Could a gluten-free diet make you a better tennis player? ;)
According to Novak Djokovic, cutting out foods containing gluten, such as bread, pasta and pizza, has made him the tennis ace he is today. Novak is so passionate about the impact food intolerance had on his life that he has written a book Serve to Win, about how his diet changes altered his health and his tennis.
Novak is not the only performance athlete to suffer from food intolerances. In fact, a number of athletes have benefitted from food intolerance testing; Paula Radcliffe for example suffered from "carb loading" with all the wrong carbs, despite working with leading UK nutritionalist. She was eventually diagnosed with intolerance to eggs, chicken, wheat, tomatoes and dairy.
According to Allergy UK, UK hospital admissions as a result of food allergies have increased by 500% since 1990 (Gupta, 2007) and over 45% of the population react adversely to foods that they eat. Whilst not life threatening, it can have a massive impact on quality life and physical performance.
A 615% increase in hospital admissions for anaphylaxis has also taken place over the 20 years from 1992 to 2012 (Turner et al, JACI, 2015). 615%!!!!!
Why are allergies and intolerances increasing?
Many theories exist as to why allergies and intolerances have increased dramatically in the last 20 years (see Allergy UK) but the introduction of chemicals, new pharmaceuticals, GMOs and how we produce food have all played their part.
Other than being part of The Human Experiment, we have no idea how all of these things impact on our microbiome, as the human microbiome has never been taken into consideration.
Through recent research, we are beginning to scratch the surface of finding out how birth, food, lifestyle and diet impact the microbiome but we haven't properly ventured into exploration of the impact of drugs, chemicals and GMOs on the microbiome and human health. Lets hope it's not too late :(