Diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 2014, Lauren Mones, the Fermenting Fairy, decided to take the warrior's path to become the healthiest and most vibrant version of herself. In this episode, Lauren delves into the healing power of wild probiotics and how food shaped her new way of life. Trusting her gut, Lauren decided to stop her medication and changed her diet to foods closest to nature. She delves into the microbial world and how it brings wonders into our bodies. Lauren also emphasizes the value of the art of fermentation in our gut health. A simple jar of sauerkraut gave birth to the Fermenting Fairy. So, let's dive into the microbial world and learn to improve your gut health with Lauren Mones today.
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The Fermenting Fairy With Lauren Mones
The Power Of Wild Probiotics
We have an amazing guest, Lauren Mones. She is the Fermenting Fairy. She has an unbelievable story of how she healed herself from Crohn's disease several years ago, and she has her products online at Fermenting Fairy. Her story is so amazing and powerful because she healed herself and now she is helping others do the same. She is helping people heal with conditions such as IBS, Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, SIBO, GERD, acid reflux, diverticulitis, and much more. She is an amazing human being. I loved having her on the show. I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. Cheers and love. Enjoy the show.
I am so excited to have our guest on, Lauren Mones. She's excellent. She has such a powerful self-healing story, which is what the show is all about. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. The Western medical route failed her and she took it upon herself to heal herself, and it was so impactful on her life that now she is helping others heal as well. These are my favorite stories. Lauren, welcome to the show. How are you?
Thank you so much. I am wonderful. Thank you for that intro.
I wanted to jump into your story. First and foremost, where are you from and how did you start on this journey you are on now?
I'm from Rockaway, New Jersey, but I went to California and then I found myself back in Florida during the whole RONA phase. My story started several years ago when I was seemingly living a very successful life. I was engaged to a man that I thought was going to be my life partner. I was working full-time as an occupational therapist. I was training very hard for triathlons.
I was very healthy at least on the outside. You can look at me and say, “She's healthy. She's running miles and miles and biking miles and miles.” Right around when I felt like my life was on an upswing, I started getting sick. Within a year, I started to become very sick and it got progressively worse. Back then, I was going to see all kinds of doctors to get a diagnosis, Western, Eastern, acupuncture, and chiropractic.
What was going on? What were you feeling?
The main symptom was diarrhea and I was going to the bathroom. When it got worse, it was about twenty times a day. I would eat and it would come right out. I was not absorbing anything. I was not getting calories. I was not getting energy from the food and not getting nutrients. It was pretty obvious because even walking up one step to my Santa Monica apartment, I would have to sit down afterward because my heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest. I was so malnourished. I have not been able to absorb any nutrients from my food or water.
I went to see numerous Eastern and Western docs and medical practitioners, and finally, I bit the bullet to get a colonoscopy. I was fighting that for a very long time. I had never had surgery, I never had a procedure, and I did not want to go in for a colonoscopy, but I felt like I was on my deathbed quite literally. I went and got the colonoscopy, came out of it, and the doctor said to me as I was coming out of the medication phase that I have Crohn's disease, and I didn't even know what that was.
He said to my fiancé back then, “You need to go to the pharmacy and get her on these meds ASAP.” Steroids and immune suppressors. I'm like, “I went from triathlons to this. How is that possible?” He said, “This is a lifelong condition. You will be sick, in and out of hospitals for the rest of your life. You are going to need to stay on these medications for the rest of your life.” I'm coming out of anesthesia.
Even on my first checkup, I went back to see him and he was like, “Just eat anything. You need to gain the weight back. Eat ice cream or bread.” Food has nothing to do with the activity of the disease. That was a big red flag for me and I'm glad he said that because when I went home from that colonoscopy, I started doing research on what Crohn's is.
I read everywhere. It's an autoimmune disease. My body is attacking itself. It's incurable. I pretty much went into The Dark Night of the Soul. I was like, “My life is over.” I went into a deep depression. When I went to see this doctor who did the colonoscopy for the first checkup, he said, “Just eat anything. Food has nothing to do with the activity of the disease.”
