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How new probiotics might make you an unstoppable athlete


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Photo: Tim Gibson for Well+Good

There are a lot of differences between pro athletes and…the rest of us.

Most folks, try as we may, can’t run the 100-meter dash in 10.49 seconds like Florence Griffith-Joyner or beat Galina Chistyakova’s 24-foot, 8-inch world record in the long jump, but insight into the gut bacteria of those stars could help us get a little closer. Or, you know, just help us survive (and thrive!) in those extra-intense SoulCycle classes.

“Perhaps the microbiome could be relevant for applications in endurance, recovery, and maybe even mental toughness.”

In a new study, researchers looked at the microbiomes of elite athletes and identified which gut bacteria might be aiding their impressive performances. The goal is to develop probiotic supplements that will help fitness fiends of all levels become better athletes.

“The bugs in our gut affect our energy metabolism, making it easier to break down carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. They’re also involved in inflammation and neurological function,” says Jonathan Scheiman, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. “So perhaps the microbiome could be relevant for applications in endurance, recovery, and maybe even mental toughness.”

After collecting samples from athletes training for the Boston Marathon and rowers preparing for the Olympics, researchers found specific types of bacteria were more prominent in each. And this fall, Scheiman is taking the data to launch FitBiomics, a company that will offer a probiotic that helps everyday athletes foster the same types of bacteria that gives pros their superhuman abilities.

Who knows? The little guys in your gut might have you setting world records in no time.

Want a healthier gut? Try spraying some bacteria around your home. And if you’re looking for some gut-boosting breakfasts, try these no-bloat options.

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