Healthy Digestion Prevents Runner's Trots

by Dr. Jason Barker January 17, 2011

Healthy Digestion Prevents Runner's Trots

It would seem that athletes suffer from more than their fair share of digestive problems than the rest of the population. Runners in particular, are most affected. The notorious ‘runner’s trots’ include cramping, nausea, gas and diarrhea during or after a run. There are some well-known causes, including:

  • High fiber foods
  • High sugar foods/drinks
  • Caffeine
  • Eating too close to the run

Foods & Their Effects

High fiber and sugar foods cause water to be pulled into the intestines. This coupled with the jarring motion of running leads to the symptoms of trots. Caffeine stimulates bowel contractions. Eating too soon before a run will lead to poor digestion as the blood leaves the stomach to feed the muscles of the legs, rather than the digestive process.

Avoiding these foods is easy enough, and will cure some of the problems. However, improving the digestive process as a whole will help lower the threshold for getting the trots.

Food Sensitivities

Identifying and removing hidden food sensitivities can vastly improve digestion. This can be done through a simple blood test that looks at delayed food allergies, or those that occur up to 72 hours after ingesting a food. Once they are removed from the diet, oftentimes the majority of gut sensitivity resolves.

Complete Digestion

Your grandmother was onto something when she told you to chew each bite 50 times. By adequately chewing your food, you greatly improve the digestive process. If the stomach doesn’t have to breakdown large, poorly chewed chunks of food, fewer of them pass into the intestines where they will cause digestive upset. Mechanical breakdown of food should occur in the mouth, while chemical breakdown occurs in the stomach. The stomach isn’t as good at mechanically breaking down food. Poorly chewed/rapidly consumed food is a major cause of digestive problems.

Hold the Water

Your saliva contains enzymes to begin the chemical breakdown of food. But the stomach is where it really happens, as it secretes several powerful enzymes to aid in digestion. One thing you can do to improve the function of the enzymes is to limit the amount of fluid you drink immediately before, during and after a meal. When you wash your food down with large volumes of fluid, you are just diluting the stomach acid – and slowing the digestive process. This is just like pouring water on a fire. I suggest that you limit your fluids to no more than 4 ounces during digestive times.

Enzyme Support

Lastly, when digestion is not working well, supplemental enzymes can help the body with digestion. Symptoms like diarrhea, gas, indigestion, belching and bloating are all signs that the food is not being digested, rather it is fermenting in the gut. Taking supplemental enzymes will help the stomach do its job, and improve the digestive process.

Following these suggestions will improve your digestive process, allowing the job to be completed and will cut down on the chances that you get the dreaded ‘trots’.

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker


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