Maddie’s Story

My road to health was gradual. I first started using raw goat dairy for the family when my youngest was about 4, as she can’t tolerate cows’ milk. (I can’t tolerate any dairy w-casein). Both she and her brother never needed braces, even though their prenatal nutrition was bad. The older kids did. I started with WAPF diet, but moved to GAPS due to issues with grains. I consider GAPS a subset of WAPF diet.

Between following GAPS, homeopathy, and supplements, I now no longer have constipation, which I was “born with”. My allergies & asthma are almost non-existent, and I used to have to wear a HEPA mask to work in my garden! Migraines stopped as soon as I stopped grains and sugar, as did brain fog. Even though I have MTHFR, I’m able to detox sufficiently now. I know this isn’t strictly a “WAPF” story, but as I said, I believe GAPS “counts”.

Regarding obstacles, I did not have it as hard as many Americans, in that for the first 15 years of married life, I lived in the UK, which at that time, had almost NO convenience foods. You bought meat, vegetables, etc, and you cooked them; no taco kits, open-and-serve, etc. So I was used to cooking. I also had always liked liver, so I was already eating that on a regular basis.

The biggest challenge is realizing that family members (my youngest is now 20) have to find their own ways, which sadly involves their bad choices. When they get sick enough, they may be motivated to change. Until then, I keep cooking good stuff, and keep my mouth shut. Nobody is convinced by being nagged.

Elaine’s Story

Elaine MichaelsEven as a youngster, I was interested in food and nutrition. My live-in grandmother grew a garden and served balanced meals. When I married and had kids, it was important to me to feed them in a healthy way. However, this was the beginning of the low-fat dogma. I knew something was wrong with that way but I also believed “the so-called-experts” must know. What saved us, I feel, was the fact that we moved out of a big city into a smaller community in the Midwest and soon bought a 11-acre acreage where we raised our own meat and vegetables. We even had our own milk cow and I found the joy of discovering just how many delicious products could come from that dairy cow!

With five children, we had a lot of help and even though we ran a construction business, the kids helped and made it possible to live a healthy lifestyle. After they grew up and married we moved closer to town and continued having a garden but no animals. The low-fat mantra was in full force by now. I began buying low-fat products and 1% store milk but realized 90% of the milk was still in the carton at the end of the week. The taste was not like the farm milk. Internally I didn’t believe in this nutritional philosophy but again, “I thought they must know – who was I to disbelieve.” I will never distrust myself again in this way. During this time I looked into becoming a Dietician but was disenchanted with their beliefs and their type of sponsors.

Fast forward years later with another move, even closer into town. I continued to research “my” way of believing and thinking and accidentally ran into the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website. I was thrilled and felt like “I had finally come home!” I contacted one of the chapter leaders and found a raw milk source. About a year after getting back to drinking raw milk, I had a doctor’s visit to re-test my bone density. The year before, I was told I had “osteopenia” (the precursor to osteoporosis). I was shocked because my previous tests for years had all been good. However, I soon forgot about the results because I didn’t know what to do to change them. At my re-test my doctor informed me: “your osteopenia has been reversed–I have never seen this before. What are you doing?” I thought for a moment and then it dawned on me. When I told her I was drinking raw milk, she asked me if I wasn’t scared I’d get sick but I replied that pasteurized milk was more of a risk. Her eyes glazed over but she said, “well keep doing what you’re doing I guess.” How funny.

All of this brought back my excitement for nutrition and real food so I ventured back to school and became a Nutritional Therapist and a GAPS Practitioner. I am overall very healthy but am fighting arthritic nodes on my fingers and am hoping the GAPS diet will help. I am also a WAP chapter leader. I learned a lot in school but I also learned that our “old ways of eating real food” is the “only” way to be really healthy. I love being around like-minded people and I love helping others! I wish I could say my family was on board completely but they’re not. We all have to find “our own way in our own time.” However, I do have a daughter-in-law that has embraced the healthy foods as much as time permits for her. She has seen herself and her kids become healthier. My son (her husband), recently died so she has her hands full with four children. I love watching her expand her knowledge and of course, what grandma doesn’t want to see her grandchildren “thrive!” I am also a great-grandma and it excites me to watch each generation getting healthier!

