The winningest quarterback in NFL history, Tom Brady has been amazing at 39-years-old, just winning his fifth Super Bowl championship. What is his secret? The Patriots’ QB eats an alkaline diet. In fact, Brady, his wife supermodel Giselle Bündchen, and their children Benjamin and Vivian all practice this restrictive diet. What exactly do they eat and should change your own eating style to this mostly vegan diet?
Superbowl LI winner Tom Brady recently told the New York Magazine that in order to keep played at a continuously elevated level, he needs to eat right. He has no intention of quitting, so he is firm in his commitment to avoiding foods he deems as bad.
“I don’t believe you could be a 39-year-old quarterback in the NFL and eat cheeseburgers every day. I want to be able to do what I love to do for a long time.”
So, no cheeseburgers and fries. That makes sense to anyone that has ever dieted. But no coffee nor strawberries? Apparently, the alkaline diet does not allow those. In fact, Brady has never eaten a strawberry in his life.
Last year, Boston.com spoke to Brady’s personal chef, Allen Campbell, regarding the most winningest Super Bowl quarterback and his most unusual diet. What can he eat and what does he avoid?
“No white sugar. No white flour. No MSG. I’ll use raw olive oil, but I never cook with olive oil. I only cook with coconut oil. Fats like canola oil turn into trans fats. … I use Himalayan pink salt as the sodium. I never use iodized salt.”
While avoiding sugar and white flour is not unusual in many modern diets that promote eating “clean,” such as the foods promoted in the Whole 30 diet book, avoiding tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and eggplants is highly unusual.
“[Tom] doesn’t eat nightshades, because they’re not anti-inflammatory. So no tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, or eggplants. Tomatoes trickle in every now and then, but just maybe once a month. I’m very cautious about tomatoes. They cause inflammation.”
While on occasion, Tom is known to indulge in a banana in his otherwise fruitless smoothie, Giselle and the kids are allowed to eat fruit.
“The kids eat fruit. Tom, not so much. He will eat bananas in a smoothie. But otherwise, he prefers not to eat fruits.”
The alkaline diet is essentially 80 percent vegetables (excluding the dreaded nightshades) and whole grains and 20 percent lean meat and fish. Brady eschews coffee and dairy and any fungus, such as vitamin K rich mushrooms. He only drinks alcohol on occasion.
Brady, who turns 40 in August has no intention of retiring. This makes fans wonder if perhaps he has discovered a secret fountain of youth with his mostly vegan diet. Should others seeking to feel and perform better try the alkaline diet? What do nutrition experts say about this diet?
New York-based registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus calls the claims for the alkaline diet as “sketchy,” when she spoke to the New York Post explaining the science of alkaline.
“Eating foods with a high or low pH won’t change the pH of your blood in any significant way. The bottom line is that our bodies have a very narrow window for pH, or we would die. Once everything hits your stomach, it’s all acid.”
Speaking to the National Post, Tanis Fenton, Calgary University registered dietician and epidemiologist weighed the pros and cons of this extremely restrictive diet that does not allow fruit because of the sugar. She explains that while our bodies do not require sugar, it is not the same as cutting out fruit because it has natural sugar.
“We don’t need pure sugar. But neither do we need to cut out fruit because it has sugar.”
Her strongest objection is eliminating nightshades. These include tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and eggplants, which are all staples in a Mediterranean diet. This highly nutritious food group offers the all important anti-inflammatory properties. Fenton does not agree that eliminating these foods would be considered a healthy change.
“But tossing out an entire food group — nightshades, for example — can be problematic. Nightshades are high in nutrients, high in the proven Mediterranean diet, and are actually anti-inflammatory.”
In fact, Harris-Pincus goes a step further, calling it a “myth” that nightshades are inflammatory, and cites research from the Arthritis Foundation.
“There hasn’t been any real research that shows nightshades cause inflammation — even the Arthritis [Foundation] states that it’s a myth that nightshades are inflammatory.”
Harris-Pincus even points out the importance of lycopene-rich tomatoes in preventing prostate cancer. The expert admonishes Brady for promoting his lack of eating tomatoes as a “disservice” to men that may want to follow in his footsteps in eating this diet.
“Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which prevents prostate cancer, so leading men away from eating tomatoes does them a disservice.”
Are you tempted to try Tom Brady’s controversial alkaline diet? Do you think this is why he has won the Super Bowl so many times?
[Featured Image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images]