U.S. swimmer Dana Vollmer made history this week when she won Olympic gold in the 100-meter butterfly and set a new world record with a time of 55.98 seconds. While this achievement was a huge breakthrough for the swimmer, it wouldn’t have been possible without a major diet modification she made just last year: Going gluten free.
As reported by CNN, Vollmer always had something holding her back from her goals, be it a heart condition, ACL or shoulder injury, or chronic back pain. But another obstacle the swimmer was facing was frequent debilitating stomach aches, which, coupled with her other conditions, inevitably led to her failed effort to qualify for the Olympic trials four years ago.
Vollmer and her doctors weren’t able to identify the cause of the stomach aches as they continued to grow worse and even resulted in multiple trips to the emergency room. And because Vollmer had already received so much care for her other conditions, she tried to ignore the symptoms and rarely shared how much pain she was actually enduring. “I’d always had either knee or shoulder problems,” she said, “so I didn’t want to say ‘Oh, I have a tummy ache today.'”
Vollmer reported being outside with her family on multiple occasions, participating in some kind of friendly competition when a stomach ache would strike and leave her in near tears. But because of the highly-competitive nature of her sport, Vollmer’s family suspected the aches were caused by either nerves or lactic acid build up. But food allergy tests would later reveal that Vollmer was allergic to eggs and gluten – two items she would inevitably be forced to cut from her diet.
According to DietsInReview.com’s Registered Dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD, a gluten-free diet is most often implemented to treat celiac disease, a genetically-determined immune system reaction to gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley; as well as for gluten intolerance – an enzymatic deficiency similar to lactose intolerance.
Similar to others following a gluten-free diet, Vollmer has likely had to become incredibly aware of the gluten hiding in many foods beyond just bread and cereal, including deli meats, soy sauce, salad dressings, canned soup, ice cream, and beer, just to name a few.
“Gluten-free dieters must make a lifelong commitment to diligently reading all food labels,” said Hartley. To make the transition to a gluten-free diet easier, she recommends seeking out organizations such as celiac.com and zeer.com, which provide reliable information and resources on the topic.
As a result of her new diet, Vollmer not only won Olympic gold this week, but is also feeling 100 percent better than she was before going sans gluten and eggs. “It’s amazing how much butter I feel now,” she said. “The stomach aches are gone….I’m in such a great place and finally feeling healthy.”
photo: getty images
July 31st, 2012