Where people are sensitive to food chemicals red cordial does increase activity. The following ideas help explain how and why it can be useful, or if it produces more problems than benefits.
Usually I am writing about food chemical intolerance as a problem. In the general population foods suspect for causing reactions are those which are sought after as they are enjoyable and stimulating. These include foods high in additives, spicy foods, acidic fruit, peppermint, teas, herbal preparations, liquorice, chocolate, marinated and sauced foods, and highly flavoured Asian foods. It is only when physical symptoms, or thinking, or mood problems arise that we consider those foods as containing “suspect chemicals” producing problem reactions.
Where food sensitivity is important in sport it can show in two groups.
The first are food sensitive people who do get a boost from the stimulating foods and do not have any bothersome symptoms. The effect is not a sugar boost as they also gain it from diet drinks, Italian dishes, or a spicy meal.
This group is well represented among sports people. I call them “constructive hyperactives”.They may not have good concentration, be a bit impulsive and be on the go all the time. The difference between them and ADHD people is that they do not have all of the usual ADHD symptoms, especially poor concentration, impulsivity and restlessness, or the symptoms are not problem enough to move them outside the normal range, or they are very good at managing them (as many ADHD people a couple of generations ago had to be).
This means they can be susceptible to food and even be food intolerant, and maybe even use the effect of food on them to advantage! If concentration is not important to their sport and they are well trained, then the lift they get when they have these foods can be helpful, especially if they time the food intake in relation to when they need the increased activity. I am sure many do. Note that if the lift has a positive effect on activity, effort and mood, it can also have a negative effect on judgement. So where the lift is useful and judgement is good because of training then all is well. But if the sport requires concentration, judgement and an absence of impulsive thinking, then getting a lift from stimulating foods may not be sufficient for their best performance to show. So maturity and training matter.
Many in this group can go from one food fix to the next quite successfully for years. They may be quite fussy about how they manage their food without realising they are managing their ups, and avoiding downs, in the process. We have often heard about the food preferences of Olympic medal winners! Others may eventually have problems with increased problems in necessary judgement, fuzzy thinking, mood problems, a drop in self confidence, or any of the many physical symptoms such as headaches, migraine or IBS. See http://foodintolerancepro.com/symptoms-food-sensitive-people/
for the list of symptoms food sensitive people may have.
Just as the rest of the population can have allergic and other FI symptoms so can sports people. Where worrying allergy is present each person needs to discuss management with their doctor. Management of food sensitivity is separate to making sure good nutrition is happening. This should be discussed with a sports dietitian.
The second group are those whose physical symptoms or ADHD or ASD problems mean they have needed to investigate diet and the Low Chemical Diet which reduces additives, salicylates, amines and MSG, has helped. They may have used the book Are You Food Sensitive? from this site http://foodintolerancepro.com/buy-food-sensitivity-products/
And/or had help from an accredited practicing dietitian. They may not need the very strict diet. They can use the ‘easy’ diet, good results or finer points levels of strictness. Then they learn to judge their level of diet strictness to their tolerated level of symptoms.
Where diet helps in the ADHD group it is important to remember that hyperactivity is not the problem that changes most with diet. Many parents report that “He runs just as fast but I can get through to him now. He is not so touchy and is much happier.” Other areas that decrease are poor concentration, touchy mood and impulsivity. Many are as active but their lives are better, and so they can do well at sport.
Those who note the “lift” they get from stimulating food can learn their own pattern which can include a “down” that comes later: perhaps at 2.00am, the next morning, or later that day with tiredness. Importantly, along with the “down” can come a drop in self-confidence. Of course another serve of some stimulating food can bring another “lift”. So sports people can learn to understand themselves. This article is written so that food sensitive sporty people can understand what is happening to them and learn to judge what suits their particular sport better! The dose of stimulating food matters remembering that each person needs to learn when good judgement or impulsivity is affected and if they have a rebound drop in self-confidence.
Many food sensitive people are thin, perhaps because they are always on the go, but also because they have a high metabolic rate. They become hot when moving but can get cold if they have to sit still for some time. Their increased energy needs means they need more high energy foods than the normal population, separate from the increased intake needed for the sport. It is important not to let body weight drop below normal as food sensitivity symptoms are worse if weight is low.
Food sensitive people often have problems settling to sleep, or have restless sleep, dreams or nightmares. How slack the diet is matters if sleep problems are affecting sport performance.
An early researcher remarked that those with allergy and food intolerance have poor temperature and pain regulation. Those with ADHD often have very good pain tolerance, but some are the opposite and feel pain more. If these have pain they almost go into shock and need time to recover. A drink to supply sugar and fluid helps restore blood volume if they are have decreased hydration at the time. To learn more about food sensitivity go to http://www.foodintolerancepro.com/articles/ and enjoy learning more about how to understand your own sensitivities from the many free articles, and the books available.