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The Microbiome: A Key Player on the Sports Nutrition Team

By Dr. Alison McDonald, Research Scientist, KGK Science

Despite the restrictions in place for sports and associated activities because of the pandemic, there are many possibilities where one can keep motivated and healthy during this time of waiting. Having recently been a speaker and panelist at the 2021 Sports and Active Nutrition Summit USA, I had a great opportunity to engage in conversations about the important role of the microbiome in sports and active nutrition with leading scientists and innovators.

Many facets of our health and wellness are centralized and revolve around the microbiome such as immune health, sleep, mood, cognition, stress, nutrient absorption, gut health, weight management, and more. Recent research has identified that athletes have different microbiomes from non-athletes, with enhanced diversity and an abundance of specific microbes that play a role in their elite physiology and performance. Athletes also challenge their microbiome to respond to the demands of intense training schedules and competitions, which can lead to suppression of their immune systems, changes in mood, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

In order to stay in the game, it’s essential that athletes combat these challenges. Athletes can give their microbiome a boost with supplementation of probiotics, prebiotics, fermented foods, synbiotics, and postbiotics. In the current global landscape, we can all enhance our immune systems and feelings of wellness through attention to our microbiome. The natural health product and dietary supplement industry continue to take note of the needs of athletes and highly active people, providing additional opportunities for clinical research support.

Recent developments in culturing techniques are providing ways to incorporate advanced tools into clinical trials to demonstrate product efficacy. In my role as a Scientist, I am reminded daily of the many opportunities in sports nutrition for providing science-backed evidence for new and cutting-edge products, supporting the health claims that drive competition in the marketplace. The potential here is vast and I am excited to contribute to high-quality research and continue validating products with science that builds and maintains consumer trust.

For more information about the relationship between the microbiome and optimal athletic performance, download our free webinar:

The Microbiome:
Moving Into a New Frontier in Sports Nutrition 

Dr. Alison McDonald, Research Scientist, KGK Science

Dr. Alison McDonald has a PhD in Kinesiology-Biomechanics from McMaster University in Canada.  Her research expertise lies in the area of the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. She is a published author in the areas of musculoskeletal function, muscle fatigue, and injury prevention. Her extended work encompasses the development of novel tools and analysis methods to address research gaps. At KGK Science, she works with study sponsors to design clinical trials in the sports nutrition arena. Her interests in sports nutrition research extend to the microbiome and link to cognition, mood, and optimizing health and wellness.