Sat, Oct 22, 2016 | updated 09:35 PM IST

Rio Olympic participants complain upset stomachs; culprit can be 'leaky gut'

Updated: Aug 18, 2016 12:45 IST

Washington D.C., Aug. 18 (ANI): Looks like 'leaky gut' can be held responsible for reported stomach problems by the competitors at the Rio Olympics.

Raymond Playford, a gastro-intestinal expert from Plymouth University, came up with this suggestion when Team GB officials have denied food poisoning to be the reason the upset stomachs.

'Leaky gut' is a condition where the thin mucosal barrier of the gut, which plays a role in absorbing nutrients and preventing large molecules and germs from the gut entering the blood stream, becomes less effective.

It is a particular problem for those taking part in heavy exercise or who are active in hot conditions. It can lead to 'heat stroke,' especially in military personnel deployed to countries with high temperatures, and gut symptoms in athletes.

The combination of intense physical exertion and warm environments at the Olympic Games could well be antagonising leaky gut in participating athletes.

Earlier this year Playford led a research team whose study claimed that zinc carnosine (a health food product), taken alone or with bovine colostrum, may have value for athletes affected by 'leaky gut.'

The team recruited eight volunteers who took part in a four-arm, double-blind placebo-controlled test. The volunteers were put into groups where each group received either the placebo, zinc carnosine, colostrum or zinc carnosine and colostrum for 14 days prior to standardised exercise taken two and 14 days after starting treatment.

Among the changes that occurred in the athletes during heavy exercise was a two degree centigrade rise in body temperature, which may well have been a contributing factor in causing the increased leakiness of the gut.

The clinical trial went parallel to cell culture experiments to help understand the mechanisms behind how zinc carnosine and bovine colostrum worked.

The results showed that zinc carnosine improved the performance of the mucosal barrier of the gut, and that this improvement was enhanced when supplemented with bovine colostrum. Both are readily available from health food suppliers and the research team concluded that zinc carnosine taken alone or with bovine colostrum may have value for those affected by 'leaky gut.'

"It comes as little surprise that some athletes at the Olympics are experiencing stomach complaints. The conditions are ideal for ' leaky gut' - hot temperatures and high levels of exercise are a heady combination for the condition. The good news is that our research has shown that there is a natural and readily-available solution to the problem," Playford commented.

The study has been published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (ANI)