Rotherham United FC reap rewards from food intolerance trial
Following a clinical trial with food intolerance testing company Lorisian, 93% of players reported improvements to their health
League One play-off final winners Rotherham United Football Club are not only rejoicing after their promotion success, they are also celebrating improvements in their health after completing an in-depth nutritional trial.
The club, who were promoted to the Championship following their 2-1 win over Shrewsbury Town on Sunday 27th May 2018, took part in a two-month clinical trial to see if a change in diet could improve the health, wellness and performance of the players.
A total of 19 Rotherham players took part in the trial and stuck to their dietary changes for eight weeks, after taking the Lorisian Modern Living programme, which tests for food intolerances* to 160 foods and drinks.
Out of the footballers who reported having symptoms at the start of the study, which included digestive issues, fatigue and joint pain, 93% reported improvements at the end and 84% said that they will be continuing with their dietary changes due to the health benefits.
Ross Burbeary, Head of Player Performance at Rotherham United, said: “Lorisian have provided an excellent education to the players at Rotherham United regarding their individual nutritional needs.
“Players changed their diets as recommended by the food intolerance testing results over a trial of eight weeks and with many of them stating the positive effects this had on their mood and energy.
“In some particular cases, players who had current issues, such as eczema and gastrointestinal distress, found that by making the recommended dietary changes, it noticeably alleviated these symptoms.
“Our ethos within the performance science and medical department at Rotherham United is to provide a player care and welfare provision, that not only supports players health and wellbeing, but also ensures players receive an education into how they can take care of themselves. Lorisian has contributed to playing a part of our programme.”
At the start of the study, the footballers were asked to rank their symptoms, with 15 out of the 19 taking part reporting at least one symptom. The key areas for concern were digestive issues and fatigue with several participants also reporting skin problems and joint pain.
Out of the 10 players who reported digestive problems throughout the study, all 10 reported benefits after eliminating their trigger foods, with eight (80%) reporting a high or considerable benefit.
All four players who initially stated fatigue as their primary or secondary symptom reported an improvement in their energy levels, with two reporting a considerable improvement.
Interestingly, a further four players who hadn’t reported energy levels as being troublesome at the start of the study reported having increased energy levels after month one.
Defender Joshua Emmanuel said: “I feel lighter and sharper on the pitch, have much more energy and a spring in my jump! I feel so much better.
“It hit me when I reintroduced milk and other food intolerances. I’m going to keep it up and want to advance my nutritional knowledge.”
Forward David Ball explained: “I feel more alert and have much more energy in the mornings. The biggest change I have felt is energy levels.”
Out of the four players that originally reported having no symptoms, all of them said that they would continue with the dietary changes after the end of the study as they felt better.
At the end of the two-month trial, six players (32%) felt their performance had improved.
Defender Michael Ihiekwe said: “After meals I don’t feel as tired, I have more energy on the pitch and in training. I feel really good.”
At the start of the study, each player was asked to rate their own health state on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is the best imaginable health statte, the average score at the beginning was 83.4 and this increased to 91.8 after the two months.
The Rotherham players were supported by YorkTest’s Scientific Director, Dr Gill Hart, Lorisian’s Sports Optimisation Specialist, Josh Netherwood, and BANT** registered Nutritional Therapist, Ali Orr.
Dr Gill Hart, who has recently published a white paper about how IgG-guided elimination diets can help sports performance, said: “At the start of the study a key area for concern was digestive problems, which is not surprising as it is widely documented that gastrointestinal complaints are common in athletes with 30 to 50% of athletes affected. Fatigue was another concern, which is to be expected given the level of training and performance required.
“Elite sports teams continue to feedback to us that dietary changes based on our scientific testing and expert approach help their performance.”
At the beginning of the study, the average duration of the players’ intense activity rates per day was one hour, three minutes and 44 seconds. After a month, the players’ range had increased to between one hour 25 minutes and, one hour 54 minutes.
After the first month of the trial, the number of players who reached over 90% of their top speed each day increased from 21% to 28%.
Josh Netherwood, Lorisian Sports Optimisation Specialist, said: “The team managers had a really good knowledge of nutrition and wanted to help the players by finding out what foods could be causing a reaction in their bodies to improve their diet plans.
“It was a pleasure working with the players and Sports Scientist Ross, who is really passionate about improving the team’s nutrition, as well as their physiological and physical performance.
“We wanted to help the players improve their performance, along with helping alleviate their symptoms, and it was fantastic to see that this was reflected in their recorded training metrics.”
*Lorisian and YorkTest define a food intolerance as a food-specific IgG reaction
** The British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine