Runners Gut: Nutrition Can Help

September 9, 2020

Runner’s Gut: Nutrition Can Help

Runner’s Gut is a blight on the performance of many runners. It can be debilitating and remove runners from their sport for days, weeks or sometimes months.

Here we will be delving into some conditions of the digestive tract including IBS, food intolerances, and Coeliac disease that may be triggering YOUR symptoms.

We will also be discussing some nutrition and lifestyle strategies to help reduce or prevent symptoms occurring so you can continue to run in peak performance.

LISTEN HERE Episode 23: Runners Gut


Runner’s Gut: Nutrition Can Help


Opening with a recap on what was discussed in Episode 3 “Digestive Issues as a Runner”. The principle areas being recapped are the physical, mechanical and nutritional risk factors for digestive distress in runners.

The physical effects of running being linked to reduced blood flow to the gut and anxiety

The mechanical effects of running being linked to the bouncing effect of running

The nutritional effects being linked principally to carbohydrate and fibre


An overview of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) concentrating on the differences in symptoms and diagnosis.

IBS being an umbrella term for a cluster of symptoms that are linked to a functional disorder of the digestive system.

IBD being a term used for a cluster of autoimmune conditions which affect the digestive system and tend to be driven by inflammation. The principle diseases being Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition affecting the digestive system so is also discussed here.


Delving deeper into Coeliac disease with a focus on the symptoms and the process of diagnosis followed by an introduction to gluten and lactose intolerance and the potential risk factors for their development.


Discussing some clinical approaches to supporting a client with IBS. You will hear from nutritional therapists Aileen and Karen on how they approach care for their clients with this disorder.


The Female Factors to consider regarding Runner’s Gut including the prevalence of autoimmune (AI) disease and IBS in women versus men


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Focusing on various nutritional approaches to supporting a runner’s digestive health including:

  • An anti-inflammatory diet
  • An elimination diet – to remove potential key trigger foods
  • A Mediterranean style diet


Thinking about some of lifestyle factors that could be considered to help alleviate digestive symptoms. Including:

  • Training load
  • Appropriate sleep


Runners Gut: Nutrition Can Help

The female factor relevant to this topic is the prevalence of the conditions in women versus men. For example it is thought that 15%-25% of women suffer from IBS compared to 5%-20% of men, however it is not known why this is the case.

IBD and CD (coeliac disease) are classed as AI (autoimmune) conditions and these conditions are known to be more prevalent in women.

In a 2020 research it was found that 8 out of 10 patients presenting with AI conditions were female. We highlighted this in Ep 14 immune System.

Regarding IBD specifically, the menstrual cycle appears to influence its course.

Regarding coeliac disease, globally the prevalence is 1%, however there is a 2:1 prevalence in women compared to men but the reasons why are still undetermined.


Runners Gut: Nutrition Can Help

  • If you are experiencing any ongoing digestive symptoms visit your GP to have them checked out.
  • Definitely visit your GP if you are passing mucus or blood in your stools
  • Removing some trigger foods may have a significant positive effect on symptoms. Keep a food and symptoms diary to try and establish which foods may be causing the symptoms.
  • Remember that some of the symptoms you are experiencing may be as a direct result of your running training, especially if you are a distance runner
  • Consider working with a nutrition professional for a personalised approach to the changes to your diet and lifestyle depending on the symptoms you are experiencing.
  • Remember you don’t need to live with digestive symptoms and the earlier you acknowledge and act on them by seeking professional support, the quicker you will be back to peak running performance.

Related Episodes:

Avoiding Digestive Distress as a Runner

Endurance Running and Immune System


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Remember we are available to support you if required contact us at hello@

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