Wellness Warriors Project in McKinley County

Wellness Warriors Project in McKinley County

By Bera Dordoni, N.D.

Hey, what is this Wellness Warriors Project I’ve been hearing all about?”

So glad you asked. It’s a collaborative effort between BASTIS Foundation and Gallup Indian Medical Center to help eliminate the diabetes epidemic that has overtaken McKinley County.”

I hear it’s based on a whole-foods plant-based way of eating. Why is that?”

So glad you asked. Numerous studies have been conducted that prove beyond a doubt that a plant-based diet can help eradicate numerous debilitating conditions, including life-threatening dis-eases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and so many more. There is more and more proof out there adding up that, although people love the taste of meat and its addicting properties, the meat doesn’t love us back and provides us with many health conditions that can be deadly.”

You’ve gotta be kidding. I was always taught that in order to be healthy I had to eat the four food groups, preferably at all my meals. Isn’t that the case?”

So glad you asked. Years ago it was believed that this was true, and we were taught we needed to eat meat, drink our milk, and then we could consider fruits, vegetables, beans and grains as supplemental foods. The food pyramid has changed dramatically today.”

Wait a minute, if we don’t eat meat, where do we get our protein?”

So glad you asked. There are many sources of protein that are more easily assimilated into our bodies than meat. They include foods like lentils, beans, nuts, and many vegetables are high in protein, such as broccoli and dark leafy greens. Many seeds are also high in proteins, like sesame seeds, and when they’re ground into a ‘butter’ like tahini, not only are they delicious, but also very easily digested. These foods also provide your bones with plenty of calcium and magnesium to keep them strong.”

But isn’t meat good for me?”

So glad you asked. Possibly hundreds of years ago it might have been, before synthetic growth hormones entered the food chain, along with pesticides, antibiotics and all the genetically modified food organisms that are fed to animals today in CAFOs (commercial animal feeding operations).

Today meat boasts a much different reputation. It is often now associated with illness. It has been proven that eating meat and animal products feeds cancer cells. There is now proof that consumption of red meat in particular increases risk for heart disease and stroke, gallbladder disorders, gout and kidney disease. In some people the insulin can’t do its job when meat interferes with its function, leading to high blood sugar and diabetes. The proteins in meats are so difficult for the kidneys to process that kidney disease is often related to high consumption of meat. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease often blames the consumption of meat for its existence.”

So what you’re saying is that meat can hurt you and plants can help you?”

So glad you asked. Yes, that’s what I’m saying. But I’m not the only one saying it. Numerous studies have shown that the plant-based diet is good for so many reasons that there are too many to name. Great books on the subject are T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study” and Graff & Hicks “4Leaf Guide to Vibrant Health.”

Did you know that the average American diet is deficient in 7 nutrients? And yet vegans (those who eat no animal products whatsoever) have been shown generally to have higher intakes of 16 out of the 19 nutrients studied, including calcium, whereas meat eaters are often low on vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, fiber, folate, iodine and magnesium. Meat eaters can often brag, however, about their difficulties keeping sodium, saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol intake under control.”

Now you’re describing my whole family. I had a sister who lost her hand earlier last year, then her foot over Christmas, her leg in January, and then her life last month, all due to diabetes complications, they said.”

Who are ‘they’ and did they have anything to say about what foods might be good for you and which foods could be harmful for you?”

They were her doctors, and they didn’t really talk about food. They just got mad at her all the time because she didn’t like taking her meds, so she always got worse. She was on dialysis for a while before she died.”

Did you ever go with her to dialysis treatments?”

Yeah, all the time, to support her.”

And no one ever told you that what you’re holding in your hands right now contributes to diabetes? Where did you get that package of whatever it is? And the soda?”

I picked them up at the gas station on the way here. I was still hungry – the burgers down the mountain aren’t very big. This is a churro. And a cherry coke. My favorites. Cherry is a fruit, right? So I’m having fruit in my soda, aren’t I? That’s a plant.”

If the cherry still had the pit in it and wasn’t processed, yeah, it’s from a plant. But in general, plants are filled with live enzymes, and enzymes are the life source in all of nature. Of course if we cook our foods to death, then those enzymes die, so the more raw plant foods we can eat, the more the nutritional value is still intact.

