Nutrition FAQ – Should I take a probiotic supplement?

Posted on January 28, 2020 by

NSWIS athletes get a wide range of assistance and support about diet and nutrition to use food as their performance advantage and reach their goals.

Over time there has been some trends in questions which are common from athletes about their diet and what can help support training.

The specific needs of each individual athlete are always different depending on their goal and training loads but our Nutrition FAQs provide some explanations for the more common questions and scenarios athletes talk to the NSWIS Dietitian about.

Should I take a probiotic supplement?

There are a number of factors and behaviours associated with athletes that can compromise the environment in the gut and immune function. These can include a high volume of training, training in the heat, high levels of mental stress, physical stress in high-intensity sessions, and the use of anti-inflammatory medication. Increased training loads and high levels of stress can also result in upper respiratory tract symptoms (colds) appearing more frequently.

Both gut health and immunity are important for athletes but addressing each concern may need to be supported with different nutritional strategies.

This can be a little more complex than simply taking a probiotic.

While probiotics can play a role in reducing the severity and duration of cold symptoms in some athletes, probiotics on their own may not be a magic bullet to good health or stop a cold in its tracks.

If you have symptoms of poor gut health, its important to identify the underlying cause of that disruption and target this with nutrition strategies or intervention prior to including probiotics. If you have regular digestion and limited symptoms of bloating, diarrhoea or constipation, then there may be no need to take probiotics.

Further to this, not all probiotics suit all people and just because you are taking them doesn’t mean there is an uptake into our gut to effectively populate the large intestine.

Probiotics may be considered to reduce the risk of cold and flu or be taken to help improve gut health and symptoms of poor digestive health, but like the inclusion of any supplement the diet needs to be considered first.

Combined with a balanced and varied diet high in vegetables, plenty of sleep and good hygiene it may be an addition to promote good health.

Of course, a reminder to any athlete considering taking a new supplement that they should seek approval for the safety of the supplement with their doctor or dietitian prior to commencing.


Receive nutrition information from NSWIS

Sign up to the weekly eNewsletter from the NSW Institute of Sport, which includes the latest nutrition blog from the NSWIS dietitian. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.

No Comments

Leave a Reply