Sunday, July 07, 2013

How to be a Chicana/Chicano Bio-Hacker!

Copper Mountain, Colorado

 Kudos to Michael Sedano’s recipe he named, “The  Gluten-free Chicano Cooks Zucchini Tortillas,” (click here for his post and recipe)!  As soon as he posted the recipe, I had a zucchini tortilla fiesta at my house (we delegated the various cooking duties) and substituted the wheat flour for almond and coconut flour.  And since Michael gives directions como mi familia:  “un poco de esto, un poco del otro, just taste it as you go,” pues, we finally created our very first test batch.  They are delicious with the New Mexico Chile, and smaller rounded tortilla shapes will prevent them from getting crumbly.  For non-gluten gente—it’s possible!  I also added rajas de chile poblano, Michael—just so you know.  With the rajas and the almond and coconut flavors, it is exquisite!  Gracias for another exciting low carbohydrate recipe idea! 
chile poblano--roast them, peel and chop--great in so many dishes!
Segundo—Currently, I’m in Copper Mountain, Colorado, where Wanderlust Colorado is taking place and where I have learned I’m a bio-hacker—and this has something to do with the zucchini tortillas—honest!  But before explaining what it means to be a “bio-hacker,” (cooking tortillas) here’s a quick explanation of Wanderlust Colorado (click here for the website).  It’s four days of intensive yoga, meditation, lectures on the body, nutrition, and strategies on organizing to create awareness, make political change.  The website will show hundreds of people doing yoga or meditating.  I only attended two of those mega-classes (wild!).  Most of the sessions I attended were small and intimate. 

After a meditation hike (Nancy y Amelia)
I didn’t know anything like Wanderlust Colorado existed until my daughter, Nancy, suggested we go.  My daughter has been a “yogi” (individual who is proficient in yoga) for over 20 years and when we get together, yoga is often included in our activities.  As one yoga teacher explained this morning, “Our children can take us in so many brilliant places we never imagined we could go.”  So true!  Here we are all “shiny” after one of the yoga classes. 

Nancy y Amelia

Hand Stand!

Some of the more experienced yogis doing a "plank stack"
The lectures I attended allowed my sore body to rest up from the yoga and hikes.  With all these activities combined, I felt awakened body and spirit.  Meeting, listening to, and talking with Dr. Sara Gottfried and Dr. Mark Hyman opened up new areas of thinking for me in regards to Diabetes, well-being, our bodies and how we consider our body.  In her lecture (and writings), Dr. Sara Gottfried encourages all of us to be a “bio-hacker.”
Hand stands help with balancing the body!
A Bio-Hacker:  One who can break into her or his own metabolic system.  I didn’t know I was already doing this by testing my blood every morning or when I test during the day when I’m not feeling well, or when I first tried the newly cooked zucchini tortilla to see how it would affect my blood glucose levels.  As a “bio-hacker,” I have access to how (metabolically) my body is handling the glucose I’ve given it which gives me the power to heal myself.  Dr. Gottfried is most interested in having people check their cortisol levels which also affects glucose levels, which in turn affects our well-being. A brand new world is here.

Dr. Mark Hyman’s lecture, “Take Back Your Health” encouraged us to think about our trips to the grocery store.  He said, “When you go grocery shopping, consider it ‘FARM-aceutical’ shopping.”  Meaning?  Think of your groceries as the most powerful drugs for healing.  Foods such as phytonutrients can do more healing for your body than pharmaceutical drugs.  “A lot of our illness is about disconnection from the body.” 

Dr. Hyman lecturing:  "Take Back Your Health" at Wanderlust Colorado
An electric buzz went when through my head when Dr. Hyman said:  “… illness is about disconnection from the body.”  This is a loaded statement, I thought, because I can think of so many levels of disconnection (metabolic, physical, emotional. . . ):  which one is he talking about?  All of them-- because all of these are interconnected to make up one system:  our body system.  Dr. Hyman wishes all of us to be experts of our own system:  our body.  He's asking us to become the doctor of our body.  Here he is in a TED lecture (via TEDMED) talking about this very idea:  (CLICK HERE)

Maybe I should have been a doctor.  Maybe.  I’ve always been fascinated by “the body.”  An early memory is walking to school one day (elementary school), (my usual route going through an avocado grove), and noticing a dead white cat near one of the avocado trees.  Something had gouged out its midsection and I could see organs, muscles, sinews.  I was transfixed.  Every day on my walk to and from school, I’d look forward to seeing the latest condition of the cat. What had been lovely, fluffy white fur, soon became matted, shrinking skin, giving way to bones, skull, a detailed spine which also slowly disintegrated, subsumed into the mucky wet ground.  I kept imagining how the cat would also serve to fertilize the avocados.  This was a childhood accidental "hacking" (I didn't "break in" but I did keep vigil)-- being present and witness to a body's transformation.  I was also sad the cat had died, but then mesmerized by what its inner body offered me to view and study. 

