From Dysautonomia to the Throne of Health… What’s the Secret?

Do you or someone you know suffer from an autoimmune disorder, or another chronic health issue?

IBS?  Crohn’s?  Diabetes?  High blood pressure?  Insomnia?  Migraines?  Depression?  Anxiety? …

Could indigenous people groups have some pearls of wisdom to offer you or your loved one in overcoming the condition?

There are still a few indigenous people groups in the world, unscathed by modern conveniences and modern “foods.”

HAPPY AND HEALTHY, FULL OF JOY, and LIVING VIBRANT LIVES.

With NONE of the disorders noted above.

As Westerners, we often think we have to help save the world.

“We need to help others have the conveniences we have.”

But what if they have a wealth of wisdom to offer us?

What if they’re better off without the help we think they need?

And how can bringing foods, even sweet potatoes, to an indigenous culture actually endanger the people’s health?

Let’s explore that together in this brief article.

This is the story of Mary Ruddick, dubbed the “Sherlock Holmes of Health” for her world travels, researching ancestral diets and their protective mechanisms on health.

Mary is a seasoned medical nutritionist, who specializes in metabolic microbiome immune and nervous system disorders, researcher, and adventurer.

She can regularly be found endangering herself in the untouched corners of the world to learn from and distill the wisdom from the last remaining traditional cultures.

Mary says, “I firmly believe and have seen that becoming as sick as we are, and have been, can be avoided.”[1]

 “It’s exciting to see places in the world that don’t have any illnesses at all.  They don’t know what a headache is, insomnia is.  They’ve never had period pain.

“It’s truly incredible the level of their perfect health. There’s no depression or anxiety, no introverts, difficult teenage phase, crying babies.  Everyone is happy.

“It’s important for us to have that as our knowledge, that it’s the normal human state and not accept all of these chronic diseases that are coming in such waves.”[2]

Having reversed debilitating illnesses of her own, Mary now spends her life helping others reverse illnesses.

Mary was a healthy child.  But at age 18, while in the Bahamas at a field station, she got an infection that went into her brain and caused a condition caused dysautonomia.

It’s a post-infection, nervous system disease.  It’s what long COVID or long Ebola are.[3]

It dysregulates the hypothalamus and autonomic nervous system.  You stop sending blood to your organs and you get nerve damage.[4]

She had neuropathy from the neck down; had very severe kidney, liver, lung, and thyroid disease; and stopped absorbing food.

About seven or eight years into this health crisis, having been to hundreds of doctors and many different clinics, including the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, she started looking at diet.

She was able to make enough improvement through change in diet that she got her brain back to where she could read and think.  She delved into reading and studying how to get will.

She did what many people do.  She went plant-based, vegan, and raw.

By God’s grace she “stumbled” on the work of Weston A. Price.  This “toppled the whole paradigm” for her.

“When I read about the Maasai, I thought, ‘Wait a second.  If these people are in peak health and they’re enduring the worst infections, then something is wrong.’”

She went back to eating meat and joined her local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter.  She started incorporating meats and ferments, as well as the other principles of a traditional diet.

And she started getting better.

She then found the GAPS diet and got linked with a GAPS practitioner to mentor her on the GAPS diet.  A year later, she was in full remission from everything.

With a religious fervor, she went back to school for post graduate work in nutrition AND became fascinated by traditional diets and their ability to reverse illness.

She took about six years after she was in full remission to shore up her health with traditional foods and a very relaxed lifestyle.

She now feels very resilient as she travels and does her fieldwork in very isolated, remote, and to us Westerners, dangerous parts of the world.[5]

I am fascinated by her story and her work. 

Who wouldn’t be? 

As she seeks to answers the following questions:

What do indigenous people do to maintain optimal health?

What lifestyle, community, and dietary habits do they maintain to stay healthy and vibrant? 

And, most importantly, what can they teach us?

 Since this is a blog, and not a multi-volume book, I’ll only be able to detail a few of her intriguing findings.

Tanzania.  “I went to many different villages and tribes.  I’d find different things within the same tribe in different villages in terms of diet and health.”

