How Swimming Can Be Bad For Your Gut Health

By Alexa Sooter | 10 February 2020 322 views
swimming bad for gut health

Can Swimming Endanger Your Gut Health?

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Healthy gut bacteria is the hottest topic in nutrition circles these days. And, overall, it’s good that more people are aware of the role their gut health plays in their health at large.

In some cases, though, it can make you question things you didn’t used to think twice about. 

For some people, swimming makes that list. Most people know to expect dry skin from a dip in their nearest chlorinated pool. But there is now a rising concern about the effect that chlorine will have on your gut bacteria.

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After all, you’re going to end up with a little pool water in your mouth… no matter how careful you are. And the water is chlorinated specifically to kill bacteria, good and bad.

So, what happens when some of that water reaches your stomach and your normal gut bacteria?

How Chlorinated Water Affects Your Gut Bacteria

As of right now, no studies have been done on the effect pool water has on gut bacteria. 

While this might seem unlikely, it’s for a very good reason. Unless you’re drinking mouthfuls of pool water, you’re not getting enough chlorine to affect your stomach bacteria. 

In fact, you probably get more chlorine from your tap water. And that’s a good thing!

Our tap water is chlorinated at low levels to make sure it doesn’t breed bacteria while it sits. Prior to this, nasty diseases like cholera were common and deadly occurrences. It still occurs in many parts of the world to devastating effect.

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You could go for a swim every day and unless you’re drinking the water in big gulps… you’re just not going to ingest enough chlorine to make a difference. 

However, there are one or two things worse than chlorine lurking in your pool water.

The Real Danger: Tough Bacteria

You’re not likely to damage your gut health by getting a little pool water in your mouth during your swim. There is a chance, however, that you could end up physically ill thanks to a very tough strain of bacteria.

That strain is cryptosporidium.

While the strain’s name might be a mouthful, you definitely don’t want to get a mouthful of the strain itself. It enters pool water when someone swims too soon after experiencing diarrhea

Put simply, it’s bacteria from fecal matter. 

The bacteria is stronger than most chlorine levels can handle. Despite this, there’s still a relatively low risk you’ll get sick.

People with compromised immune systems have a higher risk level. But most healthy adults should be more worried about rough housing in the pool than bacteria in the water—or their gut.

Are Beaches Better For Your Gut Health Than Pools?

If the thought of contaminated water makes you want to skip chlorinated pools, you have a few other options. Salt water pools work in much the same way as their chlorinated counterparts.

They are gentler on your skin, of course. But they aren’t going to stand up to cryptosporidium as well.

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You might be surprised to learn that oceans are just as safe, though. And, in some cases, they can be even safer.

Bacteria tend to be more diluted, given the sheer amount of water you’re swimming in. Plus, the water is naturally filtered by many of the plants and animals that call it home. 

There are ways to reduce your risk even further, too. Many beaches post bacteria reports so swimmers can track algae blooms and other events that increase bacterial risk levels. 

You can take a more hands-on approach as well. If you need to do your business, make sure you get to a bathroom.

Make sure your children follow this rule as well, at least as well as you can. It’s kind of like beach etiquette 101.

Most importantly, skip the swim if you had any stomach problems in the last 48 hours, just to be on the safe side. Your immune system isn’t likely to be in top shape so soon after an illness, after all.

And you will reduce infection risks for other people, too.

The Takeaway

Your gut bacteria will likely be just fine if you get a little pool water in your mouth. Even a little bit every day isn’t likely to have a huge effect… especially if you’re actively taking care of your probiotic levels. 

You can do this by eating probiotic-rich foods… or by taking a daily probiotic supplement.

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While you should be more concerned about bacteria in the water, even that is a relatively low-risk threat. 

Overall, swimming is a great way to get and stay healthy. It’s low-impact on your joints and works out just about every muscle group.

Whether indoor or outdoor, in a pool or an ocean, it’s not something you need to cut off anytime soon.

Which Probiotic Supplement Is Best For Your Gut Health?

If you swim regularly, it’s a great idea to take a probiotic supplement to protect your gut health… and make sure your microbiome isn’t wiped out by the chlorine, or other potentially pesky critters in non-chlorinated water.

(Note: It’s also a great idea even if you AREN’T a regular swimmer! Things like antibiotics, drinking a lot of alcohol, and eating too much of the same foods can cause similar issues for your gut and digestive system.)

But which probiotic supplement is best for your health?

Doctors recommend looking for supplements that are well-reviewed, backed by a medical professional, and contain at least 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) per dose.

Take this one for example, which I found when I was doing research for this article.

It’s got a whopping 25(!) billion CFUs in each serving… and includes 4 probiotic “superstrains,” which are scientifically proven to support healthy digestion, increased fat burn, and even weight loss.

(Note: A lot of people don’t know this, but some probiotic strains can actually cause weight GAIN!! Seriously, Google it sometime.)

It’s also gluten- and dairy-free, if that’s your thing.

So if you’d like to know more about it, where to get it, and the amazing (and hilarious!) story of how one doctor in Florida discovered these “superstrains” in the first place…

Here’s where I first found out about it:

Click Here To See Which Probiotic Supplement I Use To Protect My Gut Health (With 4 Probiotic “Superstrains”)