Can a healthier gut improve your energy levels?

Can a healthier gut improve your energy levels?

There’s no doubt about it: Your gut is intimately tied to all aspects of your health and well-being. And specifically when it comes to gut health and energy improvement, a healthy, thriving gut can indeed help keep the fatigue at bay.

But why and how does a healthy gut make you feel more energetic? One main reason has to do with the ability of microorganisms in the gut to break down foods into compounds we can use. Eventually, these compounds can exert effects on mental health and wellness. Thus, an unhealthy gut can lead to problems such as impaired mental clarity, fatigue, and even anxiety.

In this article, we will describe what constitutes a healthy gut, outline the differences between low energy and fatigue, and highlight ways to improve gut health.

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While consumption of a diet rich in plant-based whole foods — such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds (or a modified diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, that contains those same foods, together with a moderate component of  healthy fish, some lean meats, and certain dairy products) — best positions you to achieve a healthy, thriving gut and resultant higher energy levels, we know that consistently eating well is easier said than always done.

Eden’s synbiotic blend has been specifically formulated to help people amend their diet with a rich array of the best prebiotics, probiotics and polyphenols — many of which are directly or indirectly associated with improved energy, mood, and sleep quality.

3-in-1 Synbiotic Superblend

What is a healthy gut?

A healthy gut is a debatable concept. Generally speaking, “gut health” can be defined by the absence of characteristics such as gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (e.g., diarrhea and bloating) and disease (e.g., diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease). The gut’s microbiota consists of millions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast that play numerous critical roles in maintaining a healthy gut. The interactions between these microorganisms and the food we eat have huge implications for overall health.

Here, we will focus on the links between the gut and energy levels and fatigue.

What is fatigue?

Similar to “gut health”, the term “fatigue” has not achieved a full medical consensus definition. Basic attributes include extreme tiredness and lack of energy leading to an inability to function, either physically or mentally. This could be due to energy imbalances beginning with the food we eat and how our gut processes these foods, which is ultimately used to fuel our brain.

It’s important to note that the clinical condition called “chronic fatigue syndrome” differs from general low energy (or “acute fatigue”), in that acute fatigue usually disappears after resting or addressing the underlying causes. Conversely, chronic fatigue syndrome lingers for a longer period of time and can have a significant impact on quality of life.

Gut health and energy: How are an unhealthy gut and fatigue related?

Energy levels are affected by multiple physiological factors — including sleep, stress, and exercise. However, everything starts in the gut.

At the most basic level, we obtain our energy from the food that we eat. Once food is broken down in our digestive system, our cells use the nutrients to make a special compound called ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the main source of cellular energy that drives all physiological processes.The gut plays multiple roles in this process, including providing the right chemical environment for food to be broken down and housing beneficial microbes that can break down foods into smaller molecules, which then feed into various metabolic pathways that influence health and wellness.

Without a healthy gut, energy levels can be impaired, leading to fatigue.

Poor nutrient absorption (malabsorption) in the gut can lead to deficiencies that are associated with fatigue. Malabsorption has numerous causes, including the following related to the gut:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Lactose intolerance 
  • Overproduction of stomach acid
  • Overuse of alcohol and certain drugs

It makes sense that many nutrient deficiencies begin in the gut. Gut inflammation, including inflammation associated with IBD, has been associated with fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome. In fact, fatigue occurs in nearly half of the people who have IBD and many patients who have chronic fatigue syndrome complain about gut dysfunction. There are many reasons why this is the case, including malabsorption and alterations to the gut-brain connection.

  • Evidence suggests that taking probiotics may help improve nutrient uptake and decrease gastrointestinal disturbances, leading to better outcomes for patients suffering from fatigue. (See section below on foods/supplements that contain key probiotics.)

