Fitness and Your Gut Health Go Hand in Hand
It might surprise you to learn that fitness and your gut health go hand in hand. Especially when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. How? Let us explain!
Let’s say you can ingest tiny microorganisms that will live inside your body and allow you to run faster, stay focused, and recover quicker than ever? Sounds a bit like a science fiction movie, doesn’t it?
Now, what if we told you that every human already has those microorganisms living in their gut.? And, nurturing them healthy could help you achieve your fitness goals
The human gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microscopic organisms. There are good and bad bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. And for athletes, the health of your microbiome can significantly influence your performance, drive, and recovery.
The bacteria in your gut are responsible for breaking down protein, carbs, fiber, and other micronutrients. Then they turn them into energy. They produce hormones that influence everything from your brain function to how you handle stress.
They also play a key role in regulating inflammation throughout the body. These things are all key to exceptional athletic performance!
Let’s take a deep dive into the ways your gut health affects and influences your fitness and what you can do to improve it.
9 Ways Fitness and Your Gut Health Go Hand in Hand
How does your gut microbiome affect your athletic performance? Let’s find out!
1. Fitness and Your Gut Health- Optimizing Your Nutrition
A healthy gut microbiome helps the entire body to run more efficiently. That’s because it allows the body to absorb and use nutrients at optimum levels.
When your gut is overrun with bad bacteria, there aren’t enough healthy good bacteria in your digestive system for proper nutrition. It simply can’t pull enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, and other nutrients from your food.
If you’re training hard to achieve your fitness goals, but overlooking your gut health, you’re fighting yourself. Having a thriving microbiome is just as important as working out and eating a clean diet.
2. A Healthy Gut Regulates Inflammation
Your microbiome plays a significant role in regulating inflammation levels throughout the body. While some inflammation is necessary for healing, too much can slow recovery and contribute to chronic disease.
An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, called dysbiosis, is associated with many inflammatory issues in the muscles and joints. Keeping your microbiome healthy is an excellent way to keep inflammation at healthy levels.
Research also shows that keeping inflammation in check provides immediate pain relief. It also reduces your risk of injury over the long term. By improving the health of your microbiome, you can reduce the impact that repeated strenuous physical activity can have on the body.
It’s important to note that your microbiome can work in your favor. But it can also work against it when it comes to inflammation. Supporting your gut health can help you achieve your fitness goals. But neglecting it can actually take a toll on your athletic performance. It will make it much more difficult for you to achieve those goals.
3. Fitness and Your Gut Health- Maximizing Your Energy and Endurance
A healthy gut microbiome increases energy and endurance levels in many ways:
- Regulating redox function, which delays the onset of fatigue
- Improving lactic acid breakdown to combat fatigue
- Optimizing the way your body collects, stores, and uses energy
- Boosting ATP levels (molecular energy)
- Delivering necessary metabolites to your cells’ powerhouse, the mitochondria
As an athlete, optimal energy levels and endurance are key to meeting your fitness goals. That means supporting your gut health should be a top priority.
4. Gut Health Influences Mental Health
Most people have no idea that their gut health plays a direct role in their mental health. The bacteria in your microbiome communicate with your brain using the Vagus nerve. When those bacteria are out of balance, it contributes to anxiety, depression, inability to focus, lack of motivation, and poor memory.
When your microbiome is healthy, it can support your mental health and help you achieve your fitness goals by:
- Improving your overall mood and attitude
- Boosting mental clarity, brain function, and cognitive performance
- Increasing your tolerance for pain
- Strengthening your mental fortitude during a tough workout or competition
5. A Healthy Gut Supports a Healthy Weight and Better Fitness
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is the first fitness goal of most athletes. A healthy gut microbiome optimizes the body’s ability to work efficiently. That makes it easier to stay healthier.
The gut also influences your blood glucose response after meals, your body mass composition, and the ratio of white fat vs. brown fat in your body. These factors play a key role in achieving your fitness and weight-loss goals. Microbiome health should have a strong focus in any training program.
