Healthy Gut for High Performance – Prebiotics

Marathon Runners

Having a healthy gut is crucial for high performance for athletes at all levels.  From the “everyday athlete” to the “elite athlete”, gut disturbances can quickly shut down one’s ability to perform.

During our last blog, we highlighted the need for probiotics for athletes to keep a high level of good bacteria in the gut – especially after intense workouts which increases cortisol in the body. Another important part of an athletes healthy gut regimen is to provide those important probiotics with food!

Prebiotics

Prebiotics is essentially that – food for the probiotics.  Probiotics are live, friendly bacteria that helps maintain a healthy gut.  Prebiotics are non-living carbs that are also non-digestible. The are essentially types of fiber that serve as food, or a field of fertilizer for the very important probiotics that are already doing their amazing work in the flora of our intestines.  This prebiotic fiber is not affected by heat nor by the bad bacteria that can do us harm.  Another way to think of prebiotics is an important supply line to the good guys (probiotics) fighting the battle for a healthy gut inside us!  We have all heard of the importance of a high-fiber diet. Interestingly, fiber, at a microscopic level, does way more for us that just keep us “regular”.

Prebiotic Foods

What foods provide the types of prebiotic fiber that those microscopic probiotic bacteria in our gut?  Here are a few of the food sources that have been found to be high in prebiotics:

  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem Artichokes (not regular artichokes)
  • Legumes
  • Garlic, Leeks, and Onions (raw)
  • Apple skins
  • Bananas (green, unripe)
  • Cabbage
  • Chicory root (raw)
  • Dandelion greens (raw)
  • Wheat Bran (raw)

All the foods above vary in the percentage of prebiotic fiber (the highest being raw chicory root at 65% of its weight and the lowest being a banana at 1% of its weight). Unfortunately, most people do not get enough fiber in their diet at all let alone focusing on good prebiotic fiber choices.  The average adult in the United States gets approximately 15 grams of fiber per day of the recommended 28-35 grams per day (Trends in dietary fiber intake in the United States, 1999-2008).  Fiber is a critical part of maintaining a healthy gut for high performance as well as a healthy life.  We will address this component to our gut health in a separate blog.

Inulin – Prebiotic Soluble Fiber

Different fibers in our diet have different properties.  Inulin is a plant-based carbohydrate that is classified as a “prebiotic fiber”.  The bonds of this unique carbohydrate cannot be broken by human digestive enzymes allowing it to travel through the upper gastrointestinal tract of the digestive system.  Upon reaching the large intestine, it is fermented by your native bacteria becoming food, or fertilizer, to the good bacteria in the gut – probiotics.    Being soluble in water, inulin also helps slow the transit time of food helping give the feeling of “fullness” after meals and potentially helping the foods effects on blood sugar.

An excellent source of inulin is the USANA Fibergy product.  This product contains insoluble fiber as well as soluble fiber (including inulin).

A healthy gut is foundational to our overall health as well as our performance as athletes.  Food choices that include good sources of prebiotics, probiotics and fiber are very important to maintain a healthy gut.  Supplementing with the USANA products, which are guaranteed for their purity, can also be a fantastic addition to the regimen for a healthy gut – especially for those who are “on the go” and find it hard to make the best food choices!  As an athlete at any level, your focused attention should be on performing at your best, not battling gut issues pre, during and post performance!

“Healthy Gut” Product Special!

For the week of July 27th through August 7th we are offering 10% off our listed wholesale price of USANA’s high quality Digestive Health Package, the USANA Probiotics, USANA FibergyUSANA Hepasil DTX and the USANA Digestive Enzymes to help you in your health journey!  Stock up now to save on shipping!

 

 

Probiotics and Athletic Performance

USANA Probiotics

It has become very clear that probiotics are an important part of one’s health journey but what about athletic performance?  Through the past number of years, many scientific studies have sought to discover a potential link.  However, to date, those studies have been inconclusive to actual performance. Don’t stop reading though!  The studies did confirm key health benefits that all athletes from the elite athlete to the everyday athlete need to know!

