We’re talking nutrition again today with the folks at InsideTracker. Read below for some common nutrient imbalances they see, and how you can find out how nourished you really are.
By Perrin Braun, InsideTracker
If you could look under the hood to what’s going on inside of your body, you might be surprised by what you find. Many people—even elite professional and Olympic athletes—who seem “healthy” may actually have some biochemical issues that affect their performance.
We see this a lot at Inside Tracker. We use a simple blood test to measure up to 20 blood biomarkers that can serve as a guide to your well being and athletic performance.
We’ve seen lots of blood, and in the process have come across some biomarkers that are out of range among a lot of our clients. We’ve listed them below, and included some information on what they mean for your health and performance, as well as how to restore the imbalances
Vitamin D and Calcium – Low levels of each of these can increase the risk of low bone mineral density and stress fractures. Vitamin D is essential for bone health because your body needs it to absorb calcium. It also regulates the development and maintenance of the nervous system and of skeletal muscle. Calcium plays an integral role in the growth, maintenance, and repair of bone tissue, maintenance of blood calcium levels, regulation of muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and normal blood clotting. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are famous for being good sources of calcium, but you can also eat more leafy green vegetables (think kelp and spinach), dried beans, and legumes to improve your levels! To improve your vitamin D levels, eat more fatty fish (such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon), egg yolks, butter, beef liver, cheese, and fish oil. Some foods, such as milk, yogurt, cereal, and orange juice, are now fortified with vitamin D, so be sure to check the label of your favorite foods to see if they contain vitamin D!
Hemoglobin and Ferritin–Hemoglobin is a protein that is partially composed of iron and found mainly in red blood cells. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, and therefore it is a good marker for the amount of iron in the body. Hemoglobin transfers oxygen to the muscles, brain and other organs, and helps the body to convert carbohydrates and fat into forms of energy. If you don’t have enough hemoglobin, your muscles will not get optimal amounts of oxygen and your body won’t use energy as efficiently when you run. Why might you be low in iron? During intense workouts, you lose iron through sweat, and runners also lose iron through gastrointestinal bleeding. Pre-menopausal female athletes are at an especially increased risk for low iron and hemoglobin levels because of blood losses during menstruation. And many people simply don’t eat enough iron-rich foods, such as red meat, rice, wheat, oats, nuts, dark leafy greens, and beans.
How can you get started with InsideTracker?
Of course, everyone’s blood is different. You may be experiencing some of these oddities yourself, but the best way to know is to get analyzed and tested. InsideTracker uses what’s called an “optimal zone” in the blood analysis—a number that is specific to each person, taking into account his or her own unique demographic information such as age, gender, ethnicity, activity level, as well as lifestyle and performance goals. We determined the optimal zones for each marker based on the latest peer-reviewed scientific research.
Once you’ve gotten your exact results, we help recommend a path toward improving them, through diet (we have a database of 7500 food items you can find in your local grocery store), supplements, or tweaks in exercise and training.
If you’re a RunKeeper user who’s living in the U.S., you can purchase an InsideTracker plan that includes a blood test, or you can take advantage of the “do it yourself” (DIY) plan, which allows you to enter your most recent blood tests results from your primary care physician. By improving your biomarkers, you can help to boost your endurance and speed! Who doesn’t want that?
Perrin is a nutrition and public health graduate student at Tufts University. In her spare time, she enjoys running, hot yoga, and thinking about her next meal.