How to Elevate Your Self-Care Routine and Get Your Energy Back
There’s nothing more disheartening than doing your best to take care of yourself, only to feel like it’s not paying off. After all, it can be very discouraging if you’ve been making the effort to eat healthy foods, get enough water, exercise regularly, and even take vitamins for energy, only to still feel like you have the stamina of a wet noodle.
While a lot of factors can play into your levels of energy and well-being, if you’ve been waiting for the effects of all that self-care to kick in for a while now––all while you walk around feeling like a battery that won’t hold a charge––it could be that you’re doing all the right things, only to be undermined by an unbalanced gut microbiome.1
What Does the Gut Have to Do With Self-Care and Energy Levels?
More than you might expect! You see, your gut microbiome (that’s the ecosystem of bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract) has a huge effect on the rest of your body. When the bacteria in your gut microbiome are in balance––meaning there’s a mix of about 85% good bacteria to 15% bad––you tend to feel energized.
But when they’re depleted or out of balance due to factors like a less-than-fantastic diet, poor sleep, stress, exposure to antibiotics in food or medication, or overzealous cleaning, it affects your whole body.
Here’s what’s happening when your gut is imbalanced: your energy levels become unregulated, leaving you open to peaks and crashes—and setting you up for spiral of fatigue, which you may try to fix by drinking sugary or chemical-laden energy drinks that deplete your microbiome, leaving you feeling even more tired.
You see, those energy levels don't just come out of nowhere. They're largely determined by your hormonal balance and the way your body works with glucose. When your gut bacteria are in balance, they work with the rest of your body to produce hormones in the proper amounts, at the proper times.
Similarly, certain types of gut bacteria (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) help your body to regulate your blood sugar levels, so you don't get crazy sugar crashes. But when your gut bacteria are out of balance, your body doesn't get that support, meaning that your hormones and blood sugar are more likely to be all over the place.
Plus, without enough beneficial bacteria, your body can’t absorb the nutrients from all those great foods you’re eating, so it doesn’t have the building blocks it needs for stamina and endurance.2 And if the bacteria that regulate your Circadian rhythms are off, chances are you’re not sleeping as well as you could, which has a huge effect on your energy levels, not to mention your overall health.3
Supporting your gut with probiotics could be just the boost you need to make your other self-care efforts really pay off.
It's unfortunately incredibly easy for your gut microbiome to get out of whack in our modern society, even if you're trying to live really well. Not to mention that it's very difficult to get all of the nutrition, exposure to the right kinds of bacteria, and prebiotic foods your gut needs to really thrive.
That's where probiotics come in.
How Probiotics Address Energy Issues at the Source
You might have heard about people taking a probiotic supplement for an energy boost. And while probiotics do have a huge impact on your energy levels, they're not like other supplements or energy boosters––it's not like you take a probiotic and immediately get a surge of energy, followed by the inevitable crash.
Instead, probiotics address the issue from the ground up: by introducing good bacteria back into your gut microbiome, they can shift the balance of bacteria enough so that the good bacteria can start to take over and crowd out the bad, restoring harmony to your gut.4
This then has a cascading––and lasting––effect on the rest of your body. Among the many benefits of probiotics are a healthy immune system (which means you feel good enough to keep up the self-care), a reduction in exercise-induced inflammation, balanced energy levels, better moods, lower stress, and increased nutrition.5,6,7,8
Plus, supplementing your self-care efforts with probiotics sets you up for a beneficial cycle. You feel a little better because you start to see the effects of all that self-care, which means you now have the energy for a little more self-care, and so on and so forth. No more sabotaging your best laid plans by trying to eat healthy, only to end up reaching for a sugary energy drink when you hit a wall, or planning out a detailed workout schedule, only to find yourself without the stamina to follow through.
Want to up the ante even further with your self-care? Try combining your support for your gut with these natural energy boosters:
7 Great Sources of Supercharged Energy
1. Chia seeds
These tiny seeds are the definition of “small but mighty”: their ratio of fats, fiber, and protein make them filling, but not heavy. Extremely nutrient dense, chia seeds will keep you going for hours due to their ability to expand up to ten times their original size when soaked in water! The resulting gel-like substance slows down your body’s conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, so your food will provide energy to your body for longer. Fun fact: these powerhouse seeds have been used for centuries by the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico to fuel their ultra-long (200+ miles!) runs.
2. Green tea
Love the jolt you get from coffee, but hate the jitters? Try green tea instead. It has enough caffeine to keep you going, but it also naturally contains a substance called thymine that cuts the jittery feeling, leaving you feeling alert and focused. Plus, green tea is a prebiotic that helps to fuel your beneficial bacteria—delivering energy on multiple levels.
3. Dark chocolate
Another prebiotic, dark chocolate gives you a boost because of the caffeine it contains, but its biggest benefits come from a chemical called epicatechin––it increases your blood flow, optimizing the delivery of oxygen throughout your body and making you feel like you're firing on all cylinders.
Magnesium is one of the substances required for producing ATP, which is the substance that transports energy in your cells (not to mention its role as a key player in metabolism). But changes in the way food is grown and produced mean that we're not getting as much magnesium as we used to. When you add in substances and circumstances that deplete your magnesium levels––sugar and stress, for example––it's easy to become deficient, leaving you with feelings of low energy. Consider eating more magnesium-rich foods or taking a magnesium supplement to boost your energy.
5. Vitamin B
Vitamin B helps your body convert the food you eat into energy; without enough of it, your body can't benefit the way it needs to from what you eat. Look for a broad-spectrum vitamin B-complex supplement to make sure you're getting all the different types of Bs that you need.
6. A daily probiotic
Given the modern Western society that we live in, if you haven't been consciously protecting your microbiome for a while, chances are that it's not as healthy as it could be. Consider giving your gut a fresh start with a premium, time-released probiotic formula like Hyperbiotics PRO-15. It's a great way to support your optimal stamina, not to mention make sure your self-care efforts are really paying off. Bonus? Some strains of probiotics even produce B vitamins like folate to up your energy game.
Just like you, your good bacteria need quality nutrition to thrive. Prebiotics are foods that break down into substances that feed your good bacteria. There's just one problem: it's really, really hard to get enough of them in your diet. If you really want to make your microbiome happy (and experience the boost in energy that comes with that), try a adding a scoop (or more!) of organic prebiotic powder to your daily routine. It's an easy, simple thing to do that can make your good guys—and your energy levels—take off.
Self-care is a crucial part of maintaining your health and well-being, but it's easy to spend a lot of time and energy on it without seeing the results if you haven't gotten your gut on board first. So whatever aspect of your energy you're working on––whether you're looking to increase your endurance for athletics or just hoping to get through the 4PM slump without having to down another coffee—look to your gut. Support it, and it will support you and your self-care goals right back!
1. Panda, S., Guarner, F., & Manichanh, C. (2014). Structure and functions of the gut microbiome. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders Drug Targets, 4, 290–299.
2. Schwarzer, M., Makki, K., Storelli, G., Machuca-Gayet, I., Srutkova, D., Hermanova, P., . . . Leulier, F. (2016). Lactobacillus plantarum strain maintains growth of infant mice during chronic undernutrition. Science, 351(6275), 854-857.
3. Benedict, C., Vogel, H., Jonas, W., Woting, A., Blaut, M., Schürmann, A., & Cedernaes, J. (2016). Gut microbiota and glucometabolic alterations in response to recurrent partial sleep deprivation in normal-weight young individuals. Molecular Metabolism, 5(12), 1175-1186. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.003
4. Hao, W.L., Lee, Y.K. (2004). Microflora of the gastrointestinal tract: a review. Methods in Molecular Biology, 268, 491-502.
5. Jensen, G. S., Patterson, K. M., Barnes, J., Schauss, A. G., Beaman, R., Reeves, S. G., & Robinson, L. E. (2008). A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Pilot Study: Consumption of a High-Metabolite Immunogen from Yeast Culture has Beneficial Effects on Erythrocyte Health and Mucosal Immune Protection in Healthy Subjects. The Open Nutrition Journal,2(1), 68-75.
6. Chen, Y., Wei, L., Chiu, Y., Hsu, Y., Tsai, T., Wang, M., & Huang, C. (2016). Lactobacillus plantarum TWK10 Supplementation Improves Exercise Performance and Increases Muscle Mass in Mice. Nutrients, 8(4), 205.
7. Bravo, J. A., Forsythe, P., Chew, M. V., Escaravage, E., Savignac, H. M., Dinan, T. G., . . . Cryan, J. F. (2011). Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(38), 16050-16055.
8. Konturek, P. C., Brzozowski, T., & Konturek, S. J. (2011). Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 62(6), 591-599.
9. David, L. A., Maurice, C. F., Carmody, R. N., Gootenberg, D. B., Button, J. E., Wolfe, B. E., . . . Turnbaugh, P. J. (2013). Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature, 505(7484), 559-563.
Rachel Allen is a writer at Hyperbiotics who's absolutely obsessed with learning about how our bodies work. She's fascinated by the latest research on bacteria and the role they play in health, and loves to help others learn about how probiotics can help the body get back in balance. For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.