If you’ve been closely following my blog, you know I’m a big fan of probiotics. Or more like obsessed. Probiotics help establish and maintain healthy gut bacteria, which are good for digestion and may also help boost the immune system. My preferred source of probiotics is from fermented food like kimchi and kefir drinks, instead of supplements. I’ve long had a delicate digestive tract, and I believe probiotics have been a big help to me over the years. I believe the kefir I often drink probably helped prevent stomach pain when I was running around the Hudson Highlands just the other day. I sometimes get stomach pain during very strenuous exercise.
But what does the science say when it comes to probiotics as a means to prevent or treat digestive problems which often plague marathon runners? According to the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, in The effect of probiotics on respiratory infections and gastrointestinal symptoms during training in marathon runners:
Heavy exercise is associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Strenuous exercise also causes gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. In previous studies probiotics have reduced respiratory tract infections and GI symptoms in general populations including children, adults, and the elderly. These questions have not been studied in athletes before. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of probiotics on the number of healthy days, respiratory infections, and GI-symptom episodes in marathon runners in the summer. Marathon runners (N = 141) were recruited for a randomized, double-blind intervention study during which they received Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) or placebo for a 3-mo training period. At the end of the training period the subjects took part in a marathon race, after which they were followed up for 2 wk. The mean number of healthy days was 79.0 in the LGG group and 73.4 in the placebo group (P = 0.82). There were no differences in the number of respiratory infections or GI-symptom episodes. The duration of GI-symptom episodes in the LGG group was 2.9 vs. 4.3 d in the placebo group during the training period (P = 0.35) and 1.0 vs. 2.3 d, respectively, during the 2 wk after the marathon (P = 0.046). LGG had no effect on the incidence of respiratory infections or GI-symptom episodes in marathon runners, but it seemed to shorten the duration of GI-symptom episodes.
So the probiotics didn’t reduce the incidence of GI problems, but they seemed to shorten their duration. This is good enough for me!
See “New Speed Record Set Today” which is about the possibility of cherry kefir juice(all vegan) improving my running.
Posted in fitness, health, nutrition, running
Tagged digestive problems in runners, Hudson Highlands, kefir and athletes, marathon training, preventing stomach pain in runners, probiotics, probiotics athletes, strenuous exercise
Some good news. My post about the cherry kefir juice from a few days ago was only about the fermented cherry juice in jar 1, not jar 2. If you remember, there were 2 jars. Jar 1 spent 2.5 days fermenting at room temperature before I put it in the refrigerator, and it tasted like cherry wine to me, almost bordering on cherry brandy. Almost all the sweetness was gone since all the sugar had been converted to alcohol and acid. I didn’t enjoy the taste since I do not like strong alcoholic beverages and was aiming to just create an effervescent, soda-like probiotic drink with only a hint of alcohol(0.5% to 1%). It went beyond this.
After nearly finishing the cherry kefir juice/wine from jar 1(diluting it with water or regular cherry juice which made for some delicious, complex flavors), I started to drink the cherry juice from jar 2. I left this fermenting at room temperature for only 1.5 days, and then put it in the refrigerator. I put it in the refrigerator earlier to see how different it would taste from jar 1, and because I was going to drink it after jar 1 and didn’t want to leave it fermenting at room temperature for too long.
What a difference 1 day makes! The cherry kefir juice from jar 2 is a lot less alcoholic and sort of tastes like a strong cherry soda or cherry cola. It is a little sweet, but also quite sour. There is a hint of alcohol, likely less than 1%. This is what I was aiming for. It is very carbonated and bubbly, and it feels so tingly on my tongue, and is loaded with healthful bacteria.
So from now on I won’t be leaving juice to ferment for more than 2 days at room temperature during the summer, unless I am trying to make wine instead of a bubbly probiotic beverage.
Posted in health, nutrition, vegan
Tagged cherry brandy, cherry kefir, cherry soda, cherry wine, fermented cherry juice, kefir grains, low alcohol beverages, natural soda, probiotic cherry juice, probiotics, vegan cherry kefir, vegan ferments, vegan probiotics, vegan recipes
Look closely at the labels
Kombucha, which is similar to the kefir juice I made except that it is fermented tea instead of fermented juice(juice extracts are often added to kombucha it) is now legally considered “beer”. I didn’t realize this until recently. It has been a while since I’ve bought kombucha from the store or even looked at the label. Last time I bought Synergy Kombucha it it was not legally considered “beer”, and you didn’t need to be 21 or older to purchase.
Since the blueberry kefir juice has a similar amount of alcohol(0.5% to 2% max) and maybe more, it is also a “beer”, legally speaking.
Posted in fitness, health, nutrition, vegan
Tagged blueberry kefir, fermentation, fermented beverages, kefir, kombucha, probiotics, sports drinks, Synergy Kombucha, water kefir, Whole Foods