You are literally what you eat—everything we swallow eventually ends up as resources for repairing damage, maintaining homeostasis, and forming new cells. Whatever we eat is broken down and processed in the gut, in the intestines where live bacteria cultures aid in the digestion process, and the way we absorb nutrients. In a nutshell, probiotics are all about ensuring that these healthy and natural bacteria cultures in our stomachs remain well and able to do their job. Recent studies in probiotics have led researchers into isolating a particular bacteria strain for its potential to not just improve gut health, but also to directly affect athletic ability.
Exciting New Developments In Probiotic Research
After testing marathon runners and endurance athletes, microbiologists found higher concentrations of the bacteria Veillonella in their digestive microbiomes. And when injected into the colons of lab mice, the Veillonella allowed test animals to run 13% longer on a treadmill compared to others without the injection. 13% may not sound like much, but to competitive endurance athletes, any potential edge counts. At the same time, researchers admit that more studies need to be done. “Science takes time. Since its a probiotic, we’re not necessarily reinventing the wheel here, we’re just sort of disrupting and evolving it,” explains Jonathan Scheiman, CEO and co-founder of FitBiomics—the company behind the studies and a new probiotic pill. “Obviously, we want to do human studies but I think the future of fitness is here.”
Good Old Healthy Eating Habits
While researchers admit that there’s a great need for more clinical trials on how probiotics affect gut health, athletic ability, and other bodily functions, there’s no denying that the core of the idea coincides with common-sense healthy eating habits. Science Direct details how an organic chemical called Sulforaphane could potentially treat the spatial learning and memory dysfunction-related side effects of certain diseases. Currently, the most outspoken proponent of the benefits of sulforaphane is Dr. Rhonda Patrick, who famously detailed sulforaphane’s many nutritional and energy-boosting benefits on the podcast of long-time kettlebell practitioner Joe Rogan. Dr. Patrick explains that broccoli sprouts and other cruciferous are the greatest organic sources of this energy-boosting gut compound. And simply adding more into your daily food intake can do a lot to maintain good gut health. In short, probiotics don’t have to be complicated, and could just be a matter of actively eating more veggies in order to boost your gut and your performance levels.
The Best Time To Ingest Probiotics
Additionally, Dr. Patrick adds that ingesting probiotic food is best done before meals or a couple of minutes after rising from bed. She’s not the only expert to have this opinion. “The best time to take a probiotic is on an empty stomach,” explained Dr. Stephanie Wallman of Parsley Health. “The goal is to deliver the probiotics to the large intestine tract,” which is where healthy live probiotic cultures can do the most good. Taking probiotics on a full and potentially acidic stomach may reduce their effectiveness.
In your personal research on how probiotics can help boost athleticism, it’s important to note that there’s very limited evidence on how probiotics fight disease. In a revealing Medical News Today expose, the online health portal detailed how a lot of wrong assumptions about probiotics are circulating around the web. And in terms of actually treating diseases, the only clinical trial-backed evidence of probiotic effectiveness is against infectious diarrhea as well as intestinal diseases in infants. So before you try out any probiotic supplements or diets that claim all sorts of benefits, do your homework.
Although the current scientific research on probiotics is limited, it’s safe to say that a healthy gut can generally improve nutrient absorption, and may have the potential to help your body reach its athletic limits. If you have any stomach or gut-related conditions, it’s best to consult your doctor or nutritionist before trying any new probiotics or other supplements.