Associate Professor Dr Mahenderan Appukutty is the vice president of Nutrition Society of Malaysia, having been elected as a fellow of the society in 2016.
A faculty member of the Faculty of Sports Science and Recreation at the Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, his research focuses in the areas of functional foods and sports nutrition.
In the latest episode of our NutraChampion podcast, he pointed out the potential of using locally grown Malaysia foods in advancing both general and sports nutrition.
This is against the backdrop of rising interest in nutrition and sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic, yet, the public and even the athletes are still lacking in their knowledge of nutrition.
For instance, he said that while protein, vitamins and minerals consumption has shot up, the consumers lacked knowledge on how to consume these products appropriately.
“The consumption of sports nutrition has increased, because people are starting to exercise at home. Now, they have got engaged with a trainer and feel that they need to increase some muscles, so they bought weightlifting equipment, started doing resistance training, and the trainer might have told them to start on some protein supplements. That’s the common trend that I have seen.
“They do realise that they do need protein for exercise, for wear and tear, but not necessarily on whether they are meeting the requirements. This is where sports nutritionists and dietitians need to educate them more,” he said.
Dr Appukutty himself had earlier concluded a clinical trial on the impact of locally grown rice biopeptides and omega-3 supplementation on athletes.
Funded by BASF, the study has been completed right before the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown in Malaysia and is currently pending publication.
One of his prior works, published in Nutrients, found that probiotics supplementation has improved aerobic capacity and could relieve anxiety and stress among badminton players.
The probiotics was Lactobacillus casei mixed with a commercially available orange juice.
For his upcoming research, he hopes to further explore the functions of local food products on sports and general nutrition.
“For my future research, I will still go into probiotics and on the combination of other foods and also looking at the intervention on physical activities, because those studies are more objective.
“For functional foods, I really want to go into the area of nutrigenetics or nutrigenomics and immunology.
“And immunoendocrine will be the best to explore more, because this will give a future understanding, especially on locally grown products or food, which I will say is the best for us to look at how we can improve our national athletes, and teach them the role of nutrition [for their sports].
“Even if its coming from palm oil, there’s some much exploration going on, on the carotenol oil and we want to explore this on sports people as well,” he said.
Listen to the podcast to find out more.