5 Tips to Boost Energy When Living with a Digestive Condition

1. Eat a balanced diet

According to a 2014 research review, a nutritious diet can significantly influence the balance and activity of gut bacteria, which plays a crucial role in overall health and energy levels.

Choosing foods that promote a healthy gut can enhance digestion, optimize nutrient absorption, and boost overall energy.

Try to focus on eating:

Also, try to reduce your intake of sugary foods and beverages and highly processed foods that are high in unhealthy fats. These foods can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut. Read food labels carefully and avoid products with added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, maltose, and sucrose.

2. Take a probiotic supplement

Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria, can help restore gut microbiome balance. They do this by colonizing your gut and stimulating the growth of other beneficial bacteria.

Probiotics can potentially fight fatigue by improving nutrient absorption, reducing inflammation, supporting immune function, regulating mood, and optimizing energy production through your gut microbiome.

And if you have a digestive condition such as IBS, probiotics can be especially beneficial.

In a 2019 review of 11 studies, 7 of those studies found that probiotic supplementation led to significant improvements in IBS symptoms compared with placebo. This was particularly the case when study participants used multistrain supplements for 8 weeks or longer. But the other four studies did not report significant improvement.

Opting for a probiotic supplement with multiple strains, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, can target different areas of your gut, supporting a diverse microbiome.

You can also incorporate probiotic-rich foods into your diet, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These foods contain beneficial bacteria that can help maintain a healthy balance in your gut microbiome.

3. Exercise

Exercise can influence the bacteria in your gut, affecting your overall gut health. A 2024 study involving more than 8,000 people found that different levels of physical activity were associated with distinct gut bacteria compositions.

Moderate exercise was found to be linked to lower levels of harmful Escherichia coli bacteria. And both moderate and vigorous exercise were associated with higher levels of beneficial bacteria that produce butyrate, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Roseburia spp.

To improve your gut health, engage in activities that you enjoy and that are suitable for your condition, such as walking, yoga, or gentle stretching exercises. According to a 2013 research review, even a single session of exercise lasting 20 to 40 minutes can consistently boost feelings of energy.

4. Manage stress

Stress can harm your health by upsetting the balance of bacteria in your gut. When you’re stressed, your body sends signals to your gut through your nervous, immune, and circulatory systems. This stress signaling can cause inflammation, leading to an increase in harmful bacteria, gut imbalances (dysbiosis), and a leaky gut.

Additionally, stress can significantly affect your energy levels by disrupting your brain’s energy metabolism. Your brain uses about 20% of the calories you consume, primarily in the form of glucose. Stress can change hormone actions, glucose uptake, and mitochondrial function, all of which are crucial for maintaining energy balance.

To help reduce your stress levels, you may want to try practicing a stress management technique such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga.

5. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for your overall health and energy levels, especially if you have a digestive condition. According to a 2018 study, dehydration can lead to symptoms such as lack of focus, muscle weakness, and fatigue.

Additionally, a 2022 study found that people who drink a lot of water have a lower abundance of Campylobacter bacteria, which has been linked to diarrhea.

Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can contribute to dehydration.

Digestive conditions can lead to fatigue through various mechanisms. Disruptions in your gut microbiota can trigger chronic inflammation, which can contribute to feelings of fatigue. Additionally, digestive issues can reduce nutrient absorption, leading to nutrient deficiencies that can affect your energy levels.

A 2023 study suggests that people with ME/CFS often experience gut-related symptoms and changes in their gut microbiota. These changes may contribute to the persistent fatigue that they experience.

How common is fatigue in digestive conditions?

Fatigue is quite common among people with digestive conditions such as IBS.

A 2016 review of 24 studies found that about 54% of people with IBS experience fatigue. Factors such as being in tertiary care settings, being female, and being younger were associated with greater frequency of fatigue.

The researchers also found that fatigue commonly occurred alongside gastrointestinal symptoms, psychological distress, and lower health-related quality of life.