New snacks on sale now for a limited time! Use code NEW for 15% off.

3 Ways Sugar and Poor Gut Health Put the Brakes on Your Energy with Leila DiQuinzio

By Leila DiQuinzio 

Almost 2500 years ago Hippocrates told us that “all disease begins in the gut”. Much of  modern research also suggests that the gut is the seat of health and a major way we interact with our external environment – what we put in directly affects our wellbeing.  

This can be broken down into how our food is absorbed and metabolised, our balance of gut  bacteria, and our gut integrity – i.e., is it letting through things it shouldn’t?  

All of these factors contribute to the way we feel. This is the first in a series of articles on the  gut and its relationship to our health. Today we begin with fatigue, a major symptom of poor gut health and consuming excess sugar. 

The blood sugar rollercoaster 

We can’t talk about fatigue without mentioning the blood sugar rollercoaster. If you find  your energy is yo-yoing throughout the day and you often hit an afternoon slump, your diet  could be playing a major part. Whilst we crave sugar for energy, and initially sugar provides it, these effects are short lasting because what goes up must come down - cue the sugar  crash! 

The rush of sugar into the bloodstream triggers a release of insulin to get the sugar from the  blood into the cells for use. A huge hit of sugar causes a huge release of insulin, and  suddenly blood glucose levels dip so low that the body is left wanting another hit.  

At this low point we can feel lethargic, have trouble concentrating, suffer from brain fog, be  moody, and then we want more of what helped before – sugar – and so the rollercoaster continues.  

We’re not just talking about sweets here. A carbohydrate heavy meal like a big bowl of  pasta or noodles, sandwiches or even sushi (think white foods!) can all produce a similar effect.  

The best way to combat this? Revise your portions and pair your carbs with the good stuff:  protein, fibre and good fats. These help balance blood glucose and slow the absorption of  sugar. And, of course, quit sugar! - the refined, fast acting kind. 

Aim for each meal to contain a palm size portion of protein, a quarter plate of quality whole grains, half a plate of vegetables, and some good fats. Any snacks should also be  protein or good fat based. Think nuts and seeds, celery or carrot with nut butter, tuna and  avocado on a rice cake, or full fat natural yoghurt with berries and cinnamon.

Could it be candida? 

Candida is a yeast which naturally inhabits our gut at low levels, however in the right (or  wrong!) circumstances, it is allowed to multiply and wreak havoc – a situation we term  opportunistic overgrowth. This microbiome imbalance can be caused by a diet high in sugar  or carbohydrates, excessive alcohol, antibiotic overuse, poor immunity, stress or infection.  

When candida overgrows, symptoms often include major fatigue, sugar cravings, brain fog,  thrush, itching, rashes, mood swings, and gut symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, or  constipation. 

The number one fuel source for candida is sugar. It can also make restricting sugar difficult – candida wants to be fed! Whilst depriving it by quitting sugar is a perfect place to start,  treating this overgrowth head on with a practitioner can really help reduce symptoms and  prevent them coming back. 

Leaky gut, leaky energy 

Leaky gut, also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, is when the tight junctions of the  epithelial cells which make up the lining of our gut develop gaps between them. This allows unwanted substances to enter the bloodstream, including waste products, toxins, microbes,  and food proteins. 

The result is that the immune system is triggered, leading to inflammation, allergies and  symptoms like fatigue, eczema, brain fog, migraines, and irritability. Leaky gut can also  contribute to food intolerances like salicylates, oxalates, histamine and sulphur.  

Some factors that can contribute to leaky gut include an imbalance of bacteria in the gut like  during SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) or gut infections, chronic stress, chronic  inflammation, poor diet, and even certain medications. 

This burden on your system hinders mitochondrial energy production and utilises valuable  energy resources, leaving you feeling drained and lacking in the energy required to get  through your day.  

The good news is, leaky gut is treatable. Managing stress and changing your diet are great  places to begin. Reduce inflammatory foods like sugar, alcohol, gluten, preservatives, and those you know you are intolerant to. Support your microbiome with a huge variety of  coloured plant-based foods, this will help provide nutrients required for gut repair like zinc,  quercetin, and vitamin A. 

So, what do I do about it?  

If you’re struggling with your energy, begin with the tips mentioned and reach out to a practitioner for help. With proper case taking, testing and tailored treatment, you can get to  the cause of your fatigue and start feeling your best. Stay tuned for more gut health info to come! 

About Leila

Leila is a qualified naturopath based in Melbourne. She specialises in chronic digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and leaky gut, and is passionate about eating a well-balanced diet, while still enjoying food. She believes living well doesn’t have to be a chore, and is keen to show us all how to manage our health – and enjoy it, too. 

Leila will be blessing us with some of her best guidance and tips to succeed in our upcoming sugar-free program, so check out her  website and stay tuned!

Instagram:  @leila.naturopath

Search our shop