How to Heal Naturally: A Behind-the-Scenes Interview with Donna Gates
Donna Gates attributes a heart of service to her passion for helping people heal. Learn how she created the Body Ecology system of health and healing and pioneered so many of today’s most popular health food products.
Whether you are new to Body Ecology or you’ve known about us for years, we thought you’d like to learn more about Body Ecology’s founder and best-selling author, Donna Gates.
It is often said that when the student is ready, the teacher will come. And many Body Ecology followers say this of discovering Donna and the Body Ecology system of health and healing. Most often, people will say that the book just resonated with them; it made sense; it offered hope; it gave them the answers they were looking for.
We’ve had people ask, is Donna a doctor? What’s her background? What makes her qualified to teach about healing with nutrition?
But let’s step back a moment and start at the beginning. Because when you read Donna’s book, The Body Ecology Diet, take her training programs or meet her in person, you begin to see that something else is at work: a deep wisdom about how the body works and nature’s role in that process.
Uniquely Suited for Natural Healing
Donna’s background makes her uniquely suited for her work with natural healing because she is NOT part of mainstream medicine that has often overlooked the ability of food and lifestyle as a way to help you heal.
A childhood passion for understanding how food affects people’s health prompted Donna to pursue dietician studies in college. Prior to graduating, Donna did an internship at a VA hospital and realized that if she wanted to help people heal, this was not the path. Instead, she stayed in school another year and got her degree in early childhood development.
With an avid interest in children’s health and how to use food as medicine, Donna began in-depth studies and worldwide travels to find the best healing systems. She studied nutritional programs like: raw and living foods, natural hygiene, the blood type diet, the Yeast Connection diet, vegetarianism and macrobiotics with some of the world’s foremost teachers.
Part of her quest was also personal. Having taken antibiotics for her skin starting at age 15, Donna experienced severe candida (systemic fungal infection). Over the years, she wanted answers…Why did her stomach burn after eating? Why did she have skin problems? And why was she exhausted all the time?
Her personal search was fueled by a desire to be of service to others who came to her with complaints of their own.
After spending 8 years following the macrobiotic diet, Donna was especially intrigued by the principles of yin and yang and the healing properties of sea vegetables. Wanting to learn directly from the source, Donna went to Tokyo, Japan to study with Lima Ohsawa, wife of macrobiotics founder George Ohsawa.
“Lima was 83 years old and so healthy,” Donna says. “She’d walk up to her third floor office without being winded at all. She lived to the age of 100 years plus one month.”
It was her studies with Lima Ohsawa that set the stage for Donna’s work in nutritional healing.
“When I asked Lima what she’d do if she had her life to live over again, she said, ‘I’d go all over the world and teach the principles of macrobiotics.’” Donna shared.
That’s when Donna realized that the principles, even more than the food, were critical in health and healing.
“Even though Lima lived a long healthy life, too many other macrobiotic leaders and teachers died of cancer and it was becoming clear that all of the diets I had been studying were a “one-size-fits-all” approach. They were not based upon universal principles at all. So I began to seek out those principles that were most important to wellness and ended up creating a new system of healing that really addresses the health issues that we are struggling with today.” I also knew a system like this must be able to evolve and continue growing because the universe we live in is growing and changing always.”
It was looking past the food to find the universal laws of principles of a healing diet that led Donna to create the 7 Body Ecology Principles, which she outlines in her best-selling book, The Body Ecology Diet.
Body Ecology is not a “one-size-fits-all” diet.
The principle of uniqueness says that you are a one-of-a-kind and that even you are changing constantly. So you must discover what your unique needs are at this moment in time and give your body what is must have to be healthy right now. The other 6 principles guide you for doing just that. We encourage you to listen to your body and read its cues. The principles are also what allow Body Ecology to be more flexible than most: you can follow Body Ecology as a vegetarian or vegan, whether you eat meat or follow the raw food diet.
Following the 7 healing Body Ecology principles allows you to approach the way you eat with principles that guide how to heal your digestive system, immune system, moods and overall vitality.
With Body Ecology, you learn to create balance.
As Donna says, “Body Ecology is so balancing because the principles lend themselves to a complete dietary system. Everything has a positive and a negative side to it. Everything…even us. So we learn to look for both.
“Once we see the negative or backside to something, we then start to find how to fix it and recreate balance. For example, an antibiotic has a front and a backside. The backside is that it destroys friendly bacteria and causes a yeast infection. But, of course, antibiotics have a positive or front side as well: they save millions of lives. You can create balance after taking antibiotics with probiotic foods and a sugar-free diet that protects you against a yeast infection.”
Shifting Paradigms – A True Health Pioneer
When asked about the natural health products Donna has brought into the US, even we were surprised to learn how many of today’s most popular health foods were pioneered by Donna’s work!
Here are just a few products that Donna championed and brought into US markets:
- Coconut Oil–most people were lambasting coconut oil as an unhealthy saturated fat, but Donna had learned of all the benefits of this stable, delicious, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial healthy fat. She found a source, had it brought here to the US and began teaching people of its many benefits and how to cook with it. After her efforts created a market for it, coconut oil began to appear in health food stores. These days, coconut oil is touted as one of the healthiest of fats.
- Herbamare – This little known blend of sea salt and organic herbs became a favorite seasoning in many of our popular Body Ecology recipes. Today almost every health food store sells it and we still highly recommend it as a delicious addition to your daily meals.
- Fermented foods and drinks – Always ahead of the curve Donna helped spawn the growing probiotic revolution. Over fifteen years ago she became the first real proponent of fermented foods and drinks. She helped launch milk kefir and cultured vegetables. In the early days, a few lonely bottles of milk kefir may find their way onto a shelf of a health food store…but this was not a true kefir. It was really more of a liquid-y yogurt with yogurt bacteria. True kefir had certain lactobacillus and beneficial yeast. Knowing that it was actually healthier than yogurt and could be made using raw milk, Donna brought in starter cultures from Europe. She then began teaching Americans how to make this “feel good” elixir using raw cow’s milk and raw goat’s milk. These days, fermented foods and drinks are showing up in stores around the country.
- Young Coconut Kefir – When looking for a solution to help heal autism, Donna figured out that the water from young green coconuts could be fermented to remove the harmful sugars. She created probiotic-rich young coconut kefir, which has now made it’s way into the mainstream for its energy-boosting, gut-healing and immune-boosting properties. Body Ecology is the first to bring in fresh, frozenorganic coconut water and coconut meat so that fermenting them just got easier. These are now being distributed into health food stores in California and could soon be in your area. Coconut Kefir and Coconut Kefir Pudding are important healing “tools” used in BEDROK (Body Ecology Diet Recovering Our Kids), our recovery and prevention program for autism to ADHD.
- Stevia – Learn more about how Donna brought the all natural sweetener, Stevia, into the country.
- Lakanto – Learn more about Lakanto, the zero-calorie, zero-glycemic index and all-natural sweetener recommended by the Japanese Ministry of Health for weight loss and blood sugar issues like diabetes.
Think healthy food tastes bad? Lakanto will make you think again!This all-natural, zero-calorie, zero-glycemic index tastes and bakes just like sugar, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth safely. The Japanese Ministry of Health recommends Lakanto for weight loss and blood sugar disorders like diabetes. Now you can enjoy the foods you love with Lakanto!
Many people are not aware of just how many of the natural foods we cherish came from Body Ecology.
When we asked Donna about this, she said, “The efforts I make, even if I don’t get credit, are rewarding because I want to live in a better world and I want everyone else — including our children — to live in a better world too.
“I’d like to see an end to pain and suffering. There is no need to have all this illness. A little knowledge and valuable tools can make huge changes. Body Ecology is a wonderful bridge to health and we are seeing people all over the world adopting the Body Ecology lifestyle. I’m sure there’s more to come as our world and we at Body Ecology learn more about human health. We are always researching and looking for solutions.”
What’s Donna Up to Next?
When asked what Donna was focusing on next, she shared, “I want the world to have a deeper understanding of the Body Ecology Way of Life and how to use its many tools. So we will be focusing more on education and using social media tools and webinars.
“And we are working now to create Mother/Daughter Workshops. In these weekend workshops young women from their teens thru their twenties will learn that we women have an incredibly important role to play in turning around a serious crisis facing the human race.
“If we don’t learn how to create beautiful healthy babies, we humans won’t be here much longer. In the past mothers passed this priceless knowledge about a woman’s body down to her daughter, but this wisdom has been lost. Mother’s and daughters need a new way of connecting. I envision a world where young women everywhere are so proud of their power to create that they begin preparing their bodies to be super-healthy before they conceive a child. I want this to become a lasting trend that will shift the paradigm of human health.”
A Visionary for Natural Healing, A Heart of Service
Over the decades, feedback from Body Ecology followers have shown Body Ecology to be a system of healing for everything from candida to psoriasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, IBS and autism. We’ve heard miraculous stories from cancer survivors to ulcerative colitis sufferers.
Donna has worked with everyone from Hollywood celebrities to best-selling authors, athletes, performers and folks just like you and me with great success…and yet if you met her, you’d be struck by her humble nature.