In a press conference for the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson, the no.2 ranked golfer in the world, said he has switched to a vegetarian diet for health reasons. The change took place seven weeks ago. He also announced he has a condition called psoriatic arthritis, which some believe is relieved by a vegetarian diet. Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease causing inflammation and pain in joints and tendons. Phil said that he woke up some time ago and was in so much pain he couldn’t walk. It also progressed, “It was (in) my Achilles and my piriformis muscle, my left index finger was sprained and I couldn’t bend it, and my right wrist was sprained; and there was no injury and it got worse.”
He started a treatment regimen of Enbrel and now the inflammation and pain have been reduced to a point where he says he is fit to continue playing golf. On his shift towards vegetarianism, he said, “If it will somehow keep this in remission or stop it from coming back, yeah, I’ll be able to do it.”
Some research points to alleviation of arthritis symptoms through eating a vegetarian diet. In 2001 a study in Sweden found that a vegan gluten-free diet improves the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. A similar Swedish study in 2008 found that a vegetarian diet could reduce inflammation and benefit rheumatoid arthritis. A 2003 study of rheumatoid arthritis patients in Germany, showed that a vegetarian diet supplemented with fish oil reduced inflammation.
Rheumatoid is not the same as psoriatic, but they are both autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Dr. John McDougall has compiled a collection of research information on vegetarian diets and arthritis. Although a number of research studies and personal anecdotes indicate that autoimmune arthritis symptoms can be reduced by a vegetarian diet, the effect has not been absolutely scientifically proven yet.
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