Gastrointestinal issues are a common problem for runners, but your gut flora do more than affect your trips to the bathroom. “A healthy gut can improve digestion, boost the immune system and positively impact mood,” says Marni Sumbal, R.D., a board-certified sports dietitian and triathlon coach in Greenville, S.C. “A healthy gut will make for a happy runner.”
All kinds of things can cause an unhealthy gut, Sumbal says, including a high emphasis on processed food, excessive use of antibiotics, inadequate daily fiber, dehydration and stress. Enter: probiotics, which are bacteria that change the gut flora in a beneficial way. You can now find probiotics in all types of food products beyond yogurt—in everything from drinks to candy. One caution: “To avoid constipation, diarrhea, bloating and gas, I recommend starting in low doses, such as 3–5 billion CFUs [colony-forming units] per day,” Sumbal says.
Try these products for a convenient, tasty way to aid your gut and overall health.
Earnest Eats Protein + Probiotic Oatmeal, $2.99 For 2.5-Oz. Cup
Made with superfood grains (whole rolled oats, puffed quinoa and amaranth), nuts, seeds, whey protein and probiotics, this gluten-free oatmeal makes for a power-packed breakfast. In each serving are 15–16 grams of protein and 1 billion CFUs, and we loved the crunchy texture and sweet taste of the Coconut Warrior flavor.
Suja Organic Kombucha, $3.49 Per Box
This line of kombucha underwent a recent revamp, with new ingredients and two new flavors (bringing the total up to six). The ginger lemon features a zippy flavor that’s refreshingly tangy. Per bottle are 5 billion CFUs and 60 calories, and we love that it’s verified nonalcoholic.
Good Day Chocolate Probiotic Supplement, $2.99 Per Box
These chocolate candies, which essentially look (and taste) like large M&Ms, make for a delicious post-meal treat, with 1 billion CFUs per piece (eight pieces per box).
GoodBelly Infused Probiotic Beverage, $2.99 Per Bottle
This fruity water is for the experienced probiotic drinker, as it has 20 billion probiotics per bottle. It’s a mildly sweet mix of water and juice with only 5 grams of sugar per bottle, and it serves as a refreshing midday pick-me-up.
Purely Elizabeth Probiotic Granola, $6.99
This gluten-free granola is made with a mix of ancient grains, such as puffed amaranth, quinoa flakes and chia seeds, which are baked using coconut oil. This flavor features fair-trade dark chocolate and coarse sea salt, which give it a perfectly sweet and salty taste (we love it straight out of the bag!). Each serving contains 500 million CFUs.