On September 12, a gluten-free Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal to win the men's US Open Final. Djokovic, the #1 men's tennis player in the world, credits his adoption of the gluten-free diet at the recommendation of a nutritionist in 2010 for his incredible success in 2011. He has won an astounding 64 out of 66 matches and 3 out of 4 Grand Slams in 2011.
Djokovic said in interviews that removing gluten from his diet has resulted in his increased speed, endurance and improved play. In his own words, he feels better, moves better and thinks better.
While watching the grueling 4 hour and 10 minute US Open Final and listening to the announcers repeatedly describe it as one of the most intense they had ever witnessed, a nagging thought begged the question...
How can the news media and medical community claim that only people diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should remove gluten from their diets? "They" figure that not eating the synthetically fortified breads, cereals and cookies is a bad thing. "They" claim that removing these heavily processed "foods" will lead to deficiencies, when it makes far more sense that any unbalanced, nutrient poor diet will lead to poor health. "They" also seem to believe that a proper diagnosis is a sure thing, when in fact, the opposite is more often the case.
Where is the proof that a gluten-free diet leads to deficiencies? Where is the proof that removing gluten from one's diet can lead to improved health and performance?
There is an old saying, "the proof is in the pudding." On September 12th, the gluten-free pudding was crossing the net at 126 miles per hour, served up by the best tennis player on the planet.
By the end of the match, it was obvious that Djokovic, who suffered a strained back muscle during the match, was still in much better condition than the physically powerful Nadal, who seemed completely spent.
The simple fact is you cannot compete in a sport for over 4 hours unless you are in top shape with every nutrient your body and mind needs to perform. Another simple fact is that removing wheat, barley, rye and oats does not lead to nutrient deficiencies. Rather, not ingesting and absorbing enough nutrients leads to nutrient deficiencies.
Watch for yourself. Does Novak Djokovic (in white) look like someone suffering from a nutrient deficient diet?