In his final recorded interview in 2007, Helio Gracie at the age of 93, was asked about his diet and how it had kept him in impeccable health all his life.
The reporter asked him, how long hadn’t he eaten meat for. The GrandMaster answered:
Since I was 27 years old (1940). Since I discovered that meat is not healthy. I cut it out. Because to get the meat, you have have to first kill the cow, send it to the butcher, you go to the butcher shop, buy the meat, go home, cook it and eat it. How many hours has this cow died Many hours. It’s already an advanced state. The meat starts to decompose. The meat is going to get worse in your stomach.
Helio Gracie followed the “Gracie Diet”, a method of eating developed during 65 years of research and first-hand use by his older brother Grand Master Carlos Gracie. Based on common sense and the proper combining of foods, it’s the secret of success for the largest family of athletes in the world.
This is an excerpt from the book “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” by Grand Master Helio Gracie:
“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.”