I have fallen in love. With a very hot, half-naked, sword-wielding gladiator off the telly. Claire, her Husband and I have spent the last few weeks working our way through all the episodes from the SKY programme Spartacus. It's meant to be a historical representation of the Roman Empire, but it's actually a brilliant excuse for a lot of sex, violence and beautiful, slow motion camera work. We love it.
I have my favourite gladiator - Gannicus. And Claire has hers. Spartacus. But not the one in the latest series. Her favourite is played by the actor Andy Whitfield from the first series. Strikingly beautiful, deep voiced, brooding looks, incredibly fit. What is so shocking about watching this wonderful actor is that he died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in September last year, aged 39.
In the show Spartacus, played by Andy, is the strongest gladiator in the arena. A god of a man with rippling muscles, oily bronzed skin who is partial to giving epic speeches about freedom. It is so hard to believe that a man who runs around the screen like a spring chicken has cancer. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphoid tissue, it affects people, men more than women, who have weakened immune systems. To look at Andy Whitfield you cannot see a single blemish on him, let alone a weakened immune system!
So how? How can a man, obviously at the peak of physical fitness be struck down with cancer? There could be a number of reasons. I don't know his family history. But a theory I believe contributed to his illness is the physical stress he put his body under.
Fitness and health are two very different things. It is possible to have an unfit person who is healthy. It is also possible to have a very fit person who is unhealthy. In our clinic we see a number of athletes and sports professionals at the peak of their game but suffer with health complaints, injuries and problems. We are able to calculate our clients true biological age through a measure called Turn Back Time. One of the most interesting results we have had is with two Personal Trainers in their 30s who, despite being incredibly fit, came out 10 years older in their biological tests.
Think of our bodies like engines. When we exercise we require more oxygen, more fuel, more vitamins, more minerals, more protein, more everything. Yes exercise is fantastic for the body but if we don't have what we need our bodies suffer with free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that clump together with other molecules and cause disease, illness and sometimes cancer.
Anyone putting their body under a lot of physical stress needs antioxidants. Antioxidants stop free radical molecules from becoming unstable. Antioxidants are found in fruit and vegetables such as green leafy veggies and dark coloured fruits and also in supplement drinks, our favourite being Zambroza thanks to its ridiculously high antioxidant level.
The lesson here is if you're hot and fit you are not necessarily healthy. Anyone putting their body under physical strain - body builders, marathon runners, triathletes and gym goers need to support themselves, in fact we all do. Even a mighty Gladiator needs his daily fruit, vegetables, good quality protein and high antioxidant intake to stay well.