Nutrition and Sport Performance - 5 Key Areas at a DNA Level

Giving athletes tailored dietary and other performance-related information based on their genetic makeup is part of a growing new field. Genetics play a critical role in determining how athletes respond to foods, nutrients and supplements, as demonstrated by recent research in the emerging field of “nutrigenomics” – the science that seeks to explain how genetic variation alters our response to diet, which impacts general health and athletic performance.

The following areas can be tested at The Clinic with our DNA Sports Analaysis

Caffeine

Globally caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant with many athletes having it to enhance training and performance. Research on the impact of caffeine on cardiovascular health and athletic performance gives varied results. Research showed that fast metabolisers of caffeine saw significant improvements in endurance after having caffeine compared to taking a placebo. Slow metabolisers however experienced no benefit, often performing worse compared to their placebo endurance test. They are also at higher risk of heart attacks and high blood pressure when consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine (2 small cups of coffee or 3-4 cups of tea) per day.

Vitamin D

Having enough vitamin D is really important especially when exercising. It increases bone mineral density, reduces the risk of stress fractures, and could also play an important role in heart health, immune function, muscle recovery and muscle building during intense training.

Iron

Iron is a mineral which we need to help our bodies form red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body. Low iron stores can lead to anaemia which is associated with fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness and reduced aerobic capacity. Low iron levels can therefore lead to poor performance.

Lactose

Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in dairy products which is broken down by the enzyme lactase to be properly digested. Those who do not produce any, or enough lactase, so the lactose passes through the intestines undigested can lead to unpleasant side effects including bloating, cramps and diarrhoea.

Individuals who consume a lactose-free diet are at a greater risk of inadequate calcium and vitamin D, both of which are important for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, and reducing the risk of low bone density and stress fractures that often occur in athletes.

Optimal levels of calcium and vitamin D can still be achieved through fortified milk alternatives such as soy, almond, and rice beverages but make sure you check the label to confirm that you’re choosing products that include them.

Physical performance

The report also includes tailored information on fitness and physical activity, allowing us to make some insights about the risk of injury and other indicators of physical performance.  

A high pain tolerance result is common with professional sports individuals. Pain is triggered by the nervous system and their are substantial differences in the degree to which people feel pain, a high tolerance to pain can give the individual an advantage to train hard and push themesleves to be one of the elite in their chosen sport. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 14.12.07.png

Goat Kefir Time...

Today my goat kefir arrived. Nutrition to me is all about supporting the microbione (thanks to the years of clinical work, my literature review I did on the topic when studying nutritional science & the functional tests I do in clinic).  I was lucky that during my childbirth I didn't have any antibiotics and my daughter didn't either, but that isn't always the case.  

When I have asked new- mum friends if they have then taken probiotics they usually reply with a no and I think they feel if it was a necessity then the GP would have told them to.  In the UK the NHS does not supply you with probiotics after antibiotics unlike more progressive countries in Europe (read more). 

Our microbione is under constant assault from antibiotics, sugar, stress and environmental toxins. Even when you haven't taken antibiotics they can still be found in our food and water. 

Kefir is a natural food which may help protect our immune system and help fight off infections. Plus help boost our energy and drive away sugar cravings (I need this for sure right now - limited sleep of a new mum). 

I am taking a 21 day course from Chuckling Goat, before breakfast on an empty stomach. To fully benefit I am using their recommendations which are as follows:

  • Avoid Sugar
  • Avoid Cow Dairy (we only have goats milk/cheese/yoghurt/butter in our household already)
  • Follow a Low GI eating plan & gluten free (include oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat. Avoid white potatoes - swap for sweet potatoes)
  • Mix flaxseed oil into your kefir in the morning
  • Handful of walnuts ever day
  • Include a bone broth daily or a quality collagen supplement

Post pregnancy kefir consumption is thought to help with the healing process, assist with weight loss, help manage the baby blues and of course add more beneficial lactobacillus bacteria into my breast milk (not much to loose then). 

 

Purchase here:

https://chucklinggoat.grsm.io/SarahAnderson

 

Goat Kefir

Thank you 2017! Motherhood & Natural Home Birth

2017 I have so much to thank you for, especially the "spiritual" feeling childbirth gave me - meeting my little baby girl for the first time . Life is now just full of firsts - the smiles truly melt my heart everyday.