What we know about probiotics: 

  • The gut must maintain a delicate balance between the good and bad bacteria.  Probiotics can be very powerful in helping to maintain this balance.
  • Poor food choices, emotional stress, physical exertion, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, environmental influences can shift this balance to favor the bad bacteria making us vulnerable to disease
  • The good bacteria in the gut (probiotics) not only facilitate good digestion and nutrient absorption but also help form our immune system to fight the influences of the bad bacteria
  • An imbalance in favor of the bad bacteria is also associated with urinary track infections, diarrhea, fatigue and muscle pain
  • “Up to 10% of an individual’s daily energy needs can be derived from the byproducts of good bacteria in your gut” (Dr. Mehmet Oz)

What the studies have shown about probiotics and athletic performance: 

  • They may reduce the number of sick days athletes experience when training for endurance running events*
  • The severity of respiratory infections and gastrointestinal disturbances may be reduced for athletes*
  • They may assist with immune function of fatigued athletes*
  • They may positively affect athletic performance through enhanced recovery from fatigue

Andrew Nichols, MD summarizes these findings in his “Probiotics and Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review” (2007) by saying:

“…probiotics may provide athletes with secondary health benefits that could positively affect athletic performance through enhanced recovery from fatigue, improved immune function, and maintenance of healthy gastrointestinal tract function:

 

An athletes at any level places stress on the body and the immune system during workouts, training routines and competitions.  The paradox is how much exercise and how intense is the exercise.  It has actually been shown that regular, moderate exercise can actually enhance the immune system.  Studies has confirmed that recreational athletes had a lower incidence of colds when engaged in a regular running program. This type of exercise actually increases the production of macrophages –  cells that actually attack the kind of bacteria that can lead to respiratory diseases.  However, high-intensity exercise (90 minutes or more) weakens the immune system, making an individual more susceptible to illness for up to 72 hours after working out.  This is due to the increase of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, which also increase blood pressure and elevate cholesterol levels.

With the emergence of the fitness movement that we are seeing in the US, the need to focus on gut health, including the focused integration of probiotics into the health regimen of athletes at all stages is becoming increasingly important.  This movement is seeing the huge increase of everyday athletes training and competing in half marathons, full marathons, iron man competitions, “mudders” as well as other athletic endeavors!  These trends are not limited to the younger generations as the “baby boomers” participants in these types of sports are exponentially growing!  Thus the need for immune support through probiotic supplementation is more important than ever.

The link between gut health and our immune system has been studied for decades. Surprisingly to most people, 60-70% of our immune system is located in our gut. Another surprising fact is that 95% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut!  The good bacteria in probiotics have been seen to have a large role in fighting harmful foreign substances that enter the body by detoxifying them and contributing to their elimination.  Probiotics also prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that lead to infections and disease.

The USANA Probiotics combine two of the most widely studied strains of probiotics that have clinically tested benefits:

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG®
  • Bifidobacterium BB-12®

The USANA Probiotic, contain 12 billion colony-forming unit (CFU) per serving.  According to current scientific research, this is the optimal number of CFUs needed for gut health.

These probiotics are are packaged in a very convenient stick packet.  They are designed to be taken once every other day though many athletes who are engaged in more intense exercise choose to take one everyday.  These stick packs have a shelf life of 18 months. USANA has also gone the extra mile by making these packets dairy free, gluten free and sugar free.  They can be consumed alone (actually taste great), in a glass of water or mixed in a meal replacement or recovery shake (USANA’s Nutrimeal is highly recommended for both of these choices!).  Convenience is the key for compliance due to our increasingly busy lives (which also creates stress).  The yogurt in the back of the refrigerator usually goes bad because we forget it while off to our next engagement.  These stick packs are great for the gym bag, backpack or purse (or even in your office desk drawer).

As with every product that USANA Health Sciences produces, the quality and purity is of utmost importance.  This is why Performance Vitamins partners and highly recommends the products developed and manufactured by this cutting edge laboratory and manufacturing plant.

What are the “take aways” concerning probiotics and athletic performance: 

  • Due to the critical connection of gut health and the immune system, probiotics are important for everyone’s health journey
  • Today’s athletes place even more stress on their gut health and immune system with higher levels of exercise.  Probiotics can be very important to their overall health and thus benefit the consistency and longevity of their training.  The likelihood of performance goals being met are much better If the athlete is not sick and can continue his/her training regimen!

Give USANA Probiotics a “test drive”!

Don’t say “someday”!  Take control of your health today.  Order a few months of USANA Probiotics today to experience the difference in your health!

