Athletes – Food Sensitivities Slowing You Down?

November 06, 2017

Can the foods you eat impact your performance?


So what if your “go to” super food is making you slow?

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am always looking to find the root cause to your concerns.  If your performance is suffering,  I look to understand the physiological pathways that are functioning sub optimally and ask why?  Many athletes under estimate the impact of food sensitivities on their performance.  When I see an athlete struggle with injuries or when they hit a plateau I get concerned.  I don’t want your superfoods to be what slows you down! It is time to look deeper for answers – it’s time to consider food sensitivity testing.

There is a growing body of evidence to support the clinical benefits of eliminating IgG reactive foods from the diet. When looking at food sensitivities, some are obvious and some are not.  You can grow in and out of food sensitivities at any point in your life.  It is during times of stress, when our immune system is taxed, where these sensitivities begin to develop.

The stress of continuous training may leave athletes more susceptible.

Being creatures of habit, we repeatedly eat the same foods.  I see this time and time again, where it is a patient’s breakfast that is their trigger.  Eating these triggers, irritates the lining of your intestinal tract and promotes a higher inflammatory load.  Even patients with incredibly clean diets can have a food sensitivity since it is not a test to determine healthy foods, it is a test to determine which foods are healthy for you.

The test I run with my athletes is an IgG Food Sensitivity Panel.  It is a simple blood test that measures 120 different foods for an IgG reaction.  IgG reactions are delayed sensitivity reactions produced by your immune system.  When you eat these foods, the inflammatory symptoms may take hours to days to show up.  Some common symptoms may be gas, bloating, IBS, eczema, headaches, fatigue or muscle aches.  It isn’t always obvious to determine which food is responsible, which is why it is important to test. Compare this to a “food allergy” reaction that most of us are more familiar with. Food allergies are IgE mediated reactions. The inflammatory response in this case is much different. IgE reactions are characterized by immediate redness and swelling. IgE reactions produce an anaphylactic response where the trigger tends to be obvious – like a peanut allergy. It is important to make the distinction as the goals of treatment are different. The purpose of identifying IgG reactions is to understand the hidden effects of low grade inflammation and stress that can be holding an athlete back from their optimal potential.

Continued consumption of foods that promote an IgG response diverts our body’s efforts into addressing chronic low lying inflammatory loads.  This can impact an athletes’ performance in the following ways:

Inflammation in the lining of your intestinal tract limits nutrient absorption which can lead to:

  • Fatigue and increased rest times.
  • Difficulty clearing lactic acid and delayed training recovery.
  • Having a higher than normal inflammatory load can leave athletes susceptible to injuries.
  • Inflammation in the bronchioles can make air exchange more difficult.
  • Weight management can become difficult and regular colds can be difficult to kick.

Elimination diets are another way to determine if a food sits well with you.  Embarking on an elimination plan is beneficial if you are reacting to common foods such as wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and peanuts.  When the offending food is from a smaller food group, the test becomes even more valuable.  For myself, pineapples, blueberries and almonds tested high.  These are foods I might not have otherwise removed.  I have had body builders react to ingredients in their protein powders and after removing the offending foods they can lift more.  I have had endurance cyclists react to their on-bike snack and migraine sufferers find relief when their diet became more personalized.

To book your IgG Food Sensitivity Panel with Dr. Jennifer Tanner, ND click here and get on track to push your performance to the next level!

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance plans. Some plans even cover testing. Call your insurance company to inquire about coverage for an IgG Food Sensitivity Panel.


Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

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