Trait Energy and Fatigue May Be Connected to Gut Bacteria among Young Physically Active Adults: An Exploratory Study

Nutrients. 2022 Jan 21;14(3):466. doi: 10.3390/nu14030466.


Recent scientific evidence suggests that traits energy and fatigue are two unique unipolar moods with distinct mental and physical components. This exploratory study investigated the correlation between mental energy (ME), mental fatigue (MF), physical energy (PE), physical fatigue (PF), and the gut microbiome. The four moods were assessed by survey, and the gut microbiome and metabolome were determined from 16 S rRNA analysis and untargeted metabolomics analysis, respectively. Twenty subjects who were 31 ± 5 y, physically active, and not obese (26.4 ± 4.4 kg/m2) participated. Bacteroidetes (45%), the most prominent phyla, was only negatively correlated with PF. The second most predominant and butyrate-producing phyla, Firmicutes (43%), had members that correlated with each trait. However, the bacteria Anaerostipes was positively correlated with ME (0.048, p = 0.032) and negatively with MF (−0.532, p = 0.016) and PF (−0.448, p = 0.048), respectively. Diet influences the gut microbiota composition, and only one food group, processed meat, was correlated with the four moods—positively with MF (0.538, p = 0.014) and PF (0.513, p = 0.021) and negatively with ME (−0.790, p < 0.001) and PE (−0.478, p = 0.021). Only the Firmicutes genus Holdemania was correlated with processed meat (r = 0.488, p = 0.029). Distinct metabolic profiles were observed, yet these profiles were not significantly correlated with the traits. Study findings suggest that energy and fatigue are unique traits that could be defined by distinct bacterial communities not driven by diet. Larger studies are needed to confirm these exploratory findings.

Keywords: gut microbiome; gut microbiota; trait mental fatigue and energy; trait physical fatigue and energy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteroidetes
  • Firmicutes
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Obesity / microbiology