In recent years probiotics became very popular by growing as nutraceuticals claiming positive effects on athlete’s gut health, redox biology and immunity. There is still little data exist on the factors that influence patients/individuals to consume probiotics or what they expect of these products. This is the first study aimed to investigate experiences with probiotics and factors that influence probiotics use and consumption frequency of elite athletes.
Nineteen male and eleven female elite volleyball players (mean age: 23.6 ± 3.8 years) (Table 1) completed a self questionnaire, including experiences and thoughts about probiotics. At the same time they completed a probiotic foods frequency questionnaire (FFQ) with portion size, which developed by our nutrition department. The nutrient intakes of athletes were estimated by the 24-h dietary records obtained on 3 consecutive days during pre-season period.
Total dietary energy and protein intake of players were found to be 28.97 ± 11.24 kcal/kg/day and 1.18 ± 0.37 g/kg/day, respectively. Energy ratios from macronutrients can be seen in Table 1.
Majority of players (n:18, 60%) reported that they have never heard of the term “probiotic” before, only 10% of players were very familiar with it and the rest know little about it. 23.3% of volleyball players had used a probiotic food or supplement in the past and mostly to maintain “good gastrointestinal health” and for “benefits of the immune system”. 71.4% of players who used probiotics do not know what organism are in the probiotic and most of them are not sure the supplement had been beneficial or not. The main reason (85.7%) for initially trying probiotics is “positive experiences by others”. They would consider using probiotics in the future (70.8%) if they know what probiotics are. Volleyball players would prefer to use probiotics mostly (44.8%) incorporated into food (Table 2).
Despite a growing number of studies on probiotics, there is still little knowledge about athletes’ experiences about probiotics which can affect its use. This study presents an initial exploration on athletes’ attitude to probiotics, but continued future research is required to better understand its associated factors.
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