If you suffer from bouts of temporary sluggishness and fatigue, you’re not alone. The stresses of work, family, school, and household management—along with the hectic, multitasking nature of today’s modern lifestyle—can lead to occasional days of apathy and low mood.
While these blips in your energy may seem inconsequential, they can be indicative of something in your body that needs attention. One likely suspect is your gut microbiome, the communities of trillions of bacteria living in your digestive tract.
You see, the beneficial bacteria in our gut are responsible for coordinating many important functions in our body, such as helping us digest foods, regulating our immune system, balancing our blood sugar, and reducing temporary inflammation. As it turns out, the good guys in our gut also affect our nervous system, which is a big player in our mood and energy cycles.
The good news is that you may be able to improve your mood and boost your overall energy just by getting your gut health back on track.
Microbes and Mood
We often think of mood as originating in the brain, but your gut has more in common with your emotions than you may think. In fact, medical professionals have dubbed the gut our “second brain” because of its connection to the brain through the enteric nervous system (ENS), which resides in the gut.
Specifically, the good microbes in our digestive tract—the probiotics—can “speak” with and signal our brain via the vagus nerve, which extends from the brainstem all the way into the gut. Certain probiotics called psychobiotics have a beneficial impact on our mood and mental state. Indeed, studies show that regular probiotic supplementation can improve feelings of low mood and apathy1.
The good microbes in our gut can improve our mood by:
• Producing brain chemicals: Our friendly flora produce and regulate neurotransmitters like GABA2 and serotonin that calm us down and make us feel good. In fact, over 90% of all the serotonin (the “happy chemical”) in our body is produced in our gut!
• Lowering cortisol. Probiotics can work to lower the hormone cortisol, which spikes during stressful situations, leading to temporary anxiety, stress, and other undesirable feelings3.
• Reducing inflammation. Friendly flora in our gut can reduce temporary inflammation, which has been linked to mood issues4.
Occasional apathy and fatigue usually go hand in hand, and improving your mood will often boost your energy levels (and vice versa). But, seeing as how gut health can be the root of both issues, you can tackle both at the same time just by taking care of your gut microbiome!
Link Between Energy and Gut Health
We know that a compromised and out-of-balance gut microbiome can lead to low mood, but how exactly does your gut health affect your energy levels?
In addition to boosting mood—which can automatically boost energy levels—a balanced microbiome with plenty of good bacteria can help with:
• Nutrient Absorption: Our intestinal bacteria help us digest everything we consume, enabling us to absorb all the vital nutrients we need to keep us healthy. Without enough good bacteria, though, we’re unable to fully assimilate all of the vitamins and minerals in the foods we eat and our energy levels suffer. Some probiotic strains even produce vitamins B and K, both of which are necessary for energy production in our body’s cells5.
• Improved Sleep: If we don’t get enough sleep, we feel tired with a lack of energy. But did you know that probiotics can help with sleep as well? In addition to producing brain chemicals and modulating temporary stress and anxiety that can interfere with our precious shuteye, probiotics also increase tryptophan levels in the body, crucial for melatonin production and quality sleep6.
• Balanced Blood Sugar: When our blood sugar levels aren’t at their best, we may feel like we are on an energy roller coaster. By communicating with our own cells, probiotics help to support balanced blood sugar levels, which is critical for maintaining a steady supply of energy to our body.
It’s clear that a healthy microbiome can optimize our mood and energy levels, but how do we make sure our gut is healthy?
Living a Gut-Healthy Life
A balanced gut microbiome is comprised of about 85% beneficial bacteria to provide an array of health-promoting and life-supporting functions.
The problem is that it isn’t always easy to keep everything in balance. So many things in our modern lifestyles—from stress and processed foods to antibacterial products, food contaminants, and antibiotics in food and as medicine—can deplete the good bacteria in our microbiome, throwing it out of whack.
So, what steps can you take to live a gut-healthy life that supports your mood and gives you energy to thrive?
1. Take a daily probiotic. Adding a high-quality daily probiotic formula like Hyperbiotics PRO-15 to your regimen can help to ensure that the good guys are delivered alive deep in your gut, where they can work to keep your mood and energy levels stable.
2. Eat a whole foods diet. Whole, unprocessed foods not only promote optimal mood and energy levels for you, but they keep your microbes happy, too. Emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, and GMOs can all decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. Focus on prebiotics and fermented foods for even more of a probiotic punch!
3. Relax! Stress can affect your gut microbiome in many ways, from depleting vital bacteria to hindering digestion, both of which can lead to low energy and unhappiness. Practice meditation, yoga, or any activity (or lack of activity!) that will help you let go and relax.
Our energy and mood have a tremendous impact on our everyday lives; if either one is suffering, it can negatively affect our entire worldview. Thankfully, if we give our body what it needs to keep our gut healthy and strong, our mighty microbes will work overtime to keep us happy, vibrant, and ready to take on the world!References:
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of three little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.