How Exercise and Body Temperature Influence the Gut

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The paper, entitled “Zinc carnosine works with bovine colostrum in truncating heavy exercise–induced increase in gut permeability in healthy volunteers”, is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This is a prestigious journal; according to their website the “AJCN was selected by the Special Libraries Association (SLA) as one of the top 100 most influential journals in Biology and Medicine over the last 100 years”.

Dr Glen Davison had this to say:
The findings from this study are important because they provide information on how exercise and increases in body temperature influence the gut. We used a human trial that assessed gut permeability in vivo as this allows us to see effects that are real-to-life and have practical implications for athletes or other people who may be exposed to such stressors. The nutritional supplements used provide potential practical countermeasures for those who suffer from gut issues during strenuous exercise but also provide us with useful information on the likely mechanisms and causes.

We also used a variety of advanced in vitro measures (e.g. where cell cultures were studied in conditions designed to mimic those in the body during the exercise) which allowed us to gain more insight into the molecular processes and mechanisms that explain these effects. This provides useful information that helps us to understand (and potentially treat) such issues in athletes (which could help to optimise their performance), but more generally may also help us to understand how the gut responds to other insults or stressors (such as illness or chronic medical conditions affecting the gut) and help us understand and optimise treatment.”

According to the study, ‘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 study involved a collaboration between researchers from the University of Kent, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, the University of Leicester and Aberystwyth University.It was found that the exercise (running on a treadmill) caused a number of physiological responses, including an 2-3-fold increase in gut ‘leakiness’ (intestinal permeability) and an increase in body temperature, which may well have been a contributing factor in causing the increased leakiness of the gut.

The study also 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. Bovine colostrum has been studies a lot in the past but this is the first study to examine the effects of zinc carnosine in such a context. Zinc carnosine is 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’.

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