Welcome and thank you for your interest in my story and this blog. My name is Mauricio, aka “Momo” to my friends and family. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to briefly tell you how some chronic illnesses led me to make drastic changes in my diet and lifestyle.
From Engineer to Food Enthusiast
A Journey of Transformation I am an electronic engineer, and I have spent most of my professional life working on information technology projects for almost 16 years. However, all my life I felt more interested in cooking and good food. “A cook at heart” you could say, therefore, I always spent my free time learning about cooking and all sorts of delicacies. My work was always extremely stressful, so coming back home to cook with some music and a glass of wine was always my way to chill and enjoy time with my loved ones.
The Onset of Chronic Illnesses
Diagnosis: Autoimmune Diseases Unfortunately, constant work and life stress took its toll on me. When I was about 43 years old, several symptoms and painful discomforts started to show, I went to the doctor and ended up in the emergency room. I was diagnosed with several chronic autoimmune diseases, like Mixed Connective Tissue Disease and Hashimoto’s Syndrome, which are diseases in which your own immune system attacks organs and tissues of your body causing damage in a slow but relentless way.
For me, it was quite a shock since until then, my health had always been good. However, after consulting many doctors and after hundreds of tests, there was no cure since medicine still does not know the root cause of these diseases (or so it seemed).
Exploring the Root Cause
The Role of Inflammation My despair to find a way to improve my condition reached such a point that it made me start researching the origins of this and other autoimmune diseases. I read hundreds of web pages and at least a dozen books, all of them leading to the same conclusion: That the root cause and the culprit of all these diseases is chronic and permanent inflammation.
Inflammatory Diet Patterns But what causes this inflammation? Well, it turns out that there are many factors and common patterns of our current diet that have caused an exponential increase in autoimmune diseases, especially allergies, which were once uncommon and today there are practically no children who do not have allergies to something or some food, lactose intolerance, gluten, seeds, nuts, etc.
Taking Control of My Health
Treating Chronic Inflammation Many of the studies and books I read point to a steady deterioration in our gut microbiota or flora, plus damage to the walls of the gut that eventually allow toxins to pass into the bloodstream, which would generate immune responses to any aggressor, be it toxins, undigested food particles or microorganisms. Most authors recommend healing the gut and intestinal flora with drastic changes in diet and lifestyle.
Identifying Allergens Gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar appear as the main allergens causing permanent inflammation in the gut and then other less suspicious foods that depend on our genetic predisposition.
Personal Journey At the most critical moment of my illness, probably a year and a half after being diagnosed and after several emergency room visits, I decided to ask my doctors about the possibility of leaky gut and the effect of food, however absolutely all of them had the same textbook answer “That is just a theory, there is no test to identify it, much less a treatment”. After this response, I decided to take charge of my health and try the theories of food and gut healing. I cut out gluten, dairy, and sugar and started incorporating some foods and supplements such as bone broth, l-glutamine, vitamin C, Zinc, vitamin D3, and turmeric.
Discovering Food Triggers After a few weeks or a month, I started to slowly notice some improvements, my itching and burning skin rashes that was one of the most distressing symptoms started to distance in time and the recovery time was faster. Then I did an “Elimination diet”, this allowed me to identify other less suspicious foods that also triggered inflammation, and when I say inflammation, I am not just talking about stomach swelling, but about several other additional symptoms such as skin rashes, dizziness, brain fog, narcolepsy episodes, insomnia, joint pains, fever, colitis, constipation, etc.
Embracing Fermented Foods
Adding Fermented Foods When I started noticing some improvements, I continued to incorporate suggestions from my readings, like the introduction of naturally fermented foods to repopulate the intestinal bacteria. Foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables, kimchi and sourdough.
Creating My Own Lab It was at this moment when I started to think about a food home lab, because that’s pretty much what I was doing. I was reading about the benefits of kefir, which is something I used to consume as a child, then I would get some kefir grains and start to test how my body reacts to it.
