Nutrition has a great potential to positively affect body metabolism, health, performance and recovery. Be it any sports or athletic performance, there is oxidative stress and exercise induced inflammation and consuming omega 3 PUFAs (Poly Unsaturated Fatty acids), such as DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) that have shown to be effective in reducing them. DHA may help enhance perceptual-motor activity and decision-making which are key aspects for better improve performance in sports. EPA is good for the heart and plays a positive role in regulating inflammatory levels throughout the body.
PUFAs can help lower the risk of heart diseases, arthritis and cancer, as they help regulate blood pressure, glucose tolerance and nervous system functions. Sources of EPA and DHA are cold water fish such as sardine, salmon etc.
The Paradox of Sports Training and Exercise
Oxidative stress is characterised by increase in the formation of free radicals and other oxidants, which may lead to oxidative damage to cellular components (ie lipids, proteins, and or DNA). The primary radicals being superoxides and nitric oxides , are responsible for oxidatively modifying proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and predisposes to age related disorders. Whenever there is oxidative stress, and inflammation, which develops as a secondary disorder which further aggravates the former. Moreover, at the site of inflammation , the activated inflammatory cells release enzymes (eg phosphates ,lipases) , reactive species (eg superoxide , hydrogen peroxide ) and chemical mediators (eicosanoids, cytokines and nitric oxide) , which induces tissue damage along with oxidative damage. Therefore, all these lead to chronic inflammatory conditions.
The skeletal muscles produce free radicals under stress and the production increases during contractile activity. It has been studied that oxidative and nitrosative stress is seen during training and competitive periods in players. This leads to depletion of cellular antioxidants such as glutathione and alteration in the redox balance. This negative action of oxidants signifies the importance of including more of vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids in diet.
Omega 3 PUFAs and Health of Skeletal Muscles
The performance of skeletal muscles is determined by the rate of muscle protein synthesis, muscle mass , maximum voluntary contraction of muscles and markers of muscle damage.
Vitro and vivo studies have shown that omega 3 supplementation help in increasing muscle protein synthesis. A study by Smith et al, 2015 resulted in an increased muscle mass and strength in elderly.
Furthermore, a study concerning muscle recovery displayed that after seven days of supplementation in subjects showed decreased post workout induced muscle damage, soreness and oxidative markers.(Wigmore et al, 2000).
Additionally , it has been studied and seen that DHA seems to increase lipid oxidation in skeletal muscles and improve performance by making cells more permeable to nutrients such as amino acids and glucose for fuel.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Along with Protein Supplementation
The effectiveness of having fish oil along with protein supplement was studied and it was seen that it helps in better maintenance of explosive power in activity and reduced muscle soreness.
Adequate nutrition and n-3 PUFAs supplements result in optimal competitive performance , enhanced recovery, reduced risk to chronic inflammation and diseases.
I Smith. Gordon, Julliand. Sophie, N Reeds. Dominic, et, al. (2015)Fish oil–derived n−3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.105833
SJ. Wigmore, MD. Barber, JA. Ross,(N.D)Effect of oral eicosapentaenoic acid on weight loss in patients with pancreatic cancer, PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10890028