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by Blair Norfolk |

The teeny-weeny bacterium living in your gut are temperamental little buggers. Though microscopic, they can have a huge impact on how you feel from day to day.

Some bacteria are great for your health – they help you digest your food fully and efficiently, keep your immune system happy or help regulate how messages are sent to your brain. But there are bad guys, too. And when too much “bad” bacteria set up shop in your gastrointestinal tract, they can leave you feeling anywhere from slightly sluggish to actually sick.

If you haven’t been paying much attention to how your gut’s going, we recommend doing a simple assessment to get a handle on your body’s microbiome. These three steps should help you figure out if your belly is in a state of bedlam or balance.

1. How does your tummy feel?
Start paying attention to your stomach – especially after you’ve eaten. Even if you don’t have obvious bowel issues, once you start paying attention you might notice minor but recurring symptoms like slight bloating, gas or even a bit of cramping. Those are some of the most common signs of a microbial imbalance and even if they don’t seem to disrupt your day too much, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel once they’re gone!

2. Do a natural gut health test at home
There are now tests that identify and report on all the bacteria in your gut, but they’re still on the pricey side. Instead, you could try a home gut assessment. There are a few versions of the home test and most of them involve inspecting your poop. Here’s a good run-down of the most common methods.

3. Look at your diet
You can get a general idea of where you’re at with gut health without even assessing symptoms. If your diet isn’t supporting healthy gut flora, there’s no way you have healthy gut flora. The most straightforward changes you can make are adding plenty of prebiotic foods to your diet (here’s a good list), eliminating refined sugar as well as any foods that consistently cause issues and introducing “good” bacteria into your gut with probiotic foods and supplements.