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Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are known for taking care of their bodies while pushing themselves to continuously strive to improve their performance. To support this lifestyle, individuals need to take care of themselves in and out of the gym and sports arena. From proper nutrition and sleep to taking care of sore muscles and injuries, maintaining a healthy body is critical to success.
So where does the gut microbiome come in and why does it matter? Daniel Litwin, Digestible podcast host sat down with Dr. John Deaton, VP of Science & Technology at Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, and Dr. Jeremy Townsend, Assistant Professor in Exercise and Nutrition Science at Lipscomb University to discuss how gut health impacts performance.
Dr. Townsend, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and member of the American College of sports medicine and the International Society of sports nutrition, was a Division II athlete who used “sports nutrition and training to try to get the most out of my athletic ability so the strategies behind fueling, including probiotics and gut health, are of interest to me.”
Dr. Deaton has an extensive resume with supplement and nutrition companies with a focus on prebiotic, probiotic, and enzyme research. He went on to note that he’s “done a lot of research … and there’s a lot of things that your gut and your microorganisms, the microbiome, are responsible for.” Furthermore, research has shown that gut health affects virtually every aspect of the human body, compounding its significance.
When people experience gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the GI tract), “we’re finding out that has wide-reaching effects… that might affect your cognition during an athletic event, might affect your perception of fatigue. So, you may actually be more susceptible to feeling tired during exercise when there is some sort of GI damage or GI dysbiosis,” explained Dr. Townsend.
We also find that when the gut is regulated in a positive manner that athletes are better able to absorb nutrients and fluids which helps to prevent dehydration and inflammation. Working to maximize gut health can help reduce the risk of negative side effects such as fatigue while supporting optimal performance both in and out of the gym.
Additional topics of conversation include the popularity of protein supplements; the differences between animal and plant proteins; and advice on how athletes and fitness enthusiasts can improve performance by focusing on their gut health.