A recent research suggests that excessive strenuous exercise may lead to gut damage.

According to the research, the risk of gut injury and impaired function appears to increase along with the intensity and duration of exercise.

After two hours of continuous endurance exercise when 60 percent of an individual’s maximum intensity level is reached, the researchers say gut damage may occur.

The study was led by Ricardo Costa, a senior researcher with the department of nutrition, dietetics and food at Monash University in Australia, who said that examples of such strenuous exercise include running and cycling.

He said heat stress appears to be an exacerbating factor.

“The stress response of prolonged vigorous exercise shuts down gut function,” said Costa.

“The redistribution of blood flow away from the gut and towards working muscles creates gut cell injury that may lead to cell death, leaky gut, and systemic immune responses due to intestinal bacteria entering general circulation.”

The researchers, who reviewed eight previously done studies on the issue, said the problem is called “exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome”.

Costa advised maintaining hydration throughout physical activity, and possibly consuming small amounts of carbohydrates and protein before and during exercise.

He said there’s emerging evidence that a special diet called a low Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols (FODMAP) diet, leading up to heavy training and competition, may reduce gut symptoms.

FODMAPs are specific types of carbohydrates (sugars) that pull water into the intestinal tract.

The study results were recently published online in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.



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