GUT HEALTH & INFLAMMATION
Are you into fitness and struggle with gut health issues or experience digestive distress and bloating?
My gut health started to decline when I was working out too hard, not replenishing my body with enough healthy fats or eating a balanced diet. I would eat on the go, grab the newest trendy health protein bar and eat them 3 times a day. I never took time to sit and rest while I ate. I was running and training daily, I lost too much body fat, and my hormones got out of whack. This is when my illness started and just crumbled on from there. I was addicted to working out and I couldn’t miss a day.
But gut health and other body systems fatigue is SO COMMON with over-exercising and being ‘too fit’.
There are studies showing a strong connection between chronic gut issues, specifically SIBO and leaky gut, and athletes, runners, fitness enthusiasts. Most people who come to me for advice and help are fitness enthusiasts or athletes
Besides it just taxing your body, one common reason is eating too close after exercise. Your body has to be in ‘rest and digest’ mode to digest food properly, and exercising puts your body in ‘fight or flight’. It takes your body about an hour to switch over to rest and digest mode. This also applies to eating while you’re stressed. Do you notice your digestion is worse and you bloat when you’re stressed?
Endurance and cardio are also stressors on the body which result in a surge of the hormone cortisol, made by your adrenal glands. The adrenals can be overworked and go into a chronic adrenal fatigue. This affects your digestion (and many other things, as it's all connected), but specifically, IBS and leaky gut are direct symptoms.
There was recent research in Australia done over a 20 year period that found intense exercise for over two hour increments will cause chronic long term gut issues and damage. This damage is from injuries to intestinal cells, resulting in the gut to leak disease-causing molecules into bloodstream (leaky gut). This leads to all kinds of GI discomfort. Exercising in the heat adds to the problem (guilty!). Leaky gut takes years to heal with special diets and supplements… I am still working on it to this day.
HOWEVER, the good news: exercising in small to moderate amounts actually HELPS the gut and can relieve any upset or symptoms.
So how do we exercise and stay fit while keeping our gut healthy?
Do light exercises like yoga and stretching. It will help the blood flow which will improve digestion
Keeping longer distance running and jogging to under 90 minutes, and try to run in cooler temperatures
Make sure to take rest days in between. Working out every day taxes the body and does not let it properly rest.
Eat the calories back in healthy, wholesome foods. Your body need calories and body fat percentage for your hormones to stay balanced and your system to stay in sync
Do low impact exercises, fast walking or high interval intensity training for minimal lengths of time, no more than 30 minutes
As always, take a good quality probiotic and amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks for the body. Specifically the amino L-Glutamine, which focuses on repairing the intestinal lining. This can be taken as well for prevention, not just when you are trying to heal.
Learning the hard way, I used to run long distances and work out 2x a day, almost daily. Now I do barre classes, walk with my pup, stretch sessions, dancing, strength training, occasional hiking, and HIIT cardio 1x week.
There is a way to balance, and I will never give up fitness because what it does for my body other ways physically and mentally. I do find that a moderate and balanced amount makes my digestion SO much better and alleviates symptoms.
But it was also my culprit and the cause behind my imbalance and leaky gut. Your body just doesn’t like to be overworked (who does?) You have to listen to it and tune in. It’s trying to tell you something.
Does anyone else struggle with gut issues related to over-exercise? Send me an email, let's connect!