If Bioxyne affiliated practitioner Odette Blacklock looks familiar, it’s likely because 2017 saw the health and fitness specialist gracing our TVs as a Survivor Australia castaway. An almost all-encompassing expert when it comes to movement, Odette’s list of credentials covers podiatry, running, personal training and pilates. Odette also recently celebrated being appointed head coach and program director of Virgin Active’s new outdoor running program.
Odette took time out for her insanely busy schedule to talk to us about her own wellbeing rituals and how she factors gut health into her overall health regimes.
How long have you been a health practitioner for?
I have been in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and pilates instructor for over 10 years. Recently graduating from a Masters in Podiatrist Medicine, I have been practicing in my clinic for almost two years. Because of my expertise in gait mechanics, I am the head coach and program director of Virgin Actives new Outdoor running program.
Where does your interest in health and wellbeing originate?
It originates from my own personal experience with depression. After having my son I fell into unhealthy habits. The only thing that felt most accessible to me was running. This gave me the momentum to fix other areas of my life including diet, I then endeavoured to learn more about health and fitness by doing my personal training certificate, which lead me to doing my bachelors of health science and later my Masters in Podiatrist Medicine. I am always constantly learning and growing in this area, and my passion lies in being able to educate and teach people on how to improve their health and love their bodies.
What have been your career highlights and what are you working on at the moment?
After graduating with my Masters in 2016, I was lucky enough to be 1 of 2 Australians chosen to run in Death Valley for Under Armours Run Camp. This run made me redefine my own mental toughness, whilst showing me how far I have come on my journey. The following year I applied for Australian Survivor season 2 and stepped foot on the island a few months later, to learn yet again how mentally tough you have to be to survive. Being on the island allowed me to put life in perspective and find clarity for the future. I realised how much running had changed my life, so I founded Urban Run Club, and it quickly took off. This run group and my unique methods of training runners captured the attention of Virgin Active. A position has been created in the company and I am now head coach of my own program written and directed by me. I absolutely love the fact that I can bring running to a bigger audience.
Is there one piece of wellbeing advice you consistently find you give to your clients?
The hardest part is turning up- just make the effort to turn up consistently. Whether it’s two minutes of exercise or two hours, every bit gets added to the bank.
Do you have any wellbeing rituals you practice at home?
Cold showers and meditation. The mind is important to look after and these two practices allow me to be in the present moment and clam my thoughts. I also love a glass of wine and a Ted Talk ;)
How do you take care of your own gut health?
I obviously use a probiotic daily, and since using Bioxyne probiotics for myself and my son, we have not been sick once. I also make sure I feed my gut an array of vegetables and good fibre for the probiotics to eat and serve their purpose in the lower GI tract.
What do you see as the role of probiotics to health and wellbeing?
Our gut microbiome has over 100 trillion microbial cells compared to our 10 trillion human cells. So when these cells communicate they have a tremendous impact on our health. Numerous scientific studies have proven the beneficial effects of taking a high quality probiotic supplement, linking probiotics to weight management, higher energy levels, mental clarity and a stronger immune system.
Our probiotic products contain Bioxyne’s patented probiotic strain, Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-003 (or simply PCC®).
It’s a myth that products containing multiple strains of probiotics are better for you – that’s because we know that different strains do different things and unless those strains have been clinically tested and trialled to see how they react together, no one can really be sure about their impact on health.
Our probiotic, PCC®, has been shown in several clinical studies to boost the immune systems of both adults and infants, and to decrease the incidence and severity of cold symptoms in athletes and infants.
It has also been shown to significantly boost the response to the flu vaccine, and to improve gastrointestinal health.
We know the effective dose is 2 billion live bacteria daily – because we tested that number in several clinical studies. That’s why we have that number of live bacteria in each capsule.
We don’t combine PCC® with any other strains in our products because we don’t know if they might interfere with its potent activity to provide a real health benefit.
So our PCC products contain a single specific strain of a clinically tested probiotic, and the recommended dose is that that has been used in our clinical studies.
Endurance training is excellent for heart health but it does take a toll on the immune system.
It has been known since at least 1993 from a range of studies that unusually heavy acute or chronic exercise is associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI).
The clinical data supports the concept that heavy exertion increases an athlete's risk of URTI because of negative changes in immune function and elevation of the stress hormones, epinephrine, and cortisol.
The Bioxyne team suspected that PCC would be of benefit to athletes and their compromised immune systems when our own preclinical studies showed that PCC® preferentially bound to the Peyer’s patches in the gut. Peyer’s patches is immune tissue in the gastrointestinal tract that plays a key role in mucosal immunity.
We proposed, therefore, that PCC® may boost the mucosal immune system, providing protection against respiratory tract infections leading to cold and flu symptoms.
In order to examine the ability of PCC® to boost the mucosal immune system in humans, we designed clinical trials on long distance runners and other elite athletes, who are known to be more susceptible to contracting URTIs than the general population.
To carry out the study, we took 20 male elite distance runners in the height of winter. They were training to compete in events ranging from 800 metres to the marathon (42.2 km).
After recruitment, our athletes completed an initial treatment month (28 days)receiving either L. fermentum VRI-003 (PCC®) or placebo. A washout month followed the completion of the first treatment month. Previous studies have shown that it typically takes a probiotic bacteria 3–8 days to pass through the gastrointestinal tract. We then swapped what our participants were taking, so that those receiving PCC® as the first treatment received the placebo as the second treatment and vice versa. The athletes were monitored for an additional fortnight (referred toas ‘‘follow-up’’) after completing the second treatment. During each treatment month subjects were required to take three capsules, twice daily.
Athletes maintained daily diaries recording symptoms, days, severity and medications.
The most important finding of the study was a significant reduction in the number of days of respiratory illness symptoms, and a trend towards a lower severity of illness, during PCC® treatment compared with placebo.
It’s clear from the clinical data that elite endurance athletes can benefit from taking PCC® when undertaking intense training for competitions, because it improves resistance to common illnesses associated with the increase in stress hormones at that time, which will ultimately impede their training and performance.
The study authors noted that “different strains of L. fermentum have different immune-stimulating ability” - PCC® it seems is particularly effective at boosting mucosal immunity in elite athletes.
Learn more about the study here.