How Probiotics Bring Out Your Inner Athlete
Probiotics help you commit to your workout
If you want to build a body that feels great to live in, exercise and movement are key to helping shape, tone, and strengthen your body. There is another piece of the puzzle to seeing real results from your exercise routine. What you eat is the real secret to seeing sculpted definition and friendly gut bacteria, or probiotics, play a major role in your efforts at the gym. While the saying “abs are built in the kitchen,” does ring true, probiotics take it to a whole deeper level.
Twenty years ago, probiotics were still on the fringes of the mainstream, you could only buy them in tiny health food stores and most doctors would have very little information on the importance of gut health. Probiotics began to gain mainstream attention after research showed the importance of our microbiome not only on gut health but also metabolic, inflammatory, immune and more recently, mental health. Today, we know friendly gut bacteria can also boost your workout routine and help you get in touch with your inner athlete.
Your athletic performance, whether on a yoga mat, lifting weights, or training for an ultramarathon, depends on a variety of factors including mental, emotional, immune, and of course physical condition. Probiotics don’t impact athletic performance directly, but they do have a number of secondary effects that indirectly affect performance and recovery.
Probiotics are key for nutrient absorption and assimilation and as we age this ability worsens. Friendly bacteria help promote healthy digestion by enhancing carbohydrate, protein and mineral metabolism. They help to turn our food into fuel by enhancing the nutritional value we can absorb from our food. This means your workout will benefit because of improved stamina, recovery, and energy. Friendly bacteria also produce vitamin B12 (essential for vegans) and vitamin K2
Probiotics play a big role in regulating blood sugar levels and preventing dips in energy so you aren't constantly searching for your next sugar fix. Numerous studies have shown that friendly bacteria significantly improvement in blood glucose balance and insulin sensitivity and Lactobacillus has been identified as key to helping with glucose tolerance.
Probiotics help you recover
In the short-term, exercise suppresses your immune system and can cause you to get sick more often, especially if you are an endurance or elite athlete or even just someone who work out hard and often at the gym. Changes in immunity may last between three hours and three days depending on your exertion and overall health.
Probiotics help reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of illness after exercise. Research shows that probiotics help to modulate immune function after exercise and help your muscles repair and recover through reducing inflammation. This applied for any exercise that stresses the muscle, such as weightlifting, running, or plyometric jumps.
Probiotics may help with mindset
Probiotics are not just for the gut, they also affect your brain function. The two are connected through a partnership called the gut-brain axis and they communicate partly through biochemical signaling. Friendly gut bacteria have emerged as key in controlling this axis and especially during times of stress.
The gut is often called the “second brain” because it produces many of the same mood-regulating neurotransmitters as the brain does, such as serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid. In fact, your gut produces 90% of all serotonin (the “happy” chemical that plays a major role in mood). Although it's still too early for researchers to draw any concrete conclusions about how probiotics affect brain health, some studies have shown probiotics help with cognitive function, mood, and may help lower feelings of stress and anxiety.
Where do I get probiotics?
There are a number of ways to feed your friendly gut bacteria. Start by consuming more probiotic-rich food like:
- Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi
- Fermented milk, such as lassi, kefir, and unsweetened yogurt
- Raw goats and sheep cheese
- Fermented soy products such as natto, tempeh, and miso
Friendly bacteria also love fiber. In the UK, the average intake is just 17 grams a day, far below the recommended intake of 30gr. Good sources of fiber are nuts, seeds such as chia and flax, root vegetables, leafy green vegetables, and whole, unadulterated grains.
Finally, probiotic supplements are also a good way to introduce get good bacteria. There are a lot of products on the market, some much better than others. It's important to know that there are different strains and that the health benefits of one strain may be completely different from the benefits of another. It's important to look at brand quality.
There are some very well researched strains of bacteria out there and I would use brands that reflect this diversity and have multiple strains. Look for strains like Bacillus coagulans, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus clausii.
Look for brands that have a higher CFU (colony forming unit) ranging from 15 billion to 100 billion. Use products that are able to make it to the gut and colonize it, and look for products that guarantee the CFU at expiry.
Sarka Botanicals and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on Sarka Botanicals is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.