Anyone who’s experienced the misery of digestive problems, such as gas, diarrhoea, and IBS, will know that prevention is better than cure. Although exercise can help to keep you healthy on the inside and out – it can reduce stress, which aggravates conditions like IBS – some workouts are better than others. Ever heard of runner’s tummy? All that sloshing can play havoc with your bowels!
To give your system the best possible defence against infections, intolerances and general diss-ease, try taking a probiotic. Yes, it may go against your sense of logic, but munching on bacteria is one of the best ways of keeping your insides in check. But, probiotics are what’s known as ‘friendly or ‘beneficial’ bacteria that help keep your body healthy in more ways than one…
IMPROVE GUT HEALTH
Dozens of studies have been carried out showing that good bacteria helps maintain healthy digestion, plus it can also assist those already experiencing niggles. One study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that women with minor digestive disorders who had daily Danone Activia yogurts for four weeks saw significant improvements in their gut health compared to the control group. So, why not try a daily dose for a month and see if your symptoms improve?
Your gut is around 70 percent of your immune system, so keeping it healthy means staying well in general. A study published in the journal Environmental Health monitored factory workers who were given probiotics for 80 days. In the placebo group, 26 percent reported being ill during that time, compared to just 10 percent of those taking probiotics. Even more reason to top up on good bacteria!
BEAT YEAST INFECTIONS
Tight workout gear, swimming costumes, noncotton underwear and high-sugar diets can all contribute to yeast overgrowths, like thrush, ahem, ‘down there’. Applying natural yogurt to the affected area may be an old wives’ tale, but there could be some truth in the idea. “There is really good evidence available that fermented foods are valuable in the prevention and treatment of infections and yeast overgrowth,” says Kathryn Marsden, nutritionist and author of Good Gut Bugs (Piatkus, £12.99). So, it’s best to take your good bacteria orally as a preventative measure.
It’s no magic pill but, probiotics have been shown to have a great impact on weight-loss, especially around the tummy. Researchers from Finland’s University of Turku found that women who had a daily probiotic drink while pregnant and for six months after the birth, saw a significant reduction in their waistlines and overall body fat. A year after childbirth, they had the lowest body fat percentages compared to non-probiotic drinking mothers. It’s thought that the effects would be the same with non-pregnant women, too.
PREVENT TRAVELLERS TUMMY
Research suggests that taking a regular probiotic in the weeks leading up to a foreign holiday can guard against dodgy tums. Plus, they can even help once you’ve already been struck down. A review of 63 studies involving more than 8,000 people, published in the Cochrane Library, found that taking probiotics along with rehydration powders for an upset stomach cut the length of time people had diarrhoea by one day. And, the likelihood of being ill for four or more days was slashed by almost 60 percent.