Vancouver, B.C In the run-up to this year’s summer Olympics, many experts feared the rise of rebelling stomachs in the form of stomach flus—the Canadian badminton team, for example, narrowly recovered from a bad bout just prior to the start of the games. But according to digestive health expert Van Clayton Powel, stomach bugs aren’t the only digestive issues Olympic participants need to be concerned about.
“These kinds of events can wreak havoc on your digestive health. And whether you're a competitor or a spectator, if your digestion isn't working properly, it's impossible to perform to your potential," says Powel, the author of You Are NOT What You Eat-Better Digestive Health in 7 Simple Steps.
"Our focus is so often on what to eat, or what not to eat. But we're ignoring the other half of the equation - how to eat to ensure that we actually digest and absorb the nutrients in our food. And there are some simple things you can do to keep your digestive system in Olympic shape,” he explains, offering up some tips for these Summer Games:
- While it’s essential to keep hydrated in hot and humid weather, too much fluid around mealtime can interfere with digestion: Try giving yourself a 30-minute 'Fluid-free Zone' before and after you eat.
- Stress automatically turns off digestion, so try to minimize stress around mealtimes: Find a comfortable setting, sit down to eat, and turn off your phone.
- Chew, chew, chew! You are not what you eat - you are only what you digest. And chewing your food well is critical for effective digestion.
- Snacking between meals can dramatically slow down digestion of the previous meal. Athletes have a finely tuned regimen they follow, but anyone with a sensitive stomach should avoid the temptation to snack your way to the closing ceremonies.
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Rachel Sentes, Publicist