Runners Gut - 3 Considerations From A Gut Health Dietitian
[Natasha] Hi everyone. Natasha McLaughlin-Chaisson here, registered dietitian, specializing in sports and performance, and founder of NMC nutrition.
So as you all know, the weather's getting a lot better now out and we are able to go for longer runs, and with the longer runs come, the increased prevalence
for runners gut, or runners trots, as some of you may call it.
So today I have with me Ashley Oswald and a registered dietitian, founder of the Oswald Digestive Clinic. It's a virtual clinic, based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. And Ashley has seven years of schooling in nutrition and especially an internship from the Harvard Brigham and women's hospital.
So I think it's safe to say that Ashley is the gut guru. Is that right Ashley?
[Ashley] I do. I love talking about gut health and learning about it. So that is true.
[Natasha] Awesome. Well, welcome, Ashley. I am happy to have you here.
[Ashley] Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to talk about this connection between gut health and performance and just to help your audience here.
[Natasha] Yes. Awesome. So, although I treat runners, got from a fueling standpoint, you know, how to adapt the fueling prior to runs and during and all that to reduce the prevalence of runner's gut and so on. You go quite a bit deeper with your link to overall gut health and the prevalence of runners' gut with that.
So I was excited to get you to share that information and to share your professional outlook on all of that with everyone today. So, yeah. Can you tell us the link there?
[Ashley] Yeah. So first of all, in 2018 there was a study, a survey that was done in the States on 71,000 people and it found that 61% of those people had a bothersome gut issue the week prior.
So then it only makes sense that when you're exercising and doing this endurance and really high-intensity exercises that are stressing the gut and if you're having baseline issues it can just exacerbate and make some of those symptoms worse, which is when you get, you know, these runner trots and it's, it's really common, gut issues are more common in the sports medicine community than in general.
[Natasha] Definitely. I am always surprised when a client fills out a questionnaire and does not check the runner's gut box. It's that prevalent, right?
[Ashley] Yeah, absolutely. And so this stress on the like gut can do all sorts of things, it can decrease your stomach acid production, and it can cause some malabsorption. So for everybody, we're all about looking at root causes, getting to the root causes, fixing that.
So for one person diarrhea could have a different root cause and for another person, but just in general, all of that athletic, that exercise can cause decreased blood flow to the gut.
It can cause some malabsorption if you're having a lot of diarrhea, right? Like zinc and magnesium can be malabsorbed. And runners and just athletes, in general, have a higher demand for certain nutrients.
So now all of a sudden you have this increased demand for different nutrients and you're malabsorbing. So getting and having low nutrient stores and nutrient deficiencies can be pretty common. And then to add to it, having low nutrient stories in the roundabout way can impact gut health.
Like for example, if you're having diarrhea, you're malabsorbing zinc. And that zinc is really important for then helping to support and heal that gut lining so it can come to this really bad cycle.
[Natasha] Definitely. So, and I find that a lot of clients don't realize that the runners gut, they'll just see it as a, it's something that's unfortunate, something they don't enjoy dealing with, but they keep dealing with it and they don't tend to treat it for quite a few years and that's when the risk of these deficiencies can occur.
Right. So these constant, regular, bouts of diarrhea can definitely bring about these deficiencies. Are there any other deficiencies that you tend to have to treat quite often in athletes with a runner's gut?
[Ashley] Yeah, and I'll add that there is a lot of hope. And I just had a client who after just a few sessions she was able to get rid of it. She was like shocked. So know that it's not something you just have to deal with. And then some of them that come to mind are zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D that we wanted to just touch on it.
But there are plenty more of these micronutrients, these vitamins, and minerals that you could be at risk for. So I want to share that zinc, it's important for athletes because it can help to improve body composition and strength, and deficiency and zinc can impair that peak oxygen uptake during exercise.
So that's again the one that's really important for healing the gut lining be low from diarrhea. Magnesium is another one and it's estimated that 70% of people who are low in magnesium are ready. So of course athletes get increased risk, it's really important for that ATP production, that energy production, which of course you want a lot of energy to be performing and to be competing.
And so diarrhea can cause low levels. Stress can decrease absorption and increase demand. And then something to add to this is when we're talking about this, it's always really important to work with a dietician because magnesium at different forms can actually either improve absorption or make diarrhea worse like the citrate form can make diarrhea worse, magnesium glycinate better absorbed. So it's really important that you have a dietician looking at all this to really find something that's appropriate for you.
[Natasha] Definitely. I know that magnesium supplementation is something that a lot of athletes tend to just do because they can easily buy it off the shelf. And so they'll pop a couple of pills, a couple of supplements and hope that they're needing it and they're doing it right. So obviously there's always some risk associated there as well.
[Ashley] Yeah, there are things that you might just not even realize even with the zink replacement. So if you replaced too much zink or supplement too much, think you could cause yourself to have a copper deficiency, which can cause inflammation in the body too. So there's more than it seems from the surface.
[Natasha] Exactly. And you would mention vitamin D and of course here in Canada, especially vitamin D is absorbed from the UVB rays of the sun and we tend to wear either sunscreen or clothing, especially in the winter. And so vitamin D deficiency is incredibly prevalent in our population and our athletes.
