Customer Story

This runner was frustrated with acne and GI distress.


Collegiate track-and-field athlete Quincy frequently struggled with GI distress, both during and outside of athletics. She would often become nauseated before races, and she experienced inconsistent digestion during and after races. She also struggled with acne, which required a daily antibiotic that further upset her stomach. Quincy’s GI distress hurt her athletic performance and sometimes caused her to miss two or three races a month, but she couldn’t figure out how to remedy her problem. Quincy came to Ixcela because she was sick of her GI distress holding her back.



Quincy’s Ixcela results showed that her indole-3-propionic acid (IPA) was below optimal levels, which indicated a bacterial imbalance in the gut. Gut bacterial imbalances can lead to acne, inflammation, and GI distress. Because IPA plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut and a strong intestinal wall, when IPA is below optimal levels, one may experience symptoms related to leaky gut, a condition in which food particles “leak” through the intestinal cell wall. This can lead to bloating, inconsistent digestion, and abdominal pain after eating. IPA can be below optimal for a variety of reasons, including taking antibiotics and not eating enough fibrous or fermented food.


Quincy’s Ixcela results were eye-opening. It all made sense now!

Although the antibiotic was helpful for treating her acne, Quincy didn’t realize it could be one of the culprits behind her GI issues. Hearing that her Ixcela results indicated that she had a gut bacterial imbalance and her IPA was below optimal made Quincy reconsider her daily antibiotic. While speaking with her Ixcela Expert, Quincy realized she could take steps to improve her gut health, alleviate her GI symptoms, and improve her complexion—no prescription needed.

When reflecting on her diet during her Ixcela Expert session, Quincy shared that she ate five to seven servings of vegetables per week, and only at dinner, which is an average of about 1 serving per day. She knew that her body needed more of these nutritious foods to perform, recover, and support her IPA, but she feared that eating more vegetables would upset her stomach even more and sabotage her ability to run her best.


Because Quincy was concerned that increasing her fibrous food intake could cause more GI distress, Quincy and her Ixcela Expert discussed how she could begin to incorporate nutritious foods in forms that would be less aggravating to her digestion. Together, they developed a plan to heal Quincy’s gut, support her IPA, and help her achieve her goals.

Using the testing data, her Ixcela Expert created a personalized action plan that fit into Quincy’s busy lifestyle. To reduce GI distress before training and to help her gut heal, Quincy would:

  1. Swap out high-fat foods before exercise.
    • Instead of: Toast and peanut butter or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
    • Swap for: Rice cakes, low-sugar cereals, fruit, bagels, and plain toast
    • Why? High-fat foods can cause cramping during exercise.
  2. Adjust food intake depending on how close mealtime is to a workout or race.
    • 3 hours before a run/race: Eat a balanced meal that is rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex fibrous carbohydrates (such as a sandwich with a side of fruit or vegetables).
    • 1–2 hours before a race: Eat simple carb swaps (mentioned above) with little fat, fiber, and protein to support better digestion during exercise.
  3. Increase fibrous foods to 2 or 3 servings per day.
    • Breakfast: Include a piece of fruit with breakfast.
    • Dinner: Continue to include at least one or two vegetables at dinner. (She really liked sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and carrots, and planned to incorporate a variety of veggies into dinner and snacks.)


After incorporating her Ixcela recommendations, Quincy reported feeling much better with little to no GI distress most of the time! Her GI distress was reduced from daily to only one or two days a week. As a result, she was able to successfully run five miles and complete two-hour workouts without GI distress. Furthermore, with Ixcela’s help, she hit two lifetime personal records in the steeplechase and 5K—and she placed in the top ten in both!

She found that eliminating fat from her pre-workout meals really helped. She had also been including nutritious meals similar to the following:

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt or overnight oats with 1 serving of fruit
  • Lunch: Chicken or turkey wraps with tomatoes and spinach
  • Snacks: Carrots, berries, nuts
  • Dinner: Sweet potatoes, broccoli, peppers, or spinach, with chicken and cheese

Quincy noticed a substantial improvement in her GI symptoms and acne. She was even able to discontinue her daily antibiotic for acne! She felt motivated and encouraged about her progress and was glad that she finally found answers to her symptoms.

Here's what Quincy said:

I decided to try Ixcela because I wanted to reduce GI distress while competing in cross-country and track.

Through testing, I learned I have a biomarker outside of optimal levels for leaky gut and it could be part of the reason I am having so many problems and with a few lifestyle and eating changes I may feel way better! The Ixcela Expert gave such great feedback and suggestions. It made it seem like it would be easy, and I am willing to do anything to reduce the GI discomfort and become healthier.

One of the other features I really loved was Ixcela’s recipe library. I liked having ideas of the types of recipes I could make to help me improve.

I think Ixcela is amazing and would recommend it to any athlete or non-athlete who may be experiencing gut issues. This company is full of great people who want to help you. This is the first time that I feel like I have gotten answers that are going to truly help me! I also love the approach Ixcela has and that they never pushed medication or supplements on me and encouraged me to try a food-based change first!

Note: Quincy experienced the Complete Package Program.
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