Your energy levels play a valuable part in your ability to tackle and conquer everyday tasks. But sometimes, it can feel like there’s never enough time or energy to thrive and do your absolute best. There are a variety of lifestyle habits that can impact your energy, but did you ever consider gut health to be one of those determining factors?
Your gut microbiome may have more of an impact than you think. Let’s take a closer look at gut health and energy levels to determine if probiotics can give you energy.
How Does Gut Health Impact Energy Levels?
If you’re prioritizing sleep and relaxation, yet feeling less energetic than usual, your gut may be to blame. There’s a strong connection between the gut, immune system and sleep; there’s a lot of immune tissue in the gut, and a dysbiotic microbiome and other gut problems can result in low levels of systemic inflammation. This can directly impact your mood and energy levels by making you feel more fatigued, and it could lead to other negative health problems.
The gut-brain axis is another major factor. The vagus nerve allows the brain and gut to communicate. When your gut is in poor health, the brain is notified (and vice versa). These messages sent from the gut to the brain during this time will trigger feelings of fatigue and low energy.
The gut is responsible for digesting food and properly absorbing the nutrients from those foods, with the ultimate intention of turning those nutrients into energy that allows the body to perform throughout the day. A more robust gut microbiome can increase energy levels, as good bacteria can produce B vitamins, the vitamins that aid in cell metabolism and turn carbohydrates and fats into energy.
Taking care of your gut can also lead to reduced inflammation and oxidative stress, something that is often associated with an increased risk of neuropsychiatric disorders and other conditions.
And when the wellness of the gut is forgotten and its performance is compromised, this can have a negative impact on its ability to break down foods and absorb their nutritional content. And with almost half of the U.S. population reportedly feeling elevated fatigue on a regular basis, it may be time to start evaluating the gut.
The Link Between Probiotics and Energy: The Science
Do probiotics help with energy? The answer is yes, and there’s evidence that proves it.
The explanation behind the gut having a major impact on energy levels isn’t just an idea based on the gut-brain axis and B-vitamin production. There’s tons of research out there that explains how your gut might be the reason you’re feeling constantly drowsy or fatigued.
For example, researchers at the Department of Physical Therapy of Clarkson University study the connection between the gut microbiome and mental energy, mental fatigue, physical energy, and physical fatigue. They found that the participants who ate processed meats recalled negative mental fatigue and physical fatigue. They concluded that this may be in correlation with bacterial communities not driven by diet; since processed foods offer no nutritional value, they don’t have a positive impact on the gut.
Another study found that switching to a vegetarian diet can have a single effect on gut health. The researchers concluded the vegetarian diet and improved gut health also lead to increased production of microbial metabolites, the mediators of short-chain fatty acids, which are good for energy homeostasis.
And last (but certainly not least), in our own research conducted with the Department of Genetics of Harvard Medical School, we studied the changes in the gut microbiome of runners before and after the Boston Marathon.
We analyzed stool samples from the marathon runners and found that the relative abundance of Veillonella atypica increases significantly after the marathon. The bacteria takes lactic acid (a byproduct of fatigue) and produces propionate, a chemical compound that can be used as a source of energy for the body. This study suggests that specific bacterial strains may have a significant impact on endurance and energy levels during as well as after physical activity.
Other Lifestyle Factors That Affect Energy Levels (And How to Increase Them)
If you’ve noticed that your energy levels are consistently on the downturn, but you’re not sure why, consider the following questions:
How is Your Mental Health?
Chronic fatigue and depression can take a serious toll on your energy levels, making you feel emotionally and physically drained. Make time for relaxation, doing the things you love, and getting professional assistance if necessary.
How Often Do You Sit Around During the Day?
Sitting in the same spot every day can lead to prolonged fatigue. If you work a desk job, be sure to take regular breaks throughout the day to get up and move your body.
What Does Your Diet Look Like?
Poor nutrition is another significant factor in fatigue and drowsiness. Stepping away from processed foods and switching to a wholesome diet that’s loaded with nutrition can guide your gut back to health and increase your energy levels.
How Much Caffeine Do You Drink?
While you might resort to coffee for that everyday boost, it can actually be detrimental to your natural energy levels. This is because coffee blocks adenosine, a central nervous system chemical that regulates a normal sleep cycle. Do your best to limit your caffeine intake and switch to more natural energy sources, such as eating whole fruits and vegetables, keeping your stress levels under control, exercising regularly, and maintaining a normal sleep schedule.
Do You Like to Drink Alcohol?
Alcohol may give you the buzz that helps you relax and loosen up, but it generally ends in feeling drowsy and sluggish after long periods of drinking. It can also have an impact on your sleep quality. If you consider yourself a drinker, try to limit your consumption.
Are You Taking a Probiotic Supplement?
It’s clear that gut health has a major impact on energy. One simple way to get the gut microbiome back in check? Start taking a probiotic supplement. A healthy gut environment will produce B vitamins and other essential nutrients for producing energy. Beyond energy levels, incorporating a probiotic can lead to better digestion, improved immune function, and more.
Try Nella by FitBiomics: The Best Probiotics for Energy
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