Genetics and Athletic Performance

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Everyone knows that genetics can help or hinder an individual’s athletic capacity. Some individuals are more prone to injury. Some are more at risk for brain damage resulting from concussions than others. Some respond better to caffeine than others.

Understanding your genetics helps in all these areas!

Your DNA can answer multiple questions including:

  • Do you have a higher need for magnesium?

  • Will caffeine help or hurt your performance and bone density?

  • Are you more prone to muscle and ligament tears?

  • Will creatine assist muscle strength for you?

  • Do you require more anti-inflammatory support for recovery?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help maximize recovery periods, optimize your workout, and determine whether or not your child should participate in contact sports.

Young Athletes

Many young athletes start pushing their body very hard early in life and then burn the candle at both ends for school. There has been an increase is adrenal and thyroid issues in female athletes with symptoms showing up earlier and earlier. 

Iodine and Athletes

 While we often discuss the importance of electrolytes with athletes, iodine is often neglected. Iodine is lost in sweat, and if athletes have low levels or a higher need of iodine, research has postulated that excessive sweat loss can lead to iodine depletion and subsequent thyroid issues.

To Creatine or not to Creatine?

Some athletes will see benefits from creatine supplementation while others do not. This depends on their creatine stores. If the GAMT gene is not working optimally, there may be lower creatine stores. These athletes will benefit from increasing creatine-rich foods like grass-fed red meat and wild salmon, magnesium, L-arginine foods and glycine-rich foods.

Sports Injuries:

 Consider the following from a Stanford lecture on injuries:

  • Approximately 30-75% of runners and 50-75% of triathletes are injured each year.

  • 159 MLB players injured in 2013, costing 602 million in salaries (18.9% of total MLB payroll).

  • 100,000-250,000 ACL reconstructions per year costing 1.7-6.25 billion in direct healthcare costs.

  • 75% of the track team at Stanford gets injured.

Vitamin C, lysine, glycine and proline may be required in higher amounts in those with poor collagen production and injury recovery, which is a large percentage of the population. Powdered collagen is a great option for athletes and those with joint pain.

Muscle Recovery

Exercise increases IL6 cytokines even when muscle damage hasn’t occurred. It is produced in large amounts during heavy weight lifting and endurance races. You may have slower recovery times after workouts and require more post-workout anti-inflammatory support.

If that’s the case you may need more support to lower IL6 cytokines to expedite muscle recovery and soreness. 

Research has shown that ginger, vitamin C, bone broth, curcumin, dandelion, and cryotherapy are all effective at expediting muscle recovery and improving joint paint by lowering IL6 cytokines.

Inflammatory Cytokines

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine with a potent catabolic effect on muscle. High plasma levels of TNF-α are associated with reduced physical performance and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Depression, bacterial overgrowth, overtraining, auto-immune disorders and high blood sugar can also cause elevated TNF-α levels.

Norepinephrine inhibits the inflammatory pathway by decreasing TNF-α. Studies have found that deep breathing exercises and cold therapy like swimming in cold water and ice baths increase epinephrine. Cordyceps, vitamin C, turmeric, boron, ginger, dandelion, purple sweet potatoes, cranberries, blueberries, beetroot juice and cherry juice have all been found to lower TNF-a levels and improve recovery.

Curcumin (turmeric) is also one of the recommendations for lowering TNF-α. One study found curcumin alone powerfully suppressed CRP (a marker of inflammation in the blood) by 52% from baseline, while diclofenac sodium alone only decreased CRP by 1.5%. The investigators of this trial remarked that “Taken together, our present results provide a clear proof-of-principle for the superiority of curcumin, and the lack of any synergistic or additive efficacy, when used in conjunction with diclofenac strongly favors the safe and effective application of curcumin alone in clinical settings for the management of rheumatoid arthritis and other pro-inflammatory diseases including cancer in the future.”

IM Performance Nutrition has proudly partnered with Nutrition Genome, the most advanced DNA testing and analysis tool available. It is time to reveal for yourself what is now accessible within our body’s own genetic code. Unlock your true potential through our fast, easy, high security DNA test kit and personalized genetic health report.

Nutrition Genome
Trenton Frazer