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 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”.
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:
- Jerusalem Artichokes (not regular artichokes)
- Garlic, Leeks, and Onions (raw)
- Apple skins
- Bananas (green, unripe)
- 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 Fibergy, USANA Hepasil DTX and the USANA Digestive Enzymes to help you in your health journey! Stock up now to save on shipping!