Within the Hadza tribe, for example, they don’t have the chronic health issues that we have.  They don’t have infertility issues.  They don’t get cavities. 

They eat meat year-round.  They do a lot of hunting; they enjoy it.

They’re quite seasonal. The different tribes within the Hadza eat varying amounts of plants depending on where they are in the mountain or the valley.  They eat extremely locally.

Being of a Western mindset, Mary thought they’d be concerned about food scarcity and storing food for later.  BUT she found they had such an abundance of food they never worried about getting food tomorrow.  They didn’t bring snacks with them or store food.  They ate abundantly and with joy.  She never saw anyone hungry or thirsty.  They had an incredible state of satisfaction at all times.

Interestingly though, some of the Hadza groups were in perfect health, while some were not.

What was the difference?  What was compromising the health of particular groups?

According to Mary’s observations, it was most likely the Western influence, along with the lack of big game.  They’ve been pushed off their land, so they’re hunting very small game now.  Plus, the less healthy group was exposed to tourists more often.

It could simply be the gifts from tourists that are impacting their health.  They get a lot of candy, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and weed.  In town, they use receipts and newspapers to smoke from, which have a lot of toxins.  Whereas the other Hadza groups smoked leaves instead.  They put tobacco or wild marijuana into the leaves and smoked that.  So, nothing was modern.[6]

I don’t know about you, but this saddens me…to think about how our good intentions aren’t always so good.

This is just one of MANY indigenous stories of her travels in which she has found perfect health when an indigenous group is untouched by outside dietary influences.  But there are many more.

And there are many more in which, albeit still much more robust and healthier than we can imagine, their health becomes compromised when new foods are introduced AND/OR they’re kicked off their land or prohibited from hunting as they have traditionally done.

She tells of the Batwa in Uganda.  Although, they’ve been kicked out of “their” windy forest where they lived for millennia, they are far superior in health to the Hadza.  The elderly can hop two feet off the ground over and over for fifteen minutes.  These are centurions.

It’s fascinating that in these regions, no one gets malaria, diphtheria, they don’t get sick until they start implementing modern foods.  Then, they’re very prone to those things.

A case in point is Paupa New Guinea.   She visited a remote area far away from anywhere. They can’t drive, hitchhike, or hike that far through the mountains.

The diet had changed from people coming in and bringing things like sweet potatoes and foods that weren’t native to them.  They were eating a lot of those new foods.

As a result, they were more susceptible to disease.  They had a new condition they called the black spot disease, something they had never seen or experienced before.  It looked horrific.

They didn’t have treatment.  No one had tested it.  No one knew what it was.  It covers their body in black spots and leaves them with a lot of scars.  The people said it feels like for a year, your skin is on fire.

They haven’t found anything to help it.

What changed?  They were living the same lifestyles.  They weren’t using lights or electricity. They had their feet on the earth.  They were with their families.

But some of their foods had changed.  In addition to the new foods mentioned above, they’re not allowed to hunt certain animals that they used to hunt.  As a result, they’re not getting the fats and proteins they used to.  The combination of the two dietary changes stands out as the logical reason for this new susceptibility to disease.[7]

Does this make you even sadder as it does me?

How naïve we are in our understanding of how well the human body works when we eat what we’re meant to eat.  And in the way in which it’s meant to be prepared and eaten.

There are further real-life stories that would spark your interest even more in the wisdom these tribes have to offer you, but I need to wrap up.

I will just mention one more.  My friend was a missionary in Kenya the 1990’s.  She observed how the babies of the missionaries would cry, but the Kenyan babies wouldn’t cry.

She found it quite intriguing at the time but couldn’t pinpoint why.  Now it seems clear.  Most likely it’s because they were raised on all their traditional local foods, in the sunshine, in their communities, all the things that Mary is observing and documenting.

So, what’s the one takeaway?  What can we enact?

The reality is that what Mary’s experience in these traditional, semi-modernized, or semi-traditional cultures, is varied.

