There was a lot of hype in years gone by about the potential for probiotic pills to increase strength and endurance in athletes. To be completely frank, I have no clue where they got the idea that bacteria cultures were the pixie dust needed to make people fly, but research sure has never been able to back up those claims.
Don’t leave yet.
I’m not about to say that they don’t have benefits. Our current food culture is pretty dismal, and after thousands of years of people eating foods preserved through fermentation and never taking antibiotics, we are suddenly living in a world where people are prescribed a gut and intestine killing warlord of a pill for every sniffle and sneeze. Antibiotics are wiping our poor systems clean of the bacteria they require to properly break down our already nutrient deficient foods.
So while a probiotic pill isn’t a magic potion to give you super human workout abilities, chronic fatigue is linked to poor gut health, so it’s easy to make the assumption that recolonizing your gut with good bacteria is going to help you feel better overall.
There are more ways to do that than taking pills, though. Several of your workout supplements can be replaced with products that have probiotics as part of their makeup. Going to a kefir instead of milk, for example, is an automatic probiotic boost. Some protein powders have massive amounts of probiotics and BCAAs incorporated into them.
Additionally, fermented foods are the tried and true, thousands of years old way to keep your gut functioning. Kefir is just one of many fermented foods that you can use. Kombucha, home fermented vegetables, kimchi, yogurt with live cultures, and the newly growing in popularity “gut shots” that taste like pickle juice are all ways to boost your digestive system.
But not everybody is okay with that.
I HATE fermented foods. Kombucha is okay, if it’s the right flavor, but I recently went out to a Korean restaurant and struggled through every bite of their mushroom, carrot, cabbage, and radish kimchis. Greek yogurt grosses me out with its tart flavor, and those nasty fermented salads my great grandmother makes make me genuinely ill.
I can’t even drink red wine, because I can taste and smell the “rotten” factor. Warm beer is the worst thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.
So for someone like me, I have to hide my probiotics. A quality pill is my backup plan, but I have a probiotic laden protein powder and greek yogurt on hand at all times so that I can get as much in through easily digested foods as possible. On days when I don’t have time to mess with smoothies and protein shakes, though, I pop a couple pills and call it good.
And try to get over that next cold without another antibiotic prescription, will you?