Given the extraordinary benefits of wheat elimination, it is natural that we begin to talk about how this lifestyle improves performance–performance in learning, work, physical performance, sports.
Among the benefits of wheat elimination that improve performance:
—Better concentration, less mind “fog”–This improves paying attention in class, the ability to focus on a task for an extended period of time, and reduces distractibility. You can sit and learn longer, retain and understand more, recall and apply information more effectively.
—Less joint discomfort, greater flexibility–How many times have we heard about the reduction or loss of joint pain and stiffness, greater flexibility, the heightened ease of exercise and physical activity? Less discomfort, greater and more flexible range of motion = heightened and more enjoyable physical performance.
—Less gastrointestinal distress–Lest you discount the importance of this, ask any athlete with irritable bowel syndrome, or runners who evacuate their bowels explosively around mile 12, just how important this is.
—Greater strength and increased muscle mass–This has not, to my knowledge, been formally quantified, but it is a common observation among wheat-free folk: They feel stronger, reporting increases, for instance, in amount of weight bench pressed or deadlifted in the gym.
—Greater libido–Because wheat elimination reduces estrogen and raises testosterone in males, and reduces abnormally high estrogens in females (and may modestly increase testosterone), libido is increased. Increased libido is generally associated with enhanced sexual performance and drive, which I believe can translate into improvements in other spheres of life.
Just as people who eliminate wheat typically say things like “I feel 20 years younger,” the total appears to exceed the sum of the parts: Despite what we already know about the benefits of wheat elimination, the entire panel of benefits in life performance seems to exceed what we expect.
In sports, we are hearing about more and more athletes shunning all things wheat, including tennis player Novak Djokovic, golfer Sarah-Jane Smith, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and Olympic runner Andrew Steele. What is not clear is just how much the above improvements will result in improved concrete performance measures: jumping higher, running faster, winning more tennis games. (If Novak Djokovic’s performance in the first year he ditched wheat/gluten is any indication, he had his best year ever, winning 3 Grand Slams and 50 out of 51 matches.) I propose that wheat/gluten elimination will raise the bar for performance standards, setting a higher level that other athletes will need to reach to succeed.
Anyone interested in weighing in on how you experienced improved performance in some aspect of your life?