Ontario Tennis

Ontario Tennis 2016/2017 | Spring 2016

Tennis, Ontario

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18 SPRING 2016 | TENNISONTARIO.com W hether a recreational or professional athlete, we are all looking to perform better. Regardless of your level of play, the goal is to step on the court and play to the best of your ability; but for most, this is a feat harder than it sounds. How do we harness optimal performance on demand? The many factors that ultimately lead to how well you play, and how often you are able to play at your best, are not mutually exclusive. How well you feel, your training regime, sleep hygiene, diet...all directly influence each other, and translate into performance. However, one of these factors might be more influential than the rest - your diet. On a daily basis, I see patients that complain about sluggishness, poor sleep and digestion, and general fatigue. Too many people accept feeling sub-par, because their varying symptoms are tolerable; but could these symptoms be eliminated altogether by simply changing up your diet? The tennis player poster-child for diet modification is Novak Djokovic. Prior to a massive dietary overhaul in 2010, Djokovic had a reputation for cramping, collapsing and even defaulting during strenuous conditions or long matches in tournaments. His stamina and health paled in comparison to the athletic specimen he is today - and all supposedly attributable to his diet modification. In Djokovic's book, Serve to Win, he reveals how he transformed his eating habits to tailor to his own personal physical needs and sensitivities. In as little as two weeks, Djokovic claims to have seen remarkable results, both physically and mentally. It all began with Djokovic taking a food sensitivity test. While this is becoming a popular test in the holistic medical field, it is not without controversy. Most food sensitivity tests, which can cost hundreds of dollars, look for antibody reaction to a wide range of foods. When the test finds a response to an antibody called immunoglobulin G, or IgG, it suggests the existence of either a food allergy, intolerance or "sensitivity." The one glitch is that science isn't completely sure what an IgG response actually signifies. A positive finding could in fact mean that the person has already encountered the proteins in that particular food, and may even have developed a tolerance for them. During these sensitivity tests, the person might receive a report itemizing problem foods in detail - sensitivity to cheddar cheese and cottage cheese, for example. Traditional food allergy testing would identify allergy-inducing components in dairy products, not the specific cheese itself. Many foods commonly listed during sensitivity testing are rarely documented as allergens, such as sugar and yeast. Traditional allergy testing, covered by OHIP health care, involves a skin prick test using a needle that has been dipped in an extract of the suspected allergen, to see if a reaction occurs (redness, itching or swelling). In some cases, blood-work will still need to be ordered, but it looks for a response to the IgE antibody to a specific food or foods. Djokovic's food sensitivities were diagnosed via a technique called applied kinesiology. In this technique, you hold a food substance in your hand or mouth, while the practitioner looks for sign of muscle weakness. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has stated that there is "no evidence of diagnostic validity" for the technique. Yet, Djokovic's stellar health and performance cannot be argued with, and he is adamant it is all thanks to his newfound healthier diet. Based on the applied kinesiology food sensitivity testing, Djokovic cut out all gluten, then sugar, then dairy. He implemented these changes in 14 day trial periods. His advice is to eliminate one of these foods at a time, for 14 days. If on the 15th day, when you reintroduce the eliminated foods, your symptoms of sluggishness, cramping, bloating, etc., return, then your body clearly performs better without these foods, and you should keep them out of your diet. Eliminating gluten can be tricky, from more than just a will-power perspective. Gluten hides in things such as seasonings, meats made with fillers (hot dogs, sausages and meatballs) and even some vegetarian products, and grains such as couscous. Sugar has been a hot dietary topic as of late. Added in copious amounts to most regularly consumed foods, (even the "healthy" foods, like yogurt), one of the many adverse effects of sugar is to cause the body to store fat. Consuming sugar will also cause your mood to spike and dip dramatically throughout the day. The Canadian Diabetes Association has a helpful guide to understanding food and their glycemic index, making it easier to cut out the high glycemic index foods, to keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. http://www.diabetes.ca/ diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet- nutrition/the-glycemic-index Ditching dairy might be a hard one for the ice cream lovers, but nowadays there are so many viable substitutes. Dairy has been linked to a myriad of diseases and health complaints, and is thought to increase inflammation in the body, contributing to bloating, acne, eczema, and even asthma; not to mention the direct connection between weight-gain and dairy. Research suggests that 60% of the world's population have a degree of lactose intolerance. If lactose, the disaccharide sugar derived from galactose and glucose found in milk, is not broken down, it ferments in the gut. This fermentation can cause various digestive issues, such as gas and bloating. The protein in milk, casein, is allergenic and seems to make the gut system more sensitive. Few have the discipline it takes to be the best player in the world. Following Djokovic's diet might feel as challenging as winning a grand slam, but making changes to your diet can be almost as rewarding. If you are not performing at your best on or off the court, tweaking your diet is a good first step in improving things. As Djokovic suggests, try eliminating one food group at a time, and be patient with yourself. Change is hard, but hopefully your results will be as remarkable as Djokovic's, making it that much easier to commit to your new, healthier way of eating. Mellissa Cutler Dr. Melissa Cutler is a chiropractor, active release therapy provider and medical acupuncturist at Mayfair West and Mayfair Lakeshore. A former nationally ranked junior tennis player, she competed on a Division 1 scholarship in the U.S. and continues to teach tennis (she has Club Pro 2 Certification) at the Granite Club in Toronto. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT Email Melissa at drmelissacutler@gmail.com for more information. TWEAKING YOUR DIET IS A GOOD FIRST STEP IN IMPROVING THINGS BY DR. MELISSA CUTLER SUGAR HAS BEEN A HOT DIETARY TOPIC AS OF LATE. OT HEALTH

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