Ex­pert view

Cycling Weekly - - Fitness -

Dr Me­gan Rossi (@Theguthealth­doc on Twit­ter) is a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian who has a PHD in gut health

How does cy­cling af­fect the gut?

Dur­ing stren­u­ous ex­er­cise, blood moves away from the gut, so it doesn’t get the oxy­gen it needs. In ex­treme cases such as in ul­tra-en­durance ath­letes, this can lead to is­chaemia, where the gut cells start to die. Even in less ex­treme ex­er­cise, there is some dam­age to the gut.

There seems to be a dis­par­ity be­tween of­fi­cial guide­lines and re­search sur­round­ing leaky gut, where cer­tain sub­stances leak through into the blood­stream? Leaky gut is quite a new area, and be­cause it’s a con­se­quence of some­thing else — e.g. stres­sors — it’s not some­thing we can di­rectly treat. We treat it by re­mov­ing the stres­sors and know­ing that if you do, for ex­am­ple, ex­treme ex­er­cise, you’re go­ing to have these gut con­se­quences. It’s im­por­tant not to get too hung up on it be­cause we know ex­er­cise is over­all ben­e­fi­cial. We also know our body can adapt. If you build train­ing up slowly, your gut will adapt too.

What are your thoughts on pro­bi­otics?

As yet, noth­ing very promis­ing has come of re­search into whether pro­bi­otics en­hance per­for­mance. How­ever, I think it’s an im­por­tant area and there are a lot of mech­a­nisms by which they could im­prove per­for­mance, from im­mune func­tion, to re­duc­ing leaky gut and sys­temic in­flam­ma­tion caused by ex­er­cise. There isn’t a lot of ev­i­dence in sup­port of sup­ple­ments at the mo­ment. I rec­om­mend fo­cus­ing on max­imis­ing your gut health through life­style means.

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