Joggers trots is a common and unfortunate problem most runners suffer with at some point in their running career. For most its a “blip” and goes as quickly as it arrives but for others, it can be a much more frequent and embarrassing problem. However, there are lots of ways it can be treated and eliminated.
When you’re running, the movement reduces blood flow to your intestines as more is sent to the exercising muscles. The jostling of the intestines also causes changes in intestinal hormones which can speed up transit time and alters absorption rates.
The first thing is to make sure you are well hydrated. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to drink at least 2 litres of water a day. By water, we’re talking plain water and if you really can’t drink it, a dash of quality cordial to flavour it. Squash is not ideal because of the sugar or sweeteners added to it. Fruit juice, tea, coffee and fizzy drinks don’t count towards your water intake. Being adequately hydrated helps make opening your bowels easier. If you poo regularly, especially in the morning, you are less likely to suffer because you have a healthy and happy digestive system.
The second area to look at is what you eat. Whilst you may not be allergic to a particular food, a slight intolerance combined with high intensity exercise can be enough to trigger an episode. If this seems to be happening regularly, keep a food diary for a professional to look at and record any problems when exercising. There are four main food groups/ ingredients which can cause issues for runners:
- Fibre- we need fibre to help keep our bowels healthy and prevent constipation but some people are more sensitive to it than others. When combined with pre-race jitters and high intensity exercise, it can be too much for some people to cope with. If you suspect it is fibre causing the problem, try a lower fibre diet for the 3 days prior to a race or try eating lower fibre meals before going out training. If you train at night, you may need to reduce your overall intake. Some people find it is a specific food which can cause the problem than fibre in general. The time you leave between eating and running can also have an impact
- Caffeine- caffeine speeds up all your body’s processes so naturally, it speeds up your digestive system too. Different people have different levels of sensitivity to it but if you are suffering with joggers trots regularly, it is worth cutting down or cutting it out completely to see if it makes a difference.
- Sugar and sweeteners- sorbitol and xylitol in particular can cause stomach problems. Avoid low fat and reduced fat products which are typically high in sugar.
- Milk- milk contains the sugar lactose which not everyone has enough of the enzyme lactase to breakdown sufficiently in the body. Most sufferers are fine with cheese, butter and yoghurt just not milk itself because of the higher lactose content. If you suspect milk is the problem, switch to lactose free milk or almond/coconut milk.
As with any aspect of nutrition, it is advisable to eliminate foods under the supervision of a qualified sports nutritionist. Eliminating whole food groups can cause deficiencies and is often not necessary. If you have a nutrition query, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org