5 Ways Probiotics Can Boost Athletic Performance
Taking probiotics offers many benefits to one’s health, including stronger immune system and the better ability to fight off disease, but it may be particularly beneficial to athletes as a healthy gut may improve athletic performance through a number of factors, including these.
When it comes to athletic performance, the first thing that probably comes to mind is muscle. While it’s true that much of that performance originates in the muscles, there are other systems in the body that contribute to that, including your gut. In fact, it may have a much more significant role than you might have imagined. The bacteria in your gut is a major factor in how healthy your immune system is, and it also has a key role in the inflammatory response, whether or not you develop certain diseases, as well as affecting your emotional and mental health, including the potential development of anxiety and depression.
What are probiotics? They are the healthy bacteria that live in the gut, and can also be found in raw, living and fermented foods. While they are essential for health and wellness, the benefits they offer are also significant for endurance athletes.
How can probiotics specifically help improve your athletic performance?
Reducing Post-Workout Muscle Inflammation
Recent research has shown a link between muscle inflammation after significant exertion and certain types of probiotics. The study involving scientists from Italy, New Zealand and the U.S. found that using a probiotic may help lower inflammation in the muscles. The male athletes who participated in this research were given a 21-day of probiotics or a placebo, and after that period, they performed a muscle strength test meant to induce damage in the muscle. In those that had taken the probiotic, inflammatory markers were decreased, though the experts say it wasn’t statistically different from the placebo. (1, 2)
Those who took probiotics were shown to experience improved peak torque production within 72 hours after exercise, which indicated to the researchers that probiotics were behind the enhanced performance.
Better Digestion and Improved Absorption to Enhance Performance
Healthy bacteria helps to improve digestion by improving the absorption and bioavailability of fats and protein. Good bacteria can also aid in the digestion of nutrients in the stomach and intestines. As athletes have especially high nutritional needs, those needs can best be met when improvements are made to the digestive system. Plus, improving nutrient absorption can help lower the risk of developing illness and disease.
Additionally, problems like nausea are reduced along with gas, bloating, intestinal inflammation and hypersensitivity to foods, which are relatively common issues among athletes both during and after a training session, according to research. (3)
Probiotics also offer a powerful, unique effect on your emotional state and mood. A number of studies have revealed that when the mood of an athlete is lifted, they are more likely to also experience a stronger performance. (4, 5, 6)
Probiotics May Counteract the Short-Term Negative Effects of Intense Physical Exertion
Mild to moderate physical exertion brings lots of short- and long-term positive effects on health, however, significant exertion, including short bursts of intense workouts is believed to increase immunosuppression in the short term, which is why minor illnesses and problems like respiratory infections after frequently observed after a competition. (7)
Experts believe that could be due to physiological stress, which is hard on the immune system. That effect can last anywhere between three and 72 hours, depending on the individual’s overall health, athletic ability and other factors. Taking probiotics, however, may counteract some of the negative effects as research has shown it has reduced the frequency and severity of both gastrointestinal disorders and respiratory conditions in athletes who are extremely active. (8, 9, 10)
Strong Immune System Equals Improved Performance
Probiotics are known to enhance both the health of the gut and immune functioning, helping to protect the body from infection as well as maintain homeostasis. They’ve also been found to help modulate immune function following exercise, which means that you’ll be less likely to develop gastrointestinal or upper respiratory illnesses, enabling you to continuing your training and ultimately boost performance. (11)
Research that evaluated the effects of probiotic yogurt on endurance swimmers found that they experienced reduced instances and duration of respiratory illness as compared to those who consumed yogurt without probiotics. As they weren’t hindered by infection, the athletes also showed marked improvement in peak oxygen intake. (12)
This leads the experts to believe that a stronger immune system thanks to probiotics may equal improved athletic performance.
Improved Heat Tolerance
Adding or increasing probiotics in your diet can also help improve your ability to tolerate training in hot conditions. In a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers looked at effects of a multi-strain probiotic supplement on runners over the course of four weeks and found that supplementation increased the amount of time it took before the runners became fatigued.
The experts concluded that supplementation with a multi-strain probiotic was able to increase the athletes’ running time to fatigue in the heat, although they did not that further studies would be required to determine the exact mechanisms for that particular benefit. (13)
Optimizing your Gut Health for Better Performance
Optimizing your gut health is not only important for optimal health, including lowering the risk of most diseases, it may give your athletic performance a boost as well. In addition to feeding your gut with healthy bacteria by consuming more fermented foods and taking a high quality probiotic supplement, it’s also important to lower your intake of sugar as much as possible – without that crucial step, you’ll be counteracting those efforts to rebuild healthy gut flora – which is like taking one step forward and moving one step back at the same time.
Why Schwartz Bioresearch Probiotics?
Schwartz Bioresearch probiotic supplement guarantees high-quality, shelf stable probiotic strains which maintain at least 20 billion CFU until the labeled expiration date and survive harsh stomach acids to reach the intestinal tract where they exert their greatest benefits. Most probiotics have weak strains that don’t survive the shipping and storing processes, let alone stomach acids and bile. Some manufacturers are even offering probiotics with a chemical-filled coating so the weak strains won’t die in the stomach. Schwartz Bioresearch is one of only a very few brands that can guarantee potency until expiration date; strength of our probiotic lies in the high quality strains we work with, not in artificial coatings.