“Can a predominantly plant-based diet make a difference in your biological age? You be the judge.”

Be Prepared for Super Bowl 55

The excitement surrounding Super Bowl 55 intensifies! For the first time in history, a competing team will play the big game on home turf. Just in case you haven’t been privy to the news…it’s our Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Kansas City Chiefs in the big game. Go Bucs!

The Bucs haven’t scored a playoff opportunity since 2007—several years after their Cinderella appearance at Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, where they won! Is it our new coach who is making a tremendous difference, our new quarterback or just peaking at the right time? Maybe a combination of things!

When the Bucs win Super Bowl 55 this week (we are optimistic), Coach Bruce Arians will be the oldest head coach (68) to win a Super Bowl. Tom Brady will raise the bar once again as the oldest quarterback in history to win a Super Bowl at the age of 43. (By the way, that title already holds Brady’s name from his Super Bowl 53 win at the age of 41.) There are many “record-breaking” opportunities in this upcoming week as the two teams meet head to head. I’m certainly not a football statistician nor am I an arm-chair quarterback, but I do want to point out an influencing factor that makes this game so exciting to me. Tom Brady enjoys a predominantly plant-based lifestyle!

In the documentary, The Game Changer, many professional athletes touted the benefits of a plant-based nutrition plan. Their claims were numerous, from being able to train harder with shorter recovery time to having a competitive edge over their opponents. What is it in a plant-based diet that makes so many athletes excel? Let’s discuss a few advantages of a plant-based lifestyle:

Improved sense of well-being. Although well-being is an elusive term, those enjoying a whole food, plant-based lifestyle have “…less obesity, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia (elevated total and LDL cholesterol), heart disease, diabetes, dementia and many cancers, including colon and breast,” according to D. Enette Larson-Myer, PhD, RDN, and Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RDN, in their book Plant-Based Sports Nutrition. They explained, “Vegetarian, or plant-based diets appear to be more advantageous over omnivorous, or meat-containing, diets for promoting health and longevity….”

Reduced inflammation: We all know that inflammation is an immune response that helps our bodies heal or repair. No matter if you are a weekend warrior or an NFL quarterback, there are always risks for cuts, sprains, overuse, contact injuries and lots of pain. Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet can make a big difference in the healing process according to Larson-Myer and Ruscigno. Their recommendations include:
Lowering the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.

Maintaining adequate vitamin D by either spending time in the sun or with supplementation.

Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs and spices.

Drinking tea instead of coffee as tea contains antioxidants and polyphenols that may contribute to the anti-inflammatory process.

Selecting whole grain carbohydrates—those with the bran, germ and endosperm—and avoiding their refined counterparts such as all-purpose flour or white rice.

Avoiding excess alcohol consumption as it can lead to inflammatory markers in the blood.

Enhanced strength and endurance. A comparison of Yale athletes showed that those who abstained from meat had “…far greater endurance compared to those accustomed to the ordinary American diet….,” according to Dr. Michael Greger in a video on his website at NutritionFacts.org. Dr. Greger outlines three different comparisons in the study—one focused on muscular strength, one on endurance and the last on recovery. At the end of the study, the Yale professor concludes that he, “…has shown definitely the inferiority in strength and endurance tests of meat eaters compared to those who do not eat meat.”

As I mentioned earlier, well-being may appear elusive. However, if I made a list of all of those things that should be included in a “well-being bucket,” lack of chronic diseases, the ability of the body to heal itself, strength and endurance would all be key factors. But wait, let’s not forget optimism. Helen Keller said it well, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

While enjoying my Super Bowl LV Veggie Burger (see recipe below) this Sunday, I will have great optimism that our plant-based quarterback will lead the Bucs to victory. GO BUCS!