NH21 Weekly is partial to a bit of sporting fare, and this past weekend very much enjoyed the Wimbledon tennis finals from London SW19.

Sadly, for the evergreen Venus Williams, it wasn’t such a pleasant experience as she capitulated 6-0 in the second set; a combination of age, emotions and her ongoing battle with Sjogren’s syndrome conspiring against her.

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease in the same general family as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus; it affects the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands, resulting in decreased production of tears and saliva. Additional symptoms include joint pain, swelling and stiffness; persistent dry cough and prolonged fatigue. (1)

As detailed by the National Institutes of Health; autoimmune diseases develop when the immune system, which normally defends the body against disease, erroneously identifies healthy cells as ‘foreign’ and attacks them. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. (2)

Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body, including the heart, brain, nerves, muscles, skin, eyes, joints, lungs, kidneys, glands, the digestive tract, and blood vessels. The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain, and swelling.

How an autoimmune disease affects you depends on what part of the body is targeted. If the disease affects the joints, as in rheumatoid arthritis, you might have joint pain, stiffness, and loss of function. If it affects the thyroid, as in Graves’ disease and thyroiditis, it might cause tiredness, weight gain, and muscle aches. If it attacks the skin, as it does in scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, vitiligo, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), it can cause rashes, blisters, and color changes.

In the case of Miss Williams (currently the world’s 9th ranked tennis player) the fatigue was clear to see in last Saturday’s final; played against an opponent some 14yrs her junior; a notable age-related mismatch even in perfect health!

But the question is; with an average age among the world’s top-10 players of just 26; how on earth did she have the energy to get as far as her 16th Grand Slam Final?


Venus Williams is one of the greatest tennis players in the history of the sport, and the manner in which she conditions herself as a professional athlete undoubtedly considers multiple physical, mental and emotional aspects.

Yet regarding Sjogren’s in particular, one of her key tools has been adopting a raw vegan diet that eliminates all animal products including meat, fish and dairy; plus, anything cooked at a high temperature. Crediting this for the return of her endurance and strength, Venus says;

“I literally couldn’t play tennis anymore, so it really changed my life. Thankfully, I was able to find something that helped me get back to doing what I loved.”

As a proponent of natural health, NH21 is always encouraged by such examples of diet in action – using food as medicine in the truest sense of the phrase. Yet such claims are often dismissed as ‘hearsay’, ‘anecdotal’, and ‘lacking evidence’ by the more pharmaceutically-minded who would prefer the ‘proven’ therapeutics of drugs such as;

  • Pilocarpine (side effects including sweating, muscle tremors, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, troubled breathing and wheezing). (3)
  • Cevimeline (side effects including chest pain, fainting, rapid heartbeat and itching). (4)

Indeed, whilst clinical trials have not yet proven the efficacy of (non-patentable) raw fruits and vegetables; it has been noted by the world’s largest research centre that the alternative –  a ‘standard western diet’ – is causative of multiple chronic diseases including autoimmunity;

“In particular, nutritional patterns collectively termed the “Western diet”, including high-fat and cholesterol, high-protein, high-sugar, and excess salt intake, as well as frequent consumption of processed and ‘fast foods’, promote obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. These factors have also gained high interest as possible promoters of autoimmune diseases.” (5)

And so it seems, anecdotally at least, that Venus Williams has removed poor quality foods form her daily diet, and also removed the worst symptoms of autoimmunity at the same time.

Conclusive? Not really.

Inspiring all the same? Absolutely.

NH21 salutes you Miss Williams, and hopes that others are similarly inspired by your hard work and willingness to address, where possible, your own health through self-motivated commitment your own care and wellbeing.


1: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sjogrens-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20020275

2: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Autoimmune/default.asp

3: https://www.drugs.com/mtm/pilocarpine-ophthalmic.html

4: https://www.drugs.com/mtm/cevimeline.html

5: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034518/