Surfing has come a long way since 4 x World Champion Mark Richards’ competition day nutrition routine involved a giant slab of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.
And anybody who has paddled out shortly after being unable to walk past that petrol station counter top pasty warmer will testify that some foods should certainly be avoided before – and probably after – shred.
But is all this health food content really just another version of fake news? Should you be taking gut health advice from your favourite tube rider?
These days of course, you don’t need to sign up for a course on nutrition to get the low down on what you should be eating and drinking; all you gotta do is jump on Insty.
Usually served in bowls, always served with a side of smug, let us examine of the #CleanFood Kool Aid being served up on your News Feed.
The current fave among the ‘influencers’, most of whom all seem to be female pro surfers, Kombucha is a fermented tea, generally low in sugar, that is claimed – like so many fermented foods – to improve your gut health, immune system, reduce your odds of diabetes, as well as tackling cancer, arthritis and even depression.
There is no clinical evidence to support any of these claims. Whether or not it’s actually any better for you than a glass of water is as yet wholly unproven.
Fermented foods are supposed to add ‘helpful’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria to your own gut flora, although given the numbers involved (of organisms in your gut) and the numbers you could ever introduce by eating or drinking anything, the scientific community is broadly skeptical as to whether probiotics have anything like the benefits they’re claimed to have.
According to an article that ran in The Guardian last week ‘Is Kombucha Good For You?’, “There’s a lot of hype,” cautions Maria Marco, professor of food science and technology at the University of California, Davis. “There are some general properties of these foods that could conceivably have an impact on our body, and perhaps help the immune system, but they’re not drugs. It’s ridiculous to think that they could treat diseases like cancer.”
You pretty much can’t move in the surf world without someone thrusting a bowl of açai upon you, or more likely, shovelling this purple semi frozen Brazilian fruit mush smugly down their cake hole whilst checking the surf.
The North Shore, Bali, Byron Bizzle… açai has taken the shredosphere by storm.
“Just something fun to think about next time you’re standing in line to spunk 9 bucks on a bowl of purple lies”
But… is it really that good for you? And if yes, then however did Homo sapien manage to successfully evolve around the world for 30,000 odd years without importing frozen food from the Amazon basin?
While açai has some decent vitamin content (just like all the fruit n’ veg that grows in your garden), its antioxidant properties are usually the subject of the pseudo science clamour, generally hailed by those who don’t know what they are or do.
Check dis: a) you actually need free radicals (the thing antioxidants remove) in your body to destroy invading bacteria. And b) you make your own antioxidants anyway, to keep them in balance, namely uric acid (+ water = pee pee) and glutathione.
Most of the antioxidants in fruit are to protect them from sunlight damage, and may not be that available to the human body anyway.
Just something fun to think about next time you’re standing in line to spunk 9 bucks on a bowl of purple lies.
Bullet Proof Coffee
If replacing breakfast with a blended coffee made from MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil and grass-fed butter sounds like a shit idea, that’s coz it is.
The theory is this filling brew replaces eating carbs for brekkie, and thus fits in with a ketogenic diet plan.
While there is some evidence that ketogenic diet can help reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy, there are no proven long term health benefits in terms of weight loss or general health, and plenty of concerns about adverse effects.
Fibre, for one, is kinda handy for your health. The keto diet makes it kinda tricky to get enough fibre, hence the reason why your local gym is populated with dudes with big arms and sad eyes, who can’t poo.
Kelly Slater has championed chia, even endorsed a product called ‘Chia Pod.’
(If there are two words that shit me, one is chia, and the other is pod. Everything is a ‘pod’ these days. Surf Snowdonia has B&Q garden sheds it calls ‘sleeping pods’. If something is called a ‘pod’ your bullshit alarm should be sounding).
Similar to açai, it’s the antioxidant properties of chia that are often unfeasibly lauded.
It does also contain omega 3, but if you’re a vegetarian (i.e. no oily fish) and want a good source, chia is no better than stuff like linseed or hemp (great for your ALA’s, not less so for your DHA’s though, obvs).
Wheatgrass has been on the surf program for a while, it is particularly favoured by ex-pro surfers after a massive weekend.
Essentially, the outrageous claims as to its benefits are a nonsense. There are no miracle restorative effects. Sure, green juices are generally pretty healthy, and certainly better for you than a can of Dr Pepper/bucket bong, but a shot of wheatgrass barely even makes one of your 5 a day.
Historically, one of the claimed benefits of wheatgrass is that it ‘oxygenates’ your blood. This is utter bullshit.
Chlorophyll (the green stuff) is cited as being chemically similar to haemoglobin (the stuff in your red blood cells where oxygen is carried around your body).
Yeah… well not that fucken similar.
“Certainly better for you than a can of Dr Pepper/bucket bong, but a shot of wheatgrass barely even makes one of your 5 a day”
If you’re planning on ingesting your Manuka honey, from New Zealand, as opposed to dressing wounds/lancing boils with it, it might be worth noting that it contains sugar >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> than any tiny amounts of stuff that’s supposedly vaguely good for you.
“The outrageous list of claims made about coconut oil should arouse suspicions in even the most gullible among you”
Sounds groovy enough. Because coconuts and surfing seem like two things that should go together in an ideal world, right?
Nobody has ever surfed a reef pass in crystal clear water off a coco palm-fringed island and wished they had just spent hours in traffic heading to a job that in no way inspired them creatively, instead.
Nobody has ever supped cool, sweet, coconut water through a straw from a freshly-macheted coconut after surfing a reef pass in crystal clear water and regretted their immediate life choices, much.
However. The outrageous list of claims made about coconut oil should arouse suspicions in even the most gullible among you. It would be easier to list the things coconut oil isn’t so far claimed as being able to help you with.
If it does really make you thin, clever, less cancerous, better looking, a more accomplished lover, deeper tuberider, etc etc, well there is no clinical evidence yet to support it. At all.
Listen to the latest episode of It’s Not The Length Podcast