Navigating the Gluten-Free Challenge
The Challenge of Going Gluten-Free Giving up gluten was, in fact, one of the most difficult changes, mainly because practically everything in our diet is full of gluten, not even considering “Bread” as the most popular source of gluten.
Gluten-Free Sourdough The thing is that we are so used to eating bread that giving it up was a real ordeal. My first attempt was to replace it with sourdough which is a bread that is fermented for much longer so the gluten molecules are transformed and are more digestible, this is partly very true, however, for me gluten has a very interesting effect, 30 min after eating it, I get kind of narcolepsy episode where I literally fall asleep, it even happened to me driving and obviously I had an accident, nothing serious luckily. But it turned out that the same thing happened to me with sourdough. So I started to develop gluten-free sourdough recipes using gluten-free flours such as rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, etc… today you can find a lot of gluten free flours in the market. Back then we only had rice flour and some imported American flours that cost a fortune.
Embracing a Holistic Approach Then came other interesting changes like sunbathing, meditating and learning to manage my emotions. Yes, because not only food is important but also the relationship with our environment, our family and personal relationships, with nature, physical exercise, sexuality, hobbies, etc.
Building a Support System When you are sick everything looks dark and you don’t feel like doing anything, when you go on a strict diet to heal, you don’t even feel like going out or visiting family and friends. This is something super important to deal with when you don’t feel well. We are not isolated entities and we need to share and have a support group, telling our partner, family and friends what we are experiencing and the changes we need to make is super important to achieve our goals and be able to heal. Our body heals when we return to balance and we have peace of mind. Just changing our diet is not enough if we don’t know how to manage stress or our relationships. In this sense, it took me some time because at the beginning I didn’t want to bother anyone with my problems, but internally I felt that I was dying and I had no one to talk to or feel supported. A support group is very important and today I would highly recommend seeking the help of an integrative therapist to support you in the process.
Connecting with Nature
Nature’s Healing Powers The other aspect that I began to work on over time was the relationship with nature, with Mother Earth and all the support systems she provides to us. Sunbathing 20 minutes a day works wonders for the immune system, our biological clock and our state of mind, filling us with vital energy. Drinking fresh filtered or purified water, even better if it is activated in the sun. Tap water is full of toxins and heavy metals. If you can, always drink purified water. When possible, consume organic vegetables, fresh seasonal fruits, nutritionally dense and healthy foods such as broccoli or mushrooms, and natural herbs that have healing effects on our body. Today I truly believe that there is a herb for every single disease, it’s just a matter of looking.
A New Chapter: Momo’s Feel Better Lab
Empowering Others Well, that’s how I got here. A little over two years before the Covid pandemic began, it occurred to me to set up a gluten-free food and sourdough fermentation workshop, which I called “Momo’s Fermentation Lab.” My main objective was to teach people like me who were going through drastic changes in their lives due to illnesses and needed help in learning how to ferment their own food and heal their guts. I did many workshops and also sold products to many customers, however the never-ending pandemic restrictions ended up sinking my undertaking, it became financially unviable and I had to close it.
Continuing the Journey Today I am starting a new phase in which I want to be able to dedicate my time mostly to teaching what I have learned. I hope to start publishing articles more regularly and videos with information and tips to learn how to heal ourselves from the inside out by taking care of our body with healthy foods and good lifestyle practices. I have renamed the site to “Momo’s Feel Better Lab.” because here we are experimenting, just like in a lab, about things that make us feel good, and constantly improving. Everyday there is new information to review, learn and experience, so I’d like to invite you to come along and heal together.
Acknowledgments I have to state that I am neither a physician nor a scientist and that all the information and knowledge have come to me through third parties, and whenever I can I will name them and incorporate links to the original source of the information. None of the recommendations or experiments in this laboratory are my own inventions, they all have an author, usually doctors or scientists who have already done much of the research work. With great love and gratitude to all the sources of information and wisdom that have allowed me to get here and start this new phase, I invite you to continue reading, learning and experimenting in this healing Lab.