Why Probiotics Are Important For An Active Lifestyle
If you enjoy an active lifestyle (or aspire to one), you already know how good nutrition can support your efforts. But here’s something you may not know: probiotics (friendly gut bacteria) are equally important. Probiotics can help to boost exercise performance no matter what your starting point. But that’s not all. Probiotics also promote a healthy immune system and healthy digestion, both of which are important for overall health and fitness. Probiotics can boost stress resilience, too.
Athletes And Gastrointestinal Issues
Demanding physical activity demands top-notch nutrition, but when someone is suffering from GI symptoms, they may not be getting the nutrition they need.
Gastrointestinal issues (such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or gas) affect up to 96% of athletes. Endurance athletes are particularly prone to digestive disturbances.
Numerous studies have shown how beneficial probiotics can be for GI function. Taking them daily over the long term can make a big difference in gut health and gastrointestinal symptoms. It takes about 10 to 14 days for a daily probiotic to start improving the bacterial balance in the gut.
Another way to support intestinal health is with the natural probiotics found in foods. Traditionally fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are rich in good bacteria. Kefir and Greek yogurt are also good options, as are kombucha and miso.
The Immune System and the Healthy Lifestyle Paradox
For athletes, who are among the fittest individuals, there’s a healthy lifestyle paradox. It’s called the “open window” – that period following an intense exercise session for up to 72 hours when immune defenses are diminished. Athletes, in general, are at greater risk for viral upper respiratory tract infections during this time.
One reason is that intense exercise causes hyperventilation or fast breathing. Over time, hyperventilation causes small but significant structural damage to the respiratory tract, compromising its ability to protect against illness. Having a strong immune system can help to compensate for this phenomenon.
The majority of the body’s immune system – over 70% – is found in the gut. We now know that gut flora communicates with and influence the function of those immune cells. When you nourish your gut with the right type of bacteria, you strengthen your immune system.
Probiotics for Exercise Performance? Yes!
Probiotics have a positive effect on exercise performance, according to the latest research. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving over 400 adults looked at the effects of daily probiotics on exercise performance. Researchers divided healthy volunteers into three groups. The first group received a single strain of probiotics (Bifidobacterium animalis lactis BI-04), while the second group was given two strains of probiotics (Bifidobacterium animalis lactis Bi-07 and Lactobaccilus acidophilus NCFM). The third group was given a placebo. While both groups receiving probiotics had significantly better outcomes than the placebo group, the second group (receiving the combination) had particularly noteworthy results.
The combination probiotic conferred greater immune protection than regular probitoics products. It also boosted exercise duration, improved training intensity, and was associated with 8% more exercise over the course of a week. For serious fitness enthusiasts, that 8% makes a big difference.
Gut issues, stress, and illness can all interfere with training routines and exercise schedules. For people who are dedicated to getting and staying fit, the evidence is clear: probiotics can help them achieve their goals.