Saturday, March 17, 2012

Michelle Wei Adopts a Gluten-free Diet

When Novak Djokovic, a professional tennis player, attributed much of his crazy-awesome tennis success to his new, gluten-free diet, he may have started quite the trend. Not only did Djokovic bring increased attention to the benefits of the gluten-free diet, but he also focused that attention on athletic performance. Now, golf star Michelle Wie, a two-time winner of the LPGA championship, has announced her own gluten-free diet. Will it bring her the same runaway success?

Wie has admitted to being directly inspired by Djokovic.  Wie, who is Hawaiian-born and with a Korean background has had some longstanding allergies to eggs, dairy, and bees. The article goes on to quote her as saying, “I am allergic to everything in this world, I don’t really digest food very well…So, I just thought maybe if I cut out gluten, I can feel better because I heard that it causes inflammation, everything … but it’s been week three and I feel a big difference.”

This is good press for those of us who require a gluten-free diet. What we learn from this is a) a reminder that Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can affect people of all ethnic backgrounds and b) a reminder that symptoms are not always related to the gut — joint pain and swelling are just as likely to be caused by gluten as are traditional GI symptoms.

However, I would recommend proper testing by a physician in order to make sure a gluten-free diet will be beneficial. A simple and cost-effective blood screen, called a tTG antigen test, can be performed by your regular physician. You must still be eating gluten when you have your blood drawn but it is a very accurate. The reason it is important to be diagnosed properly is because a gluten-free diet can have the tendancy to be lower in fiber, calcium, and a few other key nutrients if you do not pay attention to your eating habits. So, if you don't have to limit your diet of certain foods, you should not in order to provide yourself with the best nutrients possible.

That being said, do you think will going gluten-free have an impact on Wie’s game?

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