Fuelling Athletes for Enhanced Performance - Gut Health

In part two of this special two-part series featuring Dr Sharon Madigan, Head of Performance Nutrition at Sport Ireland Institute, we look at the importance of gut health in high performing athletes. Dr Madigan leads a team of nutrition experts at the Institute, who work together to create healthy and nutritious meal plans for athletes, which along with their training programme prepares them for high level competitions including world championships and the Olympic Games.

Glanbia Ireland is a world class, integrated agri-food and nutrition business, with a diverse portfolio of quality ingredients and leading consumer brands. Serving the market with both whey and milk proteins, Glanbia Ireland prides itself on leading the way in innovation and research as can be seen in the recently launched Truly Grass Fed standard in dairy.

Dr Madigan expressed the importance of research and the collection of information around athletes and their performance. She says, working alongside Teagasc - the Agriculture & Food Agency of Ireland, they have looked at particular time points over a season where athletes have competed in Bangladesh, Dubai and Australia. They have noted the changes in their gut over a five or six month period and recorded the impact of travel on their bodies. They also analysed the impact of taking antibiotics on an athlete who may have to take antibiotics for either sickness or to treat an infection of some sort and whether or not athletes need to adapt their diet to suit those circumstances.

Dr Madigan is a firm believer in the benefits of dairy - particularly beneficial in the maintenance of gut health in athletes and also in their recovery from training. She explains that gut health is an important part of athletes’ overall health and points out that because elite athletes travel far and wide they are particularly prone to bugs such as traveller’s diarrhoea.

If you have issues with your gut when you’re trying to perform it’s not going to be good. We want to try and minimise respiratory tract infections and overall infections particularly cold and flu and gut health and probiotics have been shown to help reduce the incidences of respiratory tract infections. Dairy plays a role in that in terms of fermented foods having the ability to populate the gut with the bugs that we believe are healthful in the longer term so it plays a very nice role there

she says.

With the input and support of bodies such as Sport Ireland Institute, Glanbia Ireland’s capability to produce a wide range of top-quality, highly specialised ingredients has been enhanced. We are proud to supply value-adding and sustainable whey and milk protein ingredients globally, tailored to customers’ needs, across a range of applications.

Dairy is ‘the pragmatic choice’, according to Dr. Sharon Madigan.

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