If you’re a cardio queen, you probably feel pretty pleased with the fact that you manage to haul yourself into trainers and hit the pavement or the trails on a regular basis, because exercise, especially running, has many benefits for your health. However, it can also wreak havoc on your digestive system and even acerbate conditions like IBS, (don’t pretend you’ve never had to take a quick detour during a nature run to, well, answer the call of nature).
Experts say that some of these problems are related to decreased blood in the GI tract and a weakened barrier between the intestines and the bloodstream, also known as “leaky gut syndrome”. Regularly eating probiotics, the good bacteria that occur naturally in fermented foods, is the best way to treat this.
Even more interestingly, research shows that probiotics can also improve physical stamina, as one 2014 study found that athletes who took a probiotic supplement for four weeks could work out for longer than those who received a placebo.
Here are the probiotic rules to run with:
Nature comes first
Go for foods that naturally contain probiotics, like fermented dairy products and vegetables, kombucha and sourdough bread. Also, look out for products that include Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, the two prominent probiotic strains considered to be most beneficial to athletic performance.
Take it slow
Don’t wait until the night before a big race to load up on kimchi and kombucha, only to wake up bloated and gassy the next day. Instead, start small by adding half a cup of kimchi or sauerkraut to your work lunch; gradually increasing your intake as your digestive system adjusts to the extra good bacteria.
The moral of the story? Those with the guts get the glory.
Elite athletes train hard, but their gut bacteria work harder, and those with more good gut bacteria may actually have a competitive edge. Researchers at Harvard Medical School are even investigating the power of bacteria to break down lactic acid and potentially fight muscle fatigue and soreness.
For a probiotic that’s specifically aimed at the active person, take Releaf Probiotic Active 12-strain, which contains a combination of 12 probiotic strains and added Vitamin A, D3 and Zinc to support the immune system, connective tissue formation and good health while training.