Many tennis afficionados (although I must admit I only have a passing interest in it) are surprised how Novak Djokovic, the Serbian, has been transformed overnight into a tennis machine, steamrolling past all he has played with (39 opponents so far). And that includes the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. As I write, his progress in the French Open is going the way many are predicting.
And yet..he is not a newcomer on the pro circuit, having made his debut in Wimbledon in 2006 but not making a significant impact until 2010. Apparently, his rejuvenation the last couple of years have been attributed to his diet.
The tennis ace attributes his amazing winning streak to overcoming a wheat allergy – a condition called coeliac disease. In this condition, sufferers eating foods containing gluten, which is found in many grains, will encounter chronic fatigue (tiredness) and chronic diarrhoea. The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.
Last month, Djokovic subscribed his new-found success on the court to his nutritionist (yes, tennis pros can afford one) who has steered him away from wheat, barley and rye. Basically, this means no pizza, pasta or wholemeal bread, amongst others.
In speaking publicly about the condition, Djokovic has become the world’s most famous coeliac, and living proof that sufferers can not only lead relatively normal lives but can excel. Not only that, it has raised the level of awareness of this relatively unknown condition to a new high.
How does one diagnose coeliac disease? Basically, via blood tests and endoscopy. See here.
- Gluten-Free Diet Key to Djokovic’s Success? (patspapers.com)