In addition to my public health and nursing background, I am constantly researching ways to keep my family healthy naturally. Exercising, spending time outdoors, getting adequate sleep and eating well are part of our daily routine. One component of eating well is adding probiotics to our diets.
Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be beneficial to the host organism. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be helpful. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt, soy yogurt, or as dietary supplements.
At the start of the 20th century, probiotics were thought to beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance, thus inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria. Today, specific health effects are being investigated and documented including alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarrhea, urogenital infections, and atopic diseases (Wikipedia).
An article in the November issue of Ultrarunning magazine, Probiotics for Peak Performance, asks can probiotics promote a winning advantage for endurance athletes?
Intense training is hard on your body, including your immune system. Evidence shows probiotics may cut down the frequency of illnesses in athletes as well as decrease the duration of sickness in runners. This translates into fewer days off due to illness, which can significantly enhance training.
Investigators evaluated the use of probiotics and gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramps) in endurance athletes over a 3 month period while they were training for a marathon. The probiotic consuming group had as many episodes, but they lasted a shorter amount of time compared to those who didn't have probiotics. In addition probiotics have been shown to be helpful in decreasing symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which are similar to the effects created during intense endurance training.
Decreased Respiratory Illnesses
The British Journal of Medicine (2010) published a study which showed a significant decrease in the number of respiratory "sick days" and overall level of illness in runners who consumed probiotics routinely.
Training and Recovery Enhancement
Studies indicate athletes that consumed probiotics were found to have much higher amounts of antioxidants in their blood stream compared to a control group. Higher levels of antioxidants translate into quicker recovery and healing during intense training.
|Source: Ultrarunning Magazine|
Probiotics are found in many foods including yogurts, kefir, miso and sauerkraut. Different strains of probiotics have different benefits. For example, several studies evaluating respiratory and gastrointestinal infections in endurance athletes focused on the probiotic strain Lactobacillus, which is found in most yogurts and fermented foods such as sourdough bread, wine, beer, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and more. I knew that probiotics come from fermented foods, but I never made the connection that wine is a probiotic. All the more reason to have a glass of wine!
In summary probiotics may improve athletic performance on race day by reducing fatigue and regulating gastrointestinal function and may reduce the number of days off from training due to respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.
|À VOTRE SANTÉ...and your next marathon!|
What's your favorite probiotic?