Athletes are constantly seeking ways to improve their performance, whether through training, nutrition, or recovery strategies. An area that is gaining significant attention is the use of probiotics for athletes to enhance overall athletic performance.
Benefits of Exercise on Gut Health
Regular physical activity is associated with a more diverse and balanced gut microbiota. A diverse microbiome is generally considered a sign of good gut health and is associated with various health benefits.
Most studies of the microbiome and exercise are related to cardiovascular endurance or athletic performance. This represents both cardio training and strength training, which both show beneficial outcomes on the gut. According to the International Society of Sports (ISSN), athletes have varying gut microbiota compositions that appear to reflect the activity level of the host in comparison to sedentary people.
Intense Athletic Training Can Impact the Gut Negatively
There is a growing body of research indicating that intense physical training and athletic performance can have both positive and negative effects on gut health. Intense exercise, especially endurance training, is linked to increased gut permeability, commonly known as “leaky gut.”
Some athletes experience gastrointestinal symptoms during or after intense training or competition, such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, or bloating. These symptoms may be due to changes in blood flow, dehydration, and changes in gut motility during exercise.
How Probiotics May Help Athletes
Probiotics are live microorganisms that may offer a wide range of health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. While their positive impact on digestive health is well-documented, their potential benefits for athletes of all ages extend beyond the digestive system.
Aid Immune Function
Intense physical training can temporarily weaken the immune system, making athletes more susceptible to infections. Heavy training and/or training in cold environments increases an athlete’s risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs).
Probiotics have been shown in studies to modulate immune responses, reducing the risk of upper respiratory tract infections and gastrointestinal distress. Clinical trials even show that probiotics can be used as preventive and therapeutic agents in URTIs and ear infections. So in theory, athletes who take probiotics may experience fewer disruptions to their training due to illness.
Recovery is a critical aspect of athletic performance. Probiotics can aid in post-exercise recovery by potentially aiding in the reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress. Studies show that certain strains of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, may help decrease muscle soreness and improve muscle function following strenuous exercise.
Improve Nutrient Absorption
Probiotics play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for optimal nutrient absorption. A well-balanced gut microbiome can help athletes extract more nutrients from the foods they consume. This is particularly important for athletes who require a higher intake of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients to support their intense training and recovery needs.
Better Mood and Mental Well-Being
The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication system between the gut and the brain. Emerging research suggests that the gut microbiome can influence mood and cognitive function. Athletes who maintain a healthy gut microbiome through probiotic supplementation may experience improved mental well-being, which can positively impact their performance and motivation.
Flourish Probiotics for Athletes!
It’s important to note that individual responses to exercise and their impact on gut health can vary. Factors such as genetics, diet, training intensity, exercise duration, hydration, and recovery practices all play a role. Athletes and those engaged in regular physical activity should consider adopting strategies to support their gut health, such as taking a high-quality probiotic.
Supply your gut with the diversity it craves! Flourish Original and Flourish Junior living liquid probiotics supply eleven strains from five different families who would love to hang out with your resident gut buddies. This diversity may help support any athlete at any age in their workouts and athletic endeavors.
The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Written by Kelsy Armstrong, Entegro Health