FourFourTwo - - PERFORMANCE -

What is it? A nat­u­rally-oc­cur­ring car­bo­hy­drate found in dairy prod­ucts. The low­down One in five peo­ple – many foot­ballers, then – suf­fer from an in­tol­er­ance that’s due to a lack of, or de­fi­ciency in, the en­zyme that di­gests lac­tose. What to do “Milk, es­pe­cially, is very nu­tri­tious and of­ten rec­om­mended to ath­letes to help them re­cover from ex­er­cise, due to its high-qual­ity pro­tein, sodium con­tent and abil­ity to help re­plen­ish en­ergy stores,” says sports and clin­i­cal di­eti­tian Davis, who has pre­vi­ously worked with Bath Rugby and Har­lequins. “So I al­ways rec­om­mend that af­fected in­di­vid­u­als try lac­tose-free dairy op­tions first, rather than nut or soya milk, in or­der to main­tain their in­take of cal­cium, dairy pro­teins and other mi­cronu­tri­ents.” What is it? Fruit sugar, ba­si­cally – the carb found in fruit and fruit juices. The low­down Ab­dom­i­nal dis­com­fort and di­ar­rhoea may be caused by fruc­tose mal­ab­sorp­tion, which of­ten oc­curs when large amounts of fruit or juices are con­sumed and/or the fruc­tose-to-glu­cose ra­tio is high, such as in mango, pears and ap­ples. What to do “Avoid those high-fruc­tose fruits for a start,” says Davis, “and limit your­self to three por­tions of fruit per day, eat­ing more veg to en­sure you meet your daily re­quire­ment for vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and fi­bre. Those af­fected should also watch out for sports drinks and gels, which of­ten have fruc­tose added.” What is it? Fruc­tans are chains of fruc­tose found in wheat, onion, gar­lic and some veg­eta­bles. The low­down In­tol­er­ance is caused by a lack of the en­zyme which breaks the bonds within the fruc­tan chain. It can lead to wind, di­ar­rhoea and bloat­ing, of­ten af­ter large serv­ings of bread or pasta. What to do “Don’t just blame the gluten,” Davis ad­vises. “That’s the pro­tein found in wheat, and is the most com­mon scape­goat for symp­toms linked to food in­tol­er­ance. While those di­ag­nosed with coeliac dis­ease should avoid it, ev­ery­one else should be tested prop­erly be­fore cut­ting out gluten – foot­ballers es­pe­cially might be miss­ing out a valu­able food source un­nec­es­sar­ily.”

Feel bloated in the warm-up? Team-mates notic­ing an ill wind from your end of the dress­ing room? Wat­ford nu­tri­tion­ist Shar­main Davis helps you iden­tify and con­quer food dis­com­fort

“A food al­lergy and a food in­tol­er­ance are dif­fer­ent,” Davis ex­plains. “An al­lergy is caused by the im­mune sys­tem’s re­ac­tion to a food – usu­ally a spe­cific pro­tein – and an in­tol­er­ance is not, and there­fore tends to be harder to di­ag­nose. If you sus­pect you have the lat­ter, aim to keep a food and symp­tom di­ary and see a spe­cial­ist gas­tro di­eti­tian be­fore you make any di­etary changes, which may im­pact on your per­for­mance more than the in­tol­er­ance it­self. Avoid the com­mon al­lergy and in­tol­er­ance test­ing you tend to see in holis­tic, un­con­ven­tional prac­ti­tion­ers, as meth­ods can be un­founded.”

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