• GI (Gastrointestinal) Symptoms During Exercise

    gastrointestinal symptoms exercise

    Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are generally thought of as heartburn, nausea, bloating, abdominal cramps, vomiting, flatulence, the increased urge to defecate, and diarrhea. This wide range of symptoms each have their own and overlapping causes and so it is difficult to identify a single factor. Changes in blood flow, hormonal alterations, neural effects, psychological stress, mechanical movement during exercise, dehydration, our diets – even altitude, medications, and the climate can all have effects on our digestive tract and be a potential cause of gut symptoms.

    When it comes to gut symptoms during exercise, endurance athletes typically report more gut symptoms than athletes from other sports – especially long distance runners. Up to 90% of ultramarathon runners report gut symptoms during racing, and describe symptoms as a leading cause of under-performing [1]. Across sports, while athletes tend not to report this same high frequency of symptoms, there is still a significant number that reports symptoms severe enough that they affect an athlete’s quality of life [2]. But what are some of the common factors that could lead to some of these symptoms?

    intensive training sports probiotic

    Shown in Clinical Trials To Help Relieve GI Symptoms During Exercise

    – Formulated for performance
    – Used in two clinical trials with endurance athletes
    – 25 Billion viable cells per capsule
    – Helps aid digestion during intense exercise
    – Contains extensively studied Lab4 consortium. Also contains L-Glutamine, N-Acetyl Glucosamine and ElavTP

    Find out more…


    In general it has been found that, before competition, consuming high amounts of fat, fibre, red meat or non-digestible, fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) have all been linked to gut symptoms of some sort [3, 4]. While removing all of these from your diet is obviously not advisable during everyday life – most of them are essential for our overall health – some athletes have looked to used reduced fibre diets with high glycaemic carbohydrates (e.g. white rice) and lean, easier to digest meats (e.g. chicken) in the day before a major competition.


    In the general public, persistent GI symptoms are associated with psychological traits such as stress and anxiety [5, 6]. In a group of triathletes, GI symptoms were perceived to be worse when psychological stress was present [7]. Athletes have also reported GI symptoms directly before competition, believed to be from psychological stress [8]. . It is also believed that psychological stress can result in changes in intestinal permeability, more commonly known as ‘leaky gut’ [9].

    Excess or Unaccustomed Carbohydrate and Fluid

    Eating or drinking large amounts of carbohydrates as either gels or drinks during endurance races is a common practice by both elite and non-elite athletes. However, taking on large amounts of these, having never done so before, can spell disaster. Our guts will have not been trained to empty these from our stomachs, and absorb them from our small intestine quickly enough. This can lead to them being malabsorbed – and the reason why many endurance athletes report gut symptoms during the later stages of a race. If you plan to take on any fuel during exercise, you need to train your guts and practice it in training. Start with small amounts, eventually building up until you are mimicking the exact same fuelling strategy you want to use during competition.

    nutrition health performance summit

    Nutrition, Health & Performance Summit

    – Some of the most renowned practitioners, researchers and speakers in the world of sports performance and nutrition
    – Experienced speakers from different backgrounds that have worked with professional teams and athletes
    – Learn how to research is translated into practice at the highest level

    Find out more…


    Exercise, particularly in the heat ( when athletes report more gut symptoms, can lead to dehydration because of sweat loses. Dehydration has been shown to be another factor to affect GI symptoms [10-12]. This may be due to the increase in gut damage that occurs during exercise when individuals restrict their fluid intake [11].


    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can change our gut permeability [13]. This may be the reason why marathon runners report more gut symptoms after taking ibuprofen and aspirin [14]. Additionally, one of the common side effects of anti-biotics is diarrhea.


    You can head over to the Sigma Nutrition Website to hear Dr. Jamie Pugh talk about this on a Podcast


