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Gut Health: unleashing performance

Did you know your gut health may be hurting your performance? You might guess this if your gut gives you trouble—and you are not alone. Your stomach should never feel bloated, gassy, crampy, cause you anxiety, or necessitate a sudden dash to the bathroom. 

Many athletes, including one in my household, have struggled with an unhappy gut. This affects energy levels, competition, and even exercise and injury recovery. The gut has been called our "second brain," and its health is crucial for achieving optimal performance. So, whether you are a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior, or someone who wants to complete a workout class comfortably, understanding the relationship between gut health and performance can be a game-changer. Keep reading to learn more.



Did you know there's a whole universe inside your belly that can affect your athletic performance? Of course, we are talking about the gut microbiome: home to over three trillion bacteria in your colon (1). While you may only think of your gut when you're hungry or need a bathroom break, it is time to give it the attention it deserves. Boosting your gut health can improve your athletic performance and overall well-being.

Here are some superpowers you can unlock by prioritizing gut health:

  1. Supercharged Energy - A healthy gut feeds your muscles the necessary nutrients. Recharge your gut with prebiotic and probiotic foods like yogurt, onions, garlic, garden-fresh vegetables, and fermented foods. Avoid sugar, processed items, and alcohol.

  2. Fight Inflammation - An unhealthy gut can increase inflammation, hurting your athletic performance and recovery. Keeping your gut microbiome balanced helps prevent chronic diseases, boosts performance, speeds recovery from exercise, increases gains from your effort, decreases pain, and much more.

  3. Mental Might - Ever heard of the gut being called the second brain? An imbalance in gut bacteria can cause cravings, impulse control, mood swings, brain fog, anxiety, and depression. A healthy gut supports a positive mood, pain tolerance, and better brain function. It also helps lead to better appetite control and curbs cravings for food that are not good for you.

  4. Nutrient Super-Absorption - A balanced gut microbiome helps you absorb nutrients from food more effectively. If the microbiome works well, it helps you get out of the necessary food and supplements. This allows your whole body to operate at its best.

  5. Unbreakable Bones - A healthy gut supports calcium and magnesium absorption, which is essential for strong bones and soft tissue recovery after injuries.

  6. Ultimate Hydration - A balanced gut microbiome helps your body use water more efficiently, keeping you hydrated for peak performance.

  7. Sleep Like a Champion - An imbalanced gut can disrupt hormones like cortisol, serotonin, and GABA, messing with your sleep quality. A healthy gut helps you get that winning rest.

  8. Fight Infection – The gut is an essential part of the immune system. It helps by fighting pathogens in the gut, but then also helps by detecting and giving the immune system what it needs to prepare your body to fight infections and stay well.

How do you tell if your gut needs some help? Symptoms like constipation, weight gain, diarrhea, gas, bloating, skin irritation, and bad breath can signal poor gut health (2). Do not ignore these signs! Instead, start by eating healthier, eliminating processed foods, eliminating sugars, eating whole foods, exercising, prioritizing sleep, and managing stress. Your gut (and your athletic performance) will thank you!


Click below for Gut Testing and Sous Vide cooking tools to make good nutrition easy!


Footnotes

  • Rowland I, Gibson G, Heinken A, Scott K, Swann J, Thiele I, Tuohy K. Gut microbiota functions: metabolism of nutrients and other food components. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Feb;57(1):1-24. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1445-8. Epub 2017 April 9. PMID: 28393285; PMCID: PMC5847071.

  • Can gut bacteria improve your health? Harvard Health. (2016, October 14). Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health


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