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by Liz Bowen

Are you the one in your group of friends that always seems to get sick? Whether you’re stuck with a chronic case of the sniffles or even laden with digestive problems, there is a way out of this slump. In fact, if you often find yourself recovering after a workout only at a sub-par level, you will benefit from consuming more probiotic foods.

What are probiotics?
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that reside in youProbiotic Foods for Athletesr gut, and are also found in fermented, raw, and living foods. Probiotics are extremely important for health and wellness, but are also beneficial to those who are endurance athletes. After all, good digestion is one of the keys to being well. Everything that enters your body, affects your body. Without regular digestion, foods don’t break down properly; thus their nutrients are not absorbed quickly. Additionally immune function is lowered and subsequently, overall health is compromised.

Probiotics help endurance athletes in many important ways. First, they help improve recovery. By increasing your probiotic intake, you’re increasing antioxidant absorption. High amounts of antioxidants combined with the free radicals from a workout will help you recover quicker and combat the extra free radicals in your system. Healthy bacteria also speeds up digestion and absorb proteins and fats. Thus, healthy bacteria will work to digest these nutrients in your stomach. Endurance athletes who consume high-nutrient diets will get the most out of their meals with proper digestion.

Extra probiotics can also reduce nausea, intestinal inflammation, bloating, and even hypersensitivity to foods – making it easier for athletes to meet their dietary needs. Probiotics help your immune system function, enhancing your body’s natural virus fighting system that athlete especially need to perform at 100%. Endurance athletes can actually harm their bodies due to the strain they apply to their immune system.  A diet rich in probiotics decreases fatigue, muscle soreness, and onset of sickness.

Whether you’re an endurance trainer or just seeking small ways to become healthier, integrating probiotics into your every day meal plan is a great place to start. Get your fill of probiotics from these foods:

–        Yogurt – Watch for yogurts filled with sugars and syrups; instead choose brands with all-natural or organic ingredients.

–        Kombucha Tea – A dark tea that helps to increase energy and the stomach’s natural digestion.  This can be found at specialty grocery stores.

–        Soy Milk – Look for labels that advertise “live and active cultures” to get the most out of this beverage.

–        Kefir – A delicious yogurt and milk hybrid, also found in specialty grocery stores.

–        Sauerkraut – An unassuming side dish that is more nutritious than you think.

–        Dark chocolate – As if you need another reason to eat dark chocolate – it contains both probiotics and antioxidants.

–        Pickles – Regardless of sweet or dill, pickles are an ideal condiment for a healthy boost.

–        Olives – Probiotics help olives grow, making them a great source.

The items are easy to find at your grocery store, so stock up and reap the benefits!

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