Jenna’s Story

As a dietitian and nutritionist, I believed I was a health-conscious eater for many years. I ate whole grain bread products, Kashi cereal, and lots of granola/protein bars. I drank skim milk (which eventually transitioned to lactaid and eventually almond milk when I became lactose intolerant). I ate lots of salads. I followed the food pyramid pretty faithfully and I exercised a lot, so I was always able to maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness throughout college and my early 20s.

However, something was still not right. Towards the end of college, I developed lactose intolerance, gas and heartburn. Lactaid pills, Gas-Ex and prilosec did little to help me – in fact, it seemed that the more I took all those pills, the worse my symptoms became if I missed a day. Although I had seasonal allergies (pollen, cats, dust mites) most of my life, suddenly new foods were making my mouth and throat itchy and painful… raw carrots, raw apples, raw celery, certain types of nuts… and even dogs started giving me hives after I pet them. In the next few years, I became allergic to even more foods such as soy, peanuts and others, all of which were confirmed through skin testing and bloodwork. Collectively these allergy symptoms are known as Oral Allergy Syndrome and it’s a debilitating form of low-grade chronic illness that affects lots of people. I was told by my allergist that the only treatment was to avoid foods that made my throat itchy. Being the dietitian and foodie that I am, this was devastating news.

I did lots of research and concluded that I must have “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, which is a condition in which the gut lining has been damaged. I asked several specialists about this and they told me “Leaky Gut” is no more than a theory and that there’s not enough evidence to prove it is true.

Years later, I was introduced to Holistic Nutrition Consultant Gena Mavuli and my world was turned upside down. She introduced me to the Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet and the world of Weston Price. I learned how processed foods and refined grains can negatively impact the bacteria in our gut, which directly affects our immune system because 70% of immune cells are located in the gut. I have been able to integrate new functional foods such as fermented veggies and bone broth… I’ve switched to raw dairy (because it still has all the beneficial enzymes and live bacteria intact). I have always had a sweet tooth, so I make all my own desserts from real food ingredients with natural sweeteners such as dates, raw honey or real maple syrup… they are delicious!

I have been following the principles of the GAPS diet and Weston Price lifestyle collectively for almost two years, and in that time I have successfully all heartburn symptoms, 80% of my IBS and gas symptoms, and at least 15 out of 30-something allergies. My vitality, energy levels and overall sense of well being have skyrocketed and I have even found my own personal empowerment along the way. I’m so grateful for meeting and working with Gena, and for my health journey!

Elissa’s Story

At age 60 when my mother died I was obese even though I Elissa Hirsch_2had been a vegetarian for 40 years and did not eat junk food. When I first went to an integrative nutritionist my goal was to become a poster child for vegetarianism. She help me lose weight using a protein shake that was soy based. She recommended an abundance of supplements to address the deficits in my profile. She used a lot of tests, urine, stool, blood. Each time I would take that urine test I would hope to ace it but each time my results got a little further afield. I was losing weight and feeling better so did not understand why my testing profiles were not improving.

I did learn a lot from this first nutritionist. But at the same time several health issues were not resolving and were even getting worse. It is rather like having a relationship with someone who is not Mr. or Ms. Right. You learn from that relationship so that you can recognize true love when it occurs. My frustration with the first nutritionist sent me looking elsewhere and I found Beatrice Levinson, an excellent GAPS practitioner. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Beatrice said if I wanted to get well I needed to eat meat, and not only meat but organ meat, and bone broth. I was in shock. For 40 years my identity had been that of a vegetarian with a disdain for people who ate meat. Now she was telling me I needed to become one of those people. I bought the GAPS book, read it through, and took the plunge. through Beatrice I learned that for 40 years I had deprived myself of essential nutrients and that my health issues were due to having a leaky gut. Healing the gut will heal the body. I had also been on birth control pills for 40 years and taken NSAIDS for pain.

