Depression. Arrhythmia. Stress. Emotional burdens. How can we address our complex health conditions? And how is the physical related to the mental and emotional components of wellbeing? And is it best to address issues with conventional or unconventional protocols?
Anette Ruiz is a holistic health coach and communications specialist. Alberto is a certified permaculturist and talk show host. Today, they tell their story of facing seemingly insurmountable health crises. Anette had moderate-to-severe depression; Alberto, a heart condition. Their island got hit by Hurricane Maria, and their stress levels went through the roof.
They discuss today how they faced these experiences and what they learned through them–particularly how they have incorporated tools for holistic living that address the physical, mental, and emotional health of the body. Among other topics, they cover how to recognize the symptoms of depression, the power of gratitude, and why they will not use a microwave oven.
Follow Anette and Alberto on Instagram: @amar.eternosestudiantes
Listen to our Spanish podcast: Tradiciones Sabias
Listen to the podcast here
Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda.
A young woman struggled with depression with no apparent cause. Her partner had heart issues. Together, they regained their health through conventional and unconventional methods. This is episode 417. We feature a couple who has overcome numerous obstacles to attain the robust health that characterizes their lives. They share their story from Puerto Rico.
Annette tells of her bouts of depression and what helped her heal. Alberto talks about the emotional burden of being a caregiver as well as his heart condition. Together, they offer a perspective that helps us understand where physical, mental and emotional health intersect. They also offer tips for how to detox our lives with tools that they’ve used along the way.
Our guests are Annette Ruiz and Alberto Medina, the new podcast hosts of our sister show in Spanish, Tradiciones Sabias. Annette is a communications specialist, an independent journalist and a researcher. Alberto is certified in Permaculture Design and was a radio program contributor for ten years to a show about alternative news and information in Puerto Rico.
In this episode, they open their hearts to share with us their story of what has been for them and the most challenging experiences they have lived through, which provided them with tools and knowledge that can give hope to others. They also remind us that vibrant health is both our birthright and our responsibility.
Before we dive in, The Weston A. Price Foundation has pamphlets, an IG account and a podcast in Espanol. The Instagram account is @WestonAPrice_Espanol. The show is called Tradiciones Sabias. Its new hosts are Annette and Alberto. You will hear from them soon. They will be rolling with episodes every two weeks. Go to our website, The Weston A. Price Foundation and click on the button that says WAPF En Espanol for all of the resources.
Go to Earth Runners and use the code WISE23 for 10% off your purchase.
Follow Anette and Alberto on Instagram: @Amar.EternosEstudiantes
Listen to our Spanish podcast: Tradiciones Sabias
Check out our sponsors: Earth Runners
Welcome to the show, Annette and Alberto.
Thank you so much for having us here.
It’s an honor to be with you here.
I met you some years ago at Polyface Farm with Joel. We started talking and I immediately felt this heart connection because you all are in the same effort that the Weston A. Price Foundation is all about. It’s lifting health and wellness. For you all, your point of departure into this field was your health journey. Annette, I want you to tell folks about that cloud of depression that came over you in 2016.
In 2016, I started feeling overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks and basic things. For example, I could not concentrate as I used to at work. I was working full-time as a communications officer at a foundation in Puerto Rico. I used to be very sharp and do a lot of different things and I started to feel that cloud. The mental focus was shady and affected. Also, my ability to concentrate to remember things and memorize. Also, my intellectual capacity, I felt it was diminishing. It started more what was traditionally seen as a mental health problem at that moment. That was the first episode in that I encounter depression. It was clinically diagnosed by a psychologist.
How long did it last? What did you do to address it?
That episode didn’t last long. It was just a few months and it was considered mild depression so it was not that intense. At that moment, we didn’t know what was happening to me. People who were familiar to us, specifically my best friend, used to work at a clinical center in Puerto Rico that offer psychological services, nutrition therapy and also yoga services. At that point, we used psychotherapy and also individual yoga, one-on-one sessions. It also helped me a lot and it was a few months. I also took time off work. That was the way I could face it. That was mild. That was the way that we approached that first episode.
In total, there were 4 episodes in a 4-year span. It’s one episode per year in between months of recovery, being okay and being myself again and then the 2nd episode, the 3rd and the 4th. Every episode was more intense than the previous one. It went from the first in 2016 being mild to having a more minor functional impairment. The second episode was in 2017 and it was moderate. I didn’t sleep for many days. In that episode, we had to go to a psychiatric doctor, which is different from the psychological approach. The third one was more severe.
