Healthy Living

Inside an NFL Player’s Battle with Crohn’s Disease

Inside an NFL Player’s Battle with Crohn’s Disease

Inside an NFL Player’s Battle with Crohn’s Disease

Seantrel Henderson had a storied journey through high school and college football, culminating in being drafted to the Buffalo Bills for the 2014 NFL season. He experienced much success in his earlier years, and played right tackle for the University of Miami following an impressive high school career. At various points in his life, he was suspended and cited for marijuana use, but he was able to overcome these obstacles and make it all the way to a successful starting NFL football player.

Photo credit: Fansided

Henderson played all 16 regular season games. In 2015 too he played well and took on the heavy workload. However a sudden unexpected threat came upon his NFL career which he was forced to face. Before the end of the regular season, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Much part of his intestine was infected and to remove it he was forced to undergo surgery and reattach the remaining. It was hard for him to miss the game but also the struggle was on how to live with the disease.  A major transition is needed in lifestyle of people with this disease. For both his health and future this change was critical. For those who suffer from this disease, diet becomes a daily challenge. To meet the dietary needs and weight requirements, Henderson found himself struggling. When he was diagnosed with the disease he lost 25 pounds.  For an NFL player the weight of 280 pounds is low. He knew that if he wanted to return back to the league he had to put on weight and recondition his body. However with the kind of diet that he was used to he could not do this.

Patients with this disease have malabsoprtion and loss in appetite. For him, one of the necessary workout was eating. At any time inflammation can occur, fatigue can set in. Thus eating and exercising becomes difficult. This became a threat for Henderson. Hence he set meal plans that consist of protein shakes, fruits, greens and meats. He eats excess so that body is able to absorb nutrients. It was crucial for him to keep up his weight. He had to stay from certain dietary foods that could make the symptoms stronger. These include low calorie foods, dairy products, coffee, tea, alcohol and any food that causes gas. Flare ups can be caused if these foods are eaten and proper hydration does not take place. This affects the person drastically. For an NFL player this could mean on the game day to forgo play time and missing practices.

He has trained his body in such a way that he gained 345 pounds. For an NFL tackle this is an ideal weight. Key to success is eating enough, proper hydration, good diet and eating healthy. In order to stay in the league Henderson understood the importance of adjusting his diet.  Some key benefits were associated with Henderson’s regimen. Exercise would boost his overall health, strengthen the immune system, keep weight under control, boost mental health and relieve stress. Since he has to work hard each day it was important for him to be positive and mentally stable.

Mental and emotional health is important for exercise.  In order to stay focussed it is incredibly important for NFL players to fight through injury and physical pain and staying mentally sharp. Due to his regular exercise regimen, Henderson is able to enjoy many benefits of exercise offered by rigorous exercise regimens. He has set a good example for others on how to approach the disease with positivity. His team too has been supportive. To get him back in the game, Eric Ciano his strength and conditioning coach and Shone Gipson his trainer worked with him closely. His coach Sean McDermott says that he is happy the way Henderson has handled the disease.