As a baby boomer, I was not breast-fed and was a colicky baby so I have probably been in need of the GAPS protocol since birth. I have always struggled with my weight, not being drawn so much to sugar as to fat, which I understand now was what my body was craving. But I denied myself because it was the era of low-fat eating. I have 40 years of abuse to overcome. I will very likely be eating according to the GAPS protocol for the rest of my life, but this is fine with me because I absolutely love it. I have learned to make bone broth and am learning to ferment. I am lucky to live in an area with a provider of excellent kraut so it has not been imperative to take that on immediately. I was already eating differently from most people and that of course did not change. I still ate differently but I was following a new set of rules. I look forward to my strange breakfast of bone broth with bits of sausage, vegetables and a soft cooked egg floating on the greens.

I still think of meat as medicine but slowly I am learning to prepare it in interesting ways. I may never be an excellent meat cook, but I’m good enough. I do not miss sugar or concentrated carbohydrates because my body is getting what it needs. I am taking very few supplements now compared to over 30 a day because the nutrients in my body needs are available in the food I am eating.

The nightly cramps I would get in my legs have vanished. It took a while. They became slowly less frequent until now I cannot remember when I last had one. It must be six months. My digestion is so much better. I am not going to say I never fart, but I do not have to worry about being in meetings or having people over forElissa Hirsch dinner. The tooting just doesn’t happen. My gut is healing. I am eating so much fat, it is incredible that I have not gained weight. I have more energy. My traditional medicine doctor at my yearly check up said that most women as they age become less healthy. I am becoming more healthy so whatever I am doing, keep it up. I told her I was trying to tell her what I was doing but she didn’t or couldn’t hear it. It is outside the paradigm she has been taught. It should not be, but it is so.

I think it is important to have a wise guide when you enter the land of alternative medicine. I feel I have found the “yellow brick road” and that I will continue to acquire knowledge and improve my overall health, vigor, and immunity as I “practice” how to live cleanly and intentionally. // PS I forgot to mention that fitness is very important. I have found a fitness practice that works with my lifestyle very well. It takes one half an hour and I can do it at home. You do it every day because improvement is in small increments. So I am strong now and flexible and of course that helps. In the beginning I had so much inflammation it was very difficult to do this daily program but now I look forward to it.

Gena’s Story

After many frustrating and fruitless visits to doctors, I began researching nutrition whFam picen my first child experienced severe eczema which we ultimately healed through the GAPS diet and traditional nutrition.   As the whole family began changing our habits, amazing things happened- my son’s eczema cleared up, my excess weight was lost, my brain fog disappeared, everyone’s energy was restored.  Since then, I’ve been a firm believer in the benefits of a traditional diet, and haven’t been able to stop researching!

My children are now 6 and nearly 4, and we have been on a traditional diet since my son’s illness.  Our diet includes cod liver oil, only pastured meats & eggs, raw dairy, organic fruits and vegetables, and as much bone broth as we can consume!  Although there are new challenges as the kids grow (tell me why people serve junk food at birthday parties?!), I must brag that my children are in wonderful health!  Eggs from pastured chickens and sourdough toast with loads of real butter fuel their mornings so they can learn at school.  Raw milk is a staple in our home, as is creme brulee.  Fermented pickles keeps their digestion in order.  “Special sauce” aka cod liver oil keeps them healthy through the winter.  We routinely eat drink bone broth and soups.  My children get 1-2 colds per year.  Although they have both had ear infections, all have cleared up on their own. Neither child has ever been on antibiotics.

Our children sleep well, can focus and learn in school, and are well-rounded little individuals.  We’re a happy and healthy family and we plan to stay that way!