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Intolerances in sports

In a nutshell - What does intolerance mean?

In simple terms, food intolerance is a food allergy. This means that certain food components are not tolerated. A distinction must be made between primary and secondary intolerances. While primary intolerance is present at birth, secondary intolerance only appears later in life. Important to know because this results in different therapeutic approaches.

Since intolerances are not uncommon among athletes, we have summarized the most common intolerances and symptoms in the intestinal area for you:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Dysbiosis
  • Leaky gut
  • Fructose intolerance
  • Candida fungus
  • Gluten intolerance

Lactose intolerance

One of the most common intolerances among adults is lactose intolerance. More precisely, this is lactose malabsorption.

Lactose malabsorption is inadequate absorption of lactose in the small intestine. This secondary lactose intolerance often occurs in athletes during higher periods of exertion. When inflammatory processes in the intestine increase, only very few of the cleavage lactase enzymes that are responsible for breaking down lactose are formed. Due to a lack of lactase in the brush border of the small intestine, undigested lactose ends up in the large intestine. Bacterial fermentation of the sugar occurs there, which can lead to problems in the gastrointestinal tract.

Dysbiosis in the intestines

The microbiota (= totality of bacteria) in our intestines is very finely coordinated.

The basic structure for this is formed by the lead germ strains. These are strains of bacteria that we come into contact with very early on, ideally in the birth canal.

All bacteria have a specific task here. However, if the number of bacteria becomes unbalanced, individual bacteria overgrow, which results in dysbiosis.

In summary, dysbiosis is an imbalance in the composition of our microbiota.

Leaky Gut – Good or Bad?

Leaky Gut - Simply translated, it means leaky gut. But what's behind it? Our intestines are “lined” with a very fine single-cell layer. This means that many individual cell layers lie next to each other. These cells are connected with tight junctions, in German: binding protein structures.

However, if these protein structures deteriorate, the intestine loses its ability to maintain its barrier and becomes permeable like a sieve.

The body reacts to this with permanent small inflammatory processes, which in turn has negative effects on performance, regeneration and general health.

Fructose intolerance

Fructose intolerance is a dose-dependent intolerance. Fructose is a simple sugar that does not have to be broken down and absorbed in the small intestine. It is first processed in the large intestine, where bacterial fermentation occurs.

Fermentation causes a high level of gas formation, which can lead to diarrhea and other problems in the gastrointestinal tract.

Exercise-induced fructose intolerance mostly occurs among athletes. The reason for this is that the body is unable to break down fructose under high stress.

Fructose should be avoided, especially during training and during competition phases. It shouldn't have too much importance in the basic diet either.

Candida fungus

The cameleon among intestinal symptoms is the Candida fungus. This fungus is the cause of very variable findings.

This is often caused by carbohydrate intolerance.

As an athlete, increased carbohydrate turnover is the order of the day. In order to maintain energy supply, carbohydrates are needed during training, competition and in basic nutrition. Perfect conditions for the Candida fungus because it feeds on sugar.

The symptoms range from flatulence, constipation, mucous membrane irritation and allergies to itching and sleep disorders.

The Candida fungus can be detected in urine and stool. It's easy to get rid of it, but unfortunately you can't get the fungus. The stubborn and uninvited guest can be kicked out the door using different therapeutic approaches. On the one hand through a combination diet, but also through medication and balancing carbohydrates with fats.

Gluten intolerance

Many people suspect wheat intolerance (celiac disease) when it comes to gluten intolerance, but this is only true in the rarest of cases.

Gluten and lectins are protein structures that are produced by plants as protection against predators such as beetles. These like to bind toxins, which in large quantities can also cause problems in humans. Since the plants have to become more and more productive, major changes are being made and hybrid breeding is being created, as a result of which the quality is suffering more and more.

Gluten, for example, also dissolves the connecting protein structures in the intestine. As already explained, this can lead to the problem of leaky gut.

The negative influences on the microbiome

We already know that our microbiome reacts with intolerances when there are imbalances. But what exactly can these imbalances cause?

All in one: Our lifestyle today

In addition to food whose quality continues to decline, most of society tends to lead a less active lifestyle.

In addition, many people experience psychological stress as everyday life demands more and more of us. But physical stress also has a negative effect on our microbiome.

Medications (e.g. painkillers, birth control pills) and drugs (alcohol, cigarettes) also influence the balance of our microbiome.


Any complaints in the gastrointestinal area should always be taken very seriously. These can have a negative impact on general health as well as the ability to regenerate and perform. Secondary intolerances in particular should not simply be tolerated, but rather find the trigger for the intolerance.

The next step if a problem arises could be a microbiome analysis.

In addition, a wide variety of OMNi BiOTiC products can contribute to improvement. Please seek advice from a pharmacy.

Our experts

about the author

Julia Skala in Magenta OMNi-BiOTiC Power Team Anzug läuft Triathlon

Julia skala

Professional triathlete
Content Creator OMNi-POWER®