Many people will say, ‘It’s the lifestyle.  They’re with their families.  They’re outside…’

While she’s seen people heal through lifestyle alone, and it’s far more important than most people consider, she also sees that in the communities where even one or two foods are modernized but the lifestyle stays the same, the health starts to weaken.

The other intriguing thing she’s noticed is everywhere she goes the people are regal.  The posture, the character, and the presence of each individual person are both impressive and warm.

So, imagine a throne with four legs.  If you cut off one leg of the throne, it topples. There’s no more throne.

We (as Westerners) have gone from this beautiful regality that’s seen among the indigenous cultures to a toppled throne.

How often do you see someone who looks regal here in the USA?

People’s postures aren’t good.  They have at least one chronic health problem.  They’re overwhelmed.  Life is a struggle.

So, what are the four legs of the throne of health that drive regalness?

Again, this is according to Mary, and her intimate studies of indigenous cultures.  The four things she observes in healthy communities are:

Lifestyle.  That’s getting outside, getting sunlight, and being on the earth.  It’s your timing of rest, sleep, eating, movement.  Basically all your activities.   It includes the chemicals you’re exposed to, or not exposed to through the personal care and cleaning products you use.  And the native and non-native electromagnetic frequencies you’re exposed to.

Diet.  That’s going to be the traditional, pre-colonial diet for each region, which is different in each region.  Eating locally and according to the season.  REAL food the way God made it, in the form it’s supposed to be eaten.

“Having spent so much of my life sick, I’m very fascinated by what makes us better, especially with Weston A. Prices’ work.  What I love about what he did was that he wasn’t saying everyone needs to eat this hammer and nail diet.

“It’s about the way the food is produced.  We can be healthy on lots of different diets as long as they’re ancestral, seasonal, and local to where we are now.”[8]

Community.  “To this day, I have not seen any introverts in my travels.  This was surprising because we don’t think of introversion as anything less than normal.  It’s a personality type.  But it’s not something that I see in these communities.  There’s no question that we are communal animals.  A lot of our body systems suffer when we’re alone.  Community in these groups involves singing and all of the rituals in daily life, including snuggling at night.  No one sleeps by themselves.”[9]

Mindset.  “Everyone is present with no worries for the future and no depression about the past.  They’re very much right here with you without anxiety or stress.  The eye contact and the overall healthy stoicism are beautiful.  It’s not a no-empathy stoicism but real stoicism that comes from a heart-centered place.”[10]

It’s possible you’re feeling overwhelmed, thinking:

“Where do I start?”  or

“How does this apply to me?”  or

“I’ve tried everything.  Reversing my health the way Mary did sounds too good to be true.  Karen, are you just gas-lighting me?”

I go back to the belief that the onslaught of all of our chronic illness is not normal.  We can do things to reverse illnesses and rebuild our throne.

Start with one leg of the throne.  One thing at a time.  What can you do in that area?

If you don’t know where to start, book a free Discovery Call so we can discuss just that.  Let me help you get started reversing that unwanted health condition. 

I have much of the same passion as Mary to know what makes people healthy.

And I am extremely passionate about wanting to preserve their rights (including yours) to what keeps them healthy and to “protect” them from what might rob them of that.

I know in my head that I don’t have the power to do so.  Each person ultimately has to make his/her own choices just as I do.  But I can at least get the word out and speak the truth.

“The perfect state of health and community of tribespeople must be cherished, and this wisdom must be kept alive and not just in books.”[11]

Let’s keep the wisdom alive.

Thank you,
Karen

[1] https://www.enableyourhealing.com/about/

[2] https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/the-sherlock-holmes-of-health/#gsc.tab=0

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/the-sherlock-holmes-of-health/#gsc.tab=0

[6] https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/the-sherlock-holmes-of-health/#gsc.tab=0

[7] https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/lost-wisdom-of-the-tribes/#gsc.tab=0

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/the-sherlock-holmes-of-health/#gsc.tab=0

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Enjoy these favorite dishes. 
 
Simple, nutrient dense recipes that will leave you feeling well-nourished and deeply satisfied.
 
Plus monthly REAL food tips & inspiration right to your inbox!
 
Simply sign up with your name and email address!