Tara Gidus

Be Proactive with Probiotics

Probiotics are often referred to as "the good bacteria for your stomach." These active cultures are found in food, aid in digestion and can offer multiple health benefits for the general population. Bonus, there are additional positive correlations between probiotic intake and runners.

Incorporating sources of probiotics into your diet as an athlete strengthens the gastrointestinal tract and may help to prevent or reduce exercise tummy troubles. There have also been indications that probiotic consumption could help to enhance immune function in runners and may even help athletes to maintain a healthy body weight.

Check out these sources of probiotics to be proactive toward your stomach today.

  1. Yogurt
    Yogurt is often one of the first probiotic-rich options athletes begin to incorporate in their diet. Be careful though, a lot of yogurts are loaded with added sugars! Pick yogurts packed with protein, like Greek yogurt for even more nutrition. Shoot for yogurts that have the "live and active cultures" slogan on them for the maximum benefits from these healthy bacteria.

  2. Sauerkraut
    A German favorite, this pickled cabbage offers probiotic health benefits! Try topping it on a sandwich. If you're watching sodium, be aware that sauerkraut has a decent amount of salt, which can be a good thing for a healthy runner that needs extra salt in their diet.

  3. Olives in Brine
    Live active cultures thrive in olive brine, thus olives can provide a good source of probiotics. Pop a few in your salad or on top of your pizza.

  4. Kefir
    This choice may initially sound a little bit strange to you, but don't knock it until you try it! It's a product that is what you might envision the offspring of yogurt and milk to be—a bit thinner than yogurt but thicker than milk. It's a great source of probiotics and vitamins, and can be paired with fruit, cereal or granola. I love to blend plain kefir into my post-workout smoothie!

  5. Kimchi
    This Korean dish is a twist on cabbage—it's fermented and pickled. It has calcium, many vitamins and also probiotics. It's often very spicy, so if you're looking for a hot way to get probiotics into your diet, this one's for you.

  6. Kombucha tea
    This drink is of Asian origin and is also known as "fermented tea." It can be consumed hot or iced. Give it a try to aid your digestive system!

  7. Tempeh
    This is a meat substitute that could be a good source of probiotics for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or any athlete looking for protein varieties (and probiotics) for that matter. Plus, it's also packed with vitamin B12, and is super versatile to cook.

  8. Dark Chocolate
    Who would have thought, right? In addition to antioxidants and iron, dark chocolate also offers probiotics that can help maintain healthy stomach bacteria levels.
    *Note: this doesn't give you an excuse to eat the whole box! Moderation is still important for it to be beneficial.

Have a favorite source of probiotics or question about one of these? Tweet questions or comments to @DietDivaTara.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.