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LOOK AFTER YOUR GUT TO IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS

LOOK AFTER YOUR GUT TO IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS

Our digestive tract is much more than the mechanism by which our bodies get fuel. It also plays an essential role in overall health, and in helping our bodies perform at their best.

WHAT MAKES FOR A HEALTHY GUT?

Modern cleanliness obsessions have given bacteria a bad name, but these tiny lifeforms are vital to sustaining our lives.  We are all carrying a kilo or two of bacteria in our digestive systems. They help to process our food, affect our metabolism and can even reduce inflammation. These unseen passengers team with a good varied diet to keep our guts in good order.

WHY DOES GUT HEALTH IMPACT FITNESS?

A healthy gut will be providing the nutrients needed by muscles, and will work in tandem with the pancreas to control insulin levels. If all is not well with those gut bacteria, these mechanisms won’t work as they should. That means less stamina to keep working out, which makes it harder to build fitness.

There is also evidence that there is a virtuous circle, where exercise helps encourage good gut bacteria. Get fit and help your gut!

WHAT ARE THE MAIN FOODS WE SHOULD EAT FOR GUT HEALTH?

All muscles need a resistance workout, and the digestive tract is no exception. Dietary fibre is very important for gut function, so fill up on wholegrains, vegetables and pulses. Ease off on the sugar and saturated fats – the best food for your gut is the same as the best food for the rest of your body.

DO I NEED SUPPLEMENTS FOR GUT HEALTH?

There is evidence that some probiotics may assist in restoring healthy bacteria after illness. Caution is needed, as not all probiotics are formulated to survive stomach acid. Fermented foods such as unpasteurised sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), live yogurts and other types of pickles can help to rebuild bacteria levels.

For all round fitness, start at the centre by looking after your gut.

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.

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