A little known autoimmune disease called Sjogren's syndrome literally took tennis pro Venus Williams off her game. After the seven-time women’s singles Grand Slam champ withdrew from the U.S. Open in 2011, she adopted a vegan diet -- which excludes meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products -- to combat the disorder. It was an adjustment for the steak lover, but Williams told CBS that her new diet, which includes a lot of vegetable juicing and wheatgrass shots, has made "a big difference."
Like those with the related illnesses of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, people with Sjogren's syndrome suffer from fatigue, joint and muscle inflammation and dry mouth and eyes. Against the odds, Williams, 32, returned to tennis in 2012 and won a gold medal at the London Olympics alongside her sister and doubles partner, Serena. During Fashion Week in New York, she also launched her own fitness line, Eleven by Venus.
What experts say: The American Dietetic Association asserts, "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence, and for athletes."
A balanced vegan diet includes fresh fruits and leafy greens, whole grains, oatmeal, nuts and seeds, fortified soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, hummus, tofu and tempeh.
Celebs who can’t stomach gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, include Miley Cyrus and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Cyrus even advised a fan via Twitter (where she shares just about everything) to avoid gluten.
"Everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing," Cyrus told the fan. "You won't go back!"
"Everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing."
What experts say: Since wheat is in everything from bread and pasta to sauces and salad dressing, registered dietitian Constance Brown-Riggs advises that going gluten-free shouldn’t be viewed as a fad diet.
"It’s not a weight loss diet. It’s not low in carbs, and many people have gained weight instead of losing weight on a gluten-free diet," says Brown-Riggs. "If you don’t have celiac disease, you may have sensitivity to gluten; but unless you’ve been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, you don’t have to avoid gluten."
To find out if you have gluten intolerance or sensitivity, Brown-Riggs suggest you consult your doctor and get a blood test.
When Paula "the queen of butter" Deen revealed she had Type 2 diabetes, critics slammed the Paula’s Home Cooking host for continuing to peddle the same high-fat, high-sugar foods that contribute to diabetes.
"Here’s the thing, you know, I’ve always encouraged moderation," Deen told the Today Show. "On my show, you know, I share with you all these yummy, fattening recipes, but I tell people 'in moderation ... you can have that little piece of pie.' "
Deen also told USA Today that since her diagnosis, she walks on the treadmill and has quit drinking sweet tea. "That's a big trick for a little Southern girl," she told the paper. "I calculated how much sugar I drank in empty calories, and it was staggering. I would start drinking tea at lunchtime and drank it all the way to bedtime."
"I calculated how much sugar I drank in empty calories, and it was staggering."
What experts say: Doctors and dietitians recommend that people with diabetes adopt a diet full of low-glycemic fruits (apples, pears, plums, peaches, blueberries), vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), lean protein, low-fat dairy products and whole grains in order to control blood sugar (glucose) levels and manage a healthy weight.
Have you ever wondered how Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow stay so lean and youthful? Well, in addition to exercising regularly they both follow a macrobiotic diet that stresses eating whole grains (especially brown rice), vegetables, seaweed, beans, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits and miso soup. Paltrow explained to Entertainment Tonight that "being macrobiotic is basically about eating local, organic, seasonal food that isn't processed."
Because of its focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, a macrobiotic diet may lower the risk of chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
What experts say: Since the diet is largely vegetarian and occasionally allows fish and meat, dieticians recommend that people following a macrobiotic diet take vitamin and mineral supplements – especially vitamins D and B12, iron and calcium – to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
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