Did you know that the digestive system encompasses everything from your mouth all the way to your bottom?
The gut is one big processing unit to getting the most out of your food for long-lasting energy.
From chewing our food, to extracting the vitamins and minerals, each part of the digestive system has to work in harmony. If there’s one part not pulling its weight, then that can have an impact on how much we get out of our food. Put it this way, your gut health could be one reason for your low energy.
So while you may be eating the best, wholesome food, are you actually getting the most out of that food to convert that into long-lasting energy? What are the signs that your digestion may not be working as well as it should for you?
Let’s start at the top. Do you feel overfull after meals? Or find that food just sits in your stomach? Maybe you get bloated soon after eating? If this is you, poor digestion could be the cause.
Our mouth, stomach and small intestine all have a role to play in breaking down the food we eat. These all release chemicals (digestive enzymes) that break down our food. There are a number of reasons why we may not be releasing enough digestive enzymes. This could come from rushed eating, not enough nutrients to make these chemicals or even a bacteria overgrowth to name a few.
This can mean in the long-term that you’re not getting enough nutrients from your food. This will ultimately lead to poor energy.
Not enough nourishing foods, or the right ones
Do you feel like curling up on the sofa after having your meal? Or reaching out for that snack for an energy boost even though you had a large enough meal?
This could come down to the type of food your eating, or even the format you’re eating it in.
Before we go on, just remember everyone is different. How you or me would feel after the same meal could be two different things.
However, as a rule of thumb the more processed the food, either from lack of fiber, lots of added sugar or the less chewing we need to do to eat that meal i.e. a smoothie versus a bowel of chopped up fruit and yogurt, could result in bigger energy crashes soon after. How quickly our digestive system can process the food and convert it into energy for the body, can result in less energy overall. Or that we find that we need to eat more often to sustain our energy.
A clogged up bowel is making you feel sluggish
Do you have a bowel movement every day? Even if you do, you could still be constipated.
Our large intestine is where the leftover food arrives once the upper part of the digestive system has gotten all it can from our food. Additionally any toxins that were processed from our liver also end up here to be excreted from the body. If the bowel is in any way sluggish, it can literally weigh us down. The processed toxins from the liver will get re-absorbed into the blood stream if they’re left hanging around. This means extra work for the liver to re-process them again, never mind the damage these re-absorbed chemicals can do to our body in the meantime. This is all energy draining for the body, causing us to feel drained and sluggish too.
The gut bacteria also produce nutrients and energy
Our large intestine is where our gut microbiome resides. Our gut microbiome has an essential role to play in the overall health of our body. We have two types of bacteria here – the beneficial ones and the pathogenic ones. The beneficial ones add greatly to our health. They themselves make other chemicals when they feed of the fiber left over from our food. These chemicals make vitamins to keep our gut cells healthy and keep things moving in the large intestine. They also help to keep the not so beneficial bacteria at bay. However, if these pathogenic bacteria do get a hold over our microbiome, they release their own chemicals. These chemicals, called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are pro-inflammatory and create more work for the liver. Besides causing unpleasant gut symptoms, they can also cause us to feel tired due to the extra work required by the liver.
How would you know this is you? Well you can do a stool test to get the best overall picture. However, even if you don’t test, if you suffer with constipation, or lots of wind and bloating (increasing over the day) that can be a sign that your gut bacteria is out of balance and needs some nourishment and attention.
Why is having a well-nourished and functioning gut important for sustained energy?
The gut is the epicentre to your health, everything starts with the gut.
This brings us back to the first point. If we are constantly not digesting our food to the best of its ability or feeding our body less nutrient dense food, over time that’s going to impact the rest of the body. Our cells won’t be getting the long-serving energy it needs. Nor will they be getting enough vitamins and minerals from our food to produce energy either. A sluggish gut can also make us feel sluggish.