Cyber Monday Sale: Save 30% or more on all our guides and exclusive bundle offers. Learn more

The Nutrition Examination Research Digest (NERD) aims to provide rigorous, unbiased analysis of the latest and most important nutrition and supplementation studies. Click here to subscribe or login if already a subscriber .

In this article

Zinc carnosine: gut defender

First of all - this isn’t plain old zinc, but zinc carnosine. Second, zinc carnosine is quite promising for gut health issues, and its impact on gut permeability was formally tested in this trial.

Study under review: Zinc carnosine works with bovine colostrum in truncating heavy exercise-induced increase in gut permeability in healthy volunteers

Introduction

The gut is a battleground for our immune system. The intestinal lining of our digestive system is one of the few membranes in the human body that is consistently exposed to both the external environment (the digestive tract passes through our body and the food is still “outside” the body until it is absorbed) and to a host of microbes, some of which could be pathogenic. Therefore, the two main roles of the gut are to regulate the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat and to prevent the entry[1] of pathogenic microbes and toxic by-products.

The integrity of the intestinal barrier may be compromised by many things. This typically occurs via the “opening” of tight junctions – complex structures composed of more than 50 proteins which are regarded to be central[2] for gastrointestinal permeability. Tight junctions (depicted in Figure 1) connect adjacent cells within the intestinal tract and act as selective barriers.

These tight junctions may have an impact on GI symptoms, since increased intestinal permeability plays a role in the development of GI distress. Think about going for a run in the heat. How likely are you to get a cramp or a side-stitch? GI complaints are common among runners and triathletes[3], as well as military personnel returning from deployment to arid climates such as Eastern Africa[4] and the Middle East[5]. These symptoms have long been attributed to exercise-induced reductions in intestinal blood flow[6]. However, heat-stress[7] from the exercise may also play a role in promoting intestinal permeability and subsequent inflammation from the absorption of toxic compounds. Regardless of cause, increased intestinal permeability may predispose individuals to infectious and autoimmune diseases[8].

Figure 1: Healthy vs. "Leaky" Gut

Pharmacologic options for preventing exercise-induced increases in gut permeability are limited, but emerging research has started to appreciate the potential of nutraceuticals or functional foods in promoting gut health. One such product is bovine colostrum, which has been shown[9] to reduce exercise-induced increases in gut permeability in athletes by 80%, compared to a placebo. Another promising supplement is zinc carnosine, which has been shown in humans[10] to prevent a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID)-induced rise in gut permeability. However, exercise data with zinc carnosine is lacking.

The current study took a two-pronged approach. In one set of experiments, the authors examined the effect of supplementing zinc carnosine and bovine colostrum alone and in combination on exercise-induced changes in gut permeability in athletes. Then, the researchers conducted another set of test tube studies to examine the cellular mechanisms of these compounds.

One role of the gut is to regulate what enters our body, but certain stressors such as exercise and heat have been shown to inhibit our gut’s ability to perform this task through increasing the permeability of the intestinal barrier. The current study investigated whether zinc carnosine, colostrum, or their combination could protect against exercise- and heat-induced increases in intestinal permeability in athletes.

Who and what was studied?

Become a subscriber to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to read the full article.

Becoming a member will keep you updated on the most important nutrition studies every month, and give you access to our back catalog of over 500 other articles.

NERD also includes access to Examine Personalized, which includes 150+ monthly summaries on the most important recent studies and access to our database of 10,000+ studies across 600+ health topics.

Stop wasting time and energy — we make it easy for you to stay on top of nutrition research

Try free for a week

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What were the findings?

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Free 7-day trial!

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What does the study really tell us?

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

*The big picture*

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What should I know?

Subscribe to the Nutrition Examination Research Digest to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

A Cyber Monday Sale for Science Lovers!

Looking to improve your health using the latest evidence? Examine.com offers a membership and guides based on personalized, comprehensive research analysis.


Click here to save 30% »

Other Articles in Issue #22 (August 2016)

  • Quoth the insulin hypothesis, “Nevermore”
    We previously covered the first highly-controlled trial on ketogenic diets and weight loss, and this is the much-anticipated and longer follow-up trial. Does the ketogenic diet truly provide a weight loss advantage?
  • Ask the researcher: Lalage Katunga, PhD
    Katunga researches oxidative stress, a topic that is central to pretty much every major chronic disease out there. She’s especially interested in oxidative stress and heart health.
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: are diagnostic criteria around the corner?
    The last few years have seen much conflicting evidence on non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This study went deep into physiological responses to gluten, including immune responses and intestinal damage levels.
  • Might sucralose promote energy imbalance?
    Sucralose, commonly sold as Splenda™, has had a ton of safety research done on it. But there's a mechanism by which it could theoretically promote weight gain.
  • Cranberry juice for UTIs: natural remedy or old wives’ tale?
    A few trials have looked at this topic, but they've been fairly small. This large randomized trial looked at cranberry juice for women with recurrent UTIs.
  • Propionate – your ally against overeating?
    When you eat food, it results in a complex interplay between the food’s components, our gut microbiome, and our gut and brain’s response. It turns out that a type of fatty acid resulting from this process may help reduce appetite.
  • Just chill, so you can run faster
    Nobody likes overheating while exercising, but your muscles and brain especially don’t. This trial tested two cooling methods that may improve aerobic running performance.
  • Is butter back? That depends on your viewpoint.
    It’s no longer considered obviously unhealthy to eat butter. But the question of butter’s impact on major health outcomes is still an open one, and one that this meta-analysis of nine studies and over 636,000 adults tried to answer.