Why Tom Brady is Wrong... kind of


Love him or hate him, Tom Brady is one of the greatest athletes of all time. He has won the most Super Bowls, played in the most Super Bowls, and has won the most regular season games of any quarterback in history. Clearly, he is an expert at what he does, but does this make him an expert in nutrition? Brady wrote a book called, "The TB12 Method". It's about his approach to diet and how he believes it led to his longevity in the NFL, a league trending toward earlier and earlier retirement. Let's break down one of the main components from the perspective of a Naturopathic Doctor. 

The "Alkaline Diet"

One of the key strategies Brady highlights is his use of an alkaline diet. He claims (as others do) that by eating food that is more alkaline (the opposite of acidic), you can decrease the acidity of your body, leading to decreased inflammation, improved recovery, and fewer injuries. To provide you with some background information, foods considered alkaline include kale, broccoli, garlic, ginger, and beets. Whereas foods considered to be acid-forming include: alcohol, milk, peanuts, breakfast cereal, and highly processed foods, full of salt and sugar. You don't need to be a Naturopathic Doctor to know which group of food would be better to consume. 

What about the theory?

As I mentioned above, the alkaline diet is supposed to change the pH (measure of acidity and alkalinity) in our bodies. The science, however, says the opposite; we are fairly certain that diet plays little to no role in the pH of our blood or urine [1]. So when Brady says his diet will reduce the pH in your body, there is no science to back it up. 

What about the pee?

Let's assume for a moment that Brady is right: what we eat affects the pH of our bodies. Advocates of this diet say urine pH is a good measure of its effectiveness and even tell followers to test their urine pH at home. But these home tests, called urine dipsticks, have been shown to be inaccurate as a measure of urine pH [2]. So even if we could change our bodies pH with diet and our urine pH changed with it, the test would not be accurate.

What's all the fuss?

Let's make another assumption: everything about the alkaline diet is true; what we eat effects the pH of our bodies, urine pH is a good representation of our body's pH, and it can accurately be measured. So what? Why put a label on a diet and try to prove that your label is the reason the diet is healthy? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that eating lots of fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed food is good for you. This is a classic example of taking something simple and putting a complex label on it, in order to sell it. Just like putting a "gluten free" sticker on a bottle of water and calling it something ridiculous like "gluten free di-hydrogen oxide"; it's still water and it's still good for you. To learn more about gluten-free water, check out this article.

Tom Brady is not wrong when he says eat your vegetables and skip the junk, but he is wrong about the reason. 

Thanks for reading.