Customer Story

This college runner battled GI distress and feelings of anxiousness before racing.


When Katie found Ixcela, she was a busy biology major in the third year of her collegiate long-distance running career. Since high school, Katie had struggled with intense nausea and stomachaches before every big race. Although she had seen doctors about her GI issues, she hadn’t yet found a solution. She suspected that her symptoms stemmed from nerves and the prospect of letting her coach and teammates down. Katie knew that her body needed more fuel for performance and recovery, but her GI distress made her hesitant to put anything in her stomach before racing except fruit gummies and water. She would push herself to compete, even if it meant her nutrition practices would suffer.

Juggling her roles as a top runner on her team, dedicated student, and lab technician put Katie under a lot of stress. She often struggled to find time to prepare balanced meals, take care of herself, and get a good night’s rest. Katie was excited to learn about her Ixcela results so she could start feeling better, maintain her position on her team, and break new personal records. Fortunately, knowing what was going on in her gut was just what Katie needed.


Katie’s Ixcela results showed that she had a gut bacterial imbalance and her serotonin was below optimal levels. Her Ixcela Expert explained that about 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut, and serotonin plays an important role in:

  • Feelings of well-being and how well someone manages stress.
    Katie knew many of her struggles were related to stress, but she had no idea that her gut was part of the problem.
  • The ability to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest.
    Katie often had a hard time falling asleep after a stressful day.
  • Consistent digestion and how well food moves through the gut.
    For years, Katie had tried everything to manage bloating and stomachaches after meals.

The bacterial imbalance was also an important part of Katie’s gut health. A balanced gut is necessary for nutrient utilization that supports recovery and maintaining the cells that produce serotonin. Katie and her Ixcela Expert discussed how a balanced gut microbiome would support her athletic performance and help with:

  • GI distress that could interfere with Katie’s goals.
  • Anti-inflammatory processes and faster recovery after training.


Before her Ixcela results were posted, Katie assumed her test would show that her gut microbiome was imbalanced and causing her GI distress. She was not aware that the gut is also connected to emotional health, physical stress, sleep, and inflammation. She was thrilled to learn that Ixcela could also help her improve her emotional balance, recovery from exercise, sleep quality, and even skin issues! She was relieved to finally know what she could do to start feeling better.

During Katie’s results review session, she and her Ixcela Expert discussed how supporting her serotonin levels could help her reduce GI symptoms and better manage stress.


Katie and her Ixcela Expert worked to create small changes in her current routine that would help to balance her gut bacteria and support her serotonin levels. Because her schedule was already packed with school, work, and athletics, she needed realistic goals. They discussed Katie’s previous and current stress-management techniques and decided to implement a few simple yet powerful changes:

  1. During Katie’s evening stretching, she would listen to a guided meditation for at least 10 minutes.
  2. She would include at least 1 serving of vegetables with each meal. Examples that fit her budget and schedule:
    • Frozen, steam-in-bag vegetables
    • Fresh spinach stored in the freezer and easily mixed into stir-fries, pasta dishes, and soups
    • Pre-chopped vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers, and snap peas, that can be eaten raw or cooked
  3. She would limit her consumption of processed foods like ramen noodles, and create more balanced, nutrient-dense meals. Examples that fit her budget and schedule:
    • Steam-in-bag quinoa and grains paired with chicken and vegetable of choice
    • Eggs (or Ixcela's omelet cups) with a piece of whole grain toast for dinner (a great option for protein intake when she did not have eggs for breakfast)
    • High-protein wraps with chicken or hummus and paired with lettuce, shredded carrots, and a favorite salad dressing


After her session with her Ixcela Expert, Katie felt motivated and excited. She finally understood why she was feeling the way she was, and she had the action plan she needed to improve her symptoms. She immediately called her mom and a friend to share the news.

Over the next few weeks, Katie included more vegetables in her meals. To boost her protein intake, she included two eggs with breakfast. She reviewed the protein-dense foods in the nutrition section of her report to get more ideas about increasing the protein in her diet. She decided to add fish to her meals to support her serotonin levels.

When Katie put more effort into preparing her meals, she began to feel better, which gave her the ability to better manage stress and get prepared for her next season of cross-country. She understood that nutrition and gut health were important parts of her success in sports, in academics, and in the workplace.

Note: Katie experienced the Kickstart Assessment Program. This client's name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Here's what Katie said:

I was having gut issues and Ixcela was recommended to me. My goal was to figure out why I was having GI distress after eating. I also wanted to be able to recover better from workouts. The testing data helped me learn how much stress can impact the gut as well as the ability to recover after workouts.

The reason I recommend Ixcela is because you can find out so many things from a simple blood test that can improve your quality of life. Ixcela helped give me the answers I’ve been looking for after seeing so many doctors that said there was nothing wrong with me.

Note: Katie experienced the Kickstart Assessment Program. This client's name has been changed to protect her privacy.

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