Troubleshooting Your Digestive Issues: Signs & Symptoms of Digestive Upset (part 1)

Admin Digestion, Troubleshooting 16 Comments

In this four-part series, I’ll be addressing one of the most common issues I’m asked about every single day – digestive function. If you or someone you know isn’t sure what’s going on “in there” or how to tackle an issue, keep your eyes here for the series.

Digestive disruption is your body’s way to telling you something’s not right, so it’s important to address these issues right away.


The body’s ability to fight chronic, and even acute, disease states begins in the digestive system (the gut).

Sixty to eighty percent of the immune system is within the gut. This can result in a condition as innocuous as seasonal allergies or a problem that is much more aggressive like diverticulitis, eczema, psoriasis, or a number of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

Perhaps you are having a temporary “healing response” – or your disrupted digestion could be a sign that something needs to change.

In either case, some tweaking is necessary. In this 3-part series, I’ll cover some signs & symptoms, potential causes, and offer some specific recommendations.

First, let’s look at the signs & symptoms and consider the potential causes of digestive upset.

Some signs & symptoms of disrupted digestion:

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  • Heartburn
  • Frequent burping/belching
  • Indigestion
  • Feeling of fullness after meals
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  • Frequent upset stomach
  • Gas after meals
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Potential causes of general digestive disruption:

  • Low Stomach Acid (see my previous post: Why you want more stomach acid, not less.)
  • Biliary Insufficiency (sluggish gallbladder)
  • Stress (see Chris Kresser’s post: How stress wreaks havoc on your gut – and what to do about it)
  • Food intolerances/sensitivities (reactions to common allergens/FODMAPS*/Nightshades**)
  • Fiber (too much or not enough)
  • Medications
  • Leaky Gut (see my previous post: Is Your Gut Leaky?)
  • Dysbiosis/Candida (an imbalance of unfriendly microorganisms in your digestive tract)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Sugary and starchy foods (feeding potential dysbiosis/candida/SIBO)

Potential causes of constipation:

All the above possible causes of digestive disruption plus…

  • Dehydration
  • Waiting too long to go
  • Mineral deficiencies such as magnesium
  • Some supplements such as iron and calcium, especially in isolation
  • Underactive thyroid

Potential causes of diarrhea:

All the above possible causes of digestive disruption plus…

  • Contaminated food or water
  • Infections
  • Excess magnesium or Vitamin C

Constipation or diarrhea? According to this post by, Paul Chek, diarrhea is often another symptom of constipation.

For a more comprehensive look at digestive troubles and what to do about them, in Practical Paleo, I describe the digestive system: the parts, the process, and the poop! I address what can go wrong, and how to fix it- including:

  • Diet & lifestyle recommendations
  • Nutritional supplements & herb recommendations and
  • 30-day Digestive Health and Autoimmune Conditions meal plans
  • What your poop is telling you

*FODMAP & **Nightshades are listed in my Guide to Paleo Foods.

In parts 2 and 3 I’ll discuss specific recommendations to tackle these tummy troubles. Part 4 of this series will be a guest post about digestive issues and pregnancy. Stay tuned!


Parts in this Series:

Part 1: Signs & Symptoms of Digestive Upset

Part 2: How to Improve Overall Digestion Function

Part 3: Specific Recommendations for Constipation & Diarrhea

Part 4: Tips for Common Digestive Issues in Pregnancy


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