Your digestive system is where your body breaks down its fuel source and turns it into energy that your body uses to survive and thrive. Your gut is responsible for breaking down and absorbing nutrients from food and liquid so that the energy inside can be burned.
A compromised gut can easily affect your overall nutrition because it is not only responsible for absorbing nutrients you need, but also for keeping toxins and harmful chemicals out of your body, and making sure that your immune system is running smoothly.
Here is how gut health is the key to your sports performance.
Why is Gut Health Important?
Your gut is inhabited by roughly 100 trillion microorganisms, which can be divided into lots of different ‘types’, and one of these is bacteria. There is 10 times the amount of bacteria in your gut than all the human cells in your entire body. This is why your gut microbiome is of utmost importance.
The good bacteria in your gut helps you digest food, enhance your immune system and also protect you against the bad bacteria. Harmful bacteria can cause all sorts of problems/diseases from food poisoning, bloating (see our guide on best probiotics for bloating, skin problems to death.
In small quantities, harmful bacteria can affect nutrition absorption and cause inflammation throughout the body. This can severely impact your sports performance.
Therefore, to maintain your energy levels and ensure quick recovery, it is important to provide your gut with a healthy addition of probiotics in the form of food, probiotic capsules, probiotic juice, and more.
This is particularly true during times when you put your body through a lot of physical stress.
How Does Gut Health Enhance Sports Performance?
There are a number of ways a healthy gut can help promote your performance on field.
The gut microbiome plays a significant role in inflammation, which is known to interfere with performance, slow down recovery, and is the root cause of many chronic diseases. Inflammatory conditions are associated with gut microbiome imbalance or dysbiosis.
According to recent research, by improving your microbiome balance you can effectively reduce systemic inflammation, which provides both short term relief and long term risk reduction.
You can also enjoy a more stable gut environment by improving microbiome balance and diversity, which reduces the impact of repeated stress sportspeople place on their bodies.
The old adage that half the game is won through mind could not be truer. You may be surprised to know that your gut and brain are in direct communication. In fact, the bacteria living in your gut have the potential to make you feel exhilarated or depressed.
A healthy gut can enhance your mental integrity and improve your behavior on field, cognitive performance, and pain tolerance. You may also benefit from mental clarity and optimal brain functioning, allowing you to make split-second decisions.
The antioxidant defense system or redox signaling is an impressive system in your body, which uses antioxidant enzymes to keep you healthy. This system is more important in sportspersons because they need it to consistently perform well and recover in record time, keeping them at the top of their game.
Large amounts of free radicals are generated because of intensive and rigorous exercises or training, which are very likely to exceed the buffering capacity of a typical body. This increases your chances of oxidative stress which has the potential to result in damaging inflammation.
A balanced microbiome in a healthy gut results in a healthy redox status. A well-functioning antioxidant enzyme system can prevent tissue damage from exercise while protecting you against intense exercise-induced oxidative damage.
It can also improve your physical status by lowering fatigue and improving exercise performance.
Your energy levels are boosted when you have a healthy gut. Diverse gut microbiome is rich in Lactobacillus probiotic species which reduces fatigue through better breakdown of lactic acid.
A healthy gut also controls redox functions to delay fatigue symptoms, allowing you to enjoy peak performance for a longer time.
As a sportsperson, you should be able to rely on high energy levels to launch yourself past your competitors and beyond. With a healthy gut you can ensure that your body regulates sugar in ideal quantities, giving you bursts of energy when you need it the most.
How Can You Keep Your Gut Healthy?
Your gut has trillions of microbes working for it and aiding its multiple functions, from digestion to absorption of nutrients. A gut microbiome dominated by best probiotic for men (or friendly bacteria) ensures that the gut functions smoothly and helps you enhance your sports performance.
Probotics are vital to maintaining good gut health because these microscopic creatures prevent gut dysbiosis, ensure smooth bowel movements, and even help fermenting and digesting leftover food in the colon.
With the help of the best probiotic for men supplements, you can ensure that your gut functions smoothly and as expected.
While taking probotics are important, there are certain practices you should avoid because that can harm your gut microbiome. For instance, antibiotics can wipe out whole colonies of probiotic bacteria. Hence, make sure you never take antibiotics, until absolutely necessary.
Ultra processed foods are another contributor to gut dysbiosis or microbiome imbalance. These include chips, popcorns, cakes, candies, and all other packaged ready-to-eat foods. Sportspersons need to pay even more attention to their nutrition and diet to maximize their performance.
Hence, stick to organic produce wherever possible to boost your microbiome health and enhance gut health. You should also include whole foods, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
Prebiotic fibers help promote probiotic colonies in your gut by feeding and nourishing them. Prebiotics are found in onions, garlic, bananas, sunchokes, and asparagus, among others. You may also consider taking a synbiotic supplement which contains both probiotic strains and prebiotic fibers, like inulin or FOS.
There are certain fermented foods which are rich in probiotic and can help promote gut health. For instance, buttermilk helps keep your digestion running smoothly and promotes bowel movements.
Certain fermented probiotic-rich foods or probiotic juice are high in proteins and amino acids as well. These foods, like miso soup, tempeh patties, and natto can help you meet your daily protein requirement as well as probiotic needs.
The Bottom Line
The gut is central to all organs and functions in the body. Without a healthy gut, you may not be able to absorb nutrition to fuel your training and performance.