Now with Diabetes, I’ve been presented with a living “body” (my own) to experiment and view its changes—via bio-hacking. 
testing your own blood
How to be a Bio-Hacker:  To unlock the secrets of your metabolic system (you can do it!), you have to be brave—and test your blood.  I say “brave” because many people are afraid of pricking their own skin (or letting someone else do it) and letting it bleed.  It wasn’t fun to do when I first began.  I think of it as when I began learning how to play the guitar.  At first it hurt to continually press on those wire chords.  My fingers finally protected themselves with thick callouses. Same with blood letting. 
So many gifts await you when you become a bio-hacker and learn to test and understand your blood

When you “break in,” the gifts you receive from your blood are truly amazing.  You will have a completely new relationship with your body. Less disconnection.  You become in tune with what your body is doing—and best of all, by unlocking the secrets of your metabolic system, you give yourself the power to heal yourself!  Too many of us gente are being diagnosed with Diabetes and are simply given a pill or told to get on insulin with no explanation, no idea how to prevent complications.  (This is not to say that your doctor's orders are wrong, but it's good to ask questions, to understand the "why" of your doctor's suggestions). Too many people have told me that their doctors just tell them to stay away from sugar.  Well what does that mean?  Only desserts?  Do we only look at "sugar" in the label?  Here's the secret:  avoid looking at "sugar" in the label.  The secret lies in the amount of "carbohydrates" in the food (complex and simple sugars).  This may not necessarily mean desserts. For example, eating a carrot is similar to eating a tablespoon of glucose/sugar.  You get a quick sugar high with carrots.  Who knew.  Without more information, how can you manage your body's metabolic system?  

It's problematic to consider that “one pill for all” or “one diet for all" is the answer.  It just doesn't work.  That's why there are so many diets and pills:  because each works in each body differently.  We are as unique as our fingerprints. Your metabolic system is your own individual fingerprint.  I learned that quickly in my Diabetes Support Book Group when I noticed that even though we all have Diabetes (Type II) in the group, one person might be able to eat a banana and their blood glucose will not rise, while another person will eat just a half banana and have a spike in their glucose levels.  Every body is different and reacts to food differently.  When people ask me, “So what kinds of food should I eat?  What kind of diet should I be on?”  I usually tell them, the best diet is, of course, a low carbohydrate diet, BUT created via your own bio-hacking—by testing your blood 75 minutes after the first bite of a new food or restaurant food you haven’t had, etc. 

So back to Michael Sedano’s “Chicano Zucchini Tortillas (non-gluten).”  I took my first bites (using almond and coconut flour), loved the taste, and then 75 minutes later, took my blood. SUCCESS!  My blood glucose levels stayed stable—no spike.
Michael Sedano's Chicano Zucchini Tortillas
I so want to find ways to have our gente get excited about their bodies—to discover interesting vegetables to cook, like celeriac root.  Celeriac root and cactus cooked with cumin, turmeric, curry powder is such a delicious side dish and is low in carbohydrates and loaded with vitamins and nutrients.  Spices are also anti-inflammatory (tumeric especially) and will do wonders. 
celeriac root
Here at Wanderlust Colorado, Dr. Hyman reminded all of us that (globally) 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in their lifetime (and the highest incidences are with our gente:  Chicanas/Chicanos, U.S. Latinas/Latinos). Our children are being diagnosed with this chronic disease when 50 years ago, this was unheard of.  This is devastating news.  The good news is that it’s preventable, and if you are diagnosed, there is so much good food for you to eat, food that has healing properties, and best of all—you will feel good. 
Instead of potato chips, you can make celeriac root chips (very low starch)
“You shouldn’t be eating foods with labels,” said Dr. Hyman.  “Instead get creative with your cooking and listen, study, become connected with your body.”  Mindfulness. And now to work:  sending this information to you, figuring out ways to help our gente who live in areas where it is too dangerous to go outside and exercise, where money is tight so familias turn to inexpensive fast food and processed foods to survive. I'm thinking of South Central Los Angeles, where gente there organized and created The South Central Farm or The South Central Community Garden.  It's one of the largest urban farms in the United States (read about it here!).  

La comunidad creating community gardens like this one teaches our children about food, about eating, and gets them outside, moving their bodies!

It’s been an amazing four days here in the mountains of Colorado.  Gracias and much love to my brilliant and talented daughter, Nancy Wolff, to all the smart conversations I had with her, and to so many yogis I met who are working toward a healthy society, to new friends (more hugs!), and to all the mindful volunteers.  And if you're interested in going to one of these festivals but are worried it's too expensive, you can go to this festival as a volunteer.  That’s how Nancy and I attended. We loved assisting behind the scenes, meeting other yogis, teachers, lecturers.  And now-- I share this with you.  Contigo.  Abrazos!  Sending you all strong healing energias!


msedano said...

what grand news the comida led to no spikes!

Anonymous said...

Thanks your blog of recipes. Sharing your time with your daughter and lessons learned from your experiences with Diabetes is appreciated.
Oh, theses hidden sugars! So many of my relatives suffer with both Types of Diabetes. I don't have it but over the last few years I've attempted to make changes. You try to listen to your body, eat well and move around. Baby steps on the road to being a "Bio-Hacker". I'm a big worry-wart and know that doesn't help! Maybe I'll add more yoga to my recipe leaving out standing on my head. (I worry!)
Thanks so much Amelia ML Montes.
Blessings to you and your family,

Olga said...

That white cat turning into fertilizer for the avocados fascinated me. So did the handstands and The Plank Stack! I will not try this at home. :)