Chances are you already know that eating foods that contain good bacteria called probiotics is healthy for your intestines and for your overall health – but adding gut-friendly bacteria to your diet may be especially important if you’re physically active. That’s why manufacturers of sports nutrition products will soon be adding probiotics to their offerings. That could be a good thing. Here’s why.
Probiotics May Help You Turn Protein into Muscle
According to a recent research study, certain strains of probiotics, particularly one called GanedenBC30, seem to increase the absorption of some amino acids from the intestinal tract. They found this strain of bacteria boosted absorption of 23 amino acids that are important for muscle growth. Some amino acids are essential since the body can’t make them, so they have to come from diet. This particular strain of probiotic bacteria increased the absorption of some of these essential amino acids needed for good health and muscle growth. Whether other probiotic bacteria have a similar benefit remains to be seen, but all probiotics help to keep your intestinal tract healthy and boost the absorption of other nutrients, so it may do the same for amino acids.
Probiotics Boost Immunity – and That’s Important after a High-Intensity Workout
Working out at a high intensity or putting many hours into training puts stress on your body. Low and moderate-intensity exercise boosts immunity against colds and flu viruses, but training too hard or too long has the opposite effect. Probiotics give your immune system a natural boost. In one study, endurance athletes had half the number of colds and viral infections when they took a probiotic supplement. They also had higher levels of certain proteins that fight off infection. There’s also some evidence that probiotic bacteria can prevent vaginal yeast infections, a common problem among active women.
Do They Help to Banish Belly Fat?
Probiotics may even give you a leg up when it comes to shedding belly fat. It won’t take the place of a healthy diet and fitness plan, but it could give you a little extra help in the tummy department. In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who consumed a fermented milk product containing probiotic bacteria called Lactobacillus gasseri for twelve weeks saw their waist size decline by 1.8% and their weight drop by 1.4%. They also benefited from a 4.6% reduction in abdominal fat. More importantly, they showed a loss of visceral fat, the type that’s linked with an increased risk for health problems like heart disease. The control group who ate a similar diet without the fermented milk product experienced no changes in their weight or waist size.
Enjoy the Benefits of Probiotics
There are a number of strains of probiotic bacteria, and one probiotic bacteria doesn’t necessarily have the same benefits as another one. Until more is known about the specifics of each probiotic strain, it’s best to get your good bacteria naturally by eating foods that contain them. One of the best sources is yogurt that contains live cultures. To ensure you’re getting maximal probiotic “bang for your buck,” look for yogurt that’s labeled as having “live and active cultures.” Also, check the expiration date. The number of active bacterial cultures in yogurt decreases over time. Choose one with an expiration date that’s as far out as possible.
The Bottom Line?
Probiotics have benefits for athletes and physically active people and sports nutrition companies are taking note of that. But you don’t need to get probiotics from a commercial protein powder. Make friends with a carton of plain yogurt with active cultures. Add some berries to give it flavor, and you’ll get fitness-friendly bacteria and antioxidants at the same time.
PRWeb “New Study Demonstrates GanedenBC30® Probiotic Increases Protein and Amino Acid Absorption”
United States Department of Agriculture “Beneficial Bacteria Boost Intestinal Health”
Nutraingredients.com “Probiotics Give Endurance Athletes Immune Boost”
Nutraingredients.com “Probiotics May Help Fat and Weight Loss: Study”