    1. Hoffman, M.D. and K. Fogard, Factors related to successful completion of a 161-km ultramarathon. Int J Sports Physiol Perform, 2011. 6(1): p. 25-37.
    2. Pugh, J.N., et al., Gastrointestinal symptoms in elite athletes: time to recognise the problem? Br J Sports Med, 2018. 52(8): p. 487-488.
    3. de Oliveira, E.P., R.C. Burini, and A. Jeukendrup, Gastrointestinal complaints during exercise: prevalence, etiology, and nutritional recommendations. Sports Medicine, 2014. 44(1): p. 79-85.
    4. Lis, D., et al., Case Study: Utilizing a Low FODMAP Diet to Combat Exercise-Induced Gastrointestinal Symptoms. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2016. 26(5): p. 481-487.
    5. Hauser, G., S. Pletikosic, and M. Tkalcic, Cognitive behavioral approach to understanding irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol, 2014. 20(22): p. 6744-58.
    6. Koloski, N.A., N.J. Talley, and P.M. Boyce, The impact of functional gastrointestinal disorders on quality of life. Am J Gastroenterol, 2000. 95(1): p. 67-71.
    7. Sullivan, S.N., Exercise-associated symptoms in triathletes. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 1987. 15(9): p. 105-108.
    8. Worobetz, L.J. and D.F. Gerrard, Gastrointestinal symptoms during exercise in Enduro athletes: prevalence and speculations on the aetiology. N Z Med J, 1985. 98(784): p. 644-6.
    9. Mayer, E.A., Gut feelings: the emerging biology of gut-brain communication. Nat Rev Neurosci, 2011. 12(8): p. 453-66.
    10. Glace, B., C. Murphy, and M. McHugh, Food and fluid intake and disturbances in gastrointestinal and mental function during an ultramarathon. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2002. 12(4): p. 414-27.
    11. Lambert, G., et al., Fluid restriction during running increases GI permeability. International journal of sports medicine, 2008. 29(3): p. 194-198.
    12. Rehrer, N.J., et al., Fluid intake and gastrointestinal problems in runners competing in a 25-km race and a marathon. Int J Sports Med, 1989. 10 Suppl 1: p. S22-5.
    13. Playford, R.J., et al., Co-administration of the health food supplement, bovine colostrum, reduces the acute non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced increase in intestinal permeability. Clin Sci (Lond), 2001. 100(6): p. 627-33.
    14. Smetanka, R.D., et al., Intestinal permeability in runners in the 1996 Chicago marathon. Int J Sport Nutr, 1999. 9(4): p. 426-33.


    If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist BEFORE taking vitamins or supplements. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If pregnant or lactating, ALWAYS consult your doctor before use. Or if you have any queries about any supplement ALWAYS consult a QUALIFIED medical professional.


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  • Omega 3 - FAQ

    Have you got questions about fish oils and omega 3? Over the years, we have been asked about a number of things, so we’ve put this blog together with some of the most frequently asked questions. Your questions not here? Contact us and we’ll get an answer to you.


    Q) Which Ones, Who For, How Much, How Long?

    There are only two truly essential Fatty Acids, these are:
    1) Linoleic acid – omega 6
    (Corn oil, Sunflower oil, nuts, cereals, avocado, rapeseed, palm oil hidden oils in crisps for example)
    2) Alpha linolenic acid – omega 3
    (Fish oil, Flaxseed oil)

    Theoretically all other fatty acids essential for health can be synthesised in the body.

    Our bodies are able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA, however this process is very inefficient. You would need to take 20-40g of flaxseed oil /day to oil to deliver just 1g EPA/DHA. This is a huge amount of Flaxseed oil, to produce a relatively small amount of EPA/DHA.

    Also most health benefits associated with increased intake of EPA/DHA not ALA, which makes things even more difficult, hence the need to supplement with EPA/DHA so there is no need for conversion.

    Q) Fats have numerous important roles to play in the body, what are they?

    1) Energy source
    2) Major component of all cell membranes (numerous derivative functions and effects)
    3) Precursors for eicosanoid production (eicosanoids are extremely important in how the body deals with inflammation)

    Omega 3 is known as nature’s anti-inflammatory, generally it is easy to remember the following when thinking about your diet or supplements.

    Omega 6 are generally pro-inflammatory
    Omega 3 are generally anti-inflammatory


    Q) What are the benefits of omega-3?

    1) Structural/Physiological
    Foetal, infant, neural system and brain development.
    Cognitive function improvement (children & adults).

    2) Anti-inflammatory/Physiological
    Reduction in risk and progression of CVD (cardio vascular disease).

    3) Anti-inflammatory
    Modulation of inflammatory response and chronic inflammatory diseases.

    4) Anti-inflammatory/structural/physiological
    Potential improvement in mental disorders.


