Can a Gluten-Free Diet Help Your Game of Tennis?

After Novak Djokovic’s amazing win at Wimbledon and talk of his gluten-free diet, a number of you have asked if tennis players should be considering a diet free of gluten.

It is important to note at the outset that we don’t know exactly what Djokovic’s problem with gluten was or is.

Traditionally, only individuals diagnosed with coeliac disease were put on a gluten-free diet. Since then we often hear of actors, models and people in the public eye (usually females but not always) going on a wheat or gluten-free diet resulting in weight loss and an increase in energy.

A large number of doctors and dieticians have simply put this down Wimbledon Removals to a fad and placebo effect but of late scientific literature and hospitals are beginning the look at this subject in more detail with a more sympathetic view to the existence of gluten generated problems in patients that do not diagnostically qualify as being coeliac (referred to as ‘gluten sensitivity’).

Certainly I have seen a number of clients myself who find a significant reduction, if not complete elimination, of gastrointestinal distress (bloating, pain and/or flatulence), joint pains, headaches and ‘brain fog’ by following a gluten-free diet.

Brain fog is often described as mental lethargy, an inability to analyse or understand anything quickly and feeling mentally ‘out of it’; similar to feeling jet-lagged.

Quite often patients with these kinds of symptoms and medical tests that come back ‘normal’ are just told to live with it as that’s ‘what aging is all about’. Unfortunately the impact of certain foods on overall health, immunity and general well-being is not understood by many in the medical community but it is important for you to note that feeling great the majority of the time, physically and mentally is achievable at any age.

Back to tennis and Djokovic’s amazing run of wins. You may have noted that Novak’s mental focus has been phenomenal. There is no doubt that mental training was and is a huge part of his coaching program but I have come across something very interesting linking gluten to problems in the brain!

A paper published in Annals of Neurology in 2008 describes a ‘new to science’ brain aggravating enzyme, which is triggered by reactivity to gluten, but acts independently of other coeliac symptoms. These substances may alter mood as well as co-ordination and a loss of balance!

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