Ask a sport scientist: what health supplements do you use and why?

Guest post

Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Category: Sport

8 February 2018

Justin Roberts

Dr Justin Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition and Director of our Performance Testing Consultancy Team, talks about the one and only supplement he would consider using based on scientific evidence.

Having diverse beneficial gut bacteria is important for your physical and mental health. However, the balance of bacterial species can be disrupted by poor diet, being physically inactive and being under constant stress. One way to support the health of the gut is to consume dietary probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts), such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha.

I first came across probiotics after years of triathlon training, often experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms – such as nausea and stomach cramps – after training and races. I was also more susceptible to colds. After researching the area, I was surprised at how many people experience similar gastrointestinal problems after exercise. Now I have found that taking a probiotic regularly lessens my symptoms after training and benefits my general health.

A recent study we conducted showed that taking a probiotic in the evening with food, over 12 weeks of exercise training, reduced gastrointestinal problems in novice triathletes.

There is also a wealth of research supporting the use of probiotics for general health benefits, including improving intestinal health, enhancing the immune response and reducing serum cholesterol.

Just to add…

It is important to consider the context of this. Obviously, real food should always come first. A wide variety of natural wholefoods should provide most, if not all, nutrients. The question is do people ‘consistently’ eat a wide range of natural foods or is there a tendency to rely on quick fixes, fast or processed foods (not to mention other lifestyle factors). On an individual basis, some supplements may potentially provide ‘functional’ or physiological benefits to support health or minimise the risk of deficiency. However, as the word implies, supplements should be considered as an adjunct to a natural diet (and ideally backed up with science-based reasoning and/or diagnostic evidence).



Dr Justin Roberts is Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, and Director of our Performance Testing Consultancy Team.

Justin's post was originally published on The Conversation as part of the article What supplements do scientists use, and why?. Read the original article.

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