[Ashley] And I'm in Minnesota, some Northern United States, so we have a big issue here in the winter as well. We just can't even absorb it is in the winter either, even if the sun is out.
So it's vitamin D deficiency is usually more so from that, those winter months, it's really important for the immune system, which of course, you want a strong immune system when you're training, you don't want to have, you don't want to get sick.
70% of the immune system is in the gut. So this is one that is just really important to test because if you're low you're going to need to use mega doses to replace it.
And then also when it's summertime when you can absorb that D, get out in the sun, there's actually an app called Dminder where you can put down how much sun is exposed or how much skin is exposed to the sun and it'll roughly estimate how much D is getting.
[Natasha] Oh, I didn't know about that app. Wow.
[Ashley] Yeah, I kind of forgot about it until now.
[Natasha] Now there's another app as well that is fantastic to use. Just to make sure that the intake is sufficient in micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Did you want to discuss that at?
[Ashley] I do. Yeah. So with these micronutrients, there are tests that you can do, again, work with your healthcare provider, touch base within the cash for I, if you're interested in getting these tested. But then there's also this app called Cronometer, which you can type in your food for a full month.
I would recommend a month just to get a good overview and then it'll break down the vitamin and mineral content of all the foods that you had in the month. So you can kind of see where you might be
low from just the food amount.
And I want to add that to getting nutrition deficiencies. There are a lot of different factors as mentioned malabsorption, and increased demand. So it's just that tool testing is really the best way. But this is a tool that then you can work with your dietician to analyze, to help at least as a starting spot.
[Natasha] Fantastic. And I like that it can be a red flag for individuals as well to maybe see how many deficiencies might be there, especially with the consumption, sometimes of the same foods over and over again. There can be a higher risk for deficiencies there.
And as you've mentioned with runners' gut, we want to make sure that there are sufficient amounts of, sometimes the food intake may show sufficient amounts, but there may not be the body may not be absorbing it all because of the regular runners' gut.
And so that's something that I really like and it's an app that I find fantastic because it brings it one step further than just the macronutrient intake. A lot of the apps out there, work with carbs, protein, and fat as a breakdown but don't really break down the vitamins and minerals. So that's why this app is really great for that.
Awesome. And so for athletes who want to know more information, I know that you have a YouTube channel that has fantastic, you also have your Instagram and I will put the links up below this interview once we are done and so there is your blog as well that has the poop chart and I think every athlete should go check that out.
You also have the Facebook group if I'm correct. And this is a new group, right? It's for anyone in the public with digestive issues.
[Ashley] Yeah, new. And I'll be it, there'll be more collaboration there coming down the road at it. But right now YouTube, I'm focusing a lot of effort on making these videos and there is that blog post.
There's also a video up on YouTube talking about the poop chart too, and you can and what normal digestion really is. So I really recommend going there, checking that out to just see what's normal to see where you might fit on that scale.
[Natasha] Wonderful. Thank you so much and I really appreciate having you here. I could talk forever.
[Ashley] Oh Natasha, could you quickly tell my viewers where they can connect with you, in case they're looking for a sports medicine specialized dietician?
[Natasha] Certainly. So I am, email@example.com, and all my Facebook, Instagram, and social media are NMC nutrition as well. Awesome.
Thank you [speaking in French] uh, Natasha McLaughlin, chefs now still YouTube. See we really don't, you can say so.
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[Ashley] Hi Again, it's Ashley. I just wanted to hop on here and show you the chart that we talked to that Tasha and I talked to cause I think this could be helpful for you.
Now, in this document, we have a lot of different kinds of issues, and what the research shows as far as nutrients that can be tied to those issues. So let's just zoom into the sports nutrition one here and you can see for example, up to glutamine up here, all these little numbers after.
Those are just references. So researched references for where this information was pulled from a by SpectraCell, which is the lab I use to test micronutrient levels and our clients.
So in their white blood cells, which is more accurate than just a blood level. So you can read here, that glutamine depletion compromises the entity, and many athletes after intense physical training, glutamine supplementation by marathoners, reduced post-race infections So some really interesting stuff on here.
Vitamin D we spoke about in the video improves arm strength, thus reducing the potential for sports-related injuries and stress factors.
Zinc, we talked about, interacts with hormones to improve body composition and strength deficiency and pairs, peak oxygen uptake during exercise. As mentioned, low zinc is common in distance runners.
Talk about runners trots, um, diarrhea is a risk factor for the depleting zinc in the body, and gymnasts' immense supplementation should be accompanied by copper.
And the good thing about these panels is that copper is checked as well, so you can know where you're at with the copper status because over-supplementing with zinc can cause a copper deficiency and that can affect antioxidant abilities in the body.
And so this all really works together. And then the other one we talked about let's magnesium, which is a key to the production of ATP. That's that energy ATP in the body. Oh yeah.
So body's main storage form of energy. Supplementation may improve aerobic performance and muscle strength and repair. And there are a couple of references there. So I just think this is so fascinating. I wanted to hop on after to give a little bit more value to this YouTube community.
So just take a screenshot if you want to save this for later or I think you can probably save this video as well. And comment below if you like this kind of information and subscribe if you want to see more gut health content like this. So I hope you guys have a fantastic day and I will see you in the next video.
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