In a quick search of the internet one can find no less than 981,000 pages containing the word “diet”, counting only the pages in Portuguese. On TV the number of programs targeting nutrition has multiplied, and one need only scan the newsstands to see the topic as headlines on hundreds of both feminine and masculine publications.
It hasn’t always been this way, though. At around the 1950s, panels like the “Weight Question”, led by Dr. Drauzio Varella, on TV Globo’s fantastico show, might see, like some director’s science fiction lunacy. the preoccupation with what Brazilians ingest in their day to day lives was almost completely absent, and for this reason health problems started to surface well before reaching the later stages of life.
It was after suffering from blinding migraines (rendering him prostrate in his bedroom) it struck Carlos Gracie that something had to change. From the words of the philosopher Hippocrates came the first clue: “Make your nourishment your cure”.
Hungering for knowledge, Master Carlos came to read more and more on the subject and over the years he compiled what he learned, developing would be consecrated as the Gracie Diet. He left the health problems behind and the weakly youth turned into an athletic adult.
The next step was to prove the efficiency of the method and there was no one better to test his discoveries on than his own offspring. Carlos Gracie instilled in his children, nephews and grandchildren the need to listen to the body and offer it only nourishment that is of benefit to it. Little by little, the family’s body type began to
change and the Master’s descendents were growing ever bigger that his 5’2″, 139 pound frame. In fact, according to Rilion Gracie, “healthy nourishment modified an entire family”.
But ultimately, what is the Gracie Diet about? It deals with not poisoning the body, not letting it get sick, and establishing the appropriate balance its nourishment. The main idea behind it is to keep the ph of meals as neutral as possible, balancing the substance through the proper combination.
Master Carlos’ idea is global and overcomes all problems. It is about not mixing: cereals with other cereals, fat with sugar, nor acidic foods with any other acidic food. Meals are to be eaten in intervals of, at the least, five hours, eating again only when the stomach is empty.
But that is not all. Beyond worrying about solid foods, Master Carlos sought to complement them with teas, using what nature offers as cures for man’s ailments. “Our body is machine running on blood. If the blood is pure, the machine runs well”, says Rilion Gracie. “My father’s objective was to make sure the family’s fighters were well, or in other words, free of any illness that might arise and make combat unviable”,
The inclusion of fruits as a fundamental part of the diet can also be credited to Master Carlos Gracie. “Almost 30 years ago people came into my house and saw the pantry full of fruits and greens. Everyone thought it was strange, as the culture of that time considered fruits to be nothing more than dessert, while it made up 50% of our family’s diet.”
Proud of the legacy left by his father, Rilion Gracie and Reyla agreed particularly on one point: to reduce Master Carlos’ science to being a simple diet is to diminish the importance of his work. “He foresaw so many recent scientific discoveries, such as the important role of beta carotene, a substance found in papayas and carrots, the concept of free-radicals and orthomolecular medicine.
That goes without mentioning his being a pioneer with his habit of eating acai, drinking watermelon juice, coconut water and smoothies”, says Reyla. Rilion adds: “Everyone should supplement their work with nutrition. We opened the eyes of our students to this and they influenced others. Since that health-food restaurants, juice houses and whole wave of healthy living have arisen. I see my father as a great precursor to healthy nourishment here in Brazil”, Rilion affirms.