    The importance of Fatty Acids is evident even before birth, so this is not just something which gains in importance as we develop and go through our lives. As a developing foetus fatty acids are crucial in laying down the foundations for future development. The accumulation of Fatty Acids in Infant Brain are so important.

    60% by weight of brain at birth is lipid
    18% of total fatty acids (11% brain weight) is DHA
    12% of total fatty acids (8% brain weight) is AA

    Brain cell division, brain growth and fatty acid deposition occurs substantially in third trimester of pregnancy (400 – 500% growth)
    From birth to 3 months of age, DHA and AA accumulation continues at same level. This is time of maximum neural development with synaptic development, myelination and cell growth (but not division) in brain stem and spinal cord.
    DHA continues to accumulate in brain and neural tissue up to 2 years of age, and then at a much slower rate into adulthood. (Martinez 1999 Carlson 2001)

    – In pregnancy, DHA and AA must be obtained from maternal bloodflow. The placenta preferentially selects AA and DHA
    – If DHA is deficient, AA and then docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) is laid down
    – It is possible to replace DHA or AA by dietary supplementation in deficient individuals while brain is developing.
    – As adults the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids become more and more evident and relevant depending on the way you lead your life.

    Q) What Are The Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Inflammatory Response ?

    It has recently been recognised that omega 3 fatty acids affect the inflammatory response by activity at four different levels – omega 3 fatty acids are unique within fats and any other nutrients in producing these effects.


    Q) Are Omega 3’s important in any other areas?

    Omega 3 fatty acids are also extremely important in Cardiovascular health. This is an area where these supplements are possibly better known. Clinical evidence supports the role of omega-3 in following aspects of CVD risk


    Q) What is the recommended daily intake of Omega-3?

    1991* – Minimum level of ALA necessary to prevent deficiency 0.56g
    Recommended level of EPA/DHA 0.1g
    1994** – Recommended level of EPA/DHA 0.2g
    2004*** – Recommended level of EPA/DHA 0.45g
    *Report of Health Committee on Medical Aspects of Nutrition Policy (COMA)
    ** COMA Update


    Q) How much omega-3 is in the typical British diet ?

    Total Omega-3 in British diet:
    Men 2.3g Women 1.7g
    (Henderson et al 2003)

    EPA + DHA (Estimate)
    Oily fish eaters (27%) – 244mg
    White fish eaters – 113mg
    Non-fish eaters – 46mg
    (Givens & Gibbs 2006)


    Q) So where does our Omega 3 come from? Omega-3 rich oils —Sources and Types

    Plant oil
    Flaxseed oil (50-60%)
    Soybean oil (7-8%)
    Rape oil (9.6%)
    α- linolenic acid (ALA)

    Fish oil
    Oily fish 1g/100g fish
    White fish 1g/Kg fish


    Q) Important Question – how much EPA/DHA do we need??

    Everyday maintenance – 500-1000mg/day
    Prevention – 1000-1500mg/day
    Therapy – 2500-5000mg/day

    The Total Amount of EPA/DHA Is More Important Than The Ratio

    Most fish we eat is higher in DHA than EPA, whereas most fish oil is higher in EPA than DHA.
    Most research is concluding that presence of both EPA and DHA is more beneficial than a heavy predominance of one over the other.
    The combined level of EPA/DHA is more important than the ratio.
    Fish Oil supplements vary enormously in potency so look at the EPA/DHA level – even from an economic point of view!!


    Q) What are the advantages of Omega 3 fish oil supplements

    Fish oil supplements are less contaminated.
    Fish oil supplements offer opportunity for adequate daily dose of omega-3! Functional foods generally don’t!
    Unless you are eating a large portion oily fish 3 times per week, you are not getting the minimum recommended level of EPA/DHA.
    Everyone needs to take fish oil!!
    Some people need more!!
    No one needs to take more than 4 teaspoons per day!!*

    One of the key and important factors in your choice of which fish oil to choose to buy is very often how ‘natural’ the oil is and what kind of quality it is? These questions, are both very sensible questions to ask.

    Our PRP fish oil is the ‘Triglyceride oil’ which means the EPA/DHA is standardised in a certain way which is thought to be more ‘natural’. Also, instead of using alcohol in this process, we use enzymes which are much closer to nature.


    Check out the full PRP Omega 3 range


  • Probiotics FAQ

    Have you got questions about probiotics? Over the years, we have been asked about a number of things, so we’ve put this blog together with some of the most frequently asked questions. Your questions not here? Contact us and we’ll get an answer to you.

