Marauders Get Healthy: Hanover Runners Receive Nutrition Tips at Presentation
Integrative health coach Michele Estes, left, talks with the Hanover High cross country team about healthfull food choices during a gets a guest lecture with Dr. Robyn Jacobs, back left, at Hanover High School on Wednesday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Richard Qiu, 16, of Hanover, rubs his eyes while listening to a presentation by Dr. Robyn Jacobs and integrative health coach Michele Estes on student- athlete health to the Hanover High cross country team in Hanover on Wednesday. The presentation touched on good sleep habits and nutrition. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
The Hanover High cross country team stretches before taking a run in Hanover, N.H. Wednesday, September 11, 2013. The team started their practice with a presentation by Dr. Robyn Jacobs and integrative health coach Michele Estes on health and nutrition for athletes. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — Robyn Jacobs is a physician who runs a clinic specializing in functional medicine, an approach aiming to detect the root causes of health problems and prevent them through healthy lifestyle choices.
By sharing her knowledge with the Hanover High cross country team, Jacobs is hoping the Marauders will function better as athletes.
Jacobs — whose son, Isaac, is a junior on the team — gave a presentation in a school classroom Wednesday discussing a range of nutritional guidelines and formulas. Assisted by integrative health specialist Michele Estes, the women spoke first to the boys team, then to the girls. It was the second straight season Jacobs has given the talk to the Marauders.
Hanover assistant coach Scott Stone took a front-row seat during the boys’ presentation, often raising his hand to ask questions in hopes of divulging as much helpful information as possible.
“I think it’s important to have talks like this because a lot of times, young athletes forget about the fundamentals of nutrition,” said Stone, a 1986 Hanover graduate who played football, hockey and lacrosse for the Marauders. “I see them come back from the Co-op with chicken nuggets, a soda and chips, and it’s just not good for them. The thing is, they think because they have practice that day that they can just burn it off, so when they come to something like this, they see that eating well is going to affect their overall health and how well they do (running).”
Jacobs opened with a simple question: “Why do you run?”
“It’s fun,” one Marauder replied.
“To lose weight,” piped another.
“OK, and how about because it’s social?” Jacobs replied. “How many here run because it’s social?”
More than a few runners raised their hands before the doctor related it to consuming food.
“So why do we eat?”
“To stay alive,” a student said.
“Sure, for energy and nutrition, but unlike most animals, we derive pleasure from food and it’s social, too,” Jacobs said.
“We’re eating all the time in social environments. But what we might not think about is that every time we put something in our mouths, we’re getting energy and calories, but we’re also getting information. When we eat highly processed foods with unnatural ingredients, our bodies don’t recognize it and send alarm signals. When you eat a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich, that might sound tasty, but four hours after we eat something like that our bodies are still in repair mode, because it feels like it’s being assaulted.
“The best foods we can eat are (items) that can be hunted, picked or grown. I’ve never seen a Doritos tree.”
Jacobs went on to discuss Total Energy Expenditure (TEE), a calculated figure that incorporates age, weight and exercise as related to exercise and sleep patterns. Daily caloric intake figures that come out to be less than one’s individual TEE calculation is considered energy deficient.
Estes passed out sheets loaded with tips and charts, including snack ideas, the importance of planning ahead for meals and descriptions breaking down the differences between carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Jacobs and Estes both talked about the importance of staying hydrated and replenishing the body with electrolytes and minerals.
“If you’re feeling sluggish, you may think you’re hungry when you’re actually dehydrated,” Jacobs said. “If you start losing electrolytes, the cells in your body can’t survive.”
Estes emphasized regular water sipping as a “baseline” for hydration.
“You should really be drinking it throughout the day, not just the night before a race or a game,” she said. “It’s like if you forget to water a plant and you see it all dried out and try to give it a bunch of water. What happens? The water goes right through the soil, and that’s what will happen to you. You’ll just have to go to the bathroom a lot. But if you drink water throughout the day, your cells will store it.”
Jacobs also discussed “phytonutrients” (plant-based nutrients) and how they can be used to combat oxydative stress, the manifestation of oxygen-based molecules that occurs naturally during metabolism, but can raise to abnormally high levels as a result of environmental stress (such as ultraviolet light or heat exposure). A good way to mitigate the cell damage caused by oxydative stress is by consuming antioxidants, Jacobs said, including the plentiful amounts of vitamins C and E found in leafy greens and other healthy foods.
A phytonutrient chart issued to students offered various food listings broken down into six colors.
“Essentially, the more color you have in your diet, the more antioxidants you’re going to get,” Jacobs said.
Hanover senior Tucker Cadow said he planned to take a closer look at the chart.
“I never knew about the phytonutrients,” he said. “I feel like I eat pretty healthy, though. My mom makes me a lunch (without a lot of junk food), and if I eat unhealthy on weekends, I usually balance it out.”
That’s what student-athletes should be aiming for, Jacobs said.
“It’s not about being perfect, it’s just about making generally healthy choices. A ratio of 90/10 or 80/20, something like that. It’s all about balance.”
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.