Do your training efforts vary from fantastic to below average regularly? It could all about what you eat!
If you open any sports magazine or book written for athletes, you’ll find dietary advice on how much protein, fat, and carbohydrate that you should be getting to ensure your best results and optimum energy. What you won’t find however, is what it is about YOU as an individual that makes your motor fire at its best every time you train and compete.
Have you noticed any subtle symptoms such as intolerance to cold, mild or moderate fatigue which may slow your pace even just a little or dramatically, muscles feel weak or heavy, or it’s just that little bit tougher to train? Your mood isn’t so great, maybe your motivation needs a pep talk, hormonal imbalances in women or possibly even bouts of fainting for some? You may even feel digestive symptoms such as bloating, wind, headaches, insomnia or nausea?
Conditions that particularly affect athletes are energy levels, fluid retention, muscle cramping, weight issues, mood issues, joint and muscle pain, or inflammation and injuries.
Most people are not aware that underlying food allergies can be affecting them, even in the most subtle way, compromising their ability to complete daily tasks efficiently, reducing energy levels and causing symptoms that may be considered normal if you’ve felt them for most of your life. These symptoms will fluctuate from day to day depending on what food you consume, how strong your allergic response is to that food and how much of it you consumed.
In clinical practice I have allergy tested over 95% of my patients for the past 8 years, and have found a reasonable list of between 10 and up to 60 common foods that have become allergens for these people, causing sometimes subtle symptoms, and sometimes extreme symptoms of ill health.
Food allergy comes about when at any stage of your life your gut wall has become inflamed. This may have been as a child when you’ve had a virus or infection causing diarrhoea or vomiting, or it may have been during a stressful time throughout your life. The gut wall during these times can become inflamed, allowing gaps between the cells of the wall, which then allows food particles that you are regularly eating to leak through and cross your gut wall barrier. This causes your immune system to recognise the food particle as a foreign object, which in turn, produces an immune cell against that food immediately, and usually long term. Without knowing what food allergens to avoid, the allergic response may gradually become more severe with repeated consumption.
Short term effects can include fluid retention, which will affect your mood, weight, energy, muscle cramping, and inflammation. However, if not treated, long term effects that I see most commonly are a compromised immune system, autoimmune disease, kidney problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and Alzheimer’s or dementia. These are all the degenerative versions of the allergic response, as it causes a release of cortisol hormone into your system, which if allowed to continue long term, causes a breakdown of joints and chronic inflammation to any or every organ.
In clinic testing is available to show fluid and inflammation levels, confirming food allergy before I recommend patients get a blood test, which is then requested if necessary. Food allergy testing is available in a number of ways, though some are more accurate than others. It is crucial that you get accurate testing the first time.
Whether you’re a professional athlete, social athlete, or training is a hobby, you will never know how good your body can feel, how much energy you can produce, and how boosted your immune system can be if you don’t know if the food you consume is right for you.