    Q – What are they?

    Each person has a small world inside of them. We have as many bacterial cells in our body (mostly in our digestive system) as we do human cells. These bacteria can have an enormous impact on a number of health measures. Probiotics are bacterial species that have been studied and shown to have health benefits when consumed.


    Q – What are the benefits of probiotics?

    More and more research is being carried out each year as the benefits of probiotics are tested. Current research shows that probiotics could have benefits for;

    • Digestion and absorption
    • Mental health conditions
    • Allergies
    • Immune function
    • ISB
    • Traveler’s diarrhea


    Q – How do they work?

    There are a number of mechanisms by which probiotics have been suggested to improve health.

    They can directly modulate our immune system and can boost immune cells including natural killer cells, the Iga-producing cells as well as T lymphocytes.

    They have an antimicrobial action. They produce antimicrobial substances and also compete with pathogens to adhere to the lining of our digestive system.

    They can improve the intestinal barrier. Within our digestive tract, the lining of cells are held together by structural proteins. This barrier prevents certain substances and compounds from entering our circulation. Probiotics can enhance this barrier, as well as increase the mucosal layer which covers it.

    Probiotics can also increase the amount of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) in our digestive system. These have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.


    Q – Are they all the same?

    If you look at the label of a probiotic product you will see the name of the bacterial strain that the product uses. For example, in our probiotic products we use the strains:

    Lactobacillus acidophilus CUL 60

    Lactobacillus acidophilus CUL 21

    Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis CUL 34

    Bifidobacterium bifidum CUL 20


    The names are made up of the bacteria genus (e.g. Lactobacillus), species (e.g. acidophilus) and strain (e.g. CUL 60).

    While some bacterial strains can have similar mechanisms and health benefits (particularly if they are the same species), some of the benefits have been shown to be strain specific.


    Q – Which ones and how much?

    Because many of the benefits are strain specific, it is important to select the right probiotic. In general, it has been found that those with more than one strain and species are more beneficial than those with a single strain and those that have strains from the Lactobacillus species appear to be the most effective (Chang et al., 2017). There have not been many studies that have looked at optimal doses of probiotics. However, a minimum of 10 billion CFU has been suggested (Ouwehand 2017) while the general recommendation is >20 billion CFU.


    While these are general recommendations, the best advice would be to check each probiotic and see what research has been performed with that product, and what dosage was used. Many commercial products have not been used in research.


    Q – Have the Lab4 strains been used in research? Probiotic-daily-25-billion

    Lab4 is the proprietary group of probiotic bacteria, which was developed by Dr Nigel Plummer and his team of scientists at Cultech Ltd and has been used in probiotics products around the world for the past 10 years.

    There are now 12 clinical studies supporting the use of Lab4 probiotics for a variety of functions in adults, children and babies. Carried out over the past 15 years, these studies have shown the benefit of the Lab4 and Lab4b consortia in supporting digestive health, immune health, performance and mood and cognition.

    Specifically, the studies have shown the impact of probiotics on early immune system development, immunity in children, along

    side antibiotics and in helping to prevent antibiotic resistance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), athletic performance, anxiety and attention.

    Throughout these trials and 15 years of use in products, the Lab4 probiotic bacteria have been shown to be completely safe. This is further supported by The Swansea Baby Trial which involved both pregnant ladies and newborn babies. The approval of the Lab4b probiotics for use in this large trial with these two potentially vulnerable populations is testament to the efficacy of this group of bacteria.


    Q – Are there any other benefits?

    More recent research has also shown the Lab4 strains can also have a positive impact on sports performance.


    • When runners supplemented with Lab4 probiotics for 4 weeks and asked to run to exhaustion in the heat, they were able to run for ~15% longer compared to when they had taken the placebo (Shing et al., 2014)
    • In ironman triathletes, participants supplemented with probiotics or placebo for 12 weeks. Those taking probiotics had a 10% quicker overall race time than those on the placebo – although this did not reach statistical significance. Those taking probiotics also suffered from fewer and less severe gut symptoms (e.g. bloating, urge to defecate, nausea, etc.) during training compared to the placebo group. (Roberts et al., 2016)
    • Runners competing in the Marathon des Sables (often called the toughest race on the planet) had an overall race time that was 12% quicker after supplementing with Lab4 probiotics compared to placebo (Marshall et al.m 2017)

    Yet to be published research has also shown that Lab4 can have benefits to athletes who consume carbohydrate drinks during exercise, as well as improve performance in marathon runners.