The fourth one, which was in 2009 was the worst of all. At that point, I felt totally numb. I didn’t feel any of the desires for life or everything that I used to do. Before all these episodes, I was a healthy person overall. I had healthy relationships. I was very involved socially. I had a good childhood. That was in 2019, the last one. It went from a mild one to a very severe one. It’s 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Those were the four years.
Alberto, in the meantime, how are you feeling? You must have been scratching your head like, “What’s going on?” This woman came from a healthy family. She was happy, smart and bright. Suddenly, she was being weighed down by these bouts of depression.
I referred to it as an invisible enemy. I had no idea how a person experiencing depression looks or how a person like that behaves. At first, we didn’t understand what was going on. I have always been very active in doing my research. At that moment, I started looking for information in that regard trying to understand what to do. It was very difficult because for me, the most important thing every day is to make my wife smile. When that didn’t happen, I knew that something serious was going on with her.
What else was happening during that time that might have also affected your relationship and how you were perceiving what was going on? I’m thinking about Hurricane Maria. When did that hit? How did that affect you two?
I will go a little further in time to explain this. She was experiencing what is known as pyroluria among other things. Pyroluria is a condition that doesn’t let your body cope with stress. Now that you mentioned the hurricane, the hurricane was a very big stressful event. Before that, in 2016, she suffered an injury. She fell on her back. We observed that there was a pattern that when some stressful event happen, she would handle it. 2 or 3 months after that, then the depression event was manifested in her body.
He mentioned Hurricane Maria, which was the worst natural disaster or event in our history in our lives. It was a category 4 or 5. It was huge. We were without electricity and basic services in some places for even a year so that was very hard. As Alberto mentioned, it was the trigger. We had one of the triggers, that back fall and then the first episode.
Hurricane Maria, I handled it perfectly. Everything went well but the stress level was too high and then the second episode. The other thing that happened was that Alberto had a heart condition that we can explain later. We thought he was going to die and it was a very hard moment for us. We even said farewell. We thought it was the last time for him in this life. That was another huge trigger.
Among other things, I would mention those three events. The stressors since pyrrole disorder or pyroluria that Alberto mentioned were like I could handle them but then my body and my mind were at the top. I was always then in a fight, flight or freeze mode but then into the collapse. I just collapsed basically.
I’m thinking about that book called The Body Keeps the Score. The idea is even though you managed, your body knew and there was fallout down the line that you couldn’t handle that stress. That led to the condition of depression and it’s become more intense over the years. I know you guys are natural folks and are into alternative health approaches. What treatments did you first attempt that didn’t work? You mentioned seeing a psychiatrist, going to psychotherapy and doing yoga. What did you do later that did help lift the cloud? Was it a combination of all the things?
As part of my research efforts, I found out about auto molecular medicine, which looks to correct the nutritional balance in the body. I started reading a great book by a man called William Walsh. The book is called Nutrient Power. That book explains to you how the imbalances in nutrients in your body may trigger those symptoms because depression is a symptom. We have been taught that depression, anxiety and ADHD are conditions but they are symptoms of a root cause.
When I started doing my research and I found out about Dr. William Walsh and the amazing book called Nutrient Power, I started to understand how nutrients play a critical role in your body. How an imbalance of nutrients, maybe a lack of a certain nutrient or an excess of a certain nutrient, may trigger that in your body and symptoms would manifest.
For example, a person that may express depression symptoms may have a different imbalance than another person experiencing the same symptoms. That’s how we learn that the official psychiatry treatment was not dealing with the root cause. As part of that research, I then found out about a clinic in Chicago, Illinois run by Dr. Albert Mensah and Dr. Judith Bowman. They were students of Dr. William Walsh. They started their clinic treating patients but went to the root cause. They use very specific lab tests to address that.
In my case, what we discover is that I had a lack of zinc and an excess of copper among the pyroluria or pyrrole disorder. Those three combined, we will get into what happened in my body before that to get to that point. That was the root cause for the expression that manifested in that mental fog that I had and the lack of initiative or the lack of feeling the way I used to mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually because we know we are multidimensional beings.
What is called mental health is isolated from physical health in the conventional way of thinking but it’s all tied together and interconnected. In my case, that multidimensional approach to treating and understanding the root cause was that chemical or nutritional imbalance that led to a biochemical imbalance that led to an imbalance overall. It’s like a pattern that Alberto mentioned.