My daughter was 14 weeks old yesterday and what a journey. I've always been a big believer in the best way to get things done is call in those who know what they are talking about. I had never been to another persons birth so for this reason I wanted to work with an experienced doula. This was fantastic my very own "mother coach" with pep talks in my bathroom 'you've got this" and support as I moved around my home in and out of the birthing pool. 

Looking back now and reflecting how lucky I was to have the birth I had planned as I speak to many new mum friends and hear the difficult times they experienced.  I urge anyone who is pregnant and if they can to look into getting support from a doula, even with my husband by my side this was a form of consistency of care which is unfortunately not obtained in a hospital setting the same anymore. My anxiety around birth was reduced also once I knew how my support network was going to be and I was in great hands.  Michelle was my rock on the day working closely with the home birth midwives. Wendy the primary midwife was the most experienced and reassuring midwife a girl could ask for. Thank you also again Ali from Hypnobirthing Mumma who in our 4 sessions together had equipped me with the skills prior to the big day to instinctively manage my pain naturally.  I even admitted to her recently that I actually enjoyed the first stage (10hrs or so) of labour (this is not active labour) and the power of being in control of my breathing as the pain became more intense. 

I still feel very blessed to have had my first baby at home.  I truly appreciate this isn't a luxury for everyone or a home birth isn't the choice many would choose (I was considered low risk & my pregnancy had been very straight forward. So please don't rule out a home birth until you know all the facts). As this was my first baby I did have the time to absorb as much (oh and I did)  antenatal information as possible, plus my very supportive husband was taken to numerous meet ups including home water births evenings and positive birth groups (The Positive Birth Group) -  all of which demonstrated to my husband how important it was for me to be informed and how "normal" the mothers and couples looked, and all my childbirth aspirations were not some crazy hippy idea. 

The way I see it is too many women don't plan enough for how they want their birth to be and just hand themselves over to the hospital without being informed of their rights and choices (when else would you do this?).  The energy that I had put into planning my Wedding  and Honeymoon the year before was so superficial in comparison, so of course it made total sense to invest (emotionally & financially - a home brith actually costs the NHS less)  totally in the most important event I feel as a woman I will ever do.

To help with the physical control throughout the pregnancy I attended "active pregnancy yoga" with the fantastic Natalie Meddings who is also as a fantastic doula, she brings together new mums-to-be in a supported environment and talks through concerns and helps reassure mums-to-be of how women are designed to give birth (even though you can never really describe active/final stages of labour until you experience it!).

What was interesting though is that the emotional side of becoming a mother really didn't dawn on me till the very end of my labour (the last three hours) Michelle would remind me of this and without this innate belief my body would not have finally progressed naturally surrendering to the final push as I learnt to accept this powerful shift in my emotional being of becoming a mother. 

Thank you 2017 I will never forget when my daughter arrived and how we just lay holding each other as time just stopped.

me & ava.jpg
 The Positive Birth  Website

The Positive Birth Website

 Find a Doula  Website..

Find a Doula Website..

Positive Birth Stories, Supportive Women , More Yoga and Natural Remedies.

I am now 34 weeks pregnant and I want to be as informed as possible about my birthing options.  Living in busy London times have changed since my mum had me and what I have found apparent is that it is so difficult to get continuity of care. Your likelihood of seeing the same midwife and her being at your birth is unlikely or minimal.  However what you do have control is of the care you give yourself during pregnancy.

This includes those you choose to surround yourself with,  including positive pregnant mums to be who share the same belief systems as you.  I have realised that it is not my role (typical therapists trait) to convince others of their birthing choices.  We are all individual and during pregnancy this really shines. (Never mind the different ideas on parenting to come!) 

Many women may like to talk about their negative pregnancy experiences and the media is full of conflicting information, but women do this as the dramatized (cause a quiet birth wouldn't make great watching) TV series tells us "one born every minute" every day. 

As I search out for a positive birth experience I feel I have become somewhat of a detective. Working with Ali at Hypnobirthing Mumma has confirmed that my personality likes to know "why" and question what is happening to my body. This of course corresponds with my experience working as a clinical nutritionist.  I have always wanted to understand what is happening physiologically to the body as a whole not looking at the symptoms individually (this is why I apply a functional medicine approach to my nutritional support).

I regularly discuss with my clients about their births, were they breastfed, and have written literature reviews, done numerous functional tests and frequently discussed the importance of the Human Microbiome and its importance on gut health, why allergies etc. are on the rise and of course how it is effected during pregnancy (read more here).

