Debbie Potts Coaching

Stress hormones released during high-intensity exercise:

    • Catecholamines (norepinephrine and epinephrine)
    • Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH)
    • Arginine vasopressin (AVP)
    • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
    • Glucocorticoid hormones (e.g., cortisol)
    • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
    • Neuropeptide Y
    • Dopamine
    • Short-chain fatty acids
    • Serotonin
    • Cytokines
  • Activation pathways:
    • Preganglionic sympathetic neurons in the intermediolateral cell column of the thoracolumbar spinal cord
    • Hypophysiotropic neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN)
    • Anterior pituitary gland
    • Adrenal cortex
  • Modulation of autonomic nervous system:
    • Sympathetic activation (fight or flight response)
    • Parasympathetic modulation
  • Factors influencing the stress response to exercise:
    • Emotional stress
    • Volume of physical exposure (intensity and/or duration of exercise session)
    • Critical threshold of exercise intensity (~50–60% of maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max])
  • Additional contributors to stress response:
    • Gastrointestinal tract hormones (GABA, neuropeptide Y, dopamine)
    • Microorganisms in the digestive tract (production of short-chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, cytokines)
  • The human gut houses over 100 trillion microorganisms, totaling around 9 million genes.
  • Gut microbiota comprises five phyla and roughly 160 species in the large intestine.
  • Functions of gut microbiota:
    • Promotion of digestion and food absorption.
    • Provision of folate, vitamin K2, and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
    • Neutralization of drugs and carcinogens.
    • Modulation of intestinal motility.
    • Protection against pathogens.
    • Stimulation and maturation of the immune system and epithelial cells.
    • Modulation of neurotransmitters (serotonin, GABA, dopamine) in response to stress.
  • Influence of gut microbiota on oxidative stress, inflammatory responses, metabolism, and energy expenditure during intense exercise.
  • Diet’s impact on gut microbiota:
    • Dietary changes account for up to 57% of gut microbiota changes.
    • Short-term consumption of animal- or plant-based diets can rapidly alter microbiota composition.
    • ADA guidelines recommend specific macronutrient intake for athletes.
    • Insufficient fiber and resistant starch intake may decrease microbiota diversity and function.
  • Aim of systematic review:
    • To summarize evidence on interactions between exercise-induced stress responses and gut microbiota.
    • To explore effects on the health and performance of elite athletes.
  • Secondary aim:
    • To define dietary strategies for modifying microbiota composition.
    • To improve overall health and performance by enhancing intestinal epithelium conditions, immune system response, stress response, energy availability, and inflammation levels in athletes.


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