Mental health is isolated from physical health in the conventional way of thinking, but it’s all tied together and interconnected.
Also, I found out about a holistic psychiatric doctor in Puerto Rico, which also helped in a moment because, at some point, I used drugs but then I also had to understand how to get away from those so my body could process everything healthily. This is not a straight jacket. This is my case and my journey, which is a very specific example but everyone can be different.
We also found out about functional medicine, which also looks at 5 or 6 areas of your life, body movement, exercising, sleep, hygiene, your nutrients or what you eat, your eating habits and many other things. That doctor in Puerto Rico also helped us through this journey. I also got back to basic things that I used to love.
Being in this rat race on what society and what you believe is a success, I was focused on working on that full-time job, being focused on working and then doing house chores. I went away from basic things that I used to love and I’m passionate about like dancing. I got back to those hobbies. Also, writing. I used to write every day. I keep track of my journals and everything but there was a period of my life when I did not connect to those.
Getting back to the point about the root cause, Alberto found out about that clinic. One part of it was that imbalance. It’s been a seven-year journey. After so many years, there is so much information that we were looking at and many specialists, not only doctors but also other people treating ourselves more holistically. We understand that deeply root cause of everything in my case was my birth was a premature birth. My mom had an emergency C-section so I didn’t go through the birth canal and I didn’t get all those microorganisms or all that stuff that is so important. Science has proof of how important it is for your microbiome and the gut flora, even 3, 4, and 5 decades later, like what happened with me.
I was not breastfed, which is also important because through the mom’s nipples, we receive a lot of microorganisms too. I was one month in NICU, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, receiving antibiotics, vaccines and many other things that we don’t even know. I was away from the skin-to-skin contact, that we know how important it is, with my mom and my dad. It’s all of that combined.
In my childhood, I had asthma. I was a very anxious kid. During my teenage years, anxiety was part of my daily life but we didn’t know exactly why. Now we understand all of that was connected. What exacerbated or the drop that make everything fall apart was the contraceptive pills that I used for five years and they were prescribed by my doctor. At that moment, I didn’t do any further research like we usually do. We research things that are out of the mainstream. At that point, I was focused on having these pills. When I stopped taking them, exactly a year after I had that back fall, the first symptom started.
I’m so glad you stopped to reflect about how your life began, digging deep to see these root causes and then you were also able to see other little moments that contributed to who you were and patterns that can be changed. I love that you returned to your hobby of dancing. All these things are modalities that help lift the body, mind, spirit and soul as you were saying.
Coming up, Alberto tells the story of his heart condition and why he and Annette thought it was going to cost him his life. They share the many natural health practices that they have incorporated for vibrant health, including grounding and plenty of sunshine.
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I want to talk with Alberto about the root causes of his heart condition and hear a little bit more about that.
In my case, I didn’t know about that until the event but I was experiencing what is called supraventricular tachycardia. It is a disorder in your heart where some of the electrical tissue forms a short circuit sometimes so your heart rate start rising. During my whole life, every event will be one minute long and then it will stop. At this moment in 2018, it was an hour long. My heart rate was over 220 pulses per minute. The highest you should get your heart in a fight or an accident is 108. I was way over the limit. We were in the hospital. I almost died. Thankfully, it was corrected with what is known as an ablation treatment but it was very traumatic because I got to see death eye-to-eye. Like Annette told you, we even said goodbye to each other but thankfully here I am.
At the time when your heart started racing and all that, when this episode happened, were you a caregiver to Annette? Was that an added stress that may have affected this heart situation?
I am glad you brought up that point because when I look back, the role of the caregiver sometimes is a very heavy load over your shoulders since you are having a life in your hands and your decisions may be the difference between life and death for that loved one. I am pretty sure that the amount of stress through all those events exacerbated that condition in my body.
I also see that as a blessing because my body was able to handle that, according to the doctors. I am in good shape. I am very active in my work. I work as a gardener every day and I also play sports. If that should happen to me when I was older, maybe my body could not handle that. All these interconnections of events may be a blessing in disguise that happened to me at the right moment. I had that experience at the right moment. That’s how I see it.
I get the sense that, Annette, you see the trials and tribulations you’ve been through a similar lens. You see it as an opportunity for your growth.
Since we started dating, one of the key factors in being able to build our relationship is that we were very aligned in basic life values, including seeing life as a great teacher and as a school. We see ourselves as constant learners and we are always in gratitude no matter what happens. We were already like that before the four episodes that we went through with me and his heart condition but this took another level. Our lives are not the same.
