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Olympic stomach upsets: Leaky gut syndrome the culprit?

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.

Zee Media Bureau

London: Even as a number of competitors at the Rio Olympics have complained of stomach upsets, a British gastro-intestinal expert suggest a condition called “leaky gut” syndrome could be responsible for it.

However, team GB officials have denied that athletes have fallen victim to food poisoning at the Olympic athletes' village in Rio, despite a number complaining of upset stomachs.

According to Raymond Playford, Professor of Medicine from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry in England, the culprit may, in some cases, be 'leaky gut' syndrome.

“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,” said Playford.

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.

Signs and symptoms of a leaky gut include bloating, gas, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), skin issues (rosacea and acne), fatigue, food sensitivities, etc.

“The good news is that our research has shown that there is a natural and readily-available solution to the problem," Playford noted in a university statement on Thursday.

The study claimed that zinc carnosine (a health food product), taken alone or with bovine colostrum, may have value for athletes affected by 'leaky gut'.

Earlier this year, Playford led a research team which published a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  

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