Doctor's column: Foods that don't blend well with exercise

Lockdown is not an easy matter for anyone. Exercise is encouraged and many people may have taken up activities that they had long since abandoned.

By Dr Keith Souter
Saturday, 30th January 2021, 11:45 am
Some foods can cause discomfort when eaten before exercising
Some foods can cause discomfort when eaten before exercising

The benefits may not be apparent for a while. Indeed, muscles that have not been exercised for a long time need to be coaxed, not pushed too hard too quickly. And quite a number of people may experience problems that they did not have before the exercise.

Running is associated with gut symptoms in a lot of people. The problem here may be that specific foods cause irritable bowel syndrome types of symptoms, including bloating, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. It is a pity if this puts people off persevering.

Fortunately, research from Anglia Ruskin University over a year ago indicates that cutting out specific foods can alleviate these gut symptoms in two thirds of people who get them. Not only that, but it can improve the individual’s feelings about their ability and their fitness.

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Previous research had shown that the FODMAP diet can help people with irritable bowel swhen did wiring stop hyndrome (IBS). This stands for a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide and polyols.

FODMAP foods include those containing lactose, such as milk, cheese and yoghurts. Also fructans, found in cereals, breads and pasta, galactic-oligosaccharides, as found in legumes and onions, fructose as in apples, pears and asparagus, and finally, polyols, which are often represented by food additives.

The research was done on a group of healthy recreational exercisers. Everyone in the study group was asked to follow two eating plans, each of a week in duration. After one week on one diet, they switched to the other. The main difference between the two diets was that one was low in FODMAPs.

Everyone completed a survey at the beginning and end of each week. This was done in order to rate symptoms experienced, assess how each dieter felt and whether that diet affected their exercise ability.

It was found that 70 per cent of those on the low FODMAP diet had both less symptoms and felt that they exercised more efficiently.

The researchers thought that the reason was because there would be less fermentation of foods in the gut, thereby causing less gas production and less water would be retained in the intestine.

Certainly, worth considering.