The athletes worldwide suffer from various injuries as well as microbial infections. They have to undergo excessive exercise and training regimens which lead to the wear and tear of the body parts. In order to be successful athletes, they need to recover quickly from such injuries. The hard training schedule also results in the disruption of balance of host-microbial interactions which are crucial for the maintenance of good health, the prerequisite for the maintenance of an athletic body and the related performance. This change in the gut microbiota results in altered immune responses which need to be resurrected.
Recurrent cases of infection and compromised immunity leads to early fatigue affecting the performance of even the well trained athletes. Sports science today deals with the cases that has to do with the performance management and enhancement of the athletes. Available therapies for the maintenance of endurance and good health are the intake of drugs and the athletes often have to suffer from the stigma of failed dope tests. A good diet with the help of the beneficial activities of the probiotics can alleviate the problems of the athletes to a large extent. Scientists are now increasingly trying to find out various probiotic combinations that can provide fruitful solutions to the health problems and performance maintenance by the athletes in a natural way.
Health Concerns for The Athletes:
It has been an established fact that long drawn training sessions can result in the suppressed release of secretory IgA. According to studies the occurrence of the respiratory tract infections of the swimmers can be correlated with the level of IgA that is prevalent in them during the pre- and mean- season trainings. The recurrences of EBV mediated infections have also been implicated with elite class swimmers under such circumstances. It is highly likely that the extensive exercises that follow the training regimens may lead to the perturbation of the regulatory effects of the T-cells. The therapeutic interventions have focused on the enhancement of the T lymphocyte mediated immunity.
The athletes also suffer from the instances of quick fatigue that can be related to the altered beneficial microflora within the guts. The extra nutritious supplements needed in the diet of the athletes are not properly utilized due to the inefficiency of the human body to metabolize such indigestible food products. Therefore, the body remains deprived of the essential requirements under conditions of excessive work such as during the training periods. As a result of the alteration in the immune system they also suffer from the inability for quick recovery from any sustained injuries.
It has also been noticed that some of the athletes are more prone to injuries than the others. The ones with susceptibility towards injuries must be stronger than the others in order to overcome the repeated cases of injuries. They may also be subjected to the intake of antibiotics more frequently thereby destroying their natural gut microflora. These incidences often cut short the career of many promising young sportsperson.
A good diet with proper aiding beneficial microorganisms is now being contemplated to overcome these situations in the athletes. The effect of the probiotic strains in improving our health conditions is now beyond anybody’s doubt. However, the proper application of the specific strains that can alleviate the problems of infection, immune compromised situations, inability to recover quickly from sustained injuries and so on. The sports world can definitely benefit from a good knowledge of their effectiveness under specific case scenarios. However, the exact mechanism behind the ability of the probiotics in providing better endurance and capability to tolerate prolonged periods of strenuous training loads need to be justified through more of their applications.
Instances of Probiotic Application:
It has been found that the administration of L. acidophilus containing probiotic products can enhance the T-cell mediated response in the athletes with mucosal infection or under excessive training stress and a compromised T-cell immunity. The athletes who complain of fatigue with a fall in their performance graph are generally frequented with infections that result in reduced levels of IFNc secretion as compared to their healthy counterparts. A regular intake of L. acidophilus by the affected athletes resulted in the improvement in the level of IFNc in the blood to the level of the normal controls.
The male athletes who were in the habit of taking supplements containing Lactobacillus fermentum showed reduced incidences of the severity of the cases related to respiratory disorders, usage of medications for cold and flu as also gastrointestinal problems that have been reported earlier in sportsperson under excessive training loads. Majority of the health benefits provided by the probiotic strains in the athletes are mainly due to their capacity to alter and mend the perturbations in the immune responses. In female athletes, the studies so far are very paltry suggesting the need for further research for the application of probiotics in their cases.
However, some of the few studies carried out so far provide good frequency of positive results in the alleviation of their problems by the use of probiotic products. In yet another study it was found that there was no difference in the improvement responses by the male and female athletes who were administered with the probiotic strains like L. fermentum. In either of the cases the probiotic supplements seemed to improve the balance of the crucial cytokines, the alterations of which has led to the growing reports of fatigue and loss of endurance among athletes.
A near (20-60) % reduction in cytokine balance alterations has been reported among the athletes following regular probiotic supplements. According to a recent report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine by a group of scientists at the Australian Institute of Sports, the intake of the probiotic strain L. fermentum orally can result in the enhacement of endurance among 20 elite male runners. The study also pointed on the benefits of reduction in respiratory complications upon the administration of the probiotic product. When analyzed immunologically, the athletes showed increased levels of the cytokine IFNγ which might as well play a big role in the outcome of the positive results obtained so far.
There is significant research going on in the field of sports medicine to improve the health conditions in the athletes in order to increase their sports lives. The major focus of the scientific community is to find out strategies that would naturally intervene into the problems of the athletes with positive outcome. The probiotics could just be the answer to such efforts with negligible side effects.