Intestinal mucosa: protect it!

7 February, 2013 | Written by Recuperat-ion Recuperat-ion
Digestion: a complex mechanism

The digestion is the
process that allows our digestive enzymes to break down the food we eat into
microscopic molecules (glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, triglycerides …).
The passage of these small molecules from the intestine to our irrigation
canals (blood, lymph, plasma …) is done through a very complex barrier: the
intestinal mucosa.
The intestinal mucosa
contains small receivers highly selective, one for each type of molecule….
But some molecules do not have the ability to “cross” this barrier,
because we have neither the enzymes to break them down nor the transporters to
carry them inside our body. They are condemned to remain in the intestine,
where they are eventually ejected through the natural channels: these include
fiber (wheat bran …), indigestible starches (raw starch ….), indigestible
oils (paraffin …), lactose (for those who do not produce the enzyme known as
The mucosa, with its
flora, is also the main barrier against foreign and pathogens microorganisms.
Thus 70% of our natural defenses are in the intestinal barrier, which
represents the largest exchange surface with the outside.
When the equilibrium is broken…
The intestinal mucosa
is extremely fragile. In case of aggression (stomach flu, food poisoning) or
intense stress (sport exercise of long duration such as Marathon, Ironman,
Ultra Trail, Cyclosportive …), it can no longer fulfill its function.
1) the molecules that
are functional and beneficial to our body (glucose, amino acids, fatty acids,
vitamins …) cannot be properly assimilated and stagnate in the intestine, which
cause by deterioration (carbohydrate fermentation) physiological disturbances
(intestinal pain, dehydration …) and violent rejection reactions (diarrhea,
2) Pathogens take
advantage of this weakness to enter the body more easily, increasing the viral

Recuperat-ion Triathlon Lake of the Pines 2012
Preserving the
intestinal mucosa during a long distance triathlon is essential to achieve a
good race

An athlete who wants to go far must preserve his
intestinal mucosa
A competition of long
duration such as Marathon, Ironman, Ultra Trail, Cyclosportive creates a risk
of “saturation” of the intestinal mucosa, which may suffer from
attacks of any kind:
– Mechanical
(sloshing, positional changes, shock waves …)
– Chemicals
(preservatives, colorings, flavorings and other additives contained in energy
products consumed during the event)
– Biological (hyper
stress of receptors and digestive enzymes, internal disorders associated with
fatigue or dehydration, drinks too cold …)
– Bacteriological
(ingestion of contaminated water during swimming or from food left outdoors for
several hours at pit stops, hand cleanliness, contaminated utensils, such as
cans ..)
A nutritional strategy in 3 steps
Before the event:
several days or weeks before a major objective (Marathon, Ironman …) it is
imperative to work on rebalancing the intestinal mucosa in order to arrive on
the day of the event with a healthy, regenerated and functional mucosa. For
this, a diet limited in fiber, residues and lactose is necessary. To this, a
cure of probiotics (lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, yogurt with bifidus
regularis or L casei) and a preventive hydration strategy must be added. Drinks
containing imunoglukan for example, help before the event to strengthen the
intestinal flora in anticipation of D-Day. The imunoglukan is a polysaccharide
extracted from fungus. It is known to activate the immune system through its
local action on the intestinal mucosa. It focuses particularly on restoring the
function of the intestinal mucosa, when it is altered by a common entéroccolitiques
virus infection (such as rotavirus responsible for gastroenteritis).
During the event: It
is essential to preserve the functionality of the mucosa as long as possible
during exercise by consuming energy products less aggressive or protective of
the mucosa. This is one of the main performance parameters for long duration events,
primarily for athletes whose goal n°1 is to finish the race. The drinks that
are little concentrated in sugars (hypotonic), with few preservatives,
additives, flavorings… and containing protective factors for the intestinal
mucosa (digestive enzymes, immunoglukan …) are therefore better adapted to
the prolonged efforts.
After the event: The attitude
to take after the event is the same as before the event:  a diet limited in fiber and residues or
lactose (for the most sensitive ones) in the hours following immediately the
event. And a regenerative and rehydrating cure on the days following the event
through probiotics and / or drinks rich in imunoglukan, especially if gastric
symptoms has been felt during the event
Focus on foods to avoid before a long duration
Days before the
event, we avoid cluttering the digestive apparatus with:
– Foods rich in
residues of collagen (long fiber meat, tendon meat: chuck tender, chuck, shank
– Foods rich in fiber
or cellulose fiber residues (seeds, whole grains, wheat bran, legumes, fruits
and vegetables rich in fiber …).
– Foods high in
cooked fats, pastries, fried food, breadcrumbs
– Foods rich in
lactose (fluid milk)
Focus on energy drinks to take during long duration events

Recuperat-ion Hydrasport - Alpe d'Huez 2012
Pay attention to the hydration strategy during the race

In normal situations,
the intestinal mucosa can absorb about 1 g of glucose per kilogram of body
weight per hour (ie average 70g). But progressively, with the effort and
alteration of the mucosa functions, this capacity is greatly reduced. A drink
too concentrated in sugar can lead to an accumulation of carbohydrates in the
digestive system. These carbohydrates, waiting to be assimilated, can ferment.
And generate diarrhea or nausea, especially in situations of prolonged efforts,
coupled with an increase in body temperature or the beginning of dehydration,
as the accumulation of sugars in the digestive system tends to increase
(osmotic effect of the sugar). These phenomena are obviously a major source of
aggression for the mucosa.
The hydration
strategy proves to be essential. For long distance events, we will therefore
focus on consuming hypotonic or isotonic drinks for longer distances. Intakes
must be through small sips (every 10-15min) and at a consumption temperature
neither too high nor too low (about 12 degrees). The amount of chemical additives
should be limited so it does not cause the body to filter excessive volumes of
flavorings or preservatives in one day (drink consumption in one day of effort
may be ten liters!).

Recuperat-ion – Hydration and Nutrition Experts

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