Sunday, September 20, 2015

Probiotics Improve Running Performance?

What my son eats
My wife came down with a bad bug three weeks ago. Then my seven month old infant caught it. I was next. I had a pretty sore throat and was running a temperature. My schedule was fully booked with patients, so I reckon I still had to go to work. I had to take Arcoxia twice to bring my fever down.

I'm actually allergic to Panadol and NSAID's (non steroidal anti inflammatories), but for some strange reason, I can take Arcoxia for my fever with no allergic reactions. I woke up a few mornings later feeling strange in my stomach ........ NSAID's can really mess with the healthy bacteria in my stomach.

Eating your meals too quickly, sports drinks and popping pain medication (or NSAIDs) and life stresses can also decrease the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut as you've found out from my story above.

For those of you who also train hard, the heavy training wears down your immune system and increases your chance of falling ill or picking up an infection. Especially when recovering from a hard workout.

So can improved gut health make you a better runner?

A study on a small group of runners in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that their run time to exhaustion in the heat improved by 14 percent after taking probiotics for four weeks. Now that's really relevant to us in hot and sunny Singapore.

Another study showed a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of upper respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms in elite rugby union players.

Most studies recommend their subjects taking probiotics twice a day. The off season is a good time to experiment with different food and brands of pills you may wanna try. It usually takes about 14 days for probiotics to start working.

You can find them in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or in Yakult (for those in Singapore, although it also has lots of sugar).

So don't look at probiotics as a performance enhancer. What it can do is to keep you healthier so you can train better.

Prebiotics help too. Prebiotics are nondigestable fibre compounds that help beneficial bacteria thrive in your intestine. Bananas, asparagus and garlic are good sources of prebiotics.

It is also found in breast milk, Hmmmm, my wife is still breast feeding my seven month old son......


Shing CM, Peake JM et al (2014). Effects Of Probiotics Supplementation On Gastrointestinal Permeability, Inflammation And Exercise Performance In The Heat. Eur J Appl Physiol. 11491): 93-103. DPO: 10.10.1007/s00421-013-2748-y.

Haywood BA, Black KE et al (2014). Probiotic Supplementation Reduces The Duration And Incidence Of Infections But Not Severity In Elite Rugby Union Players. J Sci Med Sport. 17(4) 356-360. DOI:

If you like popping pills

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