Journal Title (Medline/Pubmed accepted abbreviation): Br. J. Sports Med.
Page numbers: 299-300
Potassium is a mineral that is essential in muscle and nerve function. Athletes lose a small amount of potassium in sweat, though there is not strong evidence that the presence of potassium in post–workout sports beverages, in addition to sodium, speeds recovery from exercise. It is best if potassium is consumed from foods that naturally contain it, such as bananas, potatoes, avocado, chicken, salmon, and unsalted nuts. Potassium overdoses are possible with supplements and can lead to heat problems.
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that are not digestible by human enzymes, and therefore pass through to the colon, where they serve as food for gut microbes. A healthy population of gut microbes, in turn, aids the health of the person. Prebiotic compounds are found naturally in foods such as barley, bananas, and soy beans, and are in particularly high concentrations in chicory root. Studies show that supplementation with prebiotics can alter the profile of the microbiota. Most studies have been performed with galactooligosaccharide (GOS) and fructooligosaccharide (FOS). Athletes can benefit from supplementation with prebiotics in a similar way as non–athletes. For example, supplementation with prebiotics has been correlated with an improved immune system, less gastrointestinal pain and discomfort, and fewer instances of travelers’ diarrhea. It is unknown if prebiotics affect exercise–related events such as gut permeability, immune function, or energy balance.
Key practice applications: Adequate potassium intake and high intake of prebiotics are healthy dietary choices for athletes and non–athletes alike. Future studies need to be performed with prebiotics, specifically, in the athlete population in order to find the best sources and doses of prebiotics in the exercise setting.
Key search terms for this article (5-7 terms): potassium, prebiotics, GOS, FOS, gut, microbiota