Could probiotics be the next performance enhancing substance? Think about it they are legal, known to improve health and performance and are readily available.
If you are dedicated to a life of fitness, chances are good you are always looking for that latest way to increase your productivity and maximize your fitness, endurance, and gains.
Probiotics and Athletic Performance
Well, according to one company’s research, a new type of gut bacteria found in elite athletes may be playing a role in boosting their performance during high-intensity exercise. With that knowledge, it likely won’t be long until there is a probiotic-like supplement that allows non-professional athletes with similar fitness aspirations to take advantage of that bacteria as well.
CEO and co-founder of the company FitBiomics Jonathan Scheiman spoke with CNBC to discuss the goal that he and his company has when it comes to the future of fitness.
“The future of fitness is here and it’s something that we’re rapidly developing,” he said. “We want to translate this into consumer products to promote health and wellness [to the masses].”
The thinking here is based on a study that was published in the journal of Nature Medicine by a large group of researchers. In that study, the researchers found that marathon runners and endurance athletes have much greater levels of a specific bacteria living in their gut microbiota. That bacteria is known as Veilonella. These unique colonies are found specifically in the gut microbiota of elite athletes and are fascinatingly rather inactive in individuals who do not participate in regular fitness-related activities.
Following that incredible discovery, researchers were able to isolate the strain of Veilonella from a marathon runner and inserted it into the colon microbiota of lab mice.
Once the bacteria was able to colonize the mice’s guts, researchers found the mice given Veilonella were able to run 13 percent longer on a treadmill when compared to a control group of mice that were not given the supplement.
Co-author of the study and an assistant professor of microbiology at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Aleksander Kostic, explained who the 13 percent can lead to massive improvements in endurance, fitness, and health.
“It might not seem like a huge number, but I definitely think its biologically significant and certainly if you ask a marathon runner, if they could increase their running ability by 13%,” he said. “I think that they will be generally interested.”
Probiotics Performance Use With Marathon Runners
Following that initial study, the group did a follow-up study on 87 ulture-marathon runners and Olympic-level rowers and found that those tier-one athletes all showed signs of Veilonella colonies flourisihing in their guts. The way that Veilonella seems to work is by feeding off of lactic acid, a compound that is naturally produced in the body’s muscles during and after exercise.
Lactic acid is the thing that makes your muscles ache after a great workout. While it is a sign that you are doing your best to increase your fitness, it is also something that slows progress and can even keep you out of the gym if the pain is too severe.
Not only does Veillonella reduce the level of lactic acid in your body after an intense workout, it might actually help boost your fitness even further by creating a compound known as propionate. This is a short-chain fatty acid that may actually aid in boosting one’s athletic performers, researchers believe.
There is much more research that needs to be done on this matter – in fact, the concept has not yet even been done on humans yet- but those working on the study believe that this could revolutionize the way that people try to enhance their fitness and their health in the near future.
In fact, a team based out of new York is currently in the process of developing a probiotic supplement that contains Veilonella for commercial use. The hope is that a purified supplement will be able to be put into food and beverage formats for widespread commercial use.
While the hope is that these will be available soon, Scheiman admits that getting this supplement ready for commercial use is going to be a marathon, not a race.
“Science takes time. Since its a probiotic, we’re not necessarily reinventing the wheel here, we’re just sort of disrupting and evolving it,” he says. “Obviously, we want to do human studies but I think the future of fitness is here.”
While the ultimate outcome of this research is still yet to be known, it is an incredibly promising new insight into how dramatically the gut microbiome of our body can impact us and our health.
How Probiotics May Boost Performance
Probiotics are also known to help supplement the human body’s natural immune system, reduce the risk of gut inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, diarrhea, and bloating, improve skin health, and even improve mental health. It now seems as though the future of probiotics may be in their ability to reduce the risk of chronic illness later in life. See our guide on best probiotic supplements to reduce bloating.
Kostic explained how this is possible.
“What we envision is a probiotic supplement that people can take that will increase their ability to do meaningful exercise and therefore protect them against chronic diseases including diabetes,” he says.
This is fascinating and exciting. A supplement that included Veilonella may not only encourage greater exercise, but could even enhance how productive you are when you step on the gym. That means more calories and more fat burned, which in turn leads to a healthier overall body.
The fascinating aspect of probiotics is that they can actually compound upon themselves and improve the health of the body that they live inside. For example, healthy eating encourages the growth of healthy probiotics in your gut. Because those probiotics feed off of the nutrients that exists with that food, they can actually tell your brain to eat more of those foods in the form of cravings.
The same scenario could very well be the case for Vailonella. It craves lactic acid so that it can get the energy it needs to grow and colonize your gut. For that reason, it could tell your body it needs to exercise more. And once you do exercise, your have Vailonella turing that lactic acid into propionate to futher boost your workout.
It’s amazing. And it may very well be the future of your fitness.