Venus Williams is swearing off steak.
But Prince Fielder going vegetarian this is not.
Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome (pronounced show-grins) this past summer, an incurable immune system disorder that caused her to pull out of the U.S. Open in August. Through the recommendation of her sister, Serena, Venus began looking into holistic treatments for the disease, which has no conventional remedies.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner decided to give up meat and dairy opting for a raw, vegan diet to help manage her symptoms. Those include overall fatigue, dry mouth and dry eyes. Williams is hoping the new eating regimen will help ease the inflammation in her joints, something a 2001 study found effective in fibromyalgia patients. The disease is similar and causes chronic pain and fatigue. In fact, many patients with Sjogren's also have fibromyalgia and some initially diagnosed with fibromyalgia also have Sjogren's.
Venus had been feeling fatigue and other symptoms going back years, but doctors weren't able to identify the cause until a month before the U.S. Open.
"I would go to the doctor and start crying. I couldn't help it," Venus told People magazine. "I just want a chance to play on the same field as other people, I want to feel normal, but as frightening as the diagnosis was, it was also a relief."
Despite the terrible news, Venus tried to press on and play in the tournament, which she had won twice before. Unfortunately, the disease proved to be too much and she had to pull out before her second match.
"I couldn't raise my arm over my head, the racket felt like concrete," she said. "I had no feelings in my hands. They were swollen and itchy. I realized it would be a miserable show."
Now Venus is trying to battle the disease and battle her way back onto the court. She defeated Serena in an exhibition match in November, but is taking some time off to rest up and avoid worsening her condition.
In a show of sisterly solidarity, Serena has also chosen to follow Venus' raw, vegan diet. That means both Williams sisters will be dining on whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains -- nothing bottled, boxed or canned. And the raw distinction means nothing can be heated above 116 degrees or the nutritional value is believed to be compromised.
Anyone worried that the new diet won't provide what Venus needs to keep competing at a high level, need only need to check out this.
Hopefully it will help with her symptoms. And if there can be vegan bodybuilders, then a vegan Venus can surely get back in the winner's circle.
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