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How gut health affects performance

With the sun blazing and the smell of a sizzling barbecue wafting through the air, running laps around the local park isn’t too high on your to-do list. 


Cue internal slanging match. Do it. No. Get up and go. No. Move it you lazy so-and-so. No. Argh!


Which voice should you listen to? The one in your stomach, of course. “Your gut has its own nervous system, just like the brain,” says UCLA professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioural sciences, Emeran Mayer. 


“Ninety per cent of the messages between the brain and the gut are sent from the gut to the brain, so a large part of our emotions are actually controlled by the gut.”

But why should you be listening to the muffin top hanging over your skin-tight shorts? Surely you can’t be depending on the bulge’s judgement – that’s the thing that the coach will be prodding with disappointment when you return for the first day of pre-season.


“Your gut holds a lifetime of learned experiences which enable you to make quick decisions when all the relevant information isn’t available to the conscious mind,” says Melody Wilding, an adjunct professor of human behaviour at Hunter College in New York.


Now put down that burger, leave the beers in the fridge and lace up your boots, ready for a run. Why? Because your gut told you to.


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