That sent off a little bell right here that was like, “That's weird.” I don’t know that much about it, but I do know that food does have something to do with the health of my body. That was great that he said that because that made a little bit of me go, “Maybe I shouldn't trust him. Let me do my own research.” I found lots of books on autoimmune diseases and started changing my diet. In The Paleo Approach, I don't know if you have ever read that book. It's a 600-page book.
A tiny paragraph in it said, “Fermented foods might be helpful for autoimmune disease.” I said, “Let me go buy a jar of sauerkraut at my local health food store,” and I did that. I took a spoonful out of the jar and ate it. It was almost like a Kundalini awakening. I don't know what it was, but it was this surge of energy in my body. I'm sure a lot of your readers can understand that when you are sick, there is no energy happening in your body. I was slumped over all the time.
I ate this spoonful of sauerkraut and I came to life. I said, “What was that? Let me try it again.” I ate it again and it didn't happen so much like that, but I continued to eat the sauerkraut and my stool started to form. It went from complete water to formed stool. I was going to the bathroom less. That was another thing that was like, “What is this? What's going on with my body? What is this sauerkraut? What's it doing when I ingest it?”
That went down a deep dive of probiotics and microbiomes and how were 99% of bacteria and microbes way less human than we are. I dove into gut health. This was within four months of diagnosis. I said, “That's it. I'm getting off my medications. It makes no sense for me to be on this. Why am I suppressing my immune system when it's not my immune system? It's my gut. Why am I taking steroids when it's inflammation?”
I have healed inflammation before. I don't need steroids for inflammation. I broke my elbow several years ago. That was inflammation. I can do it again. I threw away my medications and that's been my journey. It wasn't easy. There were many moments where I was like, “I might die,” but it was my path. I promised myself that I would not enter the Western medical matrix again and that I would rather die. I had so much trust in my body and in the divine spirit that I knew that wouldn't happen. I had to be that black or white about it that I was never going to get back on those medications and I was never going to see a doctor that would tell me that I had a lifelong incurable disease.
Let's fast forward several years later. I'm on your website. You are helping people heal from IBS, Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, SIBO, GERD, acid reflux, diverticulitis, and more. There are testimonials on your website of autistic children getting great results from your product, people getting off their medications, and celiac disease healing. My question for you is, you had this amazing recovery from healing yourself. You could have continued with your life, kept doing triathlons, and being an occupational therapist. What made you dive in and create this line of products and the Fermenting Fairy? How did that come to be?
I started doing fermentation at home for my healing because that experience with sauerkraut was so profound. I started to make kefir, kombucha, pickles, and you name it. I made everything at home for myself. I was also doing yoga in Santa Monica with a teacher who I knew had ulcerative colitis. I was like secretly bringing him some jars of my homemade ferments.
One day, I went to take a class and there were about 100 people in the class. We were mat to mat. He says, “You need to start selling that stuff. I feel amazing.” He said it in front of everyone. I had like a line of people wanting my stuff. I wasn't even selling it back then. I started selling it outside of his yoga studio and it was pretty profound how people were starting to heal and feel good.
I entered the Brentwood Farmers’ Market in California and it took off like that. I got into Erewhon, which is one of the premier high-end grocery stores. They took my product right away. When you are in your dharma, when you are in your, “This is like your path. This is what I was put here on earth to do,” it's not easy, but it is easy. The wind is behind me lifting me.
The response is incredible. Even to this day, thousands and thousands of people have completely changed their lives with my food or with my products. I have had people who were like me who couldn't leave their houses because they had to go to the bathroom so much. They couldn't work. They had no social life. They were a prisoner of their disease. Taking my products, they were able to go to work after that. It's profound.
Hearing about these fermentation products for people for the first time, what is it about fermentation? What is it in the sauerkraut, the key for the kimchi or the kombucha that is helping these people heal?
