Good gut health could be the key to improving your running performance – and your overall wellbeing
When we’re looking to improve our running pace or endurance, probiotics may not be our first priority – but gut health is key to our physical performance. “We spend hours optimising our workout routines and diligently cooling down, but often we overlook the importance of our gut,” says nutritional therapist Liam Holmes. “Strength training, performance and recovery are all affected by gut health. Put simply, if you’re not optimising your gut, you might not be performing at your best.”
Aoife Morrin is the founder of the world’s first probiotic sports drink, TYG. She experienced years of gut health issues herself, and as a keen athlete, noticed the negative effects on her training. She also found that many sports and energy drinks would only worsen her symptoms.“Recognising that my gut was key to my physical wellbeing, I decided to create my own sports drink,” she explains. “TYG contains well-known ingredients that support performance, like BCAAs, combined with cutting-edge probiotics and other functional ingredients.”
Aoife also found that some simple lifestyle changes helped her to improve her gut health. Read on for her top tips.
Enjoy some variety
Incorporating a variety of prebiotics and probiotics into your diet. Probiotics, also known as good bacteria, are live microorganisms that provide lots of benefits to our gut. There are many strains of probiotics that can be consumed through fermented drinks and foods, such as kimchi, kefir and kombucha. You can also take them as a supplement. Prebiotics feed this good bacteria and can be found in food such as oats, apples, onions and bananas.
Skip the sugar
We all know that added sugar is best kept to a minimum, but you might not know that it could potentially affect your gut health, too. Studies have found that sugar can slow down the production of specific proteins that help maintain the gut flora found in healthy people, which can lead to dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut). It’s also wise to stay away from too many artificial sweeteners, flavours and preservatives too – we’ve avoided using them in TYG as we believe that a more natural approach is better for the gut.
Go full fibre
Fibre is the roughage found in all plant-based foods and has many benefits from keeping you regular to helping balance blood sugar levels. From a gut perspective, getting enough fibre promotes microbial biodiversity which is linked to optimal health. The recommended average intake of fibre for adults is 30g per day, but it’s estimated that UK women are getting less than two-thirds of that. It’s now widely thought that we should be focusing on getting most of our fibre from vegetables, aiming for 5+ different portions a day.
Establish healthy habits
As with most elements of health, when it comes to our gut, there is unfortunately no quick fix. Supplements, vitamins, and probiotics can help manage imbalances in the gut microbiome and support overall digestion and discomfort. However, they should be taken in conjunction with long-term healthy lifestyle measures, not in place of them. Stress plays a surprisingly large role in gut health, so stress management is as important as the nutrients and fibre-rich foods you consume.