How Gluten Is Transforming the Tennis Court

Gluten has been a game-changer, literally. Now, what's that mean for the rest of us?

Since the beginning of the year, Novak Djokovic has straightened his serve and apparently threatens to steal the tennis spotlight from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at this weekend's French Open.

According to the Wall Street Journal, his game has improved because of one thing: his gluten-free diet. What's even more surprising, though, was this explanation for why the elimination of bread and pastas worked for the tennis star:

"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.... "[I]f you believe in a cause of your disorder, it becomes the cause. We see this in many different studies. If you believe it, you change your behavior in the direction of being cured."

So, if I'm reading this correctly, his g-free diet essentially worked because of the power of the placebo. He believed in it.

The thinking is in line with the belief that taking gluten out of the average person's diet doesn't do much harm, aside from the obvious expense, but it may not be doing much good either. While a greater awareness about gluten has been good news for clinically diagnosed celiacs, the question, now, is whether it unnecessarily raises everyone's anxiety about eating.

Photo by Flickr user (cc) y.caradec