Healthy gut for cyclists

For some, this week is a little sigh of relief as the kids are now settled back into a new twem. Is there slightly less tension in your tummy now that you don’t have to ask them for the 10th time that day to put the iPad down and go and play outside?

For others, like me, you may have noticed that the weekend means you actually relax for the first time in ages. Are you able to switch off and reduce the tension in your tummy as a result? Once you are back at work you need to do some deep breathing to really dispell that tension. 

Do you listen to your gut? 

When it is not working as it should, our gut reveals so much; from bloating, belching, smelly wind and - yes - questionable number 2s. 

Not a topic everyone likes talking about but you cannot get away from it. It is at the root of so many health issues. 

Why?

Well, because if we can’t digest our food properly we can’t absorb the goodness from it that we need to function. A fully functioning gut keeps us strengthened, with loads of energy to go out on our bikes and enjoy cycling (and life!) to the full. 

If we want to keep on improving and be the healthiest most fabulous version of ourselves we can be, then strengthening digestion is just as important as strengthening our muscles.

Also, we need to remember that just by the nature of doing endurance exercise like cycling, we are placing extra stress on the body, including the digestive system. 

If someone has stomach pain, diarrhoea, constipation, the first port of call MUST be your GP. 

But what if you have been checked and cleared, perhaps by a gastroenterologist, and you have been diagnosed with IBS. Where does that leave you? 

IBS isn’t really a thing. It is just a cluster of symptoms that have been put together to say, “yes you have these symptoms, but we just don’t know why so we will give it a name”.

It leaves you stuck.

I see this in my clinic constantly, and my patients' symptoms are getting in their way of life. We have the confidence that there is nothing ‘wrong’ as the doctors have checked out diseases. But there are still imbalances causing problems and getting in the way of life. 

And you don’t have to have ‘IBS’ for things to be impacting your daily life and time on the bike.

  • Bloating can be uncomfortable, meaning you just don’t feel comfortable wearing certain clothes. 
  • Belching - just not nice.
  • Smelly wind - downright horrible.
  • Acid reflux - making things worse by taking antacids. 

I’m here to tell you that, more often than not, you can get to the root cause of the problem and support these symptoms. 

What can you start doing today? 

  1. Sip a small cup of peppermint tea 20 mins before your meals to stimulate digestion;
  2. Simply sit down and rest when eating;
  3. Chew your food properly (about 30 chews per mouthful);
  4. Eat a balanced plate of food with complex carbohydrates, protein and fat for all of your meals. 

These seem really basic, and you might think that they won’t resolve things. But it is the place to start. 

In the end, there's no point in eating expensive foods and fancy supplements if you cannot go through the process of breaking everything down. 

Keep smiling and pedalling,

Cath 

 

Catherine is The Cyclist's Nutritionist. To find out more go to www.catherinesteel.co.uk or join her Facebook group #Superfueldcyclists.