June 29, 2015
When you’re trying to achieve a healthy body weight and lower your risk for a variety of health problems, including heart issues, working out is the way to go. Exercise helps to build stronger muscles, improve flexibility and ramps up the health of your cardiovascular system – all good things. Interestingly, a recent study highlights another possible benefit of working out.
In a controlled study, researchers looked at the gut flora, or in other words, the bacterial population inside the intestinal tract of 40 rugby athletes compared to 46 non-athletes. As you might expect, the rugby players did intense workouts on a regular basis to maintain their competitive edge. When researchers compared the population of gut bacteria between the two groups, they found significant differences. The athletes had a more diverse population of friendly, probiotic bacteria and greater quantities of a specific bacteria called Akkermansiaceae which seems to play a role in metabolic health and reducing inflammation.
Interestingly, despite the intense workouts the players took part in, they had low levels of blood markers for inflammation, something quite unexpected, considering the intensity of their training. There were dietary differences between the groups too, especially in terms of protein intake. The athletes consumed more protein than the non-athletes. While it’s too early to draw conclusions, exercise, possibly combined with a higher protein intake, is linked with a more diverse population of gut bacteria.
You might wonder what benefit having a more diverse bacterial microbiota, a collection of organisms, has for wellbeing. In general, research links a greater diversity of gut bacteria with better health. Research shows people prone towards obesity and at risk for other health problems like heart issues and insulin resistance have a gut bacteria population that’s less diverse.
Why Athletes Should Consider Taking A Probiotic
Exercise and gut bacteria are related in another way. Athletes have a tendency to develop colds and upper respiratory infections, likely due to the intensity of their training. For example, research shows marathon runners are more likely to catch a cold the week after running a race. One study looked at the incidence of colds in rugby players when they were taking a probiotic supplement or a placebo. Not only did fewer players taking a probiotic supplement develop fewer colds, the duration of their symptoms was shorter. If you’re going to catch a cold, at least make it a short one!
Probiotics and Athletic Performance
Athletes like to be at the top of their game and are always striving to improve their performance through diet and supplements. Do probiotics offer a performance edge? That’s an intriguing question that hasn’t been extensively researched yet. One small study showed a trend towards improved vertical jump performance among athletes taking probiotics in supplement form, but it’s too early to say whether popping a probiotic can enhance sports performance.
Probiotics and Overall Wellness
Regular physical activity and probiotics can both be part of a healthy lifestyle. Although exercise offers numerous health benefits, training hard may increase your risk for catching a cold, especially if you already live a hectic lifestyle and don’t get enough sleep. Keep exercising, but consider the benefits of adding a probiotic supplement to your routine. It may not turn you into a sports superstar, but it may help you stay happy and healthy when you train.
It’s important to note that gut diversity is not likely to be improved by taking a multi-strain probiotic. More is not necessarily best as experts in the field have noted since bacteria are antagonistic by nature, meaning they don’t play nice together. It’s likely that combinations of multiple different strains of bacteria will destroy and kill one another. Unlike other brands, Natren® offers single strain probiotics that target specific areas of the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, HEALTHY TRINITY®’s three-in-one probiotic is formulated with a unique, protective oil matrix delivery system that micro-enrobes each strain in order to keep them separate and non-competitive from one another within the capsule. This technology, the Trenev Process®, is exclusive to Natren.
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