Objectives Food intolerance implies different health problems caused by certain foods. It is known that 2%−20% humans have this problem. Despite that, the food intolerance stays unrecognised in many cases. Generally, physical activity makes a lot of benefits for people health. On the other hand, very hard training, as in the case of the professional athletes, has bad influence on the immunity, such as increment of gastrointestinal barrier (GI) permeability. There are the studies that show presence of high sensitivity to food intolerance in elite athletes. It is apparently that extreme physical activity is one of the reasons. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of food intolerance on sports performance and health in elite athletes.
Methods This was an experimental longitudinal study in the duration of 3 months. There were 12 men (mean ± SD; age 25 ± 7 years) and 10 women (age 25 ± 4 years) in the study. The participations were professional athletes, with training more than 10 hours per week. At the beginning of the study the athletes had to fill AQUA (Allergy Questionnaire for Athletes) and GSRS (Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale) questionnaires. After that, they were underwent to food intolerance test from cubital vein blood, medical examination and maximal cardiopulmonary testing. This procedures, including AQUA and GSRS, were done again at the end of the study. The individual elimination diet based on food intolerance test was made for the athletes. All of them were on diet for 3 months.
Results There wasn’t significant change in total GSRS score (p = 0.05) after diet, but syndrome indigestion score was significantly lowered (p = 0.01). The scores of AQUA were significant different at the beginning and at the end of the study (p = 0.0009). The blood analysis showed declining level of the food intolerance for each athlete. There was significant change in body composition of the athletes. Namely, the fat percent (FAT%) was significantly lowered (p = 0.0008) after the elimination diet. There wasn’t change in weight of the athletes (p = 0.06). Heart rate (HR) after cardiopulmonary testing was measured for the first 3 minutes. There was significant difference in HR at the second (p = 0.02) and the third (p = 0.006) minute. At the end of the study HR at the second and the third minute was lowered. The flexibility of the athletes, received by sit and reach test, was better after the diet (p = 0.001).
Conclusions Our data shows that sports performances and health in elite athletes depend on food intolerance in many ways. The elimination diet for 3 months significantly improved health, body composition and faster lowering HR after cardiopulmonary testing.
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