Why don't we focus more on prevention and preparation with child birth?  Eating the right foods takes preparation so we nourish our bodies and prevent ill health. Preparation for birth to me is exactly the same.  I want to have the right intention for my baby's birth and being prepared is important to me, not in a controlling way - just to be aware of all my choices.  One thing is for sure actual child birth is totally out of my control! - when my baby wants to arrive he/she will tell me not the other way round,  but if I know all my options and have as many tools available to me then the anxiety and fear associated around birth can be reduced - right? 

Through Ali I met Lucy Horton who runs Sundaramama. Lucy's yoga classes I can't recommend enough. For the final few weeks of my pregnancy I am trying to incorporate 2-3 yoga classes a week (with different support providers).  Lucy is obviously highly experienced and has worked with many professional sports women wanting to continue their fitness throughout pregnancy. As my body starts to ache as the weight has dramatically increased during this third trimester I'm drinking large glasses of goats milk daily and eating my greens as my body tells me to up my depleting calcium stores.  My lower back also aches and massage is just amazing (thanks husband Mark),  it is also clear that the pregnancy hormone relaxin is softening my ligaments making them more elastic, which will help with the baby's birth (and helped my golf swing a few months ago). However this has started to hurt when I over exert myself - which I find really frustrating .  Lucy's yoga teachings reassures me that my body is strong and was built for this as the long effective stretches soothe any pain. The evening sessions are particularly beneficial as my sleep is then fantastic. 

I was recommended "The Positive Birth Book" by Milli Hill which nicely ties everything together and is a great resource.  "Tell me a good birth Story"  started by active birth yoga teacher and doula Natalie Meaddings is a really great reference and having met Natalie and attended her active yoga class I strongly recommend you include working with her in your self care if possible.  Her yoga sessions allow you to finish off talking with other mums-to-be over tea and cake! Providing you with a key part to your mental wellbeing during pregnancy - support!  She is a wealth of knowledge and I suggest you contact her with any concerns. Natalie also works with the kind and supportive Michelle Gerlis who runs Positive Birth Movement Groups well worth checking out also. 

As I continue to aim for the birth which suits me but with a complete realistic approach - I know knowledge is key. So many things can and will be out of my control, but I know that by being informed of all my options, feeling supported and including stress reducing natural remedies can only have a positive affect on my mental health, birth and recovery.

Natural remedies can include the relaxing calming effects of lavender, hypnotherapy visualisation, meditation, aromatherapy candles, homeopathic remedies, empowering crystals,  active pregnancy yoga, talking!, therapeutic water (we all know how good a bath is at calming us and helping us with pain) plus of course even including foods to help with symptoms - in the case of pregnancy dates and raspberry leaf tea beneficial effects have been studied.  

A few nutritional support tips:

  1. No matter how much you may want to lose weight, don't be tempted to diet during pregnancy. You will lose excess weight naturally if you adopt a healthy eating plan. Pregnancy is a time to limit stress and nourish yourself and the baby.
  2. Ensure you eat little and often with meals based around complex carbohydrate, in order to balance your blood sugar levels.
  3. Eat whole food to avoid suffering from constipation and ensuring toxins (including excess hormones) are effectively excreted out of the body.  

Once again though remember we are all individual (as I see in the DNA testing at clinic) and what works for someone else may not work for you! Enjoy your own journey! 

Useful resources:

Birthrights: http://www.birthrights.org.uk/

Midwife blogs: 

https://midwifethinking.com/2013/11/13/early-labour-and-mixed-messages/

https://midwifethinking.com/2013/03/27/feel-the-fear-and-birth-anyway/

https://midwifethinking.com/2016/07/13/induction-of-labour-balancing-risks/

MICROBIOTA.png
HAPPY BIRTH.jpg

Married, Pregnancy, Nutrition, Yoga & Hypnobirthing

I got married in December 2016 so I had been particularly taking care of what I ate to fit in my dream dress (the stress of Wedding planning also helps you lose weight), thank you so much Shelia Harding at Boa, Richmond.

We were planning on me getting pregnant soon so I was taking a quality supplement from BioNutri - called Natal 8 for a few months before my Wedding.   I also watched my carbohydrate consumption (a recent study showed this has helped with fertility - read study) limiting the bread and potatoes - however during pregnancy the body tells you it needs carbohydrates to give you the extra energy to grow the baby! 

