Is Intestinal Health Vital In Sports?

Intestinal flora is very closely related to brain health. Changes in the microorganisms present in the gut can lead to episodes of stress and anxiety.
Is Intestinal Health Vital In Sports?

Last update: 19 September, 2020

When playing sports it’s important to pay attention to intestinal health. Problems with intestinal transit can be a nuisance that eventually reduces performance. That’s why it’s important to adhere to healthy dietary strategies in order to optimize the use of the nutrients we ingest.

The importance of intestinal flora

The body’s microbiota is currently considered to be an independent organ. It’s made up of millions of bacteria and there can be a significant variance between individuals. 

A certain microbiota profile conditions an athlete’s response to nutrients. The microbiota is important when it comes to both digestion and assimilation. Therefore, it’s necessary to guarantee the healthy biodiversity of intestinal flora.

Keeping healthy bacteria in the body can reduce insulin resistance, as stated in an article published in the Physiology Journal. Healthy bacteria can also allow an athlete’s body to take greater advantage of the nutrients they ingest. This is possible due to the bacteria’s role in the management of carbohydrates and fats.

Furthermore, a healthy microbiota is associated with reduced intestinal transit issues. According to a study published in the Journal of Advances in Nutrition maintaining biodiversity can also reduce the incidence of diarrhea and constipation. Both diarrhea and constipation can trigger a series of issues that can reduce an athlete’s competitive performance.

Diet influences

A healthy diet is essential to good intestinal and digestive health. Bacteria can be negatively affected by a diet that’s rich in trans fats and simple sugars. On the contrary, they respond well to a healthy intake of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber stimulates the selective reproduction of microorganisms at the intestinal level and this has a positive effect on digestive health.

Intestinal flora

The regular consumption of fermented dairy is also recommended in order to encourage a healthy microbiota. The fermented dairy contains important probiotics. 

Fermented dairy products examples include kefir and yogurt. Regular intake of these products has been associated with fewer intestinal transit issues.

Intestinal health and its relationship with emotional stability

In recent years, the relationship between the intestines and the brain has become more evident. According to a recent study published in the Frontiers of Psychiatry Journal, in addition to having a positive impact on digestion, a healthy microbiota has also been linked to reducing the risks of suffering from diseases including depression and anxiety.

Taking into account that athletes are often subjected to periods of high stress, it’s important to take all of the steps necessary to curb the development of anxiety. In order to ensure good mental health, it’s important to monitor intestinal flora health. Nutritional Supplements that function as neurotransmitter precursors can also be useful.

Maintaining a balanced diet can positively modulate the body’s microbiota which will, in turn, improve an athlete’s mental state.

Many nutrients are synthesized in the intestines

Aside from the benefits we mentioned above which included healthy transit and improved mental health, maintaining a healthy microflora can improve the production of certain essential nutrients that simply can’t be ingested.

In addition, the bacteria in the intestines are responsible for producing certain vitamins. These vitamins have important functions when it comes to hemodynamics.

In order to guarantee the synthesis of these important micronutrients in the necessary quantities, it’s important to maintain a healthy microflora. It’s also important to provide the microorganisms that live in the intestines with the necessary substrates to synthesize these important nutrients.

healthy fruits

Take care of your diet to ensure intestinal health

Intestinal health can definitely affect an athlete’s performance. It’s important therefore to reduce the altercation of the body’s microbiota which has been proven to be useful when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety.

In order to take care of the biodiversity of the body’s microbiota, it’s important to ingest fermented dairy and foods that are rich in fiber. In certain situations, the use of probiotics can be beneficial.

Likewise, it’s important to reduce the consumption of foods that are rich in simple sugars and trans fats which could produce unwanted changes to the intestinal flora.

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  • Saad MJA., Santos A., Prada OP., Linking gut microbiota and inflammation to obesity and insulin resistance. Physiology, 2016. 31 (4): 283-93.
  • Dimidi E., Christodoulides S., Scott SM., Whelan K., Mechanisms of action of probiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota on gut motility and constipation. Adv Nutr, 2017. 8 (3): 484-494.