It took seven years before tennis superstar Venus Williams learned the cause of symptoms ranging from dry eyes to fatigue to acute pain in her joints (devastating for a professional athlete!). And then she faced a choice: To accept medications and hope for the best - or battle her autoimmune disease, Sjogren's syndrome, by trying a holistic diet. Venus chose the latter. Now she's talking about her disease and diet, including a visit to Dr. Mehmet Oz's talk show on October 10.
Why did it take so long to receive her diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome?
"The reason it stayed such a mystery is because the symptoms are so ambiguous that no one can really diagnose it. At one point, I just ended up getting sicker. And that's what happens to a lot of people. The average diagnosis time is about seven years," explained Venus.
And that's precisely how long it took before Venus learned the cause of her constant fatigue.
"It started in 2004, I would always say, I couldn't get in shape. And I would always say, 'Okay, this time, I'm really going to get in shape'. And no matter what I did, I never could, I never had any wind. So I was out there, just faking it, and then, every now and then, after a big loss, I would say, 'Gosh, something's wrong'. And I'd go get another workup," she said.
And then came another period of waiting to discover why her eyes were so dry, she was constantly tired and she had such deep pain in her joints.
"Then I'd just wait another six months. So that was my life. I would just keep going, getting workups, and there were no answers. As an athlete, you don't make excuses. Either you do it or you don't. So in my head, I just thought, 'Oh, maybe I'm just kind of lazy, you know'. That's what I would think," she told Dr. Oz.
Now Venus maintains her health by following a raw food plant-based diet. And she's a big believer in plant-based protein power, she told Good Morning Center recently.
Among Venus' key diet tips:
- Drink protein shakes before you exercise.
- Use peas and nuts to boost your energy.
- Follow a plant-based diet.
- To keep your body hydrated and clean, drink a glass of hot water with lemon every morning.
To help her sister, Serena also follows a semblance of the raw food plant-based plan. Author with Venus of "Venus and Serena: Serving From The Hip: 10 Rules for Living, Loving, and Winning," Serena used that diet to win her fifth U.S. Open: Read all about it by clicking here.