The Secret of A Champion – His Diet

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.

Djokovic - a tennis machine powered by a gluten-free diet

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.

The other side of Djokovic- as a model at the ATP dinner (courtesy of curly's photostream)

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.


4 responses

  1. Doctor, I understand that coeliac disease affects mainly Europeans and not Asians.
    Also, the symptoms of chronic fatigue (tiredness) and chronic diarrhoea should be dead giveaways.
    So, what’s the need for a blood test?
    Can you please confirm?
    Doctor2008: A lot of medical conditions cause fatigue and diarrhoea. Even diabetes can cause this. Blood tests are essential to confirm.

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