Every day like clockwork, it feels like you’ve run into a wall. It’s the dreaded 2 p.m. afternoon slump. And once it hits, you’re left negotiating with your body for energy just to get through the rest of the day, which isn’t a great feeling at all.
Is the scenario above a snapshot of your life? Do you always feel tired, drained, and like you have no energy?
It’s normal to feel a little sluggish or tired every once in a while. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before or had to work late and are feeling the effects the next morning.
However, if you’re constantly feeling worn out, fatigued, and like you’re running on an empty tank of energy, it can point to an underlying issue with your gut. Or, in other words, there’s a high correlation between gut health and energy.
If improving gut health interests you, and you could use an energy boost, keep reading for:
- The ways a healthy gut increases energy levels.
- Why you should consider taking probiotics for energy and putting some pep back in your step.
- Tips on how to restore healthy gut flora.
Gut Health and Energy? How Are They Related?
The importance of gut health can’t be understated. Because the fact of the matter is that a healthy gut has a plethora of benefits that stretch far beyond better digestion.
The trillions of bacteria (both “good” and “bad”) that make up your digestive tract can be referred to as the gut microbiota. This collection of bacteria influences many aspects of your health, not just your gut. For example, 90% of serotonin production takes place in your gut.
There are many scientific explanations for why gut health and energy go hand-in-hand. One key factor is the gut-brain connection. The vagus nerve helps your brain and gut communicate. Poor gut health sends messages to your brain via the vagus nerve that can result in low mood, decreased energy levels, and fatigue.
To combat this, it's important to restore and replenish the good bacteria in your gut, so they can restore balance and provide beneficial functions that improve health.
3 Important Ways Gut Health Increases Energy Levels
Now, to answer the question: Just how exactly does gut health affect energy levels? There are 3 primary ways gut health and energy cross paths, which we’ll get into below.
1. Absorb nutrients that are important for your health
The trillions of bacteria housed in your gut play a key role in helping your body absorb nutrients from the food you consume. A balanced gut full of healthy bacteria makes it easier for the nutrient absorption process to take place, while imbalances in your gut (aka dysbiosis) equals impaired nutrient absorption.
When your body isn’t able to take in the necessary nutrients, it bogs things down, causes low energy, and can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, nausea, and muscle weakness. Always feeling tired, dragging through each day like a zombie, and running on E—poor gut health may be the cause.
Fortunately, two strains of healthy bacteria found in most probiotics appear to be real game-changers when it comes to energy—Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. They produce numerous B vitamins, which are integral to your body’s energy production process. They also help with nutrient absorption of key minerals like iron, magnesium, and copper and have been shown to help relieve unwanted symptoms.
2. Maintain stable blood sugar levels
Huge fluctuations in blood sugar can have some pretty adverse consequences. When you consume a sugary treat, sure, your taste buds are undoubtedly happy. And, you probably experience a sugar rush that gives you a boost of energy. Unfortunately, that sugar high spikes your blood glucose. And you know the saying, what goes up must come down. So, eventually, your blood sugar ends up crashing and bringing your energy levels down with it.
Not only can blood sugar swings zap your energy, but it’s detrimental to your health in general. See-sawing blood sugar levels are associated with countless diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
Enter: The link between gut health and energy. Research indicates that gut health may be the key to stabilizing blood glucose and providing you with a consistent flow of energy throughout the day.
In a Diabetes Care study, participants who consumed a probiotic supplement containing strains of Lactobacillus reuteri were reported as being able to maintain normal blood sugar levels and avoid any huge dips or spikes.
3. Helps you catch some Z’s
Have trouble falling and staying asleep each night? Wake up in the mornings feeling like you didn’t even sleep the night before?
When it comes to gut health and energy, not getting enough quality sleep may be the biggest factor holding you back.
You’ve heard all the generic remedies for better sleep before, like limited screen time, having a nighttime routine, and creating an optimal environment for a good night's sleep. Some may help for a little, but eventually, you’re right back to tossing, turning, and not getting any sleep. So, where do sleep, gut health, and energy converge?
When healthy and in balance, your gut works behind the scenes to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Remember the gut-brain connection we talked about earlier? It also plays into sleep.
Serotonin, dopamine, and sleep hormones like melatonin get produced in the gut, meaning gut health plays a key role in circadian rhythm and maintaining a sleep-wake cycle optimal for quality shut-eye.
What about hacks for getting more sleep? A study published in Beneficial Microbes took a look at how probiotics might be able to help. The study monitored students—who were separated into two groups—leading up to an exam and the subsequent weeks after.
For 11 straight weeks, one group was given a probiotic supplement with the Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, while the other group received a placebo drink daily. At the study’s conclusion, students who consumed the probiotic drink reported better sleep than the placebo group. These results also indicate that even under stress (i.e. getting ready for an exam), probiotics may lead to improved sleep duration and quality.
Tips on Restoring Healthy Gut Floras
The cool thing about gut health is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some quick tips on how to restore healthy gut flora:
Incorporate more plant-based foods in your diet: The American Gut Project, which surveyed over 11,000 participants, found the biggest factor for improving gut health was eating a diverse set of plant-based foods. Weekly, the study determined 30+ different types of plant-based foods to produce the best results.
Fill up on fiber: Outside of keeping your bowels regular and helping with constipation, fiber is a prebiotic. These good bacteria turn indigestible fiber into energy for your body.
Eat more probiotics for energy: A probiotic boost could be just what you need to improve gut health and increase energy levels. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria for your gut. Gut health foods high in probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, and kimchi. If you struggle with getting enough probiotics through whole foods, supplements are a popular choice. Taking probiotics can increase the population of healthy bacteria and improve gut health.
- Get active: Not only does exercise help you get fit but it boosts your immune system, and it’s good for your gut health. Not too crazy about that HIIT workout you had planned? No worries! Research shows the best workout for improving gut health is moderate exercise. That means simple activities like going for a brisk walk around the neighborhood can do wonders for your gut health.
Takeaways on Gut Health and Energy
Now you’re officially an expert on the relationship between gut health and energy. Also, don’t forget about the role probiotics play in improving your gut health!
Here’s a quick refresher to take with you on how gut health and energy are connected. A healthy gut:
- Absorbs nutrients more efficiently, which contributes to your body’s energy production process.
- Makes it easier to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Huge fluctuations in blood glucose drain your energy reserves.
- Helps your body better regulate neurotransmitters and hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin. All of these impact your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle.
Ready to create the healthiest, fittest, and best version of yourself? It all starts with the gut!
Perfect for those with an active lifestyle or looking to make a change in their health, Nella Probiotics are designed to support healthy digestion, increased energy levels, better sleep, and enhanced recovery. They’re vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and Informed Sport certified!
About the Author:
Chad Richardson is a blog copywriter from Cincinnati, OH. When he’s not cooking up content, Chad enjoys jumping rope in his backyard, putting his Chef Boyardee hat on and trying new recipes, and hanging out with friends while rooting on his hometown sports teams.