Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Wellness Coaching - Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

By Jason Lincoln Jeffers


The Serbian tennis player, Novak Djokovic is on fire. After winning 43 straight matches, including 41 in 2011-- something that hasn't been done since 1984 -- he plowed through the quarter finals then the semi-finals at Wimbledon this year. Even hadn't won Wimbledon, his winning streak would have rewarded him with enough points to put him in the top spot, ranking him as the #1 men's tennis player in the world. But, of course, he did win.

So what did Djokovic do to initiate turn his tennis game around so dramatically? A gluten-free diet has been credited for the recent success, according to the Wall Street Journal. As recent as last year, his on-court struggles were evident when closing out matches. His serve became sloppy and his movement lacked the energy to hit closing shots. The change to a gluten-free, low starch diet has left Djokovic feeling energized throughout his entire matches. As a result, he is not only sharper physically but, more importantly, mentally.

Even if you are not gluten sensitive, when you eliminate starch-based, refined and processed non-foods such as pizza, bread, pretzels, chips, pasta, potatoes, legumes, rice, and other high carbohydrate foods, you allow the body to reboot itself metabolically. As a result, it stops drawing it source of fuel from sugar (all starchy carbs are converted to sugar in the bloodstream), and begins to draw its source of energy from ketones, found in healthy fats. The body (especially the brain) operates much more efficiently on ketones -- so much so -- that your energy levels tend to skyrocket after you make the dietary shift. It takes time, however, usually about four to six weeks before the carb (sugar) cravings subside, but when it happens, don't be surprised if you'll feel as if you've transformed into a superhero.

If you are gluten sensitive then you'll not only want to eliminate all foods containing gluten (such as all wheat-based products), but it would be wise to eliminate "cross-reactive" foods to gluten as well. Cross-reactivity is the reaction to substances that are either genetically or structurally similar to gluten because your immune system tends to associate them with gluten. Some of the most common cross-reactive substances are: casein (found in milk and cheese), oats, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, yeast products, coffee, and milk chocolate.

Other common food sensitivities can result from foods that people usually substitute for the wheat-based gluten products such as: corn, buckwheat, sesame, quinoa, sorghum, millet, tapioca, amaranth, rice, and potatoes. And of course, they are also starchy foods that turn into glucose after ingestion. Sugar is always sugar no matter what it looks like before you eat it. All starchy foods such as grains and legumes will be metabolized by the body as glucose.

Here's the bottom line. When we return to the diet of our paleo ancestors, the diet that we, as a homo sapiens species followed consistently, day after day, for over 250,000 years, our body's metabolism will become more compatible with our genetic physiology. It's all about the genes folks. The human body is simply not designed for this type of onslaught. No wonder see the epidemic proportions of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. And not surprisingly, the United Health Organization ranks the U.S. a pathetic 39th out of the top 50 healthiest countries on Earth.




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