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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Just remember there is more bacteria in your gut by about 10 to one of alien bacteria(include sea borne) than human bacteria
I am as guilty of most others of disrespecting my gut and feeding it all sorts of quick-to-buy rubbish. Trouble is, that catches up on you when the teen years are over! The article is right, fitness starts in the middle.
a kilo or two of bacteria? That's an amazingly large number! I will feed them more yogurt.
I never thought that gut health would affect fitness so much. I don't like cabbage much but do like live yoghurt so hopefully this is enough to help.