Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon Living Life Without Beer and Bread

Twenty-four year old Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal to win the cup at Wimbledon today. Djokovic beat the defending champion Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in Sunday’s final. The Wall Street Journal has a theory about what may have given the Serbian his edge this year:

Since last year, he’s swearing off pasta, pizza, beer, French bread, Corn Flakes, pretzels, empanadas, Mallomars and Twizzlers—anything with gluten.

Apparently last year, Djokovic’s nutritionist discovered that he is allergic to gluten, a protein which is found in many common flours. Djokovic has now completely removed it from his diet. Because of this, not only has he lost a few pounds, but he also feels better and more confident on the court.

Gluten sensitive enteropathy, also known as GSE or celiac disease is a disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have the disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in oats, wheat, rye, and barley. When exposed to gluten, the body produces an abnormal immune response to it, attacking the lining of small intestine (specifically the small fingerlike projections called villi) where digestion takes place. This leads to the symptoms of celiac disease:

• abdominal bloating and pain
• chronic diarrhea
• vomiting
• constipation
• pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
• weight loss

Photo Credit- Children's Hospital Boston

For more information about gluten intolerance , see our story about Elisabeth Hasselbeck and go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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