Vivomixx® for sports
Sports and gut
Athletes who perform intensive physical efforts when practising special disciplines such as pentathlon, triathlon, marathon etc, often experience serious gastrointestinal symptoms (flatulence, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, etc) that negatively affect their performance during the race or can even cause their withdrawal from the competition.
The etiology of these symptoms is still unclear; a first possible explanation is linked to the different redistribution of the blood flow during physical activity. Indeed, in order to compensate for the increased oxygen requirements in the muscles, there may be a reduction of up to 50-80% in the blood supply to other organs such as the liver and the gut. Ischemia of the intestinal wall facilitates the passage of the Gram-negative bacteria that are present in the intestinal lumen, resulting in the passage of circulating endotoxin (LPS), and consequent activation of the cytokines (IL-1, IL6, TNF α, etc).
A second hypothesis correlates these gastrointestinal disorders to increased permeability of the small intestine during physical stress. The disruption of the intestinal barrier function may result in inflammatory response with consequent release of cytokines that contribute to the gastrointestinal disorders during and after physical exercise.
Recent studies have highlighted the importance of the intestinal microflora in maintaining the optimum state of the intestinal mucosa. The intestine is colonized by more than 400 different bacterial species, 40 of these are predominant and made of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, both gram positive and gram-negative such as: Bacterioides spp., Bifidobacteria spp., Lactobacilli spp., Eubacteria spp. and Probionobacteria spp.. In the colon, these bacteria reach a concentration of 1010-1012 per ml of fecal contents.
It has now been scientifically proven that the intestinal microflora, and in particular bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, play a significant role in the:
- reduction of the intraluminal pH through to the production of lactic acid, acetic acid and other organic acids;
- production of nutrients (short chain fatty acids, arginine, glutathione, vitamins etc….) necessary for a correct functioning of the intestinal mucosa;
- stimulation of the immune system, in particular the macrophage activity, cytokine production, natural killer activity, lymphocyte proliferation, IgA production;
- competition with pathogenic microorganisms for nutrients and for adhesion to the intestinal epithelium;
- production of bacteriocines;
- modulation of the inflammatory response
The intestinal microflora plays a significant metabolic function both from a nutritional point of view as well as for the maintenance of an efficient intestinal mucosal barrier. Together with the local and systemic immune response, these functions are fundamental for the protection of the organism.
Alterations of the intestinal ecosystem, resulting in bacterial overgrowth, involve an excess of toxins in the intestine and lesions in the mucosa, which increase the intestinal permeability, allowing the passage of abnormal substances and toxins from the gut to various organs such as the liver ( liver-gut axis), brain (brain-gut axis), etc. The integrity of the intestinal barrier is essential for the absorption of all the nutrients (electrolytes, carbohydrates, protein, etc) that the body needs after strenuous effort.
In the light of current knowledge the gut must be considered a real organ, where much of the immune system lies and where important metabolic functions take place which are vital for the organism itself, not surprisingly, many scientists consider the gut the "second brain" of the human body. A strong and healthy gut microflora can help support the good functioning of the gut with a positive effect on the organism as a whole, confirming that our body should be considered in its globality as a global complex system, where the various organs and systems are tightly integrated and interconnected and in which the gut absolutely plays a role of primary importance.