6. A Healthy Gut Supports Quality Sleep
Dysbiosis (an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the microbiome) has been linked to poor sleep quality. That’s because the gut produces key hormones that are essential for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. These include serotonin, melatonin, and cortisol.
As an athlete, you already know that quality sleep is essential for energy, endurance, and performance. But, did you know that a healthy gut generates a plethora of sleep-promoting neurotransmitters, too?
7. Fitness and Your Gut Health: The Role of Bone Density and Strength
Because the microbiome regulates hormones and immune function, it plays a key role in building bone density and strength. A healthy microbiome can also improve your body’s ability to absorb bone-strengthening minerals like calcium.
This is especially important for speeding up healing after bone injury and trauma. It also helps to prevent stress fractures and other injuries in the future.
8. Fitness and Your Gut Health: Proper Hydration is Key
Athletes know how important it is to stay properly hydrated. It turns out that the gut microbiome influences proper hydration regulation, particularly when you’re working out. To put it simply, a healthy microbiome helps your body to use water more efficiently during exercise.
Interestingly, proper hydration is also essential for a healthy gut lining. It’s easy to see how these things all tie in together.
9. A Healthy Gut Strengthens the Body’s Antioxidant Defense System
The body’s antioxidant defense system uses antioxidants to fight free radicals that cause illness, disease, and premature aging.
For athletes, keeping this system functioning optimally will speed up their recovery times so they can get back in the gym sooner. It will also reduce tissue damage during exercise, protect against oxidative damage, and reduce physical fatigue.
High-intensity exercise produces excessive amounts of free radicals. This makes athletes more susceptible to inflammation and oxidative damage. Your gut health is directly related to the strength of your body’s antioxidant defense system.
Fitness and Your Gut Health: Increasing Your Chances of Success
Here are some proactive steps you can take to nurture your microbiome to improve your gut health and help you reach your fitness goals.
Give the healthy bacteria in your gut a head start.
According to gut-health experts at Rahav Wellness, colon therapy is a “safe and effective way to remove excess waste and toxins from the gut.” Colon cleansing is the “fastest way to reset your microbiome and improve digestion.” This allows the good bacteria in your gut to thrive and do their jobs more efficiently. If you’ve been neglecting your gut health, this is the most efficient way to get things back on track before you move on to the other suggestions below.
Clean up your diet.
Hopefully, you’re already eating a clean diet to support your health and fitness goals. A diet that nurtures the microbiome includes mostly fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. Processed foods, hydrogenated oils, refined carbs, and sugar should be eliminated from the diet. Fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains are rich in fiber, which is essential for a healthy gut and microbiome. Be sure to include them in your meals daily.
Emphasize probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Probiotics introduce healthy bacteria into the gut. Try to include a variety of fermented foods in your diet. Yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, and miso are all great choices. Prebiotics, like garlic and onions, are foods that feed those healthy bacteria. They’re essential as well.
You can also take a probiotic supplement each day to introduce a variety of new healthy bacteria to the gut. Supplements can’t take the place of a healthy diet. But they can tip the scales in the right direction on those days when you don’t have time to eat as well as you should.
Get tested for food sensitivities.
Many people have food sensitivities and intolerances without even realizing it. Food sensitivities can contribute to a variety of health problems. These include digestive issues, headaches, and lack of energy. And, if your body isn’t digesting food properly due to food intolerance, it can cause inflammation in the gut. This is extremely harmful to the good bacteria in your microbiome. Getting tested for food sensitivities and adjusting your diet accordingly is a crucial step for nurturing a healthy microbiome.
Fitness and Your Gut Health: Wrapping Things Up
Clearly, the human gut and microbiome are much more complex than most of us realize. Your gut health influences so many other aspects of your overall health. Especially your emotional health, cardiovascular health, cognitive health, and immune system. Reaching your fitness goals depends heavily on your overall health. Therefore, nurturing the microbiome should be a top priority in any training program.