Friday, October 20, 2017

Are probiotics the new performance enhancers?

Learning is for life. As my anatomy prof always says “Is this on the test?… YES. Life is cumulative!” Even though I have left the ski team and the microbiology program at UW, the things that I learned there continue to find ways of integrating into my life.
This week I attended a lunch seminar here at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine and learned about  the human micro biome in relation to health (key flashbacks to Rachel’s exuberance on this topic). 
Nigel Plummer, a PhD from the UK, covered topics ranging from breast feeding and immunity, to microbe diversity’s  effect on allergies and finally got to the topic that is of special interest to the ski team: the impact of probiotics and micro biome on the performance and recovery of elite athletes. 
           Its not surprising elite level training stresses the body in ways that can cause bowel problems, prolonged recovery times, increase gut permeability to endotoxins and increase oxidative stress. The good news is that our little gut warrior microbes can offer a huge hand when it comes to dealing with the extra stresses that we put our bodies through intense training. 

Strains of Lactobillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to have beneficial effects on tight junctions and intestinal barrier function ( Blackwood, 2017). This means that not only will you loose less water when you are already dehydrated from a long mountain run but you will also absorb fewer endotoxins in your gut lining.  A healthier gut will make you feel like a million bucks!

Another study showed that extreme physical activity, perhaps the amazing 21K classic in Crested Butte, can induce oxidative stress on your body (think ROS). This can contribute to that tired feeling of fatigue a few days following a race, muscle soreness an a longer recovery time. They then found that probiotic supplementation of L. rhamnosis and L. paracasei increased plasma antioxidant levels so essentially the microbes in your gut neutralized some of this oxidative stress and can speed up recovery time! (Roberts, 2106) 
Some of you non-microbologist Nordies may find the following slide from the presentation a bit easier and more relevant to racing. 

  The graph shows just how much time the athletes shaved off when they benefited from probiotic supplementation (HMF is the brand and contains Bifido bacterium, Lactobacillus species) in extreme endurance races.  Probiotics may provide athletes with secondary health benefits that could positively affect athletic performance through enhanced recovery from fatigue, improved immune function, and maintenance of healthy gastrointestinal tract function.So take your probiotics kids and eat fermented foods like kombucha, saukraut, yogurt, kefir, and miso! (Sorry guys beer only partially counts ;) )

Blackwood BP, Yuan CY, Wood DR, Nicolas JD, Grothaus JS, Hunter CJ. Probiotic Lactobacillus Species Strengthen Intestinal Barrier Function and Tight Junction Integrity in Experimental Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Journal of probiotics & health. 2017;5(1):159. doi:10.4172/2329-8901.1000159.

Roberts, J.D.; Suckling, C.A.; Peedle, G.Y.; Murphy, J.A.; Dawkins, T.G.; Roberts, M.G. An Exploratory Investigation of Endotoxin Levels in Novice Long Distance Triathletes, and the Effects of a Multi-Strain Probiotic/Prebiotic, Antioxidant Intervention. Nutrients 20168, 733.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Skiers of the Month - September

Starting the semester is hard for everyone. No matter what you did during the summer the change to classes, homework and training can be tough.

This especially true if you are a freshman. You have all the issues mentioned above PLUS being away from home for the first time, roommates, feeding yourself, classes and homework unlike anything you have done in the past, and many other difficulties.

This is what makes these two young women so phenomenal. They both have had a great deal to manage in the first month of the semester and in spite of this they have the highest practice percentages on the team!

Ella spent the summer working in two different labs in addition to making it to almost every single summer practice and ALL the adventure weekends! Despite what should have been a fairly easy transition to school one of her projects didn't end as planned and she was also left completely in charge of it. A project that really should have been managed by a staff member or graduate student fell squarely in her lap as a Junior in college. This in top of a difficult schedule with multiple hard courses and labs.

Ella is also the Vice-President of the team and as such is a strong roll model to the younger skiers. She takes this very seriously. This entire semester Ella has only missed practice when she was sick, which wasn't often. She has been an inspiration for the team in all aspects: school, training, volunteer work, and leadership. Always with a smile and a willingness to help she embodies the team.

Ella has stepped into the void left by her mentors, Elise, Sierra and Meghan, and has not disappointed. For this reason Ella is Skier of the Month for September. YOU ROCK OUR WORLD!!!!

Maddy has been around the team for so long that we forget she wasn't always here. She has attended multiple Memorial Day Ski Camps and fit in so well from the start that we looked forward to having her on the team. She has not disappointed. She is as wonderful and fits even better than we anticipated. I can't even tell you how many times she asked to help this weekend and better yet I found her just finding things to do, like dishes. She is already making her mark on the team with her smile, laugh and willingness to hurt and help!

I do not recall a time when a freshman managed to handle the transition to school and skiing better than Maddy has done. She has missed only two practices, one when she had a terrible week of exams and one when her alarm didn't go off. She is so dedicated that she is one of the faces that I expect every time I look up.

She also excelled in the hillbounding this weekend at FORO, finishing the workout with the older girls and looking good all the way through the end.

She has done a phenomenal job of school and skiing, managing to get enough rest to not get sick while still being successful in the classroom and training. She is a rock and she's only 1 month into her freshman year! We are super excited she is finally part of our family.

Maddy, you ROCK OUR WORLD!!!!