 

* The Irish Sports Council – Technical Document on Probiotics (2014)

 

Coenzyme Q10 and Cellular Energy

CoEnzyme Q10 is a key to cellular energy production.

Can Coenzyme Q10 help in the “energy shortage” that many people are experiencing daily?  Have you heard these statements around your home or office?  Or, maybe a statement of this sort has come out of your mouth recently!

“I am drained”!

“ I have been really dragging these past few weeks”!

“I don’t have the energy that I used to have”!

“I need a nap”!

“Exercise? I don’t even have the energy to stay awake at work”!

A common response to this dilemma in our culture is to stop by the corner coffee shop and get a triple (or even “quad”) shot of espresso to get that added boost of “energy”. Though someone will feel more awake or even get that quick burst of hyper drive, it doesn’t last. Another trip to the coffee shop in the afternoon (or even more often) becomes the habit (while also taking a dent on the wallet!).

Sound familiar?

The boost of energy that caffeine offers can’t compare to the cellular energy that the body can produce itself when the right cellular ingredients are present.

One of the “energy shortage” problems that we may be experiencing could be the depletion of an essential ingredient to the cellular boiler room that produces cellular energy…the real, life giving energy (ATP) that we learned about in biology class. This ingredient is CoEnzyme Q10 – needed by every cell in the body as a part of the incredible chemical interaction of oxygen, nutrients, vitamins and cofactors to produce the cellular energy we need to live life.

To learn more about the science of this wonderful process, happening in your cells at this very moment, we would recommend Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s great book, The CoEnzymeQ10 Phenomenon.

Dr. Sinatra states that ATP is “necessary to fuel all cellular functions”. That includes thinking, exercise, food digestion, heart function, and breathing to mention just a few! Dr. Sinatra goes on to mention that, “CoEnzyme Q10 provides the spark in the mitochondria of each cell to initiate the energy process”.  According to the scientific experts, there is a wonderful connection to Coenzyme Q10 and cellular energy production!

Back to where we started…why are we so “drained”? What is going on?

Dr. Sinatra mentions that clinical research that shows a serious depletion of CoEnzyme Q10 in our population due to a number of factors. One of these factors is the natural depletion during the aging process. Another is the lack of other essential nutrients like folate, Vitamins C, B12, B6, pantothenic acid and trace elements (to name a few) needed to synthesize CoEnzyme Q10 in the cells of the body. High intensity exercise also depletes the body of this essential ingredient as well as producing a high level of “free radicals”.

CoEnzyme Q10 remarkably works as a powerful antioxidant throughout the body to help prevent the damage of the “free radicals” caused by the oxidation process occurring in our bodies. Dr. Sinatra states that CoEnzyme Q10 is an “ideal antioxidant”. As an antioxidant, “it can stop free radicals before they do their damage, protecting DNA, cellular membranes and even various membrane systems”.

Need energy? This may be a great place to start:

  • Focus on a nutrient rich diet
  • Supplement your diet with USANA’s Essentials as a foundation for the necessary cellular ingredients necessary for CoEnzyme Q10 production (USANA Essentials)
  • Supplement with USANA’s pure CoEnzyme Q10 product, CoQuinone 30 (USANA CoQuinone)

All of USANA’s supplements are absorbable, dissolvable and bioavailable – meeting the stringent requirements of pharmaceutical GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices). What does all that mean? In a nutshell, they get into the cells and work.

The USANA CoQuinone 30 product was recently tested by Consumer Labs and given the highest rating possible, the Approved Quality Product Seal (Pure CoQuinone). This is not surprising to those who know the purity and quality of ingredients that USANA chooses and highest level of care put into each product’s production.

Also available in a customized “MyHealthPak” is the CoQuinone 100 product. This is a fabulous “super pill” that can provide the larger dosages of this essential ingredient needed for the remarkable process of producing ATP in the cells – real energy! If this is of interest to you, email us at support@performancevitamins.com and we will contact you to personalize your own “MyHealthPak”!

Next time you are “dragging”, it may be worth making some lifestyle changes in your diet. In addition, supplementing with a high-grade, absorbable and bioavailable CoQuinone 30 product can be of great benefit. Supplementing with a pharmaceutical grade multivitamin and mineral system like the USANA Essentials can also be of great value to provide the necessary B Vitamins, trace minerals and cofactors for the cells to produce the CoEnzyme Q10 that your cells are thirsty for!