We've all experienced the feeling: two o'clock in the afternoon rolls around, and no amount of coffee and fresh air can get you out of your sluggish fog. Perhaps your problems with your energy levels start even earlier with difficulty summoning the strength to swing your legs out of bed in the morning. The everyday stresses of life generated by work, family, school and other commitments combined with the occasional poor night of sleep means that everyone faces low energy now and then. However, if your energy levels are consistently low, there's probably a deeper cause--and it may come down to your gut health. Understanding the role that your gut health plays in maintaining high energy levels throughout the day can help you shake your lethargy for good. Healthy gut balance can start with swapping your third coffee of the day for one of LoveBug Probiotics probiotic supplements.

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The Link Between Your Gut and Your Energy Levels

To really understand how the health of your gut can impact how awake you feel, you first need to recognize the complex connections between your digestive tract and the health of the rest of your body. Many of these connections are driven by the way your gut microbiome--or the trillions of bacteria that call your digestive tract home--interacts inside your body. While it may not be surprising that the balance of good bacteria and bad can affect your digestive tract function, many people are amazed to discover the consequences that gut health can have on other areas of the body and overall health. In fact, the gut has been called the "second brain" by many scientists because of its deep connections with the brain and the enteric nervous system that resides in your digestive tract. Via the vagus nerve that connects the brainstem and the gut, the good and bad bacteria of your gut can communicate with your brain--and can deeply affect your mood and your energy levels. That's why maintaining a healthy gut with a well-balanced microbiome is so important. An unbalanced gut can send signals to your brain that dampen your mood and your energy, while studies have found that taking a probiotic to boost the amount of good bacteria in your gut can also boost mood and reduce feelings of apathy.

The Multiple Ways a Healthy Gut Can Lead to More Energy

Because the links between your gut and almost every bodily process are so strong, a healthy gut promotes higher energy levels in a myriad of ways:

By Aiding Your Body in Absorbing Key Nutrients

The billions of microbes residing in your gut assist your digestive tract in processing all the food that you consume, and one key part of this process is absorbing the nutrients in the variety of foods that you eat. Perhaps unsurprisingly, your gut microbiome does a better job at supporting nutrient absorption when it's well-balanced. With too few beneficial strains of bacteria or too many harmful ones, your digestive tract may not be able to completely take in all of the vitamins and minerals found in the foods that you eat. Poor nutrient absorption can have a whole host of negative side effects, from lowering your immune system's ability to ward off colds to causing your muscles and joints to feel achy. However, perhaps the biggest repercussion caused by insufficient amounts of key nutrients processed by your body can be felt in your energy levels. Feeling slow, sluggish and tired all the time can be a clear sign that your body isn't getting the nutrients it needs--and if your diet is balanced, an unhealthy gut is likely to blame. In fact, certain strains of probiotics can do even more to ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to maintain your energy levels. Research has shown that some probiotics in the Lactobacillus family can actually produce vitamins K and B, two nutrients that play a key role in a cell's function to produce energy.

By Helping Improve the Quality and Quantity of Your Sleep

The most obvious direct cause for your high (or low) energy levels is the amount of sleep that you get each night and the quality of that sleep. You may think that the factors that affect your sleep are mental and environmental, such as your stress level or the temperature in your bedroom. While these things do play a role in the quality and quantity of your sleep, your gut is quietly playing a hugely important role in regulating (or deregulating) your sleep cycles. Researchers have discovered that supplementing with probiotics can reduce cortisol production, even when participants were under huge amounts of stress. Why is this important? Cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone. Ideally, your cortisol levels should be highest in the morning, helping you wake up, and then continue to lower until bedtime. Problems can arise if stress causes a surge of cortisol in the evening; with elevated cortisol as you try to sleep, you'll find it hard to relax and drift off. That probiotics have been shown to lower cortisol levels can help those who take them avoid one of the biggest causes of insomnia and the resulting low energy levels. Studies have also found that taking probiotics can boost tryptophan production in the body. Also known as the amino acid found in turkey that makes you feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner, tryptophan plays a big part in boosting serotonin production. Serotonin is vital for maintaining melatonin levels and regulating a healthy sleep cycle.

By Regulating Your Blood Sugar Levels

You've probably experienced the unpleasant effects of soaring and crashing blood sugar. Eat a donut and all those refined carbohydrates give you an instant boost of energy as your blood sugar rises, making you feel better for a while. Then comes the crash, as your body responds to the sugar spike and sends your blood sugar and energy levels into the ground. This roller coaster of high and low energy can leave you feeling drained and sluggish. However, a healthy gut supported by probiotics may be able to help balance your blood sugar levels and keep you away from those extreme swings of energy. One study found that taking probiotics with the Lactobacillus reuteri strain helped participants achieve optimal insulin and glucose levels, with additional evidence that this effect may be even more pronounced for type 2 diabetes patients. Consistently low energy isn't something to be ignored or glossed over; feeling tired all the time can dramatically reduce your ability to participate in and enjoy life, and no one should have to settle for feeling that way. Luckily, the secret to better gut health can be as simple as taking a daily probiotic supplement, such as those offered by LoveBug Probiotics—an easy replacement for that afternoon cup of coffee.
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