Learning is for life. As my anatomy prof always says “Is this on the test?… YES. Life is cumulative!” Even though I have left the ski team and the microbiology program at UW, the things that I learned there continue to find ways of integrating into my life.
This week I attended a lunch seminar here at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine and learned about the human micro biome in relation to health (key flashbacks to Rachel’s exuberance on this topic).
Nigel Plummer, a PhD from the UK, covered topics ranging from breast feeding and immunity, to microbe diversity’s effect on allergies and finally got to the topic that is of special interest to the ski team: the impact of probiotics and micro biome on the performance and recovery of elite athletes.
Its not surprising elite level training stresses the body in ways that can cause bowel problems, prolonged recovery times, increase gut permeability to endotoxins and increase oxidative stress. The good news is that our little gut warrior microbes can offer a huge hand when it comes to dealing with the extra stresses that we put our bodies through intense training.
Strains of Lactobillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to have beneficial effects on tight junctions and intestinal barrier function ( Blackwood, 2017). This means that not only will you loose less water when you are already dehydrated from a long mountain run but you will also absorb fewer endotoxins in your gut lining. A healthier gut will make you feel like a million bucks!
Another study showed that extreme physical activity, perhaps the amazing 21K classic in Crested Butte, can induce oxidative stress on your body (think ROS). This can contribute to that tired feeling of fatigue a few days following a race, muscle soreness an a longer recovery time. They then found that probiotic supplementation of L. rhamnosis and L. paracasei increased plasma antioxidant levels so essentially the microbes in your gut neutralized some of this oxidative stress and can speed up recovery time! (Roberts, 2106)
Some of you non-microbologist Nordies may find the following slide from the presentation a bit easier and more relevant to racing.
The graph shows just how much time the athletes shaved off when they benefited from probiotic supplementation (HMF is the brand and contains Bifido bacterium, Lactobacillus species) in extreme endurance races. Probiotics may provide athletes with secondary health benefits that could positively affect athletic performance through enhanced recovery from fatigue, improved immune function, and maintenance of healthy gastrointestinal tract function.So take your probiotics kids and eat fermented foods like kombucha, saukraut, yogurt, kefir, and miso! (Sorry guys beer only partially counts ;) )
Blackwood BP, Yuan CY, Wood DR, Nicolas JD, Grothaus JS, Hunter CJ. Probiotic Lactobacillus Species Strengthen Intestinal Barrier Function and Tight Junction Integrity in Experimental Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Journal of probiotics & health. 2017;5(1):159. doi:10.4172/2329-8901.1000159.
Roberts, J.D.; Suckling, C.A.; Peedle, G.Y.; Murphy, J.A.; Dawkins, T.G.; Roberts, M.G. An Exploratory Investigation of Endotoxin Levels in Novice Long Distance Triathletes, and the Effects of a Multi-Strain Probiotic/Prebiotic, Antioxidant Intervention. Nutrients 2016, 8, 733.