Scientific literature documents the abundance of health giving nutrients and medicinal compounds discovered within the plant kingdom. Amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants and an entire array of phytochemicals can be present in the food we eat, if we choose to make it that way. A nutrient-rich diet can help our bodies to repair and grow, and offers resources to help us fortify ourselves against disease.
But the foods we choose to consume can also be a massive health hindrance. Too much of the wrong foods can foster a negative environment within our bodies and may be the root cause of many diseases. Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and some types of cancer are linked to the quality and type of food we ingest.
Other diseases that remain a mystery that conventional medicine has yet to unravel may also have roots in poor diet and nutrition deficiencies. It therefore makes sense that if a person’s diet has been mindless and/or over-plentiful during childhood, diseases that manifest in adulthood and occur due to this factor may be viewed as something entirely unrelated.
One such case is that of Melanie Lotos, a 31-year-old holistic health coach, chef, traveler and plant medicine advocate, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2010 and had struggled with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) most of her life. RA is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. Symptoms include joint pain and swelling, stiffness, fatigue, numbness, tingling, and loss of function in the joints. IBS is an intestinal disorder in which abdominal discomfort or pain is associated with varied symptoms. Generally, these include sporadic abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of both.
After a period of frequent visits to a variety of doctors, and after ingesting pills and chemicals at their behest, Lotos was left with no true solutions. The RA progressed to the point where she was in extreme, unbearable pain and could no longer walk. Lotos decided to look elsewhere for answers and solutions. With bold determination, she took matters into her own hands and attempted to heal herself.
Lotos told Reset.Me that after much research and experimentation, and after radically modifying her diet and lifestyle, she is now completely symptom free. She gives credit to a combination of eating only raw foods and occasionally fasting. “I stopped smoking, drinking, eating meat, milk and any other animal products,” says Lotos. “I cut out pasta, bread and all other grain based products and started to add more greens, fruits and filtered water to my diet. The pain lessened in only two weeks.”
After viewing her YouTube video, Reset.Me contacted Lotos to find out more about her medical conditions, healing processes and nutritional direction:
What symptoms did you have from IBS and RA?
Regarding the IBS, I had lots of digestive problems. I had regular headaches, bloating and felt sluggish and confused. As a kid I had to take a lot of antibiotics, which are responsible for many of the issues in my adult life. In 2005 I had to undergo surgery because of an anal fistula. The symptoms from RA I can only describe with one word: PAIN. I was in a lot of pain.
What conventional treatment did the traditional doctors you visited administer for your condition?
I was taking up to ten painkillers a day for about six months, mostly diclofenac. In July of 2010, after four months of tests and endless doctor visits, I was handed a big pack of sulfasalazine and was told that I would need to take them for a very long period of time and still may not be able to walk pain free ever again. Since August 2010, I have not taken any medication and I also refused to take the immune suppression medication back then. I tried for a week or so before I flew back to Argentina, but decided quickly that I am not going to go down this path.
What improvements did you see in your conditions after fasting and raw foods?
My pain subsided immediately after only a couple of weeks of being gluten and animal protein free. I had no headaches anymore. I lost weight and kept it off. My mood stabilized. I had more energy. The water in my knee was gone. Two months into a raw diet and after fasting I could walk and run pain free for the first time in eight months. I felt very clear and connected to my higher self.
What was your diet like in the past? What does your current diet consist of?
I love the concept of primary and secondary foods. I did not feed my mind right. Negative self-talk and constantly doubting who I was and what I was doing with my life was a big part of my daily life.
It’s easy to overlook all of the things that contribute to our sense of nourishment and fulfillment. It’s not just the food we eat, but all of the other factors present in our daily lives. Healthy relationships, a fulfilling career, regular physical activity and a spiritual awareness are essential forms of nourishment.
When these “primary foods” are balanced, what you eat becomes secondary. But to answer your question I ate everything: I was a big eater and love food. As a teen I would eat processed foods though, lots of junk and packaged stuff, as well as sugary sweets and artificial stuff.
I tried everything from insects, when traveling in Asia, to the udder of a cow when living in Argentina. I ate lots of animal products but also always fruits and vegetables. I grew up on a farm in the Black Forest with a big garden and was introduced to a very natural way of living from a very young age. I knew all about living a healthy way of life regarding food as our medicine, but forgot about it for a while. I drank lots of alcohol and partied hard while in school and later as an art student. I loved excessiveness and expansion. I still do, but in a different, more natural way.
My diet now consists of lots of fruits and vegetables, water, tea and juices. I love fresh juices and smoothies in the morning. My favorite juice is carrot, apple, ginger, cucumber, celery and lime. I also like green smoothies made from bananas, dates, celery or spinach/Swiss chard, kale with some cilantro, parsley and cucumber. Every now and then I add a mixture of different so-called superfoods: maca, chaga, hempseeds, MSM, spirulina, chia, barley/wheat grass or matcha. Some days I like a warm breakfast porridge of quinoa, millet, oatmeal or tiger nuts with homemade almond milk.
For lunch I eat salad with steamed vegetables, soups or roasted vegetables with avocado. But sometimes it is even more fruit. Some days I eat only raw until the evening and then make something steamed and cooked for dinner. Local, seasonal green vegetables are always high on my list.
In the evening, I eat steamed vegetables mixed with quinoa, buckwheat, beans and lentils. Noodles made from rice, corn, buckwheat or algae with different sauces: tomato sauce raw or cooked, guacamole, tahini sauce. I love to cook with coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, Nama Shoyu and many fresh herbs. Cilantro and parsley are my favorite. I also eat seeds, nuts, sprouts and algae.
When I am traveling I make exceptions. If, for example, I can’t cook or if a woman in Bolivia offers me a soup, I thankfully take it without asking what she put in it. I bless it and am grateful. However I am quite nerdy about reading labels wanting to know exactly what’s in my food if I buy pre-produced foods. I always read the ingredient lists and ask myself if I really want it.
What would your advice be to others suffering from IBS and RA? How would you recommend they go about doing this?
- 1. Make the decision to take care of yourself. Take responsibility for your health, and start putting yourself and your health first.
- 2. Once you have made this decision, it is very important to have a support system in place. Make sure to let the people in your life know that you have made the decision to take care of your own health, and that this decision is important to you.
- 3. Consider joining a coaching program or connect with people who are on a similar journey. Seek support!
- 4. I do not believe in the term ‘chronic illness’ per se. We are here as spiritual beings, and we are having a human experience. Health problems are part of this experience, and they can reveal so much about our greatness, and about those areas in our life where we need to dig deeper in order to grow. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” consider asking yourself, “Why is this happening FOR me?” I know that this is a very difficult thing to do, but when I learned to see things this way, to actually see all of the good in what seems like a really bad situation, things began to shift. To create awareness of your own ability to heal yourself is a very powerful thing.
- 5. I recommend that you spend some time alone and in silence. Go into nature.
- 6. Fast every once in a while and drink clean, filtered water or spring water and stay away from soft drinks, artificial sweeteners and sugar.
- 7. Eat fresh green vegetables and try eating all of the vegetables you’ve never tried before.
- 8. Explore the world of herbs. Drink herbal teas. Make juice. Drink coconut water. Infuse your water with lemon juice or fruit juice. Eat fruit for breakfast.
- 9. Sleep, rest and meditate MORE.
- 10. And remember, you don’t have to be perfect.