We all understand the importance of physically and mentally training properly so that we can push through that last mile without pulling anything.
But, according to a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, it's just as important to train your gut — or potentially suffer from sepsis.
Scientific American's Christopher Intagliata reports that researchers in Australia looked at the blood samples 17 athletes before and after they took part in extreme endurance events, like 24-hour ultra-marathons, compared to samples from a control group.
They found that this type of exertion caused leaky gut in many of the athletes. Gut bacteria was able to sneak into their blood, where some released toxins, triggering an immune response and resulting in inflammation. Some runners, shockingly, had "blood profiles identical to those of patients admitted to the hospital with blood poisoning, or sepsis."
However, the most well-trained athletes' bodies knew how to defend themselves — likely through gradual training — by releasing anti-inflammatory compounds to combat the immune overreaction.
The authors said that just four hours of exercise can trigger this type of gut bacteria leakage.
"As has long been said: slow and steady wins the race," writes Intagliata.
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