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    Gut health and endurance - good and bad foods

    Posted by James Eacott on

    Gut health and endurance go hand in hand. In fact, it’s at its very core. The health of your gut is influenced by the food you eat, so here are good and bad food choices for a healthy gut.

    gut health and endurance good and bad foods - loaded

    Fully loaded to improve the health of your gut

    Gut health and endurance – why does it matter?

    The gut is home to trillions of bacteria which work to keep your entire body functioning optimally. Dr David Perlmutter was spot on when he said, “a healthy microbiome translates into a healthy human”.

    The bacteria in your gut influences:

    • How you store fat
    • Your hormone levels
    • Blood sugar levels
    • Your mood
    • Your immune system

    It’s the last of those which is most important: immune system.

    80% of immune system cells reside in the gut, so the health of your gut directly impacts your immunity. A compromised immune system equals greater susceptibility to illness, slower recovery and reduced ability to reap training adaptations.

    Gut health should be right up there as a primary focus for athletes. After all, being a healthy human is handy if you want to get the best from yourself.

    Gut health and endurance – good foods

    No factor influences the happiness of your gut more than your diet. A study published by The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society states:

    Diet, especially high intake of fermentable fibres and plant polyphenols, regulates microbial activities within the gut, supporting regulatory guidelines encouraging increased consumption of whole-plant foods (fruit, vegetables and whole-grain cereals)”.

    gut health and endurance good and bad foods - running

    Gut health and endurance – runners often experience GI distress

    Most central to this is fibre. Fibre feeds the good bacteria which needs to thrive for optimal bodily functions.

    Healthy gut foods include:

    • Good fats – nuts and seeds such as flaxseed and chia are all winners
    • High fibre – asparagus, broccoli, seaweed and spirulina
    • Slow-burning carbohydrates - sweet potato, squash and oats
    • Plant-proteins – pea, sunflower and rice, all of which are found in our Premium Protein
    • Fruit – bananas (also in our Premium Protein) and apples
    • Other ingredients – onion, garlic, turmeric

    As New York Times columnist Jane Brody puts it: “People interested in fostering a health-promoting array of gut microorganisms should consider shifting from a diet heavily based on meats and processed foods to one that emphasizes plants”.

    Gut health and endurance – bad foods

    At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll wreak havoc on your gut by consuming:

    gut health and endurance good and bad foods - bad food

    Sugar: the gut’s great enemy

    • Sugar - the gut’s greatest enemy. Refined sugar in particular kills good gut bacteria and causes inflammation, the precursor of many chronic diseases
    • Dairy casein and whey are hard to digest due to many of us having insufficient lactase (the enzyme which breaks down lactose in milk)
    • GM foods – genetically modified foods are treated with a tonne of pesticides that kill good gut bacteria
    • Eggs - the GM corn and soy chickens are fed trickles down to their eggs and into your body
    • Caffeine - gastroenterologist Dr Shawn Khodadadian states: “Because of coffee’s acidity, it can adversely affect the lining of your stomach and intestines. If you drink a lot of coffee over an extended period, it will worsen any existing conditions you may have

    Gut health and endurance - conclusion

    The diversity of your diet matters. Regardless whether you are plant-based, an occasional meat eater or a low-carb athlete, consuming a diverse range of foods will improve gut health.

    As far as possible, avoid foods which destroy good bacteria and you’ll see an increase in health and athletic performance.

    Start every day the right way – and give your gut a boost - with just one spoonful of our Ultimate Daily Greens.

    gut health and endurance good and bad foods - greens

    Ultimate Daily Greens – your gut’s best mate!

    More performance boosting content

    From the Vlog – Secret tips from triathlon coach Mark Ryan

    From the Podcast – Dairy: Good for performance?

    From the Blog

    Inflammation and food – what’s the deal?

    Dairy and athletic performance

    Nutrient density and sports performance

    Post-exercise immunosuppression (PEIS)

    The Carnivore Diet – the good, the bad and the ugly

    Plant based diet for athletes


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