03 Apr People we love – Corinne Nijjer
Each month we aim to bring you an intimate interview on people we love. Meet Corinne. She was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis and turned her life around.
AT WHAT AGE WERE YOU DIAGNOSED WITH MS, AND HOW DID THIS AFFECT YOUR LIFE?
I was diagnosed with MS when I was 24 years of age after living with many chronic and debilitating
symptoms for years prior to my diagnosis along with painful Fibromyalgia.
The diagnosis was initially terrifying and I spent the first several weeks moving between grief, fear,
despair and numbness. The first four years following my diagnosis I was constantly fatigued, living
in chronic pain and discomfort, depressed and experiencing regular relapses which resulted in
numbness to my face and hands and left me terrified for my future.
BACK THEN, WHAT WAS YOUR DIET AND LIFESTYLE LIKE?
When I was diagnosed, and in those four years following, I was a smoker… I was working shift
work and I lived off cigarettes, energy drinks, lollies, and the typical aussie meals such as chicken
curries, spag bol, cheese filled rissotos, pastas, stir fries, burgers, fish and chips, soft drinks,
WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINT THAT LEAD YOU TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH?
When I was diagnosed with MS I received a package from MS Australia in the mail and inside was
some information about the disease and the current available treatments (mostly beta interferons)
however, along with this I received 2 pages of information regarding some research conducted by
Dr Roy Swank regarding the impacts of saturated animal fats on MS. The 30 year study found that
those who stuck to a diet very low in saturated animal fats seemed to suspend their disease
progression and those who did not worsened and most were deceased due to complications of MS
by the completion of the study. The idea that something I had been eating was at least partly
responsible for my disease made so much sense to me however, my Neurologist repeatedly
advised me not to bother changing my diet stating “there’s no science to diet having any impact on
MS” and so I went off and on this way of thinking for 4 years whilst my condition worsened. In
August 2008 I woke up numb from the waste down and it’s amazing how quickly you’ll take control
of your health when you can no longer feel yourself go to the bathroom. I quit smoking that day
and adopted the SWANK DIET (I altered this to the Overcoming MS diet established by Dr George
Jelinek and eventually to a low fat, whole food, plant based diet) and never looked back!
WHAT CHANGES DID YOU IMPLEMENT, AND HOW DID THEY IMPACT YOUR HEALTH?
I completely cut out ALL animal products, saturated fats except those found in whole, plant foods
and those I limited to 20% or less of my daily macro intake. Within 12 months I regained energy I
never knew I had since childhood, I began running for the first time in my life. I overcame years of
depression, and ceased having monthly bouts of Candida and regular constipation. I lost around
35 kilos without dieting, my chronic pain from Fibromyalgia dissipated along with all symptoms of
MS. Since 2008 I have had zero relapses and now have 2 young children and live a life filled with
an abundance of energy and JOY!
WHAT DOES YOUR MORNING RITUAL CONSIST OF?
I can’t start the day without scraping my tongue first thing and cleaning my teeth and cleaning my
mouth and washing my face. Usually I skin brush, drink a large mug of hot lemon water or a shot
of apple cider vinegar to get my digestion moving. Usually I walk/run the dog or do some yoga or
pilates and meditate for between 10-20 minutes and then write 3 things I’m grateful for and 3
things I need to accomplish to have a great day in my journal. Then I have a shower finishing off
with cold water and most days I practice intermittent fasting until 11am.
WHAT ARE THREE WAYS TO STAY BALANCED MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY?
Walking/running/cycling in nature, yoga, meditation/mindfulness, sitting in circle with my sisters,
rituals such as New Moon releasing and intention setting, journaling, singing, drawing, dancing,
earthing and practicing gratitude.
WHAT IS ONE THERAPEUTIC FOOD YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Freshly ground flaxseeds.
If you’re inspired by Corinne’s story and/or you’re going through a similar health crisis, Corinne offers programs and support. Check out her website www.corinne.nijjer.com
Corinne also has a wonderfully inspiring podcast. You can find it on iTunes and Stitcker: When life gives you lemons, GO VEGAN!
You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter under Corinne Nijjer.