The story of how I first learned that food was medicine began with a hint of miraculous healing being accessible to a few lucky people and ended with the mind-blowing certainty that it was actually available to anyone – myself included.
I have a hard time remembering exactly where I first heard about Dr. Lorraine Day’s recovery from terminal cancer. I suspect it was an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show sometime in the late nineties.
Dr. Day is a medical doctor, who many years ago was diagnosed with breast cancer that later became life threatening. And for reasons which she explains in the many books and videos she has published, she decided to forgo chemotherapy and radiation against her doctor’s recommendation.
Instead, in addition to surgery, she chose natural healing modalities – all of which she found justification for in the Word of God. She made a full recovery and is in her early eighties now.
It was the most bizarre story I’d ever heard. And if you look, you’ll find many eager to dismiss her experience of recovery and describe her as a quack. Interestingly enough, I find this label to be consistently applied to nearly every doctor whose books or treatment protocols have actually helped me to recover over the years.
But, like the sick man who’d been accosted by the authorities for carrying his pallet on the Sabbath Day after being healed by Jesus, I have also chosen to put more faith in the doctors whose instructions have helped me to get well over the voices that insist their approach to healing can’t be valid.
Something about her revelatory journey resonated deeply with me, and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, I bought everything she’d ever published.
That was twenty years ago.
A cousin of mine came over to visit one day back then, observed the pile of books and videos on healing from cancer on my shelves, and asked me if there was anything I’d wanted to tell her about my health.
“Nope,” I’d responded with a smile while vigorously shaking my head. “I’m fine as far as I know. I just found her perspective fascinating, and I wanted to know more about what she believes, what she chose to do, and why.”
According to Dr. Day, a foundational part of her recovery was eating a raw food, low fat, plant-based diet. Essentially, she ate as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. She credited this diet along with other biblically-based health principles as the reason for her full recovery.
It was interesting. Outrageous. Sort of unbelievable.
I had no intention of ever bringing myself to eat a raw foods diet despite the compelling case Dr. Day made as it being the means to avoid many chronic illnesses. But, just in case I ever needed that information down the road, I’d tuck it away in the recesses of my mind – a fail-safe to access in case of a health emergency.
This would be the first of many burning bush moments for me, a divine trail of breadcrumbs that I have followed over the past 20 years that have led to incredible healing experiences.
Why do I call them burning bush moments?
Because like Moses’ experience they represent a phenomenon that defies what we think we know about the world and how it works. They are something odd. Something rare that catches our attention. Something that causes us to turn aside to take a closer look.
Burning bush moments are experiences or revelations that radically alter our perspective and forever shift how we perceive God, his creation, and ourselves.
I’d have another burning bush moment in 2007 the day I walked into Barnes & Noble and picked up Dr. Mark Hyman’s (another accused quack) first book, Ultraprevention.
It was one of the most insightful books I’d ever had the pleasure of reading.
An absolute revelation.
A masterpiece which elegantly explained how a new paradigm, functional medicine, was revolutionizing the practice of medicine by helping doctors identify the root causes of their patients’ ailments.
As I tried to metabolize all of this new information and figure out how to apply it, a thought occurred to me.
Why not just go directly to the source?
I looked up Dr. Hyman’s practice in Massachusetts, the Ultrawellness Center, and asked if they accepted out of state patients. Once they confirmed that they saw people from all over the world, my husband and I booked our tickets and hopped on a plane a few weeks afterward.
It was my time there that sowed the seeds of my desire to help other people heal naturally.
It’s the reason I eventually became a health coach.
Through my own experience, I gained an invaluable education in the main drivers behind illness and what can be done to reverse it.
I learned about how food can harm or heal, how hidden infections can wreak havoc on the body, and about nutritional deficiencies. I learned how medications can treat one problem in the near term, but can also cause many other downstream problems in the long term. I learned how exposure to toxic chemicals can damage our bodies and ways to reverse the impact.
I also learned that insurance companies wouldn’t cover most of the cost of the labs, medicines, supplements, or appointments with the doctors, nurses, and nutritionists that worked there. And while it was one of the most valuable medical experiences I’d ever had, the $10,000+ price tag left our pocketbook wanting. As it turns out, working with cutting edge doctors who are decades ahead of the curve is really quite expensive.
Nevertheless, the foundation had been laid. I would take the lessons learned from my time at the UltraWellness Center and use them to propel myself forward in my healing journey on my own until I hit another bump in the road.
