My ancestors and their “gut feeling”

I hail from a very conservative tribe in Kenya. My dad went on to study in the UK and he provided a very comfortable lifestyle for us but in our daily lives some tribal stuff just stuck out like a sore thumb. What a dichotomy. My parents seldom spoke and did things that seemed queer to me. I remember that every time I spoke of feeling sick, my mom would run to the pantry. She would get herbs and boil them and would only say, “its medicine for the stomach”. I would think and ask myself, “…eemmm what does the gut have to do with it?” Well, after my daughter’s diagnosis I realize it has everything to do with it!

The herbs all looked alike in my eyes…but my parents knew the difference separated them according to their purpose. There was the high blood pressure herbs etc. My parents rarely gave us pharmaceutical drugs. In my culture, every family line must have at least 1 generation of herbalists so that they can be the doctors for the family. My grandfather was never vaccinated and never took Rx drugs and he lived to be over 100 years old…he suffered from no diseases and he died of the proverbial old age. My grandfather would wake up in the morning and walk with us and show us the twig trees behind our home. He would cut a small piece and chew the tip and brush his teeth. We would proceed and do the same. The twig had a minty flavor and we never suffered from cavities until we were much much older. I remember that my dad was later diagnosed with Diabetes due to his lifestyle and they wanted to amputate his leg. He had a nasty wound…I remember my dad asking the doctor to give him some time and he went to our village to get some herbs that treated his leg. He got better and did not get amputated. My dad being the only child was trained extensively by my grandfather. Sadly, he hasn’t passed his knowledge to our generation. The herbalist line has ended. Much of our tribal secrets are slowing eroding due to this.

Another beautiful gut secret is curdled milk called mursik. Since my tribe is a pastoralist community, we were obsessed with milk. The milk is said to be so powerful that it produces world class marathon runners who happen to come from my tribe. I don’t know if the milk is the secret potion but I think it is largely the lifestyle. There are around 4+ bacteria cultures that have been found in mursik. That is music to my ears. I am so glad my parents forced me to drink this, although I wish they would have explained to me why it is good for me.

When a child is born in my tribe and cries a lot, the parents are quick to blame the gut/stomach. They immediately send for the grandmother from the village and they bring herbs to treat the gut. Once the herbs are given, the child is most often back to sleeping well.

Another gut secret is finger millet porridge. Finger millet is very nutritious and every time you are sick and in hospital, everyone will bring you porridge and not flowers! When I gave birth I had 5 jugs of porridge that my family and friends brought to me. My daughter drinks millet porridge every morning. My parents have a farm and grow millet. It is not contaminated with wheat since they have never been wheat farmers. So I guess I can say it safely fits the GFCF criteria. They prepare it on the farm and find a way to ship it to me. Finger millet is said to have relaxation qualities. It relaxes the body naturally and its said to be beneficial in conditions of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Another good quality is that it digests ALKALINE!!!

I could go on and on about my ancestors. I truly thank them for the gut lessons!

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