Help assess nutritional imbalances and inform personalised diet and lifestyle recommendations, to support wellbeing.
Functional testing can be a very valuable tool in Nutritional Therapy and Integrative Sports Nutrition practice for helping us to get to the root cause of your health concerns.
Although it is possible to get very effective results without testing; in certain situations, additional testing can give us unique information about your physiology, which we can use to formulate more tailored health programs to address the specific biochemical imbalances that may be negatively impacting your health and causing your performance to suffer.
Most of the specialised health tests that I can provide are not currently (or routinely) available via the NHS.
I am a trained practitioner with a number of reputable private laboratories (including Genova Diagnostics, DNAFit, Biolab, InVivo, Cambridge Nutritional Sciences and Regenerus). to interpret a wide range non-invasive specialised tests.
Which Functional tests are most beneficial for athletes and improving sports performance?
Although, there are a number of other very useful functional tests available, some of the key tests in relation to monitoring athletic performance include:
Organic Acids Testing (OAT)
Organic acids are molecules that are naturally produced in our body during various biochemical processes. including: energy production, detoxification, digestion and intestinal microbial activity. Abnormal concentrations of organic acids in the urine can help us pinpoint specific imbalances that may be contributing towards specific health or performance issues, such as: vitamin and mineral deficiencies, increased oxidative stress that may be driving inflammation and slower recovery from exercise, neurotransmitter imbalances which provide insight into symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia, bacterial and fungal microbial imbalances in the gut, creatine levels as an indicator of hydration status and many more. With over 70 markers, the OATs test provides a comprehensive metabolic snapshot of our health.
Vitamin and Mineral Testing (Nutritional Assessment)
Scientific research indicates that some athletes' have increased vitamin and mineral requirements than the recommended dietary allowances. Therefore, to train and perform optimally, it is important to monitor and track your levels of these nutrients. Physical exertion has also been linked to lower gut function; which in turn can lead to poor nutrient digestion and absorption from our food. Nutrient shortfalls/deficiencies can ultimately threaten our long-term health and hinder our performance. Nutritional Assessment testing helps us to determine what is happening internally, often detecting nutrient deficiencies long before clinical signs and symptoms appear.
Predictive DNA Profiling
Both our genetics and environmental factors (nature V nurture) play an important role when it comes to our health and athletic performance. Our genes control many of our biological processes which are essential in sport and athletic performance such as: muscle energy production and metabolism, blood and tissue oxygenation and muscle and bone formation. However, our environment (essentially our diet and lifestyle) accounts for a large portion of our ability to reach our peak athletic performance. For example, you may have the best genes in the world, but if you lead an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle, you are not going to become an elite athlete. Our environment is essentially our lifestyle (nutrition, training, mindset etc). A predictive DNA Profiling test can tell us whether an individual has specific genetic variations that may be associated with better suitability for endurance or strength and speed sports, their vulnerability to sports-related injuries and individualized nutritional requirements. Knowledge of your specific genetic variations can enable us to develop a highly individualized training schedule, nutritional plan and supplementation program for you to help you achieve a competitive edge in your chosen sport; while avoiding key health risks and injuries related to training and competition.
Adrenal Stress Testing
Our adrenal glands (we have two - one on top of each kidney) produce hormones (i.e. cortisol and DHEA) which enable the body to cope with stressful situations. Imbalances in the production of the adrenal hormones are becoming increasingly common for everyone; but particularly common among athletes due to the increasing number of stressors (both physical and emotional) that they encounter on a regular basis. Exercise in itself, is perceived by the body as a form of stress and it stimulates the release of cortisol. Long-term high cortisol levels can hinder muscle development. In fact, out of balance adrenal hormone levels can impact almost every process in the body and can be related to a wide range of health and performance issues including: increased inflammation, fatigue and poor blood sugar regulation, cognitive dysfunction, lower immunity and increased upper respiratory tract infections. Fortunately, once verified via testing, adrenal imbalances can be addressed via targeted nutritional and lifestyle modifications.
Gut Function and Flora Testing
The gut of every human contains trillions of microorganisms. Our gut microbes are responsible for how our bodies break down carbohydrates, protein, fats and fibre and regulate the body’s energy. They also influence the body’s inflammatory response, resilience to stress, neurological function, and can even impact our mental strength and ability to control our weight; all factors which are very important to athletic performance. For athletes, an imbalance in their gut bacteria (dysbiosis) can play a significant role in how well they perform and how quickly they recover. Identifying exactly what the imbalances are in your gut, can help us to address them via more targeted dietary modifications and supplementation, if appropriate.
Thyroid Function Testing
The thyroid is a small gland in the neck which governs our metabolism. With low thryoid function, you’re often lacking in energy and find it difficult to effectively regulate your body temperature during exercise. Whereas, an underactive thyroid could be the reason why, despite your healthy diet and intensive exercise programme, you are struggling to lose excess weight. Having a greater understanding of your thryoid hormone function can help you to control your weight more effectively and optimise your sporting performance.