5 myths that may be hindering your athletic performance-related gut health.
Gut issues are a common problem affecting about 45-85% of athletes (ter Steege et al, 2012). Issues include Heartburn, acid reflux, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, gastritis, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, etc. There are several pathways of communication between the brain and gut, the most prominent being the vagus nerve (Breit et al. 2018) and over 90% is from the gut to the brain (Bonaz, Bazin & Pellissier 2018). How crazy is that? Our gut communicates to our brain more than the other way only increases the importance of building a strong gut. GI issues can be caused by numerous factors such as stress, nutrition and nutrient timing, medications, dehydration, etc. Having good gut health may result in reduce inflammation, improved sleep quality, and mental well-being.
Myth: After eliminating food you don’t need to reintroduce them
Fact: Elimination diets such as low FODMAP were developed with the intent of foods being reintroduced. Eliminating foods increases the risk of potential negative effects on the microbiota, and nutritional adequacy. Foods high in FODMAP are high in the prebiotics that fuels our gut bacteria.
Myth: Drinking water causes Bloating
Fact: Drinking water throughout a meal and after can actually aid in the digestion of food. Water helps with the absorption of nutrients needed to perform at an elite level. See Tips for Staying Hydrated!
Myth: Snacking is bad for your gut
Fact: Snacking can help curve hunger and reduce the risk of overindulging in a meal which can lead to indigestion. Eating 5 to 6 times per day or every 3-4 hours is recommended and keep your blood sugar consistent and for your stomach to optimally digest. Snacks are a great opportunity to add fiber with Fruits and Veggies to strengthen your gut microbiome.
Myth: Intermittent fasting is necessary to improve my gut health
Fact: Many people who have experienced overindulging in food may think that that need to restrict intake the next day or to fast for an extended period of time. When in fact the continual diet mentality of overeating and then restricting can be endless and harmful to your body. Check out the blog on Overindulge on Thanksgiving? Damage Control Tips for the Weekend After for tips on how to get back on track after a holiday get-together or a night out with friends. There are many foods to include after overindulging to support gut health such as fermented foods and veggies as well as giving your body time and returning to normal eating habits.
Myth: We must take a probiotic and prebiotic supplement to support our Microbiome
Fact: Prebiotics are the food that fuels the Probiotics or good bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics are essential to increase good bacteria in the gut, improve digestion, and even boost your immune system. While some may benefit from supplementation – Using the performance plate and including a variety of food including vegetables, dairy, and fermented foods will help fuel a healthy gut and enhance your performance.
Tips for Improving your gut health:
- Start your day with fiber and get veggies in early! Check out this quick and easy way to include veggies in the morning.
- Add beans to meals often for extra fiber – Beans contain 30g of fiber per cup. Check out some tips on how!
- Increase foods containing probiotics and prebiotics gradually. Sudden change can cause GI distress. Gradually adding in these foods will help create a strong gut!
Travel Tip: Foods high in prebiotics tend to increase gas in the GI. This is not always a bad thing but when flying for competition bloating can become excessive. If you can relate to having uncomfortable bloating from flying, try this tip! Consume foods low in prebiotics before your flight and then consume the majority of fruits and veggies upon landing.
Recipes to try: