Lauren Burns

Lifestyles of Elite Athletic Performers

Lauren Burns

Lauren is an Olympic gold medalist, motivator, naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist, cook and mum who is undertaking a PhD on performance enhancing lifestyles. Lauren was an organic vegetarian when she won the gold medal for taekwondo at the Sydney Olympics and she has gone on to become a sought after motivational speaker, naturopath and nutritionists and has authored her biography Fighting Spirit and cookbook Food from a Loving Home.

Lauren started off her research with a Masters project on the lifestyles of elite athletic performers. This work aimed to answer the question; What the lifestyle activities, attitudes and behaviours to which world champion’s attribute their success? This research involves interviewing serial world champions about their lifestyle practices, attitudes, behaviours, foods, therapies, relationships and other factors that contributed to their success and is currently being written up for publication in conjunction with Juanita Weissensteiner Head of Athlete Pathways and Development for the Australian Institute of Sport. The in depth interviews will be followed by an online, Lifestyle of Elite Athletic Performance Survey, that will compare the lifestyle practices of athletes across different sports and levels of excellence. It is hoped that this research will help to identify specific lifestyle practices that support elite performance so they can be included in athlete development programs.

Lauren is also planning research on organic food to determine if reducing pesticide exposure can affect health and performance and answer the questions; Is eating less poison good for you? as well as the question; Does removing pesticides from the diet improve cognitive, or athletic performance? This research, expands on our previous work that demonstrated a 90% reduction in organophosphate pesticide metabolites after a week-long organic diet and includes a double-blind trial of organic versus conventional food in elite athletes. This trial will involve randomising athletes to either an organic or conventional diet and taking before-and-after measures of cognitive, physiological and metabolic function that includes transcriptome analysis which will give assess immune, inflammatory, detoxification and other metabolic pathways.

Lauren will also use cognitive, physiological and metabolic measures in research on adaptogen teas and human performance. This research aims to answer the question: What is the best tea to drink to enhance performance and facilitate recovery? This research, which is supported by the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS), Cogstate, Cannatrek, Organic India and Pukka, along with fellow PhD student Negar Jamshidi, will help define the world’s healthiest herbal beverage and involve a series of clinical trials on the short-term cognition, performance and recovery effects of a ‘Golden Shot’ that includes tulsi, turmeric, CBD and other chai spices.

Lauren’s projects are still looking for collaborators and funding to cover the costs of the transcriptome work and dietary interventions. As Lauren is already a world champion, any sponsors or collaborators can expect to join a winning team.