People say in Puerto Rico, we are all before and after the hurricane because it changed everything and it puts you in a position to rethink your life. In our case, aside from the hurricane, which we also experienced, we see ourselves in a different direction changed. In my case, I see myself being reborn. Using the analogy of my birth and the trauma that we didn’t even know had all those repercussions, all those affecting my physical body, mental health, emotional health and spiritual path and health, I see myself as a different person.
People say in Puerto Rico, “We are all before and after the hurricane because it changed everything, and it puts you in a position to rethink your life.”
Although I had many of the same feelings, passions and values that I have, I do feel lighter, healthier, more at peace with life and importantly, very present in the day-to-day. I’m fully alive, which is what is important. I used to live a lot not in the past, which is another thing that a lot of people tend to go back to. Not to recharge or learn from our ancestors of their wisdom or something but think about things they should have done differently. I was always in the future, which is another way of life, looking at what would happen and being very anxious. After this experience, I feel I have been carrying a lot of baggage that I am free of them.
You talked about how most people in Puerto Rico measure time by the hurricane before and after. Also, there’s a parallel in your life before you got into the health and wellness idea that you could take on some new modalities that would help you reach optimal health. I want to ask both of you to share some of your happy habits that have led to the place where you are living vibrant, fulfilled and healthy lives.
Most of our habits, we have been practicing since we started our relationship. One of them will be no use of microwave at all for our food. Another thing that we started doing right away was we wanted to understand what was in our food so we wanted to understand what was in those labels and all those very complicated names. We bought a great book that has every single additive and preservative in the food industry.
Every time we went to the supermarket, we were in a very active research program. For every item we would grab from the shelf that we were interested in, we would look in the book. Let’s say, what are nitrates, aspartame, MSG or general number five? Most of them were toxic. Our grocery list started changing. We remained only buying fruits, vegetables, meat, some dairy and grains. That’s it. Another good habit that we apply daily is grounding. We try to walk barefoot on the grass. Very early in the morning, we try to look at the sunrise. Those are most of the important things we have been applying.
What about you Annette?
I want to add non-toxic components, not only in food but also in skincare products and makeup products or anything that you put in your body. In my case, that was a journey also to learn that. We started that even before my episodes. We have been doing all of these changes for more than fifteen years, specifically with skin products and also with cleaning products, moving into more natural elements and things that are not toxic to our bodies. We can receive toxicity from the air, soil and water sources so filtration systems and all that stuff are very important. Non-toxic thoughts and non-toxic relationships are also key habits.
Another thing we started doing is we have our chicken flock so we have our eggs. Also, we have our garden. We’ve been working very hard on expanding it so we can grow at least part of the food we consume and we know what we put on it. We are applying permaculture practices in our garden. That’s very important for people reading to try the best they can to grow some of their food. That’s the only way you can be sure of what you’re putting in your body, which is the building block for your health and well-being.
Try the best you can to grow some of your food. That’s the only way you can be sure of what you’re putting in your body, which is the building block for your health and well-being.
I love that you two have put so much into learning. As a matter of fact, your little tagline is, “Eterno estudiantes,” or eternal students. What would you say to a person who’s like, “That’s too much work. I don’t want to bother reading all those labels or finding all the toxicities. As a matter of fact, it’ll probably induce fear in me?” What would you tell someone that doesn’t have that bent and doesn’t maybe want to do a deep dive into some of these subjects to improve their health?
I would go back to what you mentioned of being that’s your birthright and it’s also your responsibility. It’s a two-sided coin. Nobody else is responsible for my well-being or my health rather than me. Sometimes we delegate that to our partners, initially to our parents but then we grow up and then it’s your partner, the doctors, the people who have whatever certifications and everyone else.
It’s my responsibility. I would say, you should do it. It’s your right but it’s also your responsibility to take over your health and happiness. It’s only you. When you understand that, it gives you a different approach to seeing life. Focus on those dimensions that we mentioned, not focus only on the physical components. The daily habits include being physically active, mentally active, emotionally aware and intelligent emotionally and spiritually. It’s all those layers and multi-dimensions that we mentioned because we’re holistic beings.
There is a neuroplasticity action that must happen in our brains because most of us are products of a very poor education system, which doesn’t encourage children to be curious and want to learn. I would say to someone that doesn’t feel any interest in learning, try to look for some very little thing that you would like to understand. Maybe what you’re eating. Maybe how something in nature works, like plants or animals.
