Nursing Blog

To TB12 or Not to TB12



It’s a somber morning here in New England as our beloved Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles last night in Super Bowl 52.  While the team gave us another predictable nail-biter of a game, sadly, in the end, they were just outplayed it seems.  This phenomenon sometimes happens in life and in sports, however, we as New England fans may have forgotten this as we have been spoiled with win after win.  So while most of us spend the day wondering what happened and why Butler was on the dang bench I have been instead questioning Justin Timberlake’s outfit choice for his mediocre at best halftime performance and continue to be dumbfounded on how my favorite designer Stella McCartney could have created such an atrocity… Is it obvious I am not a huge football fan?  I make no apologies for that… And while I may not don an Edelman jersey or know who Teddy Brewski is, (except for his old commercial on stroke prevention) I still can appreciate athleticism and the talent it takes to play the sport.  You may not find me crying in my beer if we lose or dancing and hugging strangers at the bar if we win but I greatly admire the athletes and their dedication to the beloved game of football.

Being from and living still in New England, I like everyone else here have been inundated with Patriots nation and all things Mr. Tom Brady.  Tom is our hero quarterback for the two people in the world who do not know, and recently I couldn’t help but read a few articles here and there about our guy.  I have found myself extremely interested as of late in Tom Terrific’s approach to continued longevity in his sport and the lifestyle he maintains to earn the acronym G.O.A.T. or greatest of all time as he is called by many.

Brady has been all over the news, radio and just about any media outlet you can find not only because of the big game but because of his docuseries Tom versus Time, which details his daily life with his family and his restrictive regime to maintain his, well… “greatness”.  Prior to this he also decided to let us in on some of his secrets in being Tom with his book, The TB12 Method.  I may be being a bit cynical in thinking Mr. Brady may not be letting us all in on his secrets out of the kindness of his heart so much as setting himself up for a future brand post-football life, but I was still interested none the less and have been reading a bit about what it takes to be Tom Brady the G.O.A.T and specifically his controversial diet approach.

Tom obviously eats extremely healthy.  He limits dairy and eats all organic as well as mostly a raw diet which is a popular trend we are seeing more and more of these days.  Raw foodism (or following a raw food diet) is the dietary practice of eating only, or mostly, uncooked, unprocessed foods.  Depending on the philosophy, or type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, and dairy products. There are said to be many benefits of eating raw such as improving digestion, increased energy and also lowering inflammation which Tom believes is vital to his game.  Tom also avoids nightshades in his diet which particularly interested me as I also recently gave these up as most of these contain Lectins which are horrible for digestive health.  Being a nurse nutritionist I have known this for some time and one would think a nurse with advanced knowledge who has suffered a lifetime of sporadic digestive issues would have given these up a long time ago but I find sometimes we in the medical field are the worst patients and notoriously non-compliant, not always practicing what we preach or what’s in our own best interest.

So what is a lectin and what are nightshades?


Lectins are abundant in raw legumes and grains, and most commonly found in the part of the seed that becomes the leaves when the plant sprouts, aka the cotyledon, but also on the seed coat. They’re also found in dairy products and certain vegetables. Lectins are thought to play a role in immune function, cell growth, cell death, and body fat regulation but the problem is that we don’t digest lectins and our bodies often produce antibodies against them which can cause intolerances and different immune responses to them. This GI distress happens because lectins can damage the intestinal lining.  As food passes through the gut, it causes very minor damage to the lining of the GI tract. Normally the cells repair this damage rapidly. Since the purpose of the gut lining is to let the good stuff past and keep the bad stuff contained, it’s important for the cellular repair system to be running at full efficiency.  But lectins can blunt this speedy reconstruction. Our cells can’t regenerate as fast as they need to in order to keep the intestinal lining secure. Thus, our natural gut defenses are compromised after the damage occurs and the gut can become “leaky,” allowing various molecules (including stuff we don’t want) to pass back and forth amid the gut wall. We may also not absorb other important things, such as vitamins and minerals, properly.

Few people are familiar with the term nightshade vegetables, and many will be surprised to learn that consuming foods from this plant group may be contributing to their pain and inflammation.  Nightshades include some of the most popular foods consumed today; such as tomatoes, potatoes, all types of peppers, and eggplant.  Although not truly nightshades, blueberries, huckleberries, goji berries and ashwagandha all share the same inflammation-inducing alkaloids.

The verdict is still out on nightshades causing inflammation as there are many studies that are opposing, but it may be worth a try to cut these foods out and do an elimination diet if you have any digestive, inflammatory or autoimmune issues or if you want to be possibly the next Tom Brady.  After eliminating the foods for a good amount of time, usually 30 days is best, you can slowly add these back to your diet while keeping track of how you feel and being observant of any symptoms.

Tom is leaving nothing to chance and it cannot hurt that he also has a personal chef and an unlimited budget to aide in his quest for a continued career of achievement as he reaches an age where most quarterbacks are hanging up their cleats.  And although he suffered a disappointing loss while not maybe playing his best game last night, there is no denying Tom is doing something right and that he just really may be the G.O.A.T.  

There’s always next year……………………………………………………………..


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