Haematological, inflammatory, and immunological responses in elite judo athletes maintaining high training loads during Ramadan

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Journal Article
Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 2009, 34 (5), pp. 907 - 915
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During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and fluid intake from dawn to sunset for 1 month. These behavioural changes that accompany Ramadan may impact upon Muslim athletes who continue to train intensely. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of Ramadan intermittent fasting (RIF) on the haematological, inflammatory, and immunological measures in elite judo athletes maintaining their usual high training loads. Haematological markers of inflammation, hormones, and immune status were studied in 15 elite male judo athletes before, during, and after Ramadan. The RIF produced small but significant changes in inflammatory, hormonal, and immunological profiles in judo athletes. Serum C-reactive protein increased from 2.93 ± 0.26 mg·L-1 pre-Ramadan to 4.60 ± 0.51 mg·L-1 at the end of Ramadan. Haptoglobin and antitrypsin also significantly increased at different phases during Ramadan, whereas homocysteine and prealbumin remained relatively unchanged. Albumin decreased slightly by mid-Ramadan, then recovered. Immunoglobulin A increased from 1.87 ± 0.56 g·L-1 before Ramadan to 2.49 ± 0.75 g·L-1 at the end, and remained high 3 weeks after. There were no changes in the leucocyte cell counts throughout the study. The mean blood level of thyroid-stimulating hormone and free thyroxine increased significantly during RIF. Most of these changes were within the normal ranges. These results suggest that athletes who continue to train intensely during Ramadan are liable to experience a myriad of small fluctuations in hormones, immunoglobulins, antioxidants, and inflammatory responses.
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