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Supporting the Immune System

Probiotics: The Key to Supporting the Immune System in Athletes

By Dr. Stephen Clouthier, DC

Following Ironman Texas 2012, my friends and I, for a period of weeks, recapped “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the race experience.  There were many who were describing the various trips to the “porta potties” along the run course.  Many blamed the warm lake water and its’ prolific bacterial flora for their frequent stops.  One friend even described visiting all of the potties at least once on the run course.  As I listened to the stories, I felt sheepish, as I had not needed to make a “visit” even once for gastrointestinal distress during the race.

I started to ask this question in my head, “If we all swam in the same water, why didn’t we all have GI distress on the run?”  I am not a scientist but my thought immediately turned to what the condition of my “GI distressed” friends’ gut flora and immune system were prior to the race.

It is well documented that heavy training or overtraining in athletes causes immune system impairment.  In addition, this heavy training can also cause abnormally high cortisol levels, which can also lead to impairment of physiologic recovery systems. (More about that in future blog post).  Linked here is an interesting study performed in 2006.


So my further question was this, “Does the athlete with GI distress and/or immune system impairment have that condition long before race or competition day?”  I believe the answer is a resounding “yes”.  If that is the case, there is no reason that ANY athlete should not be taking a reliable, active, probiotic.  I use Klean Athlete’s probiotic daily for this purpose.

Here are the reasons, simple and succinct:

  1. The live cultures in Klean Probiotic™ have been studied in vitro to be extremely resistant to low stomach pH and bile acids in the duodenum, and also show increased binding to human intestinal walls and protective effects of intestinal colonization.
  2. Prebiotics (fructooligosaccharides) are carbohydrates that have short molecular chains. They function as non-digestible ingredients that can positively affect selected groups of beneficial intestinal microflora (probiotics) to flourish.
  3. Klean Probiotic™ is tested by the NSF Certified for Sport® program, which was created to meet the growing demands of athletes, coaches and healthcare professionals to certify that sports supplements are safe and free from banned substances.
  4. Proper probiotic balance appears to cause increases in mineral absorption and metabolism in the gut.
  5. It has been suggested that 60-70% of the immune system is housed in the gut.  The first step to keeping this system fine tuned is a quality probiotic, used in concert with a balanced product line of athlete specific nutritional support, it can be a winning edge.

Start using our Klean Probiotic and see if you don’t have an increase in energy and balanced digestion and a decrease in time lost from training due to sick days.  While you are at it, limit the refined sugars, which tend to have an effect of increasing gut inflammation and impairing maintenance of good gut flora balance.


Dr. Stephen Clouthier is a graduate from and was an adjunct professor at New York Chiropractic College.  He owns the Alternative Health Center in The Woodlands, Texas where he treats athletes of all levels from a nutritional and holistic approach.  He is currently pursuing Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician accreditation.  As a multiple Ironman and marathon competitor, he lends his expertise as a Level I USAT certified coach, staff coach for Finish Strong Coach and the chiropractic and nutritional doctor for Team Green Adidas.

Learn more about about the NSF Certified for Sport® Program here:

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