I am now 30 weeks pregnant and since finding out at 3 weeks back at the end of January I have tried to implement my professional clinical nutrition knowledge into my pregnancy. I however have to admit at a time when you have little control over your body this can be very challenging!  My avocado on toast has found chili jam on it, plus pineapple runs to the shops has been a regular occurrence - oh and their was the fruit and fibre cereal for dessert phase - I can only put this down to the new sweet tooth and bland comfort food - as it was something I ate as a child (before we knew what was in most sugar laden cereals & how they affect our blood sugar). 

My husband and I have had a Babymoon a couple of weeks ago - as I celebrated my birthday with no fizz this year - it involved a fantastic cookery course at Luckman Park then onto the New Forrest to stay at Chewton Glen for sea air and more tasty food. 

Week 6 - 17 were that hardest for me, as someone who is active and never really likes to sit still battled the fatigue- but you have to just rest on the sofa in the evenings and listen to your body as it tells/makes you slow down and relax,  so the body can get on with the mammoth task of getting you ready to carry a baby. 

You then can't help compare yourself to other friends who have had children (many like to tell you terrible birthing stories) or have also just found out they are on this crazy pregnancy journey. Why did/do they not feel sick all day every day for 3 months?!  

Who named it morning sickness! Mine got worse at 15.00 every day.  Life carried on anyway and I felt until I reached the 12 weeks mark I was limited on who I could share my exciting news with. The food tasting/menu development job I had on at the time was certainly a challange as they brought out the 30+ dishes for me to comment on, while I fought the nausea. 

Each trimester has been so different, the 1st the fatigue, sickness, metallic taste - hangover mouth in the morning,  mood swings, sore breasts, weight going in places it has never before - my hips have been getting ready to hold the extending bump.

The 2nd trimester was all about the 20 week scan for me and after 17 weeks of being pregnant I had started to come to terms with my new body shape. By week 22 I was back to being full of energy and even played golf up to 6 months pregnant - but it was getting harder physically/structurally so I listened to my body and retired till next spring on the golf front. Swimming is the go to exercise now- it feels amazing to get the weight off in the pool! 

Pregnancy Yoga:

Now I'm in the 3rd trimester and it has started to feel very real! I started Yoga for pregnancy at 11 weeks and it has been absolutely fantastic, I can not recommend this enough. Triona in Richmond runs Yogabellies and I think my husband will agree it has balanced my mood and made me focus on my breathing whilst retaining flexibility and strength. Unfortunately I am not doing this daily (must try to) so my moods have been up and down but we are only human and the enormity of what is happening inside and out to my body I am not surprised!

Moves include the Goddess (although that isn't how I feel when I am doing it), Polar Bear - (bottom in the air whilst on all fours and a great position for labour) but the stretching in Downward Dog and Childs Pose has been wonderful as my body shape changes so quickly and adds extra stress on my lower back. 

As my hormones continue to go overdrive I look at balancing them with my diet. These principles are important for all female hormonal health..

HORMONE BALANCING DIET:

1/ Drink enough fluids

2/ Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

3/ Buy organic food where possible - avoid the dirty dozen

4/ Eat phytoestrogens, including beans, lentils and chickpeas

5/ Eat oily foods, including fish (the right fish for pregnancy) , nuts, seeds and oils

6/ Reduce your intake of caffeine - including chocolate

7/ Eat complex carbohydrates - wholegrains, brown rice and oats

8/ Avoid additives, preservatives and chemicals such as artificial sweetener- no diet drink etc.

Hypnobirthing:

I also was conscious that in the past I have suffered from anxiety and although I look out for the foods which can reduce this, I wanted to learn the techniques to help me as much as possible have my natural (ideally water) birth so was introduced to Ali at Hypnobirthing Mumma

The sessions so far have reinforced the power of the mind, and how total relaxation and visualisation can help you remain calm. Effective breathing techniques which actually you can implement in day to day life - even when it is a very hot day in July and you can't cool down with a baby inside you!

The workshops have involved my husband also, I wanted him to feel that he had a role to play other than getting me to the hospital. He has surprised me with his interested questions and when it came to the visualisation he was having a great time and seemed to find it easy to switch off from our life stresses and commitments. I even felt rather competitive over how good a place he was visiting as we relaxed into our calm happy places. 

Foods to avoid to help with Anxiety and Panic Attacks in Pregnancy:

1/ Avoid stimulants, especially caffeine & refined sugar (even though I have craved this!) , which can all trigger severe mood swings and disrupts blood sugar levels. 

