The History and Principles of the Gracie Diet
Promoted by Grandmaster Carlos Gracie, the Gracie Diet is a proven path to good health. Just like Jiu-Jitsu, it is efficient, flexible and easy to learn. An improvement in wellness and overall energy level is often felt within the first few weeks of its adoption.
The Gracie Diet: History
This Nutritional Regimen is a result of 65 years of committed research and experimentation by the late Grandmaster Carlos Gracie, oldest brother of Grandmaster Hélio Gracie. It is based on selecting natural foods that do not poison the body and combining them in ways that allow for an efficient digestion. Thousands have benefited from the Gracie diet including the late Grand Master Hélio Gracie, who credited it with his longevity and ability to continue his daily Jiu-jitsu training until the age of 95.
Dr. Pedro Valente (senior), plastic surgeon and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Grand Master Red Belt 9th Dan, has followed the Gracie diet since 1953, at age 14. He graduated from Medical school in 1963 and aside from a specialization in plastic surgery he also dedicated himself to the study of nutrition.
As a surgeon he applied the Gracie diet to his pre-surgery and recovery patients in his plastic surgery clinic, becoming a pioneer in the field. At that time, Carlos Gracie and Pedro Valente would share their knowledge and scientific findings in nutrition and hygiene to improve their practices. They maintained this exchange of information and experiments until Carlos passed away in the 1990’s.
Today, Dr. Pedro Valente Sr. continues to apply Carlos Gracie’s teachings not only with his patients, but also with athletes. Recently, Dr. Valente introduced the principles of the Gracie diet to one of the world’s most recognized football (soccer) teams, Vasco da Gama. Soccer legend Romario credited the diet, which was prescribed to him by Dr. Valente for his unprecedented feat of becoming the lead scorer in the Brazilian Soccer league at the age of 40 in 2006. Today many professional teams have adopted several of Dr. Valente’s innovative methods in the training and nutrition of their athletes.
How it works
The food combining system is simple and easy to understand. It rationally evolved from the study of gastric physiology and the actions of enzymes and digestive juices. Hygienic food selection and the principles of food combining are based on the nutritional needs of humans and the limitations of our digestive systems. It is not what we eat, but what we digest and assimilate, that determines the health of our bodies. Food combining is based on the understanding that certain combinations of food may be digested more efficiently than others. The idea is to save precious energy that can be used in other vital physiological activities.
Proper food combining results in an immediate improvement in physical and mental health by easing the digestive process. As a result you will experience better nutrition, better digestion, less fermentation and putrefaction, more comfort, less distress and less gas. Fermentation causes irritation and poisoning. Proper food combining removes fermentation as a cause of indigestion. Other conditions that cause indigestion include overeating; eating hurriedly or when tired, worried, angry, fearful, grieved, etc.; or when you are in pain or have a fever or inflammation).
The successful results obtained through the utilization of the Gracie Diet can be explained and substantiated by the study of gastric physiology, and the chemistry of digestion.
Gracie Diet Principles
• Digestion consumes a lot of energy – The Gracie Diet is based on the principle that digestion is the body’s most strenuous daily activity and that properly combining foods significantly eases digestion and enables the body to employ a maximum percentage of its resources in other indispensable activities like training, healing injuries, fighting disease, etc.
• Different Foods Require Specific Digestive Enzymes – Specific digestive enzymes are needed to digest different types of foods. Foods can be grouped according to the digestive enzymes needed to break them down. Combining foods properly prevents indigestion and enhances general health.
• Allow Time for Recovery Between Meals – The Gracie Diet specifies that one should allow four and a half hours between meals. This allows the body to finish its job, recover, and return to its neutral state before having to produce another set of digestive enzymes.
• Pick the right foods – Make high quality food a priority. Pick foods that are highly nutritive and easy to digest and stay away from packaged foods with chemical additives.
• Don’t Overeat – Eating too much overloads the body’s digestive system. Always leave the table feeling like you could eat more.
• Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly – Ideally, chew your food until it is liquid. Your saliva has enzymes that facilitate digestion. Also, it is easier to digest small particles than large ones. Not chewing well stresses your digestive system and can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, digestive problems like gas and bloating and promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.
Grand Master Hélio Gracie discussed the Gracie Diet in his book “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu”:
“With the divorce of our parents, Carlos took a stronger leadership position amongst the brothers. He was the first teacher and fighter of the family, and then later our manager. When we gained respect as experienced teachers and fighters, Carlos was able to trust us with the ring duties and dedicate more time to esoteric studies. He immersed himself in a variety of subjects related to the mind, body, and spirit.
Carlos soon understood the important relationship between nutrition and physical performance. In order for us to be ready to defend the family name against all comers, it was important to be healthy at all times. This was his motivation to venture into the study of nutrition and the effect of different foods on the human body. Realizing that different foods would cause different chemical reactions within the body, Carlos narrowed his focus on food combinations. His idea was to make sure that at each meal, the foods we ate would combine to cause healthy chemical reactions. The objective was to prevent blood acidity and avoid fermentation. This would then facilitate the digestive process, which is the most energy-consuming activity of the human body. Although he never had any formal education in the field of nutrition, Carlos studied the works of countless experts from all over the world. Using himself and the rest of the family as guinea pigs, he dedicated 65 years of his life to the development and improvement of the Gracie Diet. Over the years, I have witnessed amazing results from his nutritional regimen.
When you are young, in your twenties, thirties, or forties, it is difficult to see the long-term effects of improper eating habits. Many modern diets written by healthy-looking young men and women have gained credibility based solely on theory. But if you are forty, and start on the latest trend diet today, how are you going to know the effect it will have thirty or forty years from now? It is impossible for today’s diet gurus to prove the long-term validity of their theories. They simply haven’t been around long enough. Ideally, you should get information on what to eat from someone who is seventy, has followed a particular diet for thirty years, and can validate the positive results. Unfortunately, there are not many healthy seventy-year-olds walking around these days. However, just as we have demonstrated the effectiveness of our self-defense system with facts not theories, I am living proof that the Gracie Diet works. I have followed these food combination guidelines for the past seventy years and today in my nineties, I still enjoy great physical and mental health, which enables me, among other things, to continue to teach and train Jiu-Jitsu.
I want to acknowledge the positive guidance and influence I received from my dear brother, Carlos Gracie, who was like a second father to me. From him, I learned the philosophical principles and healthful concepts that I follow even today, as well as the Jiu-Jitsu principles that served as a base for me to develop Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, the most effective martial art on the planet.”