The intestinal flora plays a fundamental role, contributing for example to improve the body’s ability to assimilate nutrients, distribute new nutrients and intervene in the digestion of some components of the diet (this function is known as bioavailability). In this article, we will focus in particular on analyzing the importance of intestinal flora for athletes.
The main functions of the intestinal flora are defense and nutrition, so those who practice sport must pay particular attention to this aspect.
One of the most important mechanisms regulated by the intestinal flora is that of maintaining the balance in the bacteria that populate the walls of the intestine. Creating the right balance prevents other bacteria that could be harmful from spreading and settling. This indirectly helps develop the immune system and promote the production of antibodies. We see together the importance of intestinal flora for athletes.
The importance of intestinal flora for athletes
The synthesis of vitamins
As we already know, the role played by intestinal flora in our nutritional status is very important. People who practice sports should consider it even more, mainly due to its involvement in the synthesis of vitamin K and other B vitamins (B1, B6, B12, and folic acid).
Vitamin K can be found in foods such as liver, kelp, egg yolk, yogurt, and fish oil. Even so, the main and most important source of this vitamin is that produced by the intestinal flora. The main functions involved in this vitamin are blood coagulation and keeping our bone system healthy.
As for the B vitamins, the vast majority participate in one way or another in the production of energy by the carbohydrates and fats we consume in our diet.
Furthermore, some of them are involved in the formation and stability of red blood cells. For all these reasons, it is important to keep the intestinal flora balanced, especially if you want to achieve optimal sports performance.
The absorption of minerals
For athletes, the intestinal flora is also very important because it promotes the absorption of the essential minerals for sports, such as iron, calcium, zinc or magnesium. The vast majority of minerals found in our diet are often retained in the fiber that our body is unable to absorb.
Another of its functions is to increase the nutritional quality of foods rich in fiber, such as vegetables, fruit, cereals or soy, and therefore also in the case of the minerals they contain.
Because of this, the intestinal flora bacteria are able to metabolize some of the components of this fiber and release them, such as minerals, which are very important components for the development of any type of physical activity.
To help the intestinal flora there are products called probiotics. Probiotics can give benefits especially to intestinal permeability and act on inflammatory reactions to reduce the effect of exercise on the intestinal barrier.
Probiotics are food products made up of live positive micro-organisms for health. The consumption of these foods stimulates the defense mechanisms and also helps to stabilize the intestinal flora.
This has a positive effect on the intestinal barrier. As we have said before, it is shown that the microorganisms contained in probiotics help normalize intestinal permeability.
Currently, there are a large number of products with which we can take care of intestinal flora. Furthermore, there are more and more studies demonstrating and showing the different beneficial effects that probiotics produce on health. In conclusion, given the functions of the intestinal flora on some fundamental nutrients for sport, the athlete can take this option into account when it comes to taking care of the balance of the intestinal flora and maintaining its physical performance in an optimal state.