    Take a look at the full PRP Probiotics range


  • Podcast - Gastrointestinal symptoms during exercise wth Jamie Pugh


    This week, Jamie was interviewed on the Sigma Nutrition Podcast. In the interview he discussed;

    • The range and severity of symptoms athletes experience
    • Causes of symptoms: physiological, mechanical and nutritional
    • Individual variation in susceptibility to symptoms
    • Lack of association between gut “damage” and symptoms experienced
    • GI distress outside of endurance sport
    • Maximal rates of glucose ingestion: higher than previously thought?
    • Effect of glutamine supplementation
    • Effect of probiotic supplementation
    • Effect of low FODMAP diets
    • Practical steps for practitioners and athletes to mitigate risk


    Head over to the Sigma Nutrition Website for a listen


  • Probiotics and Sport

    As well as ensuring all of our products are made to the highest manufacturing standards, it is also important to us to be at the front of the latest research and knowledge of different supplements. The bacterial strains used in our Probiotics range (Lab4) has previously been used in UK studies performed in Cambridge and Sheffield and have shown that 2 capsules (25 billion) can provide benefits in supporting digestive and immune health. As part of a new series of studies, we are also now beginning research to see what effect the probiotics can have on gastrointestinal health in individuals who take part in regular intense exercise, and even if they can improve sports performance.

    The strains used in our Intensive training probiotic have been used in published research and a number of benefits have already been shown;

    –  When runners supplemented with Lab4 probiotics for 4 weeks and asked to run to exhaustion in the heat, they were able to run for ~15% longer compared to when they had taken the placebo (Shing et al., 2014)

    –  In ironman triathletes, participants supplemented with probiotics or placebo for 12 weeks. Those taking probiotics had a 10% quicker overall race time than those on the placebo – although this did not reach statistical significance. Those taking probiotics also suffered from fewer and less severe gut symptoms (e.g. bloating, urge to defecate, nausea, etc.) during training compared to the placebo group. (Roberts et al., 2016)

    –  Runners competing in the Marathon des Sables (often called the toughest race on the planet) had an overall race time that was 12% quicker after supplementing with Lab4 probiotics compared to placebo (Marshall et al.m 2017)

    Dr Jamie Pugh, has spent the last 4 years at Liverpool John Moores University, and has been performing studies looking at the effects intense exercise can have on our digestive system, what symptoms these may cause, and has even started to catalogue how prevalent these symptoms may be in elite sport. Jamie has completed ground-breaking research to see if probiotics can help improve the rate of digestion during exercise, and reduce the associated symptoms of bloating and nausea that can occur when we mix eating and exercise.

    While the results from the 2 studies are yet to be published, we can share some of the take home findings. In the first study, Jamie looked to see if probiotics could help athletes who consume carbohydrate drinks during exercise. After 4 weeks supplementing with probiotics, athletes were able to use more of the carbohydrate drink they consumed compared to placebo. This could have performance benefits to any endurance athlete, and could also reduce the risk of gut symptoms due to carbohydrate malabsorption during exercise.

    In the second study, Jamie looked at the effects of probiotic supplementation on gastrointestinal damage and symptoms during endurance exercise, we recruited 26 participants to run an entire marathon race around the athletics track (just over 105 laps). The aims of the study were to see if probiotics could reduce the gut symptoms many runners face during training and racing. The main conclusion of the study was athletes had fewer days were they experienced gut discomfort during training and they had less severe symptoms during the marathon itself. There was also a relationship between the level of gut discomfort and how much runners slowed down during the final third of the race. As the probiotic runners had less severe symptoms, they did not slow down as much, and so they actually performed better than the placebo group. This study therefore adds to the growing body of evidence showing that Lab4 can improve athletic performance.

    Altogether, more and more evidence is mounting that shows that for athletes, Lab4 probiotics (the ones used in our Intensive Training Probiotics) can reduce symptoms of gut discomfort during training and competition, and can also improve performance.


    Save 20% on Intensive Training Probiotic Complex

    Our probiotic developed specifically for sport and training
    25 Billion viable cells per capsule
    Help aid digestion during intense exercise
    Contains extensively studied Lab4 consortium

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