Gencor aims to ‘even the playing field’ with solutions for female athletes

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

© Aksonov / GettyImages
© Aksonov / GettyImages

Related tags Gencor Pea Sports nutrition female athletes

Researching women's health is like "opening a can of worms" but is imperative for equality in sports and nutrition, says Mariko Hill, global innovations manager at Gencor.

Presenting at the Biogredia symposium on women’s health last week in Gstaad, Switzerland, she said that it is critical to consider the impact of the menstrual cycle when looking at women’s health and even more so in female athletes.

“Utilisation of carbohydrates and fats can differ from day two to day 28 of a cycle, so trying to ‘biohack’ a female body is going to be extremely difficult,” she told NutraIngredients.

Elite athletes are seeking constant progress, where a 1% improvement in performance is significant, as they seek to optimize their bodies.

This is where research into functional ingredients can come into play and support athletes by allowing them to maintain or increase lean muscle mass, while looking after bone health, recovery, endocrine function and more.

Next steps for society and industry 

Hill noted that the fact that women's sports are becoming one of the biggest growing sectors showcases the demands of not only viewership but of women wanting to play sports.

"Consumers are seeking more bespoke solutions, and they understand that men and women are different," she said. "And it's a push-pull effect; we're only able to launch successful products and get purchasing orders from these consumers if the sporting world grows with women.”

The research and literature will continue to grow, she added, predicting that in two to three years, the industry will be established enough to define clear categories within women’s health, accompanied by an increased focus on personalized nutrition.

A personal perspective

As an international cricket player, Hill also has experience on the field.

“The more I play sport, the more we get established and get paid for performing at a high level, that kind of income can begin to go into supplements,” she said. “Previously it was more prominent, but even sometimes still, the majority of women in sports teams need to pay for their own petrol to get to games; they’re not able to think of buying personalized supplements yet.”

However, as pressure increases to create more equity across sports, there will hopefully be a "more even playing field", Hill noted. “Hopefully in the next five years, we will see real gender equality and equity.” 

She explained that Gencor has focused its attention on producing scientifically-backed solutions that enhance female health at all life stages. 

Pain reduction with Levagen+ ​ 

Levagen+ is a combination of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), an endogenous fatty acid amide, and Gencor’s patented dispersion technology Lipisperse that improves bioavailability.  

Previous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing joint discomfort​, lactate levels​ and muscle damage during exercise recovery​.

Gencor is due to publish the results of its most recent study on the effect of Levagen+ on menstrual pain, which Hill previewed show a significant reduction in pain severity compared to a placebo

“Building on existing research, we wanted to be at the forefront of women's health by looking at this untapped need that is a relevant and prevalent issue for many women,” she said. 

“Typically, women rely on Advil and ibuprofen which causes a lot of downstream negative effects to both the gut microbiome and muscle adaptation. This could be the safe and effective alternative to those pain medications.”

Training and recovery with Hydrocurc

Iron absorption is one of the biggest obstacles in female health due to iron losses during menstruation and even more so in female athletes due to exercise-induced mechanisms associated with endurance activity, Hill explained.

Gencor’s curcuminoid extract Hydrocurc has been shown to confer functional benefits for female sports enthusiasts and athletes​, and recent research indicates that Hydrocurc supplementation safely improved iron absorption​. 

One clinical study on exercise recovery also found that the ingredient could significantly reduce lactate levels​, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and support a balanced inflammatory response.

Combined with iron supplementation, research suggests that Hydrocurc may allow for a quicker return to exercise training​ or the ability to exercise at higher thresholds.

Muscle strength and Libifem

Recent studies have also show that Gencor's patented fenugreek ingredient Libifem increases strength and lean muscle mass​ and decreases fat mass in female athletes.

Findings indicated that daily supplementation with a 600 mg dose of Libifem in conjunction with resistance training significantly increased strength and lean mass and decreased total fat mass and trunk fat mass.

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