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Well. Inside your Gut right now there are more living organisms than there are stars in the sky. I’m dead serious and I want to give you a few great reasons why you should be paying more attention to them and how to populate your living colony.
First, these microorganisms inside you are your Gut bacteria. They do everything from form the structural lining of your Gut to producing energy and hormones that power your athletic ability. There is a modern day war being raged against bacteria. We see it on every soap and cleaning agent in the grocery store. We see it over and over again in doctor’s offices in the form of anti-biotic prescriptions. It seems that everyone is out to kill these guys.
Though there are bad bacterial strains like Staphylococcus, which are morphing in hospitals and creating life-threatening infections; but for every one bad strain of bacteria, there are thousands of good ones. Probiotics are one way that we can nurture and repair our microbiome (colony of bacteria). Probiotics are live microorganisms that are the same as those found inside your Gut. Probiotics are found naturally in some foods as well as supplements. There is amazing new research coming from the science community about the importance of maintaining probiotics in your diet.
I want to give you 5 reasons why you as an athlete should be adding probiotics to your daily nutrition.
1) Probiotics Keep the Bad stuff out of your blood.
We consume way too many carbohydrates, refined sugars, vegetables are low in nutrients, and our Omega-6 fats are overtaking us. For this reason our Guts hate us!
Our patterns of eating… not so good…. Creates holes in our Gut lining. Where there are holes, there is room for bad bacteria, yeast, food particles and otherwise nasty stuff to get in. The lining of the intestine is a small barrier against your blood stream. When things get in the blood stream you get a host of blood, brain, and cellular damage… and of course a term you will here very often from me, INFLAMMATION. Which leads me to my second point.
2) Probiotics keep you thin.
Imagine you have a billion trillion living things inside you… they need to eat too. When you populate and feed your Gut with good bacteria they will not only help to reduce Inflammation (the cause of most disease and obesity) but these guys will gobble up all kinds of good food and in turn help you. Bacteria are like little power plants for two reasons. First, they are like any other living thing, they produce heat and energy in a system. When bacteria are live and kicking in your Gut the benefit Upstream is a boost in metabolism and therefore more calories burning.
Secondly, Bacteria help in the synthesis and uptake of SOOO many Minerals and Vitamins in the body. Heck, they even produce vital minerals and enzymes while helping you get thin. Vitamins like B6, B12 and Minerals like Magnesium and Zinc are produced by and help nourish your body. If you are an athlete concerned with performance and recovery, you will see the list I just gave and be really stoked that Probiotics can give you those vital ingredients for success!
3) Probiotics make you feel better.
Do you know why there is an astronomical amount of B Vitamins in your Energy drinks and Pre workout supplements? This is because B vitamins help your cells produce energy and make serotonin and dopamine. Good Bacteria like the ones you get from fermented foods and supplements produce epic amounts of B Vitamins. Mood and performance go hand in hand in sport and in life.
Those last two are the ‘Feel Good’ Hormones, which are produced in the gut and the brain. That’s right… The Gut! New science has shown that you Gut actually produce 70-80% more of the brain chemicals that make you feel good. If you don’t believe me I like to use the analogy that got me thinking about this, “Where do you feel the Butterflies when you see someone you like?” Is it the Brain… nah… it’s your Gut. And feeding Probiotics to your Gut will increase the quality and quantity of that Good Feeling.
4) Probiotics normalize your pH.
Beyond making you feel good, boosting your health and keeping you from being poisoned, the Gut has the very important job of digesting your food… so you can live… and you want to live right? Your stomach acid is like a boiling lava pit of digestive goodness. As such, it is imperative that the pH or acidity remains at a certain level. Probiotics work to colonize and improve the microbial community so thereby normalizing your Gut pH.
Keeping the stomach acid at a particular level can kill the bad bacteria that threaten to make you sick and create havoc within your body. As an athlete you need to be very concerned about protein digestion. Probiotics in your diet will ensure that the acid levels in your Gut and the enzyme Pepsin can break down all your nutrition for uptake into the body later on.
Things are starting to sound pretty good right now, eh? Well, I’ve got one more for you.
5) Probiotics help you live longer.
Remember in the beginning when I was talking about inflammation. To give you the down and dirty truth, Inflammation, and more directly chronic inflammation is killing more people today than ever. This problem is rooted in our nutrition; how it is sourced and what it’s doing to our insides. Probiotics are a hedge against inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia, arthritis, and heart disease. Bottom line is that if your Gut is healthy, you are healthy.
Athletes want to perform at an optimal level for as long as they are able. To maintain this level of performance all the systems of the body need to be kept in top shape. Supplementing probiotics helps the gut fuel your nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems.
So we have the reasons, now where can we get the stuff? Luckily probiotics are inexpensive and can be found literally in any grocery or specialty store. The best probiotics include;
- Spiriulina (algae)
- Miso Soup
- Kefir (coconut, goats milk, organic dairy)
Supplementing Probiotics is a bit more confusing as even I have a hard time wading through all the strains and varieties in the store. Though most are considered to be safe, there is limited oversight by the FDA. You will want to look for Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species. Once again, there are millions and millions of strains so do some research before you buy. As a rule I always look to whole foods first before supplementation.
Learning more about what is living inside you and how to keep the inside performing as well as the outside is the key to athletic performance and healthy living. Probiotics are just one step towards that end.