Researchers' efforts help All Blacks

University of Otago researchers (from left) Jim Cotter, Fiona Nyhof and Patrick Silcock display examples of a drink they helped develop, designed to combat jet lag. Photo by Linda Robertson.
University of Otago researchers (from left) Jim Cotter, Fiona Nyhof and Patrick Silcock display examples of a drink they helped develop, designed to combat jet lag. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The All Blacks take jet lag seriously and their search for ways to combat its effects led them to a solution developed by University of Otago researchers.

The product, developed with the company Flyhidrate, consists of three different coloured drinks, designed to be consumed at different stages of a long-haul flight. The drinks were first used by the All Blacks during this year's rugby championship and again on their trip to Scotland ahead of their northern hemisphere tour.

School of physical education senior lecturer Dr Jim Cotter, who worked on the product with a team of researchers from the school of physical education and the food science department, said it felt "good" the product they helped create was being used by the All Blacks.

He said they agreed to take part in the project in early 2010 and developed, tested and refined the drink over 18 months, from June 2010 to December last year. It first went on the market at the start of this year.

Dr Cotter said in developing the drinks the team applied to long-haul flying some of the work they had done on hydration solutions for athletes competing in the heat.

"There are a lot of effects from long-haul flying and one of them is associated with dehydration caused by being in a very low humidity environment."

Keeping hydrated throughout a flight resulted in less fatigue at the end of the flight and helped the body get used to new time zones quicker, he said.

The three-stage beverage system's main purpose was to promote hydration, but it also contained antioxidants and other ingredients to fight off the effects of flying.

While it was not created specifically for sports people, the amount of travel they did meant many could take advantage from it.

"If it can do something that makes them feel better with their travel and make them feel a bit better at the other end, then that's great."

However, he was keen to point out it was not a"magic bullet" for combating jet lag.

"There is no substitute for common sense when you are flying in terms of good fluid consumption, keeping moving, and not drinking too much alcohol."

The drinks are available at Auckland Airport as well as some airports in Australia.

-vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz