We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme detailing the biological makeup of our species. Some of us, allegedly, are made from “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”. Others purportedly contain high levels of “sugar and spice and everything nice”. We’re also full of bacteria. This is the same bacteria we avoid with anti-bacterial soap; the same bacteria found on counter tops; the same bacteria found in yogurt. Some types of bacteria are kind to our bodies; others are not so kind.
This is a numbers game. The good bacteria attack the bad bacteria. This decreases the amount of bad bacteria, keeping our digestive system balanced and healthy. If the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, then the good bacteria are destroyed. Consequently, yeast and more bad bacteria are produced, resulting in dysbiosis of the intestine.
Depletion in good bacteria, leading to dysbiosis, can be caused by a number of factors. Poor diet is the leading cause. The computer phrase GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) applies handily to this situation. A bad diet leads to bad digestion, leading to some unpleasant conditions, such as yeast infection or irritable bowel syndrome.
Biotic means life. The good bacteria in our intestines are called pro-biotics. They’re good for our health. Mainly at work in the large intestine, they regulate digestion.
Pre-biotics, as their name implies, work before life, or in the early stages of bacteria development. They feed and encourage bacteria growth in the small intestine, so it can perform in the large intestine.
Anti-biotics are used to treat bad biotics in our body. Anti-biotics kill life—good life included. Therefore an anti-biotic barrage on your system will knock out your pro- and pre-biotics, as well as the bad bacteria that caused the illness in the first place. This is a fine way to develop dysbiosis.
To treat bacterial imbalance, add pro-biotics and pre-biotics to your diet. Both are most effective when consumed in yogurt, sauerkraut, or other fermented foods. Both can be added to your diet as a supplement. Supplements containing pre- and pro-biotics in tandem are called syn-biotics. These syn-biotics combine the two in a symbiotic relationship benefiting our body. The effect becomes greater due to the supportive relationship of pre-biotics and pro-biotics.
We have a delicate check-and-balance system regulating our metabolic processes. One might assume that pro-biotics could give an athlete a competitive edge, but that’s not completely true. Pro-biotic supplements have not been proven to increase performance in a healthy athlete. Injured or chronically exhausted athletes recover slightly more quickly with pro-biotic supplements, but so do non-athletes.
The body athletic will benefit kindly from pro-biotic supplements because a healthy body will respond more adeptly to the demands placed upon it. Other than that, the benefits are the same as for any person and do not favour an athlete.