When we hear the word bacteria, we are immediately grossed out. We think of microscopic creatures that carry diseases and can harm us. As much as this statement is true to a degree, we would not be able to survive without bacteria, as there are many good types of bacteria out there that are of great benefits to us. Gut health is something that has been gaining a lot more popularity lately, for a good reason.
Our gut health covers the absorption of food, how well our intestines are functioning, and our production of good bacteria. Having poor gut health has been proven to have many detrimental effects on us. These include, negatively affecting insulin resistance, poor absorption of nutrients, and will even negatively affect our mood. 50% of our “feel good” hormones, dopamine and serotonin reside within our gut, and these are very important hormones for our mental health.
As athletes, a major concern in our diets is the poor absorption of our macro and micronutrients. If we are not properly absorbing the foods we eat, this can lead to many unwanted effects. The absorption of vitamins, minerals and our macronutrients is what allows us to gain muscle. If we are not absorbing what we are consuming orally, a lot of the expensive supplements, and the foods we are eating, will end up being expelled from the body. Poor gut health will lead to bloating, gas, and even a weakened immune system. Anybody looking to maximize athletic performance and have the best physique possible should look into improving their gut health.
The good news is that there are many things we can do to increase this good bacteria in our gut. The first thing to do is to avoid highly processed foods, and antibiotics. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, including good bacteria. To keep optimal gut health, it is important to have enough fiber in our diets, as adults, it is recommended we get on average 25-40 grams of fiber per day. If you are finding it hard to consume this, you can also supplement with a fiber product. Make sure to look for one that is not overly processed and includes both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Another major aspect to improving gut health is supplementing with a probiotic. You can get probiotics from many fermented foods, but supplementing with one is a great easy way to get your good bacteria in. Probiotics plant good bacteria in our gut, allowing us to get the microbes we lack in. Increasing these good bacteria will have unbelievable health benefits to us. Most athletes invest a lot of money into high quality foods, high quality sources of protein and supplements. You want to maximize the absorption of these nutrients to improve body composition and performance.
When looking for a probiotic supplement, you want to look at certain details. It is important to research what strain the probiotic you are looking to consume is. It is hypothesized that a human strain probiotic is better absorbed by a human. You also want to look at the number of organisms included; this shows the potency of it, as the number represents the amount of live bacteria present in it. The potency of a probiotic will depend on each individual’s needs, so it is best learned through trial and error of different potencies. Lastly, you want to look for a company that invests into certification by a third party, this proves that the claims being made on the label by the company are actually true.
As we have covered in this article, gut health is a very important factor for athletes. Not only in terms of good health, but in terms of performance and utilization of the nutrients we consume. As physique athletes, we work so hard in the gym and our nutrition to get on stage, that we must maximize our gut health to have the best physique possible. Bloating, indigestion, and wasting of nutrients is something none of us want, this is why supplementing with a probiotic will maximize our gut health and will lead to a better physique on stage!
With the pursuit of achieving the best possible physique and helping hundreds of clients do the same, Juan Rojas has dedicated his life to finding the best strategies for transforming human bodies. Constant research, trial and error and continous education in the exercise physiology and nutrition field, Juan Rojas thrives off finding the most efficient ways to transform your body and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.