Now with that burger you ate before the churro, don’t forget there’s the cruelty involved in eating meat – it’s not just a nice-tasting substance. It’s an animal that has to be slaughtered just so we can eat it and develop all the diseases associated with eating it. And let’s not forget what we’re doing to the planet by destroying so much land to feed the animals we eat rather than using that land to plant foods that can sustain us and our health. But that’s an entirely different subject.”

Are you telling me that the people in your Wellness Warriors Project can’t eat meat any more?”

So glad you asked. Of course a person can do anything they want – they can cheat – but then they won’t get true results. We’ve been very fortunate that many of our Wellness Warriors, especially those who have graduated, have continued to feel that they don’t need to eat meat any more since they’ve seen the positive changes they’ve been able to sustain by consuming a plant-based diet. They’ve also given up cheese, which is very addictive due to the casein contained in it, and replaced with plant-based alternative cheese made from nuts, seeds and/or beans. They no longer consume milk, since they’ve found out it can actually cause bone loss instead of helping maintain bone density, due to its acidic content. Nut and seed milks don’t cause these problems. White sugar creates havoc in a person with diabetes, but the calorie-free sugar substitutes that are nothing but synthetic chemicals are even more deadly. We use some amazingly delicious sugar substitutes that are actually beneficial for your body in our Wellness Warriors program, and we create all sorts of yummy foods, including desserts that aren’t even harmful for diabetics.”

So, what do you eat if you can’t eat meat and churros and drink sodas?”

So glad you asked. There are so many delicious meat substitutes that you never have to miss meat. They’re made from plant foods, and it’s really the spices that make up the flavors that we crave. I haven’t eaten meat since I was five years old, and I’ve never felt like I lacked variety and/or flavor. I did, however, have trouble giving up cheese. I was so glad when I found the cheese substitutes that exist – they melt just like regular cheese and really fool the taste buds, but they’re made from plants. I’ll be happy to share some recipes with you that everyone in the Wellness Warriors Project has eaten and enjoyed.”

I’d like that. What would it take for me to become a Wellness Warrior?”

So glad you asked. You have to qualify – first of all, your attitude has to be open to new ideas and you need to be ready to take control of your health and your life. You’ve got to be ready to sample all sorts of new foods that you might never have tasted yet.”

I love food, so I’d be ready to do that for sure.”

And you have to be willing to give up those foods that can harm you, like what you have in your hand. They’re poisonous and they can kill you over the long run. Look what happened to your sister, and you said your entire family is suffering from health complications.”

Yeah, but that’s them, not me. My dad has heart problems, and my mom also has diabetes, but I’m not gonna get ‘em. I’m ok.”

You’re ok right now, but that’s because you’re young. It’ll catch up with you, just like it did with your sister. Why not make some lifestyle changes now, rather than wait until it’s too late?”

I’m fine, really. I don’t need to make changes. But my cousin just learned that her blood sugar numbers are really high and she’ll be on dialysis within two years probably. So I might be interested in coming to your program if I can help her avoid that.”

Why don’t you attend for your own health’s sake, and ask her to join you? You can support each other to stay on the path. Making changes can be easy, but breaking habits can sometimes be hard. Having support really can make a difference in succeeding or failing. If everyone around you makes fun of the changes you’re making, it can be tough to stick with a new way of thinking or eating.”

I can understand that.”

You know what? We’re having a Wellness Warriors Day at Ramah Farmers Market on Saturday, August 13th. We’ll be making all sorts of foods you can sample that day. I think you’d enjoy it.”

Ok, I can do that. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t feel all that good most of the time. I’m always tired, and I really do want to lose some weight. Ok, I’m ready. I wanta sign up.”

Give me your email address and I’ll send you an application to fill out. If you qualify, we’ll look forward to having you join our Wellness Warriors Project. New classes are starting up again in September. Be ready for the side effects.”

Oh, no, what side effects?”

So glad you asked. Feeling good, looking good, having loads of energy, dropping excess weight, feeling mentally sharper, you know, stuff like that.”

Yahoo! Sure hope I’m accepted. I wanta be a Wellness Warrior!”



Dr. Bera “The Wellness Whisperer” Dordoni, N.D.

Running the Wellness Warriors Project here in New Mexico, Dr. Bera specializes in immune system rehabilitation, restoration, and maintenance through nutritional counseling, life-style coaching, and the laws of attraction. To join the Wellness Warriors visit www.bastis.org or call 505-783-9001.