You know the old saying, “nothing succeeds like success.” And some people take this idea to extremes, prompting a modified variation: “nothing succeeds like excess.”
Almost anything that benefits you in moderation can harm you when taken to excess. In Chinese medicine, there is a name for taking anything to extremes: “taxation fatigue.” Indeed, too much of anything taxes the body — and the mind.
That principle also holds true when it comes to exercise.
Moderate physical activity on a regular basis greatly benefits the body and mind. The best activities for us as we age include walking, hiking, swimming, and yard work.
On the other hand, new research shows that too much exercise can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) damage.
When the body endures prolonged, vigorous exercise, it reacts as it does to severe stress and causes GI function to shut down.
Specifically, the body shifts blood flow away from the GI system to accommodate stressed muscles and organs, starving it of blood, oxygen, and energy. And this insufficient blood supply may cause cell death and systemic immune responses.
Inadequate blood supply during exercise can also lead to inflammation that damages the protective lining of cells in the GI tract. Then, bacteria and toxins from the intestines leak into the general blood circulation. The condition is commonly known as “leaky gut” syndrome.
Furthermore, the risk of GI injury and impairment increases as the duration and intensity of exercise increases.
Endurance running and cycling commonly cause these problems. And heat stress appears to exacerbate the problem. People already struggling with GI disorders and diseases also appear to be more susceptible and have lower thresholds.
Be mindful of “experts’” intentions
GI experts give all kinds of advice, including maintaining hydration. And, yes, proper hydration is key to human health.
But these experts who go on about fluid and electrolytes miss the importance of nourishing the mitochondria and maintaining hydration on a cellular level.
These experts also advise consuming small amounts of carbs and proteins before and during exercise. They have even created a special diet called FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols/sugars).
Basically, the diet has you eating more carbs and sugars, just so you can go on to get too much exercise. Plus, they say you will need a “dietician” to create a personal FODMAP diet just for you.
You couldn’t pay me to follow this diet. These same geniuses continue to promote the government’s dietary recommendations to avoid cholesterol and fat, even two years after the government itself admitted the recommendations were all wrong, all along. And they still wonder how many eggs you can “get away with eating…”
GI problems are just the tip of the iceberg
Extreme exercise has many other serious, unintended consequences.
For example, previous studies show excessive running on hard surfaces leads to joint damage. In fact, the popularity of marathon running directly correlates to the skyrocketing rates of joint damage today — leading to a modern industry of dangerous joint replacement surgeries. As a result, I’m hardly surprised that the research has shown one-third of joint replacement surgeries to be unnecessary.
You may think of trying common joint supplement ingredients like chondroitin and glucosamine. But these useless supplements don’t go to the root of joint pain. Instead, you should take my ABCs of joint health: ashwagandha, boswellia and curcumin.
Additional research shows that excessive exercise damages your heart muscle. It’s certainly not the prescription we need, especially as we get older, knowing heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of men and women in the U.S.
Excessive running also damages the kidneys, as I’ve reported previously. This side effect more than likely stems from dehydration and break-down of stressed, damaged muscle tissue — a toxic combo for the kidneys.
Avoiding marathon running, and instead engaging in excessive bodybuilding, is not a healthy endeavor either. In fact, having too much lean body mass (muscle) negatively impacts metabolism just as excess body fat mass does.
Keep it simple
In my opinion, far too few experts recommend a simple, common-sense approach to diet and exercise: practice moderation!
Forget the over-exercising and special diets. Instead, stick with moderate exercise routines. Strive to adopt a healthy, balanced diet with eggs, dairy, meat, seafood, fruits, and vegetables.
These two factors will help you maintain a healthy weight and internal balance. Additionally, a moderate diet and exercise regimen reduces the risk of GI diseases, such as gallbladder disease, liver disease, reflux (GERD), and cancers of the colon, esophagus, stomach, and liver. It even reduces the risk of depression and Type II diabetes.
In an overzealous society with unrealistic expectations, seeking the oft-promised instant gratification, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overdoing it. Just remember the old adage that you can apply to almost any aspect in life: Everything is better in moderation…even exercise.
“Systematic review: exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome—implications for health and intestinal disease,” Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics August 2017; 46(3): 246–265. Retrieved from: