Photo from wsj.com / Reuters

If you follow tennis, you may have heard of a fellow by the name of Novak Djokovic.

If not, let me fill you in: Serbian, just turned 24, kind of a big deal breakout tennis superstar.

Djokovic’s been having a record season: 37-0. No one has enjoyed a winning streak like that since 1984. Djokovic’s beaten Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer multiple times, and the Wall Street Journal casually referred to him as the best athlete of 2011.

Clearly he wasn’t a bad tennis player before, but no one expected wins like this. So what could explain the turnaround?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s the tennis pro’s new gluten-free diet.

A year ago, Djokovic’s doctors recommended a gluten-free diet to him. Whether due to an intolerance, a sensitivity, celiac disease – this is unclear. Regardless, no gluten seems to equate with no losing.

What I really like about this story – Djokovic’s story in general, and the WSJ’s coverage of it specifically – is that it highlights the mental benefits to giving up gluten. Flexibility, stamina, speed – yes, you need to be physically strong to be a good tennis player, but you also need an agile mind

Although Djokovic has apparently lost a few pounds since reformulating his diet, this wouldn’t be enough to explain his rapid rise. If he’s thinking quicker, though – that could explain a lot.

For those of us with a personal understanding of the term “brain fog,” it’s hardly surprising. It’s also a strong example of why it’s worth getting tested for gluten trouble, even for people who seem physically fine. Not to harp on a tired theme, but it bears repeating: sometimes you don’t even know how bad you felt (or how much you can achieve) until you start feeling better.