“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well. Let food be our medicine and medicine be our food.”
The ancient tenet of “food as medicine” is making a strong comeback. A wave of passionate pioneers, along with a body of growing scientific evidence is showing what we knew long ago: healing starts with food. As a traditionally trained nurse, I do not advocate throwing aside health-promoting medicine, but I do believe that addressing what we eat is foundational for heartiness of mind, body, and spirit.
Food is information. Every bite we take sends messages deep into our cells—to our DNA—turning on and off genes for vibrant, robust health or conversely, for potentially disease-promoting gene expression. It’s all about gene expression. The field of “epigenetics” studies the dynamic interplay of how food, lifestyle choices, environment, and even our thoughts effect gene expression. All of these factors literally “wash over” our genes. Epigenetics can be thought of as “above the genes,” referring to the biological mechanism of switching genes on and off.
This is very good news. Our genes are not necessarily our destiny. Scientists are discovering that only a small percentage of our disease-related gene mutations are fully “deterministic.” Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudolph Tanzi in the book Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being state:
“You are not simply the sum total of the genes you were born with. You are the user and controller of your genes, the author of your biological story. No prospect in self-care is more exciting.”
This compelling information—along with emerging literature about the microbiome (our inner ecosystem) and the role of mitochondria—is setting the stage for a shift in how we approach health and well-being. As stated by Dr. Kiran Krishnan, a research microbiologist, in the 2018 Human Longevity Project film series, “we’re a walking, talking rainforest and anytime we do anything to disturb that community, we’re really setting up disease.”
One should never feel responsible for illness. However, the needle of well-being can be influenced by one’s actions. I know this from experience, as I meandered through debilitating illness and found that food and lifestyle choices did make a difference. And more powerfully, if you are gifted with good health, why not do all you can to support it? Having a foundation of invigorating health is the cornerstone for a satisfying and meaningful life.
At Vibrant Health Integrative Nutrition, my intention is to help people discover that living a wholesome life does not equal deprivation. A life of vitality and well-being is meant to be pleasurable. Life is meant to be pleasurable. I believe that we are all beautifully unique and by discovering what makes your body thrive, you will be on the road to wellness.
In my practice, we dive into all areas of life, not just food. Relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality all powerfully inform your health. By exploring what fuels and nourishes you “off the plate,” we address and harmonize deeper imbalances. Our bodies continually give us feedback – “what to eat, who to spend time with, how to move.” The key is to listen. This is intuition. Our “inner GPS system.” In my practice, we work to strengthen your connection to this inner wisdom. From this space, real change is possible as the gateway of self-discovery opens up.
“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans”
– Allen Saunders
After a 25-year career as an oncology nurse, my health took a tumultuous dive. Realizing that both modern and alternative medicine did not offer curative solutions to my practically bed-ridden state, my scientific mind dove deeply into what I could do to support healing. Food was my foundation. I then discovered epigenetics, the power of the gut microbiome, and the malleable capacity of brain neuroplasticity. Along the way I continued a spiritual journey that had started years before. I imbued my being and surroundings with as much beauty, serenity and positivity as possible. I intensified my meditation practice and visualized my cells being nourished and healed. I tended to emotional wounds that yearned for attention. Slowly my health responded. I learned the art of “acceptance and flow.” I found the “comfort in the discomfort” and focused on what I could do rather than what I could not do. Rumi once said, “live life as though everything is rigged in your favor,” and this became my daily mantra. I surely do not claim to have mastered these challenging lessons, but I’ve embraced the wisdom of the moments. Although my body is not as it was prior to the fierce force of disease, I consider myself now thriving, just as I am.
My journey, both professionally and personally, has led me to where I am today. My hope is that my experiences may help others to live their most vibrant, resilient, and empowered lives. Whether you’re searching for healing or wishing to support the gift of full health—I aim to be a source of support and sustenance. We all have gifts to share. May we each find the authenticity and light within for a joyous, balanced, and bountiful life.
This is my wish for you.
Gretchen Dunoyer, RN, MSN
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach