, trying to discover whether they made symptoms worse or not. Most participants suffered from milk, soy, eggs, wheat, nut, fish, and peanut allergies, suffering from symptoms like bloating, nausea, and cramping (4).
Let’s not forget about food poisoning as a possible cause of an upset stomach. In 1999, over 60 patients in the Nagasaki Municipal Hospital got infected with salmonella after eating an omelette, with more than 80% of them experiencing abdominal pain, among other symptoms like fever and vomiting (5).
If you take prescription pills for certain diseases, take into account that these may cause gut rot (8). Some examples include:
- Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen;
- Drugs to lower cholesterol;
- Iron supplements;
Leaky gut, also called intestinal permeability, refers to a condition where people’s intestines have cracks or fissures. This, in turn, allows for bacteria and toxins to enter your bloodstream (9), resulting in inflammation, pain, food sensitivities, bloating, and other unpleasant symptoms.
While the causes of leaky gut are not yet clear, most specialists, like Dr Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, agree on the condition being caused by an unbalanced diet or genetic conditions: "Some people may have a weaker barrier because they were born with it, or they follow an unbalanced diet low in fibre and high in sugar and saturated fats, which may be the trigger that weakens the gut lining." (9).
Gut rot can also be caused by bowel cancer. Persistent, severe stomach pain that does not go away can be one of the early signs of this condition, according to Colorectal Cancer Canada (10). Other signs of bowel cancer include, but are not limited to, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, sudden weight loss, fatigue, and bloody stool. If you experience any of these signs, consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
The key to healing gut rot is to cure the underlying condition that typically causes stomach pains. For instance, if your upset stomach is caused by leaky gut, then you’ll need to seek treatment for that condition in particular. However, there are certain measures you can take that will promote gut health and wellbeing (11), such as:
- Meditating and doing exercise to improve the quality of your sleep;
- Cutting down on sugary foods;
- Taking the time to chew slowly;
- Staying hydrated;
- Reducing stress levels;
- Introducing prebiotics and probiotics to support your digestion.
Your gut is hidden from your eyes, so sometimes it’s difficult to assess how healthy or unhealthy it is. If you’d like to know more about your gut status with our free Gut Health Assessment Tool.
You can also take preventive measures to avoid suffering from gut rot instead of doing something once you’re already in pain. The steps mentioned above are very effective as prevention, too, but they won’t be as effective unless you accompany them with a balanced diet.
Dr Jan Sambrook recommends at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, as they are effective in preventing abdominal pain (12): " having enough vegetables reduces your chances of developing heart disease, a stroke, or bowel cancer" (12).
Plus, you should also increase your intake of fibre, as it promotes bowel health by increasing regular movement and reducing constipation. Ingesting more fibre, for instance by eating more rice, pasta, and wholemeal bread can also help you reduce your levels of bad cholesterol (12). And don’t forget about lentils and beans!
Even if the term gut rot has not reached a consensus yet, the truth is that thousands of people around the world suffer from it. To be more precise, more than 70% of people in the USA claim they suffer from some kind of digestive symptom, like stomach pain.
The causes for such pain are many, ranging from overeating to having an allergy, being chronically ill or taking prescription drugs. No matter the cause, you can take the bull by the horns and take measures to relieve your pain. Following a natural, holistic approach seems to be the most effective path.
Reducing your sugar intake, drinking more water, having a healthier diet overall, trying to sleep at least 8 hours, and reducing stress and anxiety will do wonders for your gut rot.
We just want to remind you that we’re not doctors so this is not medical advice. Thus, always consult with your doctors before introducing profound changes into your routine. And if you’re ready to start taking measures to heal your gut, why not take our Free Health Quiz to know exactly what products to take to solve your problems?