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Novak Djokovic: Gluten-free Wimbledon Champion

July 3, 2011

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Novak has taken the tennis world by storm, and is considered one of the top athletes of 2011. He won 43 straight matches, including 41 in 2011, which hasn’t been done since 1984. By advancing to his first career Wimbledon Final, he was guaranteed ATP’s number one ranking, replacing Rafael Nadal as the world’s best tennis player. And now he’s won at Wimbledon.

How’s this relevant? Last year, Djokovic went gluten-free, after his nutritionist discovered he was allergic to it.

From the Wall Street Journal,

A gluten-free diet can have implications far beyond the physical, especially in tennis, which taxes the mind like few other sports. The season is 11 months long, matches are grueling and can last for hours, and the slightest dip in a player’s confidence can derail months of hard work. There’s never anyone else to blame for a match gone awry.

“It’s mostly mental energy you’re talking about, not energy supplied to muscle tissues,” said David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University, when asked about the effects of giving up gluten if one has an allergy.

Note that Djokovic doesn’t have celiac disease, but rather a gluten allergy. Based on all the studies of how grains wreak havoc on our bodies, I’d venture to ask – who wouldn’t benefit from dropping gluten?

Sure, there could be a lot of factors contributing to Djokovic’s wins. But cutting out gluten is a pretty drastic dietary change. So it’d be difficult to argue that this move in a paleo/primal direction didn’t play a role in his epic success.

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