Study suggests athletes and military at risk of heat stroke could benefit from leaky gut therapy

The health food product zinc carnosine may have value for athletes – such as those competing in the Rio Olympics - and prevent heat stroke in military personnel, according to research involving our University.

‘Leaky gut’ is a condition where the thin mucosal barrier of the gut, which plays a role in absorbing nutrients and preventing large molecules and germs from the gut entering the blood stream, becomes less effective. It is a particular problem for those taking part in heavy exercise or who are active in hot conditions. It can lead to ‘heat stroke’ (especially in military personnel deployed to countries with high temperatures) and gut symptoms in athletes.

A research team showed that zinc carnosine improved the performance of the mucosal barrier of the gut, and that this improvement was enhanced when supplemented with bovine colostrum. Both are readily available from health food suppliers and the research team concluded that zinc carnosine taken alone or with bovine colostrum may have value for those affected by ‘leaky gut’.

Dr Daniel March, from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, said: “We know that athletes who partake in heavy exercise particularly in hot and humid conditions, such as those which will face the British Olympians this summer in Brazil report increased gut symptoms. This has been suggested to be a result of ‘leaky gut’.

“Our results, showing that zinc carnosine and/or colostrum prevent gut damage during exercise, may help to optimise athlete’s nutritional strategies during competition and therefore aiding them in their ultimate goal to win medals. The findings of this study could also be extended to both military personnel, and clinical populations as there is accumulating evidence that ‘leaky gut’ is evident in those suffering from conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.”

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