Getty Images

Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics

Did you know that, right now, there's a big party happening in your gastrointestinal tract, with billions of bacteria? It's known as your microbiome, and it's filled with both healthy and unhealthy bacteria, including probiotics—a healthy kind that can provide your dancer bod with a bevy of benefits. Dance Spirit turned to Tiffany Mendell, MS, RDN, CDN, of Lara Metz Nutrition in NYC, for a crash course on all things probiotic, and the best ways to incorporate them into your diet.

What Are Probiotics (and Prebiotics)?

"Probiotics are the good guys—bacteria that help in everything from aiding digestion to synthesizing vitamins like vitamin K, which is essential for strong bones," says Mendell. "They also play a key role in your immune system by maintaining a protective layer around the GI tract, which prevents toxins from entering the bloodstream." Prebiotics are "basically the food for probiotics," Mendell explains. They help sustain the population of probiotics in your gut.

Where Can I Get Them?

"The best way to incorporate probiotics into your routine is through food itself," Mendell says. You can find probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, tempeh, or kombucha. When it comes to prebiotics, reach for fiber-filled foods like oats, leeks, asparagus, garlic, onions, or bananas. Mendell stresses that "while all prebiotics contain fiber, not all fiber is prebiotic."

Getty Images

Wondering how to include these foods in your diet? Mendell suggests the following: "Oatmeal with nuts and berries for breakfast; a salad with tempeh, steamed leeks, and gouda cheese for lunch; yogurt and a banana for a pre-rehearsal snack; and a turkey burger with pickles, sweet potato, and asparagus for a post-performance dinner."

What's Up with Supplements?

Supplements are sold over-the-counter, but Mendell advises getting probiotics through food when you can. "However, taking a probiotic supplement when you're on antibiotics for an illness is fine, though it's important to consult your doctor first," she says. That's because antibiotics not only help kill the unhealthy bacteria in your system, they also wipe out all the good bacteria in the process. Supplements help to replenish it.

How Can They Help My Dancing?

There's nothing worse than having to make it through a tough class while feeling bloated and uncomfortable. "If you're prone to gastrointestinal issues, increasing your intake of pre- and probiotic-rich foods can promote a healthy GI tract," Mendell says. Additionally, probiotics play a key role in your immune system, and can help stave off every dancer's winter nemesis: the common cold.

A version of this story appeared in the December 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Going Pro (biotic)."

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search