Energy & Fatigue Might All Be Products Of Nutrition And Gut Microbes:
A lot of times, we can get saturated with advice that can seem too common.
But there are a few things we might try to remember about that.
The advice can be common because it works, it’s been curated by history, and stood the test of time for good reason.
The second part is a bit sneakier. Advice can become common through repetition and we get inured to it.
When really there is a lot more to it than a bored mind would understand at face-value.
And a team from Texas A&M is finding out some surprising new ways that, “Eat a high-quality varied diet.” and “You are what you eat.” really do bring a lot more to the table than just the basics they seem to suggest…
The Short Answer:
- Sometimes common advice has more in it than meets the eye.
- Eat a varied, high-quality diet without a lot of junk-food, sugar, salt, & saturated fat is one example.
- One experiment with excessive salt showed pretty disastrous results.
- The TAMU team believes nutrition & microbes have such a strong action they might influence behavior and maybe personality.
- We have many microbes in our gut that have different inputs and outputs.
- Some of these are less than helpful in any quantity.
- The 4 factors the Texas team measured were Energy or Fatigue of a Physical or Mental type.
- Differing numbers of each microbe were associated with each factor.
- When it comes to chain-reactions, 1 of them was associated with physical energy and 19 were associated with mental energy.
- Foods with folate gave people more mental energy.
- Foods with lycopene gave people both mental & physical fatigue.
- Could this be because high-glycemic foods like pizza and pasta have tomato sauce on them?
- Ultra-processed foods and the associated microbes lowered all energy and raised all fatigue.
- Subjects with the lowest variety of gut microbes had the lowest overall energy levels.
- Every microbe associated with mental or physical fatigue was also associated with inflammation.
- So fatigue is basically inflammation.
- Before !SCIENCE! comes out with custom probiotics, you can always improve yours by eating better food, which feeds the healthier microbes.
- Soon, science will figure out how to optimize probiotics and we’ll all have maximum energy and minimum inflammation.
Read on to find out the details…
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So here at HT, we’ve had quite a few posts that reinforced the old Hippocrates quote, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”
Even the one on excessive salt in the diet is mind-blowing.
And that wasn’t just for people with high blood-pressure.
It wrecked people’s gut microbes, killed off good bacteria, inflammation cells invaded, brain-cell insulation went down, zombie-cell cleanup stopped, obesity rates went up, and natural anti-inflammatories vaporized.
If you think the doctors who fixed all that mess by pulling the salt back out and throwing probiotics at the subjects was fancy, then hold on to your hats.
Because the Texas A&M work is suggesting the effect of food is so profound it might change your behavior enough to be considered a component of your personality!
So let’s establish a few ideas first.
1) There are many different types of microbes in your gut
2) They all have preferred foods
3) They all have specific outputs based on what they eat
4) If you over-feed one type of bacteria, they may overgrow and crowd-out the others that were present
5) There is a high speed connection from your gut to your brain via the vagus nerve (the gut-brain axis)
6) Many of us get in the habit of eating some of the same stuff
7) Every single one of us has experienced the sensation of feeling somehow different a short while after eating (or drinking) something
8) Sometimes it made you feel great. Other times, maybe the opposite happened.
I don’t know about you, but things like pasta and rice make me feel fatigued; as if somebody’s been kneading my face with a pair of vinyl cushions from my grandma’s living room couch for 40 minutes.
So what you eat determines a huge part of the microbiome in your gut.
The way the Texas team looked at this was through 4 factors: Mental Energy, Mental Fatigue, Physical Energy, and Physical Fatigue.
No, they have yet not taken it as far as saying certain foods will create, amplify, or dampen certain psychological & neurological states or disorders like the people who use keto to combat epilepsy.
But this may just be preliminary work to eventually branch out like Monash University’s work on reducing Anxiety.
In order to establish the connections, the team looked at a small group of 20 individuals with an average age of 31 who were not obese.
Two types of bacteria were found to be most associated with mental energy.
Two different ones were associated only with physical fatigue.
One other wacky family of bugs was correlated with all four measures.
When it comes to Metabolism, the results were equally as weird.
Only 1 type of mechanism (or chain-reaction called a “pathway”) was correlated with physical energy,
But 19 others were all correlated with mental energy.
When it comes to nutrients from foods, we got more interesting results, too.
Foods like dark leafy greens that were rich in folate seemed to give people more mental energy.
Foods with Lycopene seemed to give people both mental fatigue and physical fatigue; (not that Lycopene is bad, necessarily).
(is this just because tomato sauce is often put on high-glycemic foods like pasta & pizza?)
And as you might expect, anything that was considered an Ultra-Processed Food gave people -both- less energy and more fatigue!
In this case, the food the subjects ate was mostly processed-meats.
Although the researchers also found one type of general-purpose-like bacteria that was correlated with every food they tested,
They very-interestingly found a second that was only correlated with the presence of processed meats; strangely enough, that one also seemed to take away physical energy. Hrm…
One interesting point for people who don’t get enough good bacteria or varied enough diet,
Subjects who had the lowest variety of microbes also had the lowest energy-levels across the board.
They also found the better the presence of metabolism & blood-sugar-focused microbes, the better energy a person had and weirdly, the lower their stress-hormones were.
And except for the bombshell about our old friend, Ultra-Processed Foods, the study found that every microbe associated with MF or PF was also associated with another nemesis: Inflammation.
So basically, if you’re fatigued you can be almost guaranteed there is some kind of inflammation going on, probably starting in your gut.
-Luckily, one of the other types they found seems great at being anti-inflammatory!
Another thing the authors note is that you can also change your microbes by changing your diet. If you eat better food, you also get more of the better microbes. So all hope is not lost!
The whole point of going through all that is even though it’s still early-days, researchers are getting a lot closer to knowing what each specific gut microbe does under different circumstances.
This development will then be moving science forward to much more customized probiotics of exactly what any individual needs at any point in time.
It’s entirely possible that in the future, you won’t ever need anything like a Red Bull.
You’ll just need the right nutrition (especially what -not- to eat) and the right probiotics and you’ll have all the physical and mental energy you’ll ever need to keep moving forward!
Pair that with less inflammation and you won’t just -feel- healthier and better, you will be healthier and you might even live longer, all thanks to some really nerdy microbe biochemistry!