There’s nothing worse than wanting to accomplish all your goals but feeling too tired to do anything but sleep. Perhaps you get home from work and then crash on the couch in front of the TV. Or maybe you turn to that cup of Joe to get you through the afternoon slump. You’re probably wondering, how do I get more energy? To answer that question and boost energy, you might have to pay more attention to your digestive health.
The First Step to Have More Energy
First, talk to your doctor to rule out any other causes of your fatigue. A number of health conditions can cause fatigue such as thyroid problems, anemia, adrenal burnout, and many more. Once you’ve ruled out those and other causes, you can address what might very well be the root cause of your tiredness: less than optimal digestive health. Chances are also good that no matter the source of your low energy, keeping your digestive system healthy can lead to a more energetic you.
Poor Digestion Linked to Tiredness
There’s a lot of evidence showing digestive problems are linked to low energy. For example, people who are constipated are often fatigued (1). That’s because when you’re constipated food isn’t moving well through your digestive system. That means you might not be absorbing nutrients that serve as energy boosters (2). Same with diarrhea. If food is moving too fast through your digestive tract, you don’t have time to absorb energy-enhancing nutrients.
What’s more, a lot of digestive diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease, are also linked to fatigue (3,4). In addition, there’s a connection between fatigue and an imbalance in the gut microbiota—the organisms that live in your intestinal tract (5,6). In fact, if you’re not getting enough sleep, one reason you likely feel tired is because sleep loss triggers growth of gut bacteria that cause fatigue (7).
The connection between lactose intolerance, food intolerance, and fatigue also points to poor digestive health as a possible cause of tiredness (8). Food intolerances are a common culprit of fatigue. These are different than outright food allergies, which can have immediate and severe reactions. If you’re intolerant or sensitive to a particular food, you can also have an immediate response. But, more likely, the negative response to the food intolerance might be delayed. So you don’t even suspect it’s the food that’s causing your problems. And one of those food-related problems may be low energy and exhaustion. You can find out which foods are causing problems by visiting a functional medicine doctor and asking him or her to order a food sensitivity/intolerance test.
And then there are sugar and carbs. Eating these types of foods can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. Then your blood sugar drops. When this happens you feel tired and unmotivated. Studies have shown that eating carbohydrates is linked to feeling tired. In one of those studies, people who ate more carbs for breakfast felt more tired and unenergetic (9). Other researchers also found that children who ate a high-sugar, high-glycemic index snack reported more symptoms of fatigue (10). Glycemic index refers to how much a specific food triggers a rise in blood sugar. High glycemic foods cause a greater rise in blood sugar.
Stress Makes You Tired
Stress is another factor linked to fatigue. Plus, stress messes with the health of our digestive tracts. Stress is linked to increased constipation (11) and increased digestive problems (12). At the same time, stress can cause you to feel exhausted (13).
Need More Energy? Give Your GI Tract Some TLC
Want to know how to have more energy throughout the day? Here are some natural energy boosters. These do double duty at keeping your digestive tract healthy and your productivity levels high.
- Take steps to decrease your stress level. Try yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. Use lavender aromatherapy or set a bouquet of fresh lavender on your desk or around your home.
- Avoid eating sugar and carbs as much as possible. Instead choose energy-boosting foods like vegetables and low glycemic fruits like berries. For those times when you want to indulge, use a digestive enzyme supplement with sugar- and carb-digesting enzymes such as amylase, invertase, xylanase, and maltase.
- Work with a functional medicine provider to identify your food intolerances and sensitivities.
- Get enough sleep. Keep your bedroom dark so you’ll produce lots of melatonin during the night, which will help you get enough shut eye. Set all your electronic devices such as cell phones or computers to nighttime mode so they won’t produce blue light, which can keep you awake.
- If you’re lactose intolerant, take a digestive enzyme formula that includes lactase.
- A good probiotic supplement can also help keep the bacteria in your intestines healthy and balanced. This will support your whole body health, including your energy levels.
Boost Energy by Promoting Digestive Health
The bottom line? If your digestive tract isn’t healthy, your energy levels will tank. That’s why if you want to know how to get rid of tiredness you need to think in terms of digestive health. Following all the suggestions recommended above, including taking an all-natural digestive enzyme supplement, can help you have more energy, be more productive, and accomplish your goals.
- Otani K, Watanabe T, Takahashi K, et al. Prevalence and risk factors of functional constipation in the Rome IV criteria during a medical check-up in Japan. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021.
- Mushref MA, Srinivasan S. Effect of high fat-diet and obesity on gastrointestinal motility. Ann Transl Med. 2013;1(2):14.
- Han CJ, Yang GS. Fatigue in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Pooled Frequency and Severity of Fatigue. Asian Nurs Res (Korean Soc Nurs Sci). 2016;10(1):1-10.
- Jelsness-Jørgensen LP, Bernklev T, Lundin KEA. Fatigue as an Extra-Intestinal Manifestation of Celiac Disease: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2018;10(11).
- Farhadfar N, Gharaibeh RZ, Dahl WJ, et al. Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis Associated with Persistent Fatigue in Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Survivors. Transplant Cell Ther. 2021.
- Safadi JM, Quinton AMG, Lennox BR, Burnet PWJ, Minichino A. Gut dysbiosis in severe mental illness and chronic fatigue: a novel trans-diagnostic construct? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Mol Psychiatry. 2021.
- Matenchuk BA, Mandhane PJ, Kozyrskyj AL. Sleep, circadian rhythm, and gut microbiota. Sleep Med Rev. 2020;53:101340.
- Campbell AK, Matthews SB, Vassel N, et al. Bacterial metabolic 'toxins': a new mechanism for lactose and food intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome. Toxicology. 2010;278(3):268-276.
- Nabb SL, Benton D. The effect of the interaction between glucose tolerance and breakfasts varying in carbohydrate and fibre on mood and cognition. Nutr Neurosci. 2006;9(3-4):161-168.
- Sacheck JM, Rasmussen HM, Hall MM, Kafka T, Blumberg JB, Economos CD. The association between pregame snacks and exercise intensity, stress, and fatigue in children. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2014;26(2):159-167.
- Devanarayana NM, Rajindrajith S. Association between constipation and stressful life events in a cohort of Sri Lankan children and adolescents. J Trop Pediatr. 2010;56(3):144-148.
- Cámara RJ, Ziegler R, Begré S, Schoepfer AM, von Känel R. The role of psychological stress in inflammatory bowel disease: quality assessment of methods of 18 prospective studies and suggestions for future research. Digestion. 2009;80(2):129-139.
- Kocalevent RD, Hinz A, Brähler E, Klapp BF. Determinants of fatigue and stress. BMC Res Notes. 2011;4:238.