Exploring Gut Health for Runners

Warmer weather means it’s easier to get some fresh air with your exercise! Whether you’re training for a marathon or you’re lacing up your first ever pair of runners, you’ll want to read on: today, we’re talking about gut health for runners.

Is Running Good for Your Gut Microbes?

If you’ve ever experienced a runner’s high, you’re likely familiar with why running feels good. Regular cardio is an essential component of fitness, and it’s a challenging experience that can give you a sense of accomplishment and get your blood pumping. But while it’s easy to feel your heart beating and moving while you run, there’s another part of your body that benefits from regular exercise: your gut.

Discussions around gut health often center on what we put into it. A gut-healthy lifestyle often revolves around low-FODMAP and gluten-free foods, prebiotics and probiotics, and limiting triggers such as sugar and alcohol. But that’s not all there is to it! A 2017 study in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity demonstrated that regular exercise affects not only the amount, but also the diversity of the beneficial bacteria found in the gut. It also found that exercise may reduce inflammation, even for those consuming high-fat diets, while increasing intestinal permeability.

What About Running and Digestion?

It’s no secret that running can keep you regular. This can be good news for some, but for people who live with digestive conditions such as IBS, it can be a serious concern. If you enjoy running, but don’t enjoy the urgent digestive symptoms which can come with it, there are steps you can take!

Runner’s gut, as it’s sometimes known, refers to a number of digestive symptoms that occur during high-intensity exercise, including nausea, bloating, gas, and even diarrhea. The bad news is that these symptoms occur for a number of reasons, not all of which are related to nutrition: changes in blood flow and muscular exertion during exercise can also trigger them. The good news? Even when symptoms are not directly related to nutrition, the way you feed your body may help alleviate them and help you run with more confidence.

Gut Friendly Diets and Runners 

Eating a gut-friendly diet or a low-FODMAP diet may help alleviate runner’s gut by promoting better overall gut health and digestion. Some other steps include taking notes on when and what you eat before your runs to identify what feels good and what doesn’t, avoiding triggers and irritants such as caffeine and high-sugar foods before exercising, and experimenting with the time of day at which you run. And, as always, make sure to get plenty of water! To start exploring how to incorporate a bloat-free low-FODMAP diet into your lifestyle, check out Fody’s one-week meal plan designed specifically for runners!

A Final Word on Running and Gut Health

If you’re considering incorporating running into your lifestyle to help support your gut health and overall health, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the feeling that you need to be covering large distances right away, or always feeding your body perfectly. 

While running is good for your gut, research has found that most forms of long-distance endurance training do not significantly impact the amount or quality of bacteria in the gut when compared to other fit, active adults. So if you’re considering running for gut health, you don’t need to aim for an ultra-marathon to see a positive payoff. Whether it’s running, jogging, or another form of exercise, get out there and get moving: your gut will thank you!

To discover more delicious and beneficial ways to incorporate gut friendly foods into your diet, explore our recipes and products sections today. For more tips on living a gut-friendly lifestyle, explore our blog! And whether you’re a walker, a runner, or something in between, we’re rooting for you!

So, what are you waiting for?

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