The topic of intestinal health in athletes is often underestimated, but it is a decisive factor for performance and well-being.

With a surface area of 400 square meters, the intestine is not only central to the absorption of nutrients, but also plays a key role in our immune system with its high proportion of immune cells. For athletes, this means that the health of their gut has a direct impact on their performance, training experience and competitive success.

What makes a healthy gut?

A healthy gut is characterized by balanced intestinal flora, a strong intestinal wall, efficient digestion and nutrient absorption, robust immune defenses and minimal inflammatory processes. These elements are not only essential for general well-being, but especially for athletes in order to achieve optimum performance and maintain enjoyment of sport. The intestinal barrier, consisting of intestinal flora, intestinal mucosa and the intestinal immune system, is the first line of defense against toxins, antigens and pathogens.

The influence of sport on the gut

Exercise can affect the gut in many different ways:

  • Reduced intestinal blood flow: During intense physical exertion, blood is directed preferentially to the muscles, which can impair nutrient absorption and digestion.
  • Mechanical stress: Forms of exercise, especially running, can put pressure on the abdominal cavity and cause digestive problems.
  • Change in intestinal permeability: Exercise can lead to increased intestinal permeability, which can result in symptoms such as nausea, cramps and diarrhea.
  • Changes in the intestinal flora: Prolonged physical stress can disturb the balance of the intestinal flora and increase the risk of inflammation and infections.

In addition, incorrect or insufficient fluid and food intake before or during sporting activity can lead to intestinal problems.

Symptoms and long-term consequences

While some symptoms such as side stitches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence and cramps can occur immediately during exercise, persistent increased intestinal permeability can lead to silent inflammation, food intolerances, chronic inflammatory diseases, fatigue, increasing tiredness and loss of performance. An increased susceptibility to infections is also associated with impaired intestinal health.


Intestinal health is a fundamental building block for the performance and well-being of athletes. A balanced diet, adequate fluid intake and measures to reduce stress can help to promote intestinal health and thus improve athletic performance and quality of life. It is important that athletes are aware of these connections and take proactive steps to keep their gut healthy. After all, a healthy gut is a partner that should not be underestimated on the road to peak performance.