Hi! I'm Ingrid, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and Therapeutic Chef. I am the creator of Green Heart Chef. I have a passion for natural health that borders with obsession!!! I use food as medicine to help bring balance to the body and mind. I use this powerful tool in my own healing journey and to help and inspire others to be their own health advocates.
I have struggled with my health since I was a baby. It all started with gut issues. I had to deal with gas, bloating, diarrhea, tummy aches, and gastrointestinal infections throughout my childhood. Later in my teens, I was diagnosed with chronic gastritis, H. Pylori, allergic rhinitis, and had my tonsils removed due to constant infections. During my mid-twenties after starting to experience brain fog, constant fatigue, weight gain, depression, and anxiety, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and told I would have to take synthetic hormones for the rest of my life.
With the passing of the years, I started to experience severe health crisis every few years, which included worsening gut issues, depression, severe cognitive impairment, exhaustion, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and what I thought was the beginning of some sort of mental illness. During these years the crisis would last for a couple of months and then I’d get better with some sort of medical intervention, usually involving a change of thyroid medication or dosing. I felt better but never normal, and every new health crisis was worse than the previous one.
After a couple of years of feeling “better”, in 2018 towards the end of a three-month backpacking trip through central and south America, one night I experienced severe vertigo while sleeping, accompanied by numbing of my forearms and heaviness in the back of my head. I ended up in the hospital in Quito, Ecuador. Since that moment my health and my life changed in a way I would have never foreseen. The diagnosis that night was BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), upon arriving in Lima, Peru (where I am originally from) and seeing a specialist (ENT), the diagnosis was vestibular neuritis. I was told I would feel weird for about two months and then I’d get back to normal... that was not the case! The next eighteen months would be the most challenging of my life. I was brought to my knees. The symptoms were disabling and terrifying, to say the least. Whatever was happening to me affected my nervous system and brain the most. I experienced 24/7 dizziness for a year and a half, internal tremors, shaking, body jolts, non-convulsive seizures, and a sensation that my nerves and brain were being electrocuted, I had a feeling like there was a “thing” inside my head fighting to burst my skull open and come out. I had severe brain fog, at times I could not even speak or understand anything happening around me, I experienced confusion, derealization, constant depersonalization, distorted sensory perception, near syncope, constant wooziness, insomnia, exhaustion, panic and anxiety attacks, excessive startling, social anxiety, irrational fears, inability to handle stress, PTSD, OCD, psychosis, cognitive impairment, constant ringing of the ears, nystagmus, blurry vision, difficulty focusing my eyes, sensitivity to light and sounds, sensitivity to EMFs, sensitivity to chemicals and smells, heart palpitations, severe food sensitivities and hypoglycemia that started overnight, intolerance to heat, and many more terrifying symptoms that turned my life into a living nightmare, the worst part was that all the tests were coming back normal and the over 20 doctors (in different fields) that I saw, thought that it was all in my head and what was happening to me was just depression, so all of them pretty much prescribed anti-depressants and advised me to seek psychiatric help. It was also hard for people to believe that I was sick, even family members, as I looked normal on the outside, which made everything even more painful and lonely. It seemed like nobody believed me, it seemed like nobody could help me. I was so desperate and starting to plan how I would end my life because this was no life, this was hell!
After more than a year of suffering, wasting money, and much prayer, I finally found a wonderful functional medicine physician. She was the only one that had a clue about what was happening to me. She diagnosed me with subclinical Beri Beri, caused by a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency and Dysautonomia. I also had other deficiencies and issues, but apparently, thiamine was the one making my life miserable. After taking therapeutic doses of a special form of thiamine and other supplements I slowly started to feel better, it took many months, and even though I did not feel well, at least I was more stable and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, the light was pretty small, but at least now it was there! I was very lucky to have found a knowledgable and compassionate integrative physician and thanks to my curiosity and desperation to feel better I was able to learn a lot from her.
Throughout this ordeal I had to become my own health advocate, I had to learn about how my body worked, basic anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, neuroplasticity, a holistic approach to nutrition, and a lot more. I had to help myself! All the studying and research paid off, I realized I had a histamine sensitivity which was SO difficult to pinpoint because I didn't have the typical histamine sensitivity symptoms, and I also had a sensitivity to lectins, excess histamines caused the physical and cognitive impairment symptoms, the lectins caused the psychotic episodes. I cut histamines and lectins and my life changed, many symptoms that I had had for over 18 months, went away. I felt much better, so much better that I didn’t feel disabled anymore. I still had symptoms but not at all like I had before. It was here when I realized the powerful effect of foods, I mean I knew foods could be medicine or poison, but to this extent?
Fast forward to 2022, I have learned so much more during this time. I was able to truly experience the power of foods, for health and dis-ease. I became certified as a Holistic Nutritionist, and I can do things now that two years ago I thought I was never going to do again. In these two years, I learned that I have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, I learned that all along that was what was happening to me, and not just the thiamine deficiency, or previously the thyroid issues, not even just the histamine and lectin sensitivities, but all were the result of the mast cells being over-stimulated and releasing inflammatory chemicals all over my body, affecting my body, mind, and emotions.
So what else have I learned? I have learned that at the root of dis-ease is an unhealthy gut. An unhealthy gut, a gut with dysbiosis (an imbalance of our gut microbiome), can cause autoimmune disorders, autism, and related disorders, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, mast cell activation disorder, and more. I realize now, that it was in my gut that all my health issues started, and my ignorance and failure to heal my gut were what ultimately lead to all the suffering I had to endure.
I believe vibrant health is attainable and remission of disease is possible. Nature intended for us to be vibrant and healthy, but it is our modern lifestyles that have gotten in the way of our divine right. I went from planning how to end my life to living a happy and fulfilling life in beautiful Hawaii. Healing is possible!!!
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
― Ann Wigmore
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