The Importance of Gut Health to the Athlete

What does gut health mean to an athlete?


Gut health plays a key role in regulating oxidative stress, inflammatory response, stress resilience, neuro functioning and also mental strength – which are crucial processes to athletes performance and recovery.
The gut’s microflora also makes up part of your immune system. (70% of all immune cells are found in the gut) So, a healthy gut means a healthy body.


What does a healthy gut do?


1. Reduce Inflammation


The gut microbiome plays a significant role in inflammation—either increasing or decreasing levels. Inflammation interferes with athletic performance, slows recovery, and is the root cause of many injuries and diseases. It’s vital that we maintain a healthy microbiome to help reduce overall body inflammation, reduce injury and speed recovery time.


2. Boosts Energy Levels


When your gut microbiome is balanced and healthy, it helps boost energy levels. By improved absorption of foods, good hydration it translates into better performance by:

  • Reducing fatigue through better lactic acid breakdown
  • Increasing ATP energy levels, regulating energy storage and use
  • Improving metabolism
  • Supplying essential nutrients to your mitochondria – your cell’s energy powerhouse

    3. Improves Mental Strength


    The gut brain connection is really strong and important. Dopamine and serotonin (our happy hormones) are made in the gut and these affect our mental state. When gut microbes are imbalanced, they can contribute to mental illness. The gut-brain axis is an invisible hand that shapes mental stamina, which is essential for athletes.


    4. Shapes Ideal Body Composition


    The gut microbiome helps the body run more efficiently. A balanced gut makes being healthier in general easier as it influences:

  • Body mass composition (fat vs muscle)
  • White vs. brown fat
  • Blood glucose response to meals

    5. Strengthens Bones and prevent cramping


    Optimal digestion will improve calcium and Mg absorption.


    6. Regulate Hydration Status


    The integrity of the gut lining is critical for proper hydration and helping the body to use water more efficiently.


    7. Improves Sleep


    Gut microbiome imbalance, or dysbiosis, is associated with poor sleep quality because the gut microbiome controls levels of various hormones such as cortisol, serotonin, melatonin, and GABA, all of which affect sleep quality.


    Quality sleep, good gut health, energy levels, performance and recovery all exist in a cycle that can either compound on one another to support you—or drag you down. We all know we need proper sleep to perform well. However, many might not realize that there’s a pharmacy of sleep-promoting neurotransmitters generated within their own gut.


    It is really important to start ANY journey with a gut check in and assessment. You can dramatically improve your day to day life and athletic performance with correct eating for you – we train our bodies to perform how we want them to but a lot of the time the nutrition is taken for granted. It important to train your gut too.


    A personalised nutrition strategy which compliments your lifestyle and training programme is essential to be the best that you can be.


    If you want a personalised approach to your gut health, give us a call on 0161 401 1000 to book in with our specialist Dietician Louise. Here we can perform a full body 3D scan and workout a plan that works for you!

    Doug Jones to race in Challenge Roth Ironman ->