In a recent interview with sports radio WEEI, Tom Brady went on a rant about problems concerning health and performance in our society. He particularly singled out common nutrition practices.
The reaction has been mixed. Some have commended Brady for speaking the truth. Others, not so much. Headlines such as "Tom Brady's Bizarre Rant Against Coca-Cola" paint him as a crazy guy for talking about eating healthy.
Some comments on articles about this have been even less enthusiastic:
- "Brady thinks he is above everyone. Get over yourself Tommy, Most over-rated athlete ever. And a JERK" —DRM77, cbssports.com.
- "Brady should shut his face because being an 'alleged' football player doesn't make him an expert in the food industry. Alcohol is a poison to adults, and also football players. Better build up those muscles, Tom—you will need them to catch those footballs because they are SO HEAVY when the actually have air in them. Arrogant jerk." —Spritzie, businessinsider.com
What Brady said prompted emotional reactions on both sides, but his comments were not that far out.
Brady clearly takes care of his body. He is playing some of the best football of his life at the age of 38—when most athletes' performance rapidly declines. It appears he's in the best shape of his life, and it's rumored he would like to continue playing until well into his 40s.
A 2014 Sports Illustrated article detailed Brady's eating routine. He takes a comprehensive holistic approach to nutrition in order to maximize his performance and health. He eats red meat in the winter and raw foods in the summer, and he consumes an 80-percent alkaline, 20-percent acidic diet. According to Brady, this is designed "to maintain balance and harmony through my metabolic system."
For a cheat meal, he eats avocado ice cream.
To support our opinion that Brady is intense, but not crazy, below we break down a few of his quotes with the help of Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian who works with several professional athletes in the Cleveland area.
"I would love to encourage all my teammates to eat the best way they possibly can; high school athletes. Now, that's not the way our food system in America is set up. It's very different. They have a food pyramid, and I disagree with that. I disagree with a lot of things that people tell you to do."
This is a jab at the Standard American Diet, which is high in processed foods, animal fats and sugar, and low in dietary fiber. The focus is on calories, protein, carbs and fat intake, rather than on quality foods high in nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables.
Brady makes a great point. The Standard American Diet has been linked to our rapidly increasing obesity rates, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. So how can a diet that causes so many health issues support a high-performing athlete? It's just not possible.
"I work with patients all the time who are numb to how they feel," says Jamieson-Petonic. "They've felt so crummy for so long, that's their normal. And they don't realize how good they can feel until they start feeling."
She adds, "Most of the things guys and gals are eating are just unbelievable. And they expect to be able to perform well. How in the world can you do that?"
"You probably go out and drink Coca-Cola and think 'Oh yeah, that's no problem.' Why? Because they pay lots of money for advertisements . . . No, I totally disagree with that. And when people do that, I think that's quackery. The fact they can sell that to kids, that's poison for kids. But they keep doing it."
Of course soda isn't poison in the traditional sense. However, it can cause problems over the long term. Soda is essentially sugar water. One can has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar, which alone exceeds the World Health Organization's recommendation for daily sugar consumption. And soda has almost no nutritional value, nor is it a good source of hydration.
Consuming high-sugar foods is one of the primary causes of obesity, and it can lead to food addictions and gut health issues. Even zero-calorie sodas have health issues. Also, soda increases inflammation, which according to Jamieson-Petonic creates cuts on the inside of your intestines almost as if you ate a bunch of glass shards. She says, "I'm a big believer in an anti-inflammatory diet. Certain foods turn off inflammatory proteins, and it makes a huge difference. There's just so much research that performance and health can be negatively affected if if you're not careful with this."
RELATED: 9 Foods That Fight Inflammation
"I think we've been lied to by a lot of food companies over the years, a lot of beverage companies over the years. But we still do it. That's just America and that's what we've been conditioned to. We believe that Frosted Flakes is actually a food. You just keep eating those things and you wonder why we have incredible rates of disease in our country. No one thinks it has anything to do with what we put in our body . . . Of course they taste good, and all those companies make lots of money selling those things; they have lots of money to advertise."
Again, Brady is right. Processed foods create a ton of problems. A bunch of ingredients and chemicals are combined to form something that looks and tastes like food. These items are designed by scientists to taste good and get you to eat more—otherwise, why would you buy it?
Processed foods are loaded with calories and often stripped of their nutrients. They typically fail to fill you up, resulting in more calories consumed just to feel full. Whereas, if you ate just a salad, you could eat as much as you want and not consume that many calories.
Dr. Joel Furhman, a family physician and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods, suggests using the following equation to judge the quality of food you're eating:
Health = Calories / Nutrients
Our overreliance on foods that are loaded with calories causes the vast majority of health problems in our society. Yes, we are sedentary as a population, but you can't out-train a bad diet. This problem isn't just for the general population. It applies to athletes, too. If you're trying to maximize your performance, you should be putting the best fuel possible into your body.
"Now, you guys may think that I'm full of crap, but the proof is what you see on the field."
Can't argue with that.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock