Tennis great has been managing the debilitating effects of the autoimmune disease since 2011.
Since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an incurable autoimmune disease, in 2011, Venus Williams has made some big shifts in her life to manage the symptoms and regain her health.
“It was a life-changer for me,” the 33-year-old said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I missed pretty much a year of tour and then coming back, I was able to learn a lot and hopefully help a lot of other people with autoimmune diseases because they’re all in the same family.”
Williams says that while she felt the symptoms of the disease for several years, it wasn’t until she became extremely ill that she was finally diagnosed — something that can take on average seven years with Sjogren’s. (The immune system disorder is often identified by its two most common symptoms — dry eyes and a dry mouth.) She found that by embracing a plant-based diet, she was able to alleviate some of the fatigue, joint pain and inflammation that comes with the disease.
“I’ve tried different things,” she said, “traditional medicine and diet. Rest helps a lot too. When you have an autoimmune disease, you have to accept limitations.”
In an interview with CNN last year, Venus elaborated on her diet shift.
“It’s because of the things I’m eating,” she said. “I’ve started eating raw, vegan, unprocessed foods, doing lots of juicing, I juice twice a day. I drink wheatgrass. For me, it’s worth doing everything I can to get back to what I love doing.”