Gut health and energy are also related through the relationship between eating and blood sugar. In particular, large swings in blood sugar are associated with increased feelings of fatigue, including feeling burned out. Lowering blood sugar can also reduce mental fatigue, suggesting that glucose metabolism and fatigue are linked as well. In fact, there is a strong correlation between type 2 diabetes (a metabolic disorder) and fatigueThus, better managing your blood sugar levels can lead to improving energy levels. 

gut health and energy

One option to better manage your blood sugar levels is via the January app. January allows you to see how your blood sugar responds to food and activity, and can even show you predicted glucose curves before you eat an item, and compare items against each other so you can make the smartest choice possible.

Learn more about January here.

How can you make your gut healthier?

Here are some ways you can make your gut healthier to improve your energy:

  • Avoid highly processed foods: Highly processed foods such as crackers, sugar-sweetened beverages, chips, and premade microwavable dinners can cause large fluctuations in blood sugar, resulting in fatigue due to sugar crashing. In addition, food processing negatively impacts nutrition and can lead to long-term changes in dietary behavior which can lead to increased gut inflammation. In short, the less processed the food, the better. Put another way, stick as much as possible to fresh, whole foods.
  • Eat plenty of fiber: Eating a diet rich in fiber has numerous benefits, including keeping your gut microbiota happy, helping to regulate blood sugar levels, and enhancing nutrient uptake — all of which support more stable energy levels. Foods rich in fiber include fruits (e.g., berries, pears, apples with skin), vegetables (e.g., peas, broccoli, potatoes), grains (e.g., whole wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice), and legumes/nuts/seeds (e.g., lentils, chia seeds, almonds).
  • Add more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet: Omega-3s come from foods such as fatty fish, soybeans, nuts, and seeds. Consuming these polyunsaturated fats can positively influence the gut microbiota, leading to overall improved gut health while providing healthy calories for sustained energy.
  • Try a Mediterranean diet: This natural diet is rich in unsaturated fats (the good kind of fats) and contains a plethora of fruits, vegetables, fish, and moderate amounts of dairy products to improve control over blood sugar levels and lower fatigue. The Mediterranean diet also helps support healthy gut microbiota, leading to improved gastrointestinal function.
  • Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods: Probiotics consist of live microorganisms that are associated with health benefits, especially in the gut. Certain probiotics have been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter important for mental health, which may also improve sleep and mood. Examples of foods that contain probiotics include fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha. But just like other organisms, probiotics need nutrients to survive. These nutrients come from prebiotics, the fibers that are commonly found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. 
  • Make sure you exercise. Exercise has numerous health benefits, including in the gut. For example, exercise can improve lipid profiles by increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol). In addition, exercise improves glucose regulation and can improve mental health.
  • Get enough sleep. If you’ve ever had too little sleep, chances are you’re familiar with how grumpy it can make you feel, which can affect concentration and mood throughout the day. It turns out that there is a robust connection between sleep and metabolic health, and too little sleep can negatively affect insulin resistance, which is a key driver of diabetes.

  • As mentioned previously, inflammation is associated with an unhealthy gut, and sleep can help reduce inflammation, further linking the gut to mood and mental clarity. 

    To supplement your diet, Eden’s synbiotic blend contains five carefully selected prebiotics, all of which address digestive issues, generally enhance gut health, and improve energy levels. (The guar gum fiber, in particular, has shown a unique association with higher energy levels). Eden’s also contains several probiotics, and in particular the LPC-7 (lactobacillus paracasei) probiotic is known for its association with better sleep quality and mood/energy benefits. Eden’s also contains polyphenols, which also enhance gut health and impact energy/mood; the turmeric polyphenol in Eden’s has been quite widely studied for this impact. 

    Key takeaways

    While several factors can impact your energy levels, when it comes to gut health and energy, an unhealthy gut is a common variable. Inflammation, malabsorption, and poor blood sugar control have all been associated with fatigue. Increase the health of your gut by eating a diet full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You can also consider supplementing the feeding of your gut microbiome by taking Eden’s, developed specifically to support a healthy gut with ingredients that improve digestive health, reduce cardiometabolic disorder risks, and boost energy. Talk to your medical provider if your energy levels continue to wane and fatigue is hampering your activities of daily living.

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