Staying physically fit has many rewards such as increased energy, controlled weight levels, stimulating blood flow, and even taking the edge off by reducing stress.  However, a strenuous workout can sometimes result in the opposite. Digestive distress, fatigue, emotional, and physical stress can occur during training and, according to a study1, these may be related to gut function. That’s why it is essential to keep your digestive system running on all cylinders while living an active lifestyle.

Your Gut is No Dummy!

Sure the gut diligently performs its needed tasks of absorbing nutrients as well as eliminating waste (both critical for athletes and fitness buffs) but the human gut doesn’t get the recognition it deserves for its important interactions with the other systems of the body. So much of our immune system and our nervous system are closely imbedded into the soft lining of the GI tract. This means our immunity and our mental health are closely related to what happens in our gut.

Man kayaking into a sunset

First Things First- Absorption and Elimination

Having a healthy digestive tract means that you are absorbing micronutrients like vitamins and minerals that fuel your body. For example, amino acids, some of which the body doesn’t create that need to be absorbed from our diet, help support muscle growth. You need to maximize the good components of your diet but you also want to ensure that you are eliminating any waste. Probiotic and fiber supplements can complement a fiber rich, wholefood diet that supports both enhanced absorption and elimination.

Probiotics and Immune Support

Probiotics help support the body’s natural immune response. Certain strains do this in different ways but today we want to emphasize that your immune system is closely related to your gut. A good workout can stimulate the immune system but when the body is pushed to extremes, the physical stress can underscore your body’s immune response, leaving you susceptible. Eating right and supplementing with high-quality digestive products can ensure your immune system is fully supported.

Conversations Between Your Brain and Gut

There is a tsunami of scientific research indicating that the gut communicates with our brain in a number of fascinating ways. It does so through bidirectional signals through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axes, the vagus nerve (which runs from the brainstem through the digestive tract), hormones, neuropeptides, and microbial molecules. The combination of these amazingly complex relationships is known as the Gut-Brain Axis (GBA). The main takeaway is that intense workouts can cause emotional and physical stress that deplete beneficial gut bacteria. Keep your gut (and brain) happy by eating the right foods and supporting your diet with probiotics and fiber supplements when needed.

Importance of Diet

When we eat food that is good for us, the number of good microbial colonies increase; we want more good food, and we feel and perform better. The opposite happens when we eat unhealthy food.

As you might imagine, we eat and drink things that might not be perfectly suited for our bodies. Some, like overly-processed foods, added sugar, and excess fat, can cause changes in the number and types of microbes in our gut. This can result in gassiness, bloating, degradation of the soft lining of the intestinal tract, and lead to poor mental and physical performance. Once a good or bad cycle begins it can be difficult to stop!

three cyclists

Getting into a good cycle

One way to get into a good cycle is to increase the number of beneficial microbes and feed them so they can do their job. A place to start is to use Theralac®, which is a multi-strain probiotic supplement designed to support immune health and digestive regularity.

Once you have a good cycle going, you can reward the beneficial microbes by treating them with TruFiber®, a prebiotic fiber that helps the good bacteria proliferate, which can improve digestive regularity and contribute to better athletic performance.

More Good News

There is more good news: a Theralac and TruFiber regimen costs less than $2.30 per day – about ½ of a Starbuck’s habit (which probably isn’t that great for you, anyway ;-) )

1 Exercise-induced stress behavior, gut-microbiota-brain axis and diet: a systematic review for athletes.