2/ Too many starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes, croissants, bananas and coffee (again more cravings! Who said pregnancy was easy but try and limit!)

3/ Tinned and pre-packed foods which are high in salt, combine this with anxiety or a panic attack and your blood pressure can rise (optimal blood pressure is so important throughout pregnancy) 

Pregnancy Nutrition to remember:

1/ Zinc deficiency has been associated with a long labour - so eat more spinach, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, nuts, dark chocolate (easy one), pork, chicken, beans, and mushrooms.

2/ Magnesium helps relax the nervous system - I have had so many Epsom salt baths!

3/ Do not take Vitamin A during pregnancy, you can get enough from those orange vegetables in the form of beta carotene.

4/ Post natal depression has been linked to subclinical levels of Zinc and Magnesium

5/ Take a natal multivitamin which provides Folic Acid as Methylfolate Vitamin B6,  B12, C, Iron, and Zinc along and acidophilus, Bifidobacteria & Bulgaricus.

6/ Understand your DNA Methylation Profile (learn more about Genetic Testing at my clinic here) - You may have a MTHFR Genetic Defect and this will need to be addressed to aid methylation and support fertility and pregnancy - Dr Ben Lynch explains here

 

I look forward to sharing my journey and including tips and nutritional knowledge along the way.

Sarah xx

 

IMG_9931.JPG
 Married Dec 2016 - Loch Lomond, Scotland    

Married Dec 2016 - Loch Lomond, Scotland 

 

Getting back on track to our optimal weight

1/ We are all only human

Accept that eating healthy is a lifestyle change, not a diet. We all slip up from time to time. One of my clients has tried every diet going, and I was thrilled when she announced the other day that she finally realised eating healthy can be enjoyable – and that it isn't a form of punishment.
Dr Steve Peters' book The Chimp Paradox argues that the mind is made up of three separate ‘brains’: Human, Chimp and Computer. You are the Human, your Chimp is an emotional thinking machine, and your Computer is a storage area and automatic functioning machine. Learning to understand your Chimp, and its emotionally driven and often impulsive eating habits is key. Peters says, “One of the secrets of success and happiness is to learn to live with your Chimp and not get bitten or attacked by it”.

Planning for perfection sets you up for a fail. No-one can (or should) be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. So you’ve had a setback from your healthy eating plan. We all make mistakes - accept it and move on. Life is too short to dwell on what can’t be changed. Live in the now. Make your next decision the right one.

2/ Patience! Invest in the long-term

You may be impatient, with an unrealistic goal and unrealistic expectations. A successful weight-loss plan means losing weight at a healthy rate. Forget fad diets and what celebrities manage with their private chefs. Ironically, this kind of dieting actually leads to more dieting, as yo yo diets and a fluctuating weight play havoc with your metabolism and make you more prone to putting on weight.

And who wants to survive on shakes or juices, anyway? If you have become overweight because you enjoy eating, then eating should be a pleasure. Now is the time to embrace new nutritious foods and how good they make you feel.

3/ Change those habits - decide to open your gate of change

You can keep on making excuses about your bad eating, or you can look at how to change your lifestyle to suit your new healthy eating plan. It will only last if your motivation is intrinsic (deeply held from within) rather than extrinsic (like pressure from family or friends)
Stephen Covey's bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People explains “No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal. Decide to open your gate of change!”

4/ Find your support system

So you’ve tried going it alone and it hasn’t worked. Don’t be afraid to ask for emotional support when the going gets tough, whether that’s a professional such as a nutritional behavioural therapist or a friend.
Find a training partner for the gym, too. Exercise is always more fun when you have someone to talk to and share achievements with. And it might just bring out that competitive spirit.
It’s worth bearing in mind that we are all different, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Don’t give up!

5/ Reward yourself with something other than food

Food can be an immediate reward and is so easily accessible these days.

Since childhood, most of us are led to overeat and consume too much sugar. “Finish your dinner and you can have pudding” – sound familiar?
Break that habit! Set yourself mini-goals and plan a (non-food) treat each time you achieve it. Maybe a fresh manicure, a new magazine or tickets to a gig?
Give yourself some “me” time – perhaps book out a whole Saturday to do whatever YOU want and don’t feel guilty about it!

Originally featured in Women's Health by Sarah Anderson (nee Wilson) 

Fresh Organic Nutrition