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Taraji P. Henson is a tough “Cookie” for real.

The Empire actress revealed in her new interview with Women’s Health this week that she had a stomach cancer scare that forced her to make a drastic lifestyle change.

73rd Primetime Emmy Awards - Creative Perspective

Source: Rich Fury / Getty

Henson shared that she had always suffered from chronic stomach issues that often led to uncontrollable vomiting and discomfort. In 2015, the 51-year-old star said she had a terrible episode while was on tour in Monte Carlo promoting Empire. In fact, it was so bad, Henson had to be rushed to the hospital.

Two years later, The TPH founder’s stomach issues caused her to have another vomiting fit while filming The Best of Enemies in Macon, Georgia. Henson became so dehydrated and weak that she had to lie down on the floor of her hotel room. To avoid attention, Taraji’s assistant and security whisked the star away in a hotel luggage rack using a blanket to conceal her identity until she was able to make it to a vehicle safely. The team then drove to the hospital where the doctor delivered a starling update to Henson about her condition.

“He said, ‘If you don’t correct what’s going on inside of you, you’re going to develop stomach ulcers, which can lead to stomach cancer,’” she recalled to Women’s Health.

Henson had been prescribed a type of acid reflux medication to treat her symptoms in the past, but the medication the doctor in Georgia gave her only made her stomach issues worse.

Taraji P. Henson

Source: Marcus Smith for Women’s Health / Women’s Health


Taraji said it was her assistant who put her in touch with a holistic doctor that she swears saved her life.

The NAACP Award recipient’s new doctor performed a “noninvasive breath test” that he used to officially diagnose her with a condition called SIBO which is when an overgrowth of bacteria floods into the small intestine. According to Healthline, SIBO can lead to constipation, indigestion, and painful stomach cramping.

“Western medicine saves lives,” said Taraji. “But it wasn’t helping in my situation.” The “Peace of Mind” host was ordered to follow a strict plant-based diet filled with lots of papayas, avocado, and fermented vegetables to help balance her healthy gut flora.

The star also paired her holistic diet with an intense workout routine and according to Henson, she loves doing exercises that have “anything to do with the butt.”  Deadlifts happen to be her favorite, in particular, but there’s a secret to maintaining a good form while you’re working to plump those assets.

Taraji P. Henson

Source: Marcus Smith for Women’s Health / Women’s Health


 “You have to keep your feet parallel and let your arms dangle,” she explained to Women’s Health. “Your focus should be on your glutes and hamstrings, so you actually feel the pull when you’re coming up.”

Back in September, Henson teamed up with celebrity trainer Mike T to create a 30-day fitness challenge to help inspire her fans and followers on social media to get their waists back in shape.

Henson took to social media where she showed off a picture of her newly sculpted physique post lockdown. The Baby Boy actress wrote in her caption that she had “indulged” a little too much during quarantine and that knew she had to make a change to get her lifestyle back on track.

It wasn’t an easy feat. Taraji told Women’s Health that she fell off her diet during the lockdown period which lead to a pretty bad case of depression.

“I was like, ‘This can sink me,’” she explained. “That’s when I realized I had to do everything I could to feel good, or that depression thing was going to get the best of me.”


Were glad Henson was able to push through! We all fall off with our fitness goals, but let Henson’s story be the sign for you to keep going too!

Congrats to Taraji P. Henson!

Taraji P. Henson

Source: Marcus Smith for Women’s Health / Women’s Health

The November 2021 issue of Women’s Health hits newsstands nationwide on October 26.




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