One of those things could be a trigger to your curiosity to continue that learning path. It’s a skill to learn and do your research. It’s part of our nature to be curious but that has been very damaged by what I call the indoctrination system in schools. At first, it may be a very difficult task for someone that is not used to reading. Once you start doing that, it will be easier and your interest will keep growing.
We all have curiosity but it’s been tamped down. Re-plug into that, even if you’re just curious, “I wonder how that football player got that name.” You look it up and try to find out more about him. “He was born in Nigeria,” or whatever it is. I don’t know if there are any Nigerian football players. The idea is if you’re curious about something, why not see what you could be curious about related to your health or food. “I wonder why I’m so tired every day.” That’s a great beginning question to ask.
We are on the same path. At the foundation, we’re curious about alternative ways to provide healing for ourselves and others. That’s why you guys are on here. We were curious about what you had to say because you are taking the lead. You were going to be taking the baton for the Tradiciones Sabias, a Spanish sister show that we have so we’re very excited about that. We’re also excited about what you brought. I want to wrap up with a question I love to pose at the end of every episode in English. If the audience could do one thing to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do? Annette, we’ll start with you.
My one recommendation would be to focus on yourself in all those multi-dimensions that we mentioned. We are physical beings and mental beings. We have emotions. We have energetic levels and spiritual levels. Focus on those dimensions. Combining ancient traditional wisdom, like the name wisdom. Also, what we have learned, thanks to science and all the technology that we have. Keep constantly learning and focusing on applying healthy habits to all those dimensions. They are all interconnected. That’s the way to live a happy and healthy life.
The most important thing that has worked for me is to look at life with eternal gratitude. When you look at life with eternal gratitude, you see everything as a blessing and a gain. When you look at life like that, you will feel taken care of by nature, God or the universe. When you see life like that, your health will improve. There will be another option. Your health will improve because when you are in gratitude, all your cells and being will start to work in syntony with nature. Nature is perfect. That’s what we say.
I am grateful for you two. Thank you for coming to the show and for leading the charge with Tradiciones Sabias, the sister show. We are very excited to see where your journey of curiosity and being eternal students takes you. Thank you once again, my friends.
Thank you, Hilda.
Our guests were Annette Ruiz and Alberto Medina. Check out their Instagram account @Amar.EternosEstudiantes. Listen to Wise Traditions in Spanish, the show called Tradiciones Sabias and share it with your Spanish-speaking friends. For a review from Apple Podcasts. “Amazing Truth. I love this as it is very hard to get access to this information and a culture that purposely hides these things. These truths aren’t just our traditions. They’re the way mankind has survived for so long. I want to shout this show to the rooftops and share with everyone because of how much I have learned in just a couple of episodes.”
Thank you so much for this review. You too can leave us ratings and reviews on Apple Podcasts. Click on the app. Click on ratings and reviews, give us as many stars as you like and tell the world why you like the show. It is very much like shouting it from the rooftops. Thank you in advance. Thank you for reading. Stay well. Remember to keep your feet on the ground and your face to the sun.
- Tradiciones Sabias
- @WestonAPrice_Espanol – Instagram
- WAPF En Espanol
- Earth Runners
- The Body Keeps the Score
- Nutrient Power
- Amazon – Optimal Carnivore
- @Amar.EternosEstudiantes – Instagram
- Apple Podcasts – Wise Traditions
About Alberto Medina and Anette Ruiz
Alberto Medina is Certified in Permaculture Design and Tropical Landscape Design, and was a Radio Program Contributor for 10 years to a show about alternative news and information in Puerto Rico. As a self-taught student, for more than 20 years, he has devoted daily time to the study and research of a wide range of topics that challenge conventional paradigms. He is a Self-Employed Gardener that provides gardening and maintenance services for green residential areas.
Anette Ruiz is certified as a Holistic Health Coach and Mental Health First Aid Rescuer. She has been an International Consultant for Effective Communications and currently provides services for The Behavioral Sciences Research Institute of the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, as Interviewer, Enumerator, and Evaluator of diverse scientific studies. For more than 15 years she has worked as a Communications Specialist, independent Journalist, and Researcher contributing to more than 10 nonprofit organizations in Puerto Rico, Ohio and Washington D.C.
Together, they are the new hosts of the Tradiciones Sabias podcast for the Weston A. Price Foundation.