Listen to your Stomach - Feed it Right

Stomach troubles can affect athletes at any time.

Published August 30, 2009 07:12

Listen to your Stomach - Feed it Right
Elena Dementieva


Stomach troubles can affect athletes at any time. We all have had that gnawing abdominal pain that sometimes lasts for several hours or several days. We usually attribute it to something we ate or drank or to "nerves".

These gastro-intestinal (GI or stomach and digestive tract) illnesses may be so debilitating that you need bed-rest for a few days. In their mildest forms, they will sap your energy and reduce your ability to do any kind of activities.Luckily, GI illnesses are usually preventable.

Athletes can be at an increased risk of stomach problems due to many factors, including:

·Frequent international travel

·Changes in time zones and climates

·Lack of adequate sleep and recovery

·Forgetting good hygiene habits

·Physical and emotional stress

·Changes in diet or inadequate nutrition

My Stomach Hurts!

The most common cause of upset stomach is indigestion or in medical terms, dyspepsia.Symptoms can include:

·Burning sensation or discomfort in the upper part of your 
abdomen or lower chest

·Bloated feeling

·Belching (burping)

·Intestinal gas (flatulence)

·Feeling sick (nausea)

Dyspepsia occurs for no apparent reason and isn't necessarily related to a particular disease. Rather, the culprit may be a temporary problem such as:

·Eating too quickly or too much

·Consuming alcoholic or
  caffeinated drinks

·Eating greasy or fatty foods

·Eating spicy foods

·Physical and emotional stress


Some medications, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs e.g. aspirin and ibuprofen and antibiotics.

Stomach "Bugs"

Many common gastro-intestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting may be caused by: food allergies or intolerances, some medicines, change in diet, and gastro-intestinal disorders. Frequently, infections are the cause: tiny living organisms like viruses and bacteria that exist in the environment.People come into contact with these organisms by:

·Breathing them in e.g. from re-circulated air containing infectious particles in the airplane or from air-conditioning/heating units.

·Swallowing them, e.g. an infected person touches food you eat without washing their hands, wearing gloves or using utensils to handle the food.

·Touching or having close contact with someone who has the infection.


Maintain a healthy lifestyle and you can prevent many gastro-intestinal problems.


·Eat smaller more frequent meals. Having an empty stomach can sometimes bring on indigestion. Nothing but acid in your stomach can make you feel sick.

·Don't skip meals.

·Avoid foods that may trigger dyspepsia such as fatty and spicy foods, carbonated drinks, caffeine and alcohol. Don't smoke. Eat a balanced diet.

·To reduce excessive gas and belching, avoid activities that cause excess air swallowing like eating rapidly, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated beverages.

·Wait at least ½ hour after you eat to exercise; at least 2 hours after eating to lie down.

Health Food

Food Hygene and Handling·

Thoroughly wash and dry your hands before eating and after using the bathroom.

·Avoid close contact with infected people. If YOU are sick, stay AWAY from the public

·Don't share drinking glasses, food or toothbrushes.

·Avoid open food containers e.g. bread-baskets, open bowls of nuts or crisps etc.

·Drink and brush your teeth in bottled water.

·Avoid iced drinks, salads or cut fruit if you are unsure of the food preparation standards.

·Avoid street food stalls or other food sellers with questionable hygiene practices.

Stay Well Hydrated

·Drink lots of bottled water and sports drink, indoors and out.

·Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks; they have a dehydrating effect.

Reduce Stress

·The body's normal stress response can affect the GI system and may cause diarrhea and upset stomachs.

·Create a calm environment at mealtimes; avoid eating "on the go". Allow time for leisurely meals.

·Learn and practice stress-management techniques.

Fight Fatigue

·Balance your rest and activity. Practice rest and recovery techniques every day.

·Keep regular sleep habits; when possible, go to bed and wake up at the same times each day.

·Sleep only as much as you need to: get enough sleep to feel refreshed, but avoid over-sleeping


·Avoid exercising when you have a GI problem: you risk dehydration and other dangerous health conditions. Rest will help your immune system fight the GI illness so you recover faster.

·Always seek early help from your doctor if you experience any GI symptoms.

·Sometimes, chronic or recurring GI conditions may need medical treatment or medication.

Some common medications include:

Antacids: These neutralize stomach acid and can provide fast pain relief.

Acid Blockers: These decrease the amount of acid your stomach produces.

Laxatives: Are a last resort for treatment of constipation. A diet high in fiber (fruit, vegetables and grain products) with adequate fluid intake will help prevent constipation. Over-use of laxatives can cause electrolyte imbalances and serious health problems.


The contents of the Game, Set, Health site, are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

Topics: news, 2009
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