About five years later, I found myself in a treacherous place.
The year before, I’d gotten so sick with a viral illness during the cold and flu season that I’d worried that I might not survive it. One particular night, my temperature had skyrocketed to 104 degrees, and I was so weak that I couldn’t pick myself off of the floor. But I rallied, and a day or so later I was back to my normal self.
The following year with the memory of that trial foremost in my mind, I decided to do something that I hadn’t done in twelve years.
Get a flu shot.
I drove to a local pharmacy to get my jab, but the pharmacist refused to give it to me because my file said that I had an egg allergy.
I’d tried to explain that it was a mild food sensitivity, but to no avail.
So, I drove across the street to the other pharmacy that had no medical record of me, and got the shot there.
Problem solved, or so I thought.
Actually, I’d just facilitated the creation of a huge problem that would take weeks and several doctor’s visits to uncover.
Within a few days of that shot, I’d started having difficulty breathing and had developed a chronic cough. A trip up the stairs had me breathing like I’d run a marathon. My legs felt like lead and I was exhausted easily.
I went to my primary care physician who diagnosed me with asthma based on my symptoms.
“Asthma?” I’d said incredulously.
“Are you sure? That doesn’t make sense to me. Can you run some tests to be certain?”
The doctor obliged and gave me an in-office breathing test. The test showed that my lungs were perfectly fine, but the doctor insisted that I indeed had asthma.
So, I got a second opinion. Dr. #2 also told me that I had asthma.
“I’d like to be referred to a pulmonary specialist to be certain that’s what this is before I take medication.” Doctor #2 obliged and off I went to see a lung specialist.
Several high-tech tests and thousands of dollars later, I got the exact same results. The tests did not show asthma, but my symptoms had also led this third doctor, a pulmonary specialist, to the exact same conclusion the other two doctors had reached.
Three doctors. The exact same diagnosis.
I decided to take the medication I was prescribed.
But after one puff of the inhaler, my heart started beating funny.
“I wonder if I should have a cardiologist check me out again?”
Ever since my mom had a septal ablation for a congenital heart defect, I had been monitored annually for the same disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an autoimmune disease with a genetic component. I could develop it at any time in the future, but there’d been no evidence that I had it…yet.
I’d just had a full cardiac check-up a few months before, so I was certain that my heart was absolutely fine.
But still. Something wasn’t adding up, and it couldn’t hurt to get everything checked out again.
Thank God I did.
As it turns out, I didn’t have asthma after all.
What I did have was a severely damaged heart and astronomically high levels of cardiac and systemic inflammation.
Not only was I diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy but I also had left ventricular hypertrophy.
Neither was good.
I’d seen the cardiologist I’d chosen to treat me on a local television station a few years before.
Yet another burning bush moment.
Dr. Baxter Montgomery was reversing illnesses like heart disease and diabetes with dietary interventions and having incredible results.
I’d thought to myself, “Man! If I ever end up with a heart problem, that’s where I’m going,” and that’s exactly where I went.
Dr. Montgomery was certain that he could help me heal my heart.
But I’d have to radically change my diet to do it.
He would go on to prescribe the exact same raw foods, low-fat, plant-based diet that Dr. Lorraine Day had used in her own protocol to heal cancer.
Based on my personal experience with functional medicine years before, I knew that food could heal some things, but severe heart disease?
And a 100% raw diet! Who actually eats that way?
Me. That’s who. At least for a time.
The alternative was much more invasive, so I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it out.
Two weeks in and all of my symptoms disappeared.
Four weeks in and most of my lab numbers had moved from red to green.
Six weeks in and I felt like a totally new person.
Every test showed that my heart had fully healed.
But, like the Christians who’d prayed for Peter’s release from jail, I didn’t believe God had actually answered my prayer when the evidence of His intervention was staring me right in the face.
“There has to be a mistake. There is no way that I just did with diet what my mom had to treat with an invasive heart procedure. What test haven’t you run yet that can give me 100% certainty that I’m in the clear? What if you’re wrong?”
On my insistence, Dr. Montgomery ordered a 2-hr cardiac MRI that would look at my heart from every conceivable angle.
The results were undeniable and 100% conclusive.
My heart had completely healed itself through the power of raw foods.
Food truly is medicine.
What we eat matters.
NOTE: This post is part of a series about my personal health journey. You can read the previous installment here.
Check back soon for the next part of my story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ
Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC
Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.