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    Is a Gluten-free Diet Good for Professional Cyclists?


    Jefferson Adams


    • Does a gluten-free diet imrove the performance of competitive bicyclists, even if they don't have celiac disease?


    Image Caption: Photo: CC--Tomas Faro

    Celiac.com 11/18/2016 - Does a gluten-free diet offer special benefits to competitive bicyclists? A number of professional cyclists have adopted gluten-free diets in the last few years, mostly based on the notion that ditching gluten will improve training and/or performance.


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    The first big push came when team Garmin, led by their CEO and exercise physiologist, switched to a gluten-free diet in advance of the 2010 cycling tour. By 2012, according to a University of Colorado survey of almost 300 endurance cyclists, the gluten-free was the most popular 'special' diet among that group. Moreover, 84% of gluten-free cyclists said that eating gluten caused symptoms that adversely impacted their training.

    Now, in fairness, about 7 out of 10 endurance athletes who compete at recreational level report digestive issues. So, could a gluten-free diet help? Recently, the University of Colorado scientists studied the effects of a short-term gluten-free diet in a group of non-celiac competitive cyclists, all with no history of irritable bowel symptoms.

    Here's how it went down. For seven days, under normal training conditions, the research team gave the cyclists either a gluten-free or gluten-containing diet, then subjected them to a 45-minute steady-state ride and 15-minute time trial on day seven. The research team then led the cyclists through a washout period before reversing the diets, then again conducting the timed rides. Cyclists had no idea which diet they were on at any given time. This was done by concealing the gluten in otherwise gluten-free food bars, which the riders consumed twice each day.

    During the study researchers monitored cycling performance, digestion and inflammation markers. On reviewing the data, they found no difference between the two diets on performance, digestive health or inflammation.

    Larger, more comprehensive studies are needed before we know for sure, but this casts serious doubt on any claims of enhanced performance for athletes without celiac disease who adopt gluten-free diets.

    So, while athletes with celiac disease will definitely see health benefits, and likely performance benefits, from going gluten-free, those without celiac disease would do just as well to go back to their normal training diets.

    Read more at Cycling Weekly.

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    Sources:
    1. Toft M, Dietrichs E. Aggravated stuttering following subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease--two cases. BMC Neurol. 2011 Apr 8;11:44.
    2. Tani T, Sakai Y. Stuttering after right cerebellar infarction: a case study. J Fluency Disord. 2010 Jun;35(2):141-5. Epub 2010 Mar 15.
    3. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    4. Jäncke L, Hänggi J, Steinmetz H. Morphological brain differences between adult stutterers and non-stutterers. BMC Neurol. 2004 Dec 10;4(1):23.
    5. Kell CA, Neumann K, von Kriegstein K, Posenenske C, von Gudenberg AW, Euler H, Giraud AL. How the brain repairs stuttering. Brain. 2009 Oct;132(Pt 10):2747-60. Epub 2009 Aug 26.
    6. Galantucci S, Tartaglia MC, Wilson SM, Henry ML, Filippi M, Agosta F, Dronkers NF, Henry RG, Ogar JM, Miller BL, Gorno-Tempini ML. White matter damage in primary progressive aphasias: a diffusion tensor tractography study. Brain. 2011 Jun 11.
    7. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    8. [No authors listed] Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Weekly clinicopathological exercises. Case 43-1988. A 52-year-old man with persistent watery diarrhea and aphasia. N Engl J Med. 1988 Oct 27;319(17):1139-48
    9. Molteni N, Bardella MT, Baldassarri AR, Bianchi PA. Celiac disease associated with epilepsy and intracranial calcifications: report of two patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Sep;83(9):992-4.
    10. http://ezinearticles.com/?Food-Allergy-and-Stuttering-Link&id=1235725 
    11. http://www.craig.copperleife.com/health/stuttering_allergies.htm 
    12. https://www.celiac.com/forums/topic/73362-any-help-is-appreciated/
    13. Ford RP. The gluten syndrome: a neurological disease. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):438-40. Epub 2009 Apr 29.
    14. Hadjivassiliou M, Gibson A, Davies-Jones GA, Lobo AJ, Stephenson TJ, Milford-Ward A. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet. 1996 Feb 10;347(8998):369-71.

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