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Two takeaways from Tom Brady’s diet

You don’t need to be a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be a fan of Tom Brady. Not if the game you’re playing is against Father Time.

How could you not root for TB if FT is your adversary? The QB who threw five TDs two weeks ago turned 44 two months ago.

After that game, Colin Cowherd - sports talk’s equivalent to the Dos Equis guy - called Brady “the ninth wonder of the world” and not just because of that performance. While watching Tampa Bay’s prior game, Cowherd simultaneously viewed clips of Brady playing 10 years ago and, try as he might, couldn’t discern any difference.

Before you pass off Cowherd’s words as talk-show-host hyperbole, consider what else Cowherd offers as proof that Brady is spitting in the eye of Father Time. He has already thrown 155 touchdown passes in his 40s, only 12 fewer than he did in his 20s and barring injury should exceed that total before Thanksgiving.

Brady’s saliva is noteworthy for another reason: It helps digest the foods he eats. These foods are described in detail in “The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance” (Simon & Schuster, 2017) and have come to be known as the Tom Brady Diet.

Brady claims his way of eating increases his energy levels, minimizes inflammation, reduces the severity of injuries, and enhances his athletic performance. But does it really?

The Athletic, a highly successful subscription-based sports website, provides an oblique answer. They recently named him as the greatest football player of all time, one spot ahead of Jim Brown, two spots ahead of Jerry Rice.

Another website, however, doesn’t give his diet quite the same acclaim.

On Healthline.com’s Diet Review Scorecard, the Tom Brady Diet scores a 3.21 out of 5. While it receives a perfect score of 5 for nutritional quality and a 4 for engendering weight loss, it only earns a 2 in the supporting-evidence category and a 1.75 for promoting whole-body health.

Moreover, the review faults the diet for being “difficult to maintain long term” since it’s “very restrictive.”

I bet you’ll see it as very restrictive, too.

For starters, Brady doesn’t eat any fried foods because they are “an inflammation nightmare,” according to a February 2021 EatThis.com article. Brady also doesn’t eat any genetically modified foods, any non-organic foods, or any foods at all that contain refined carbs, white sugar, dairy products, or gluten.

To give one example of just how restrictive Brady’s diet is, the exclusion of gluten means he doesn’t eat breads, bagels, crackers, cakes, cookies, cereals, pretzels, pancakes, pastas, and doughnuts.

He eschews tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and mushrooms because - and here comes the pseudo-science associated with his diet - he believes the alkaloids in nightshade vegetables also create inflammation, an assertion scientific study simply does not support. In a Vox.com article from 2019, author Julia Belluz highlights other “strange claims about body chemistry” Brady makes.

Like acidic foods lead to “infections, colds, flu, low energy, fatigue, sore muscles, hip fractures, bone spurs, poor concentration, and mood swings,” which is why 80 percent of the food he eats are alkaline based. But Belluz adds “there’s no good scientific evidence” supporting this practice.

Additionally, Belluz explains it’s “next to impossible” to neutralize the body’s pH level trough food. Yet Brady claims that’s what occurs if you consume a 4-1 ratio of alkaline to acidic foods.

But whether big parts of his diet are based on pseudo-science or not, it’s also next to impossible to believe there’s nothing you can learn from it. After all, Brady is arguably playing better - and looking better - at 44 than 34.

So what two ideas should you take from the Tom Brady diet and make yours? First, there are so many healthy foods out there, so don’t eat any you don’t like.

In a TB12 blog post, Brady explains why he never eats strawberries, one of the so-called superfoods. It has nothing to with creating inflammation or acidity.

It’s all about smell. He can’t stand the smell of strawberries.

And while a bad smell from a good food may seem to be a trivial point, it leads to a second more significant one, one that too many young teachers learn not from eating but from teaching. It’s better to be too strict initially and less so eventually than the other way around.

For years, Brady was absolutely adamant about avoiding all unhealthy foods, but recently he has evolved into the no-nonsense teacher who now occasionally allows some.

In a January 2021 Men’s Health article, Brady admitted if he’s “craving bacon” he now has a piece. “Same with pizza.”

But what Brady craves 95 percent of the time - and serves as proof that taste preferences are acquired more so than inherited - are healthy foods. Like berry-and-banana smoothies, eggs, salads, roasted vegetables, fish, chicken, and mixed nuts.

And that oh-so famous avocado ice cream.