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Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired


Kefir Heals

Guest Article

Shelley & me jpegThis is a guest blog by – Shelley Hanna. Shelley came to one of my classes and found tremendous help from cultured foods. She has become one of my dearest friends and greatest supporters. She strongly encouraged me to write my first book when I didn’t think I could, made the graphic pots you see all over my site, and came up with one of the best cultured veggie recipes, Shelley’s Cultured Veggies. Shelley has spent 25 years as a creative professional and now has her own blog and is a certified coach. She has quite a story to share. You will love her as she shares her heart and beautiful pictures. We often go to lunch and talk about our love for kefir. For you see, it changed both of our lives and brought us together. We give kefir all the credit.

Here is her story.

Why on earth am I writing about bacteria? A few years ago I was nearly non-functional. I felt terrible. I had zero energy. All food made me sick – especially healthy food. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything and was seriously thinking I would end up going on disability at work.

I'm sick and tire of being sick and tired

I had been to the doctor and all of my tests came back “normal.” How could my tests be normal when I felt terrible? It was no way to live and I really couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life feeling this way.

I had been a long-time sufferer of repeated sinus infections and highly susceptible to picking up any type of nasty bug. What I didn’t realize was that the rounds of antibiotics I had taken throughout my life to fight infection had virtually destroyed my immune system.

Think All Bacteria Are Bad For You? Think Again.

We live in an “antibiotic/antibacterial” world and are conditioned to think that all bacteria are the enemy. They are something we need to kill in order to protect ourselves. What I’ve come to learn is that this kind of thinking is all wrong.

Not all bacteria are created equal. While there are bad bacteria out there that can cause illness, there are also good bacteria we need inside of us to protect us. When we take antibiotics, we not only kill the bad guys, we kill the good guys too. For me, inadvertently killing the good guys for decades with antibiotics meant my immune system was getting weaker and weaker.

What made matters worse was my diet that consisted of soda (Diet Mountain Dew was my fav), pop tarts, pizza, cinnamon rolls, all types of sweets, fast food — you name it, if it was junk food, it was on my menu. I was addicted. But as I got sicker and sicker, my body began to reject all kinds of food. I was a wreck.

Donna The Miracle Worker

At my lowest point, I went to a class taught by Donna Schwenk to learn how to make cultured foods. I had never really heard about this stuff, but felt strangely compelled to sign up. Looking back, I believe the part of me that wanted to be healthy was insisting I go. My body wanted to feel good and knew somehow that this would help even though my brain thought this stuff was flat-out crazy.

Donna’s passion for the transformational power of these foods was infectious. She shared her own story about how these foods changed her life. This gave me hope. It seemed illogical that bacteria—the very stuff I had been taught to fear all my life—could actually improve my health. While it still didn’t make sense, by that point I really didn’t care. To say I was desperate is an understatement.

The Paradigm Shift

Changing my mind about how bacteria could actually help me instead of harm me was a major paradigm shift for me. This blog is dedicated to breaking up with old beliefs. And breaking up with my beliefs about what I put into my body is exactly what happened after Donna’s class.

What I now know is that if your body is sick and feels bad, it’s virtually impossible to get your brain into a positive mindset. All of the information out there about changing how you think isn’t any good unless you really embrace the idea of treating your body with respect and giving it what it needs to serve you well.

if you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big changes, work on your paradigm. Stephen Covey

When you learn how truly powerful these cultured foods are, you stop seeing bacteria as something gross and icky and start to see them as a supportive friend. (As I write this, the old me would have thought this was the craziest thing to say, but now I know it is SO TRUE.)

People have been using cultured foods for thousands of years to increase wellness and protect against illness. In this country, we’ve simply forgotten these healthy traditions. Let’s change that. Let’s bring healthy back!

My Love Affair With Kefir Begins

Donna taught us how to make kombucha, cultured vegetables and kefir (a.k.a The Trilogy) in her class. I jumped in and started making all of her strange concoctions. While I’ve found benefits from all of Donna’s foods, by far my favorite has been kefir. For me, it is the easiest and fastest to make. It’s like a drinkable yogurt and is very soothing and calming to my system.

Below is my process for making kefir.

Kefir: The Flexible “Fast Food”

Once you get the hang of making kefir, it’s really easy and fast to make:

Note* You can make kefir with any kind of milk, be it dairy or non dairy. http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/non-dairy-kefir-wants-a-date/

How to make kefir

You don’t have to limit yourself to just smoothies. Kefir can be made into cheese, dips, salad dressing, and even ice cream. There is really no limit to what you can do with this magical food.


shelley copyShelley Hanna has spent over 25 years as a creative professional and is currently a SVP, Executive Creative Director. She also is an artist and believes it’s the little things in life that make us happy. Things like how a beloved pet looks at you after they did something silly, taking a sip of tea from your grandmother’s favorite teacup or the quiet calm of the lake where you spent summers as a teenager. Shelley helps people remember and appreciate all those little, meaningful moments by turning them into works of art. You can see her work at: Shelley Hanna Fine Art
14 Responses to "Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired"
  1. I have an unusual inquiry….
    I only recently started making kefir.
    I started water kefir & a few days later I started milk kefir.
    One day shortly there after I was working on both & I think I cross contaminated them because my milk kefir is a fizzy milk drink. Its ok in taste & is healthy because I have been drinking it & I am fine, but the texture is weird to say the least.
    I don’t know that I cross contaminated it but how else would I get fizzy milk kefir?
    Any ideas of suggestions?
    BTW…My water kefir isn’t as good as the milk we can’t get enough of it. My son is in love with fresh Apricot milk kefir.
    Love your site & videos…
    I have your book & plan on ordering a warming belt soon.

  2. Donna, I needed to say Thank You for sharing your journey and your wisdom. It was heart warming and courageous of you. I’m on my own journey, trying to find answers that doctors can’t. I m on a mission to feel good again menopause 56 tired all the time and Thyroid since the age of twelve. After seeing you and hearing your story and then did some of my own research. I’m going to make Kefir for my family and myself. Thank You Pattie

  3. I was wondering about a practice I follow when making kefir. After I have had the kefir fermenting on the counter for 24 hours, I spoon out 3 tablespoons of the newly made kefir that I have not drained and use those 3 T to start my new batch of kefir. It works, but it is not how you do it so I am wondering if doing it my way still yields a high quality kefir in regards to helpful bacteria.

  4. how do you get it to not smell like sour milk. I can not get past that smell to drink it. HELP????

  5. Thank you for breaking this down so nicely. One the second ferment, do I put in my lemon peel (or whatever) and put it back on the counter for 24 hours, then strain again and refrigerate? I’m confused on how to do the second ferment. Thank you!!

  6. Your wisdom and the magical power of kefir changed my life. Thank you Donna for sharing what you know with the world. You are transforming lives everywhere and I feel honored to be your friend and I literally have kefir to thank for that! Without it, I wouldn’t know you, I wouldn’t have my health, I most likely wouldn’t be able to work and I would have never started my blog! (Donna told me to do it! lol) Thank you my friend xoxoxo

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