What we do is different than what most fermented food companies do. It's important to address that, which is we do a wild fermentation. That's taking when a head of cabbage grows in organic soil, the microbes enter the cabbage. The cell wall and the skin inside of the cabbage. We can't see and smell them. They are microbial so they are unseen to humans, unless under a microscope.
That head of cabbage naturally has the microbial world in it. If we take that head of cabbage, and we create a fermentation vessel, then all of those microbes proliferate and they create a symbiotic environment. They also go from maybe hundreds to trillions, and then we eat that once was cabbage and now, it's sauerkraut. The microbes, confer a lot of different health effects on our human body.
That's what we do. That's called wild fermentation. We don't add any bacteria or yeast to our products. Most companies are doing that. Most companies will take some freeze-dried pretty much dead probiotics, add them to the sauerkraut, add them to the yogurt, and kefir, and then they call it a fermentation. That to me is not fermentation. That's skipping a few steps. What we do is the real traditional fermentation. Our products have an abundance of nature's probiotics. Whatever is in the soil, which are trillions of probiotics is now entering into our bodies, our microbiomes by ingesting the food.
When you do look at some probiotic products in the store, it's billions or trillions, and it's a package of dried powder. It doesn't look like it's alive and nothing like that, the wild fermentation process that you mentioned.
It's important to note too that you will find cereal bars, protein bars, or protein powder that's all labeled probiotic. It's only probiotic because they are using one probiotic, which is Bacillus coagulans and that is more of an industrial probiotic. It's used in paints and used to seal wood. It's industrial. It isn't natural, but they are using it more in the industry machinery and stuff like that.
They are also using it in food to call it and to be able to label it a probiotic food, but it's not going to have anywhere near the same effects that my food is going to have. If anything, it's going to send your microbiome into more of a uni-strain instead of a multi-strain or diverse strain microbiome. When you are taking something that only has Bacillus coagulans, or when you are taking a probiotic pill that only has 2 or 3 strains, you are doing yourself a disservice because the way that the body thrives and the way that nature thrives, and we are no different from nature is based on diversity.
You need as many different strains. You need the trillions, not the 1 or 2 different strains. That's why stool tests are completely irrelevant in my eyes. You are missing this one strain, but are you going to go find a pill that is giving you that strain? If that's not what's causing the problem, what's causing the problem is the lack of diversity.
The different types of products you have, are there more probiotics in certain kombucha than the kefir or the sauerkraut versus the kimchi? Is that because some people don't like sauerkraut, maybe they like the kimchi better? How do the different variations of the products work?
Every single product that we have will have a different CFU, which is a Colony Forming Unit of probiotics, so our kefir is the highest. That's the most abundant. That's only because of kefir grains, which is what we ferment it with, which is a wild colony of bacteria, yeast, and fungi, is a wild formation. It is the most abundant in diversity in terms of any probiotic food. Any milk kefir will have the most amount of probiotics. The milk kefir in the stores, you are not getting that much because of what they are doing. Instead of using a wild grain to ferment, they are using, “Let's dump this one in.” You might as well take a pill and call it a day.
Which one is your favorite?
I would say my kefir and I'm loving my pear sauce right now. We have a fermented pear sauce.
What I love, too, is you do consultations. This could be very overwhelming to somebody that got Crohn's like yourself. You got diagnosed and it's like, “What do I do next?” During these consultations that you have with people, how do you decide what is best for them in terms of where to go from their diagnosis?
I hear their story. I listen to their symptoms. I listen to what they are doing on a daily basis. They take me from moment to moment every day. I helped decide what product would be best, but also how to navigate the environment like environmental toxins, light, and circadian biology. It's like a holistic consultation. I'm not just talking about my products. I'm talking about gut health, circadian rhythms, and mitochondrial health, that type of thing.
I feel like people will need an extra guide because if it's me when I find something that works, I'm going to keep it. You have to implement other things. Where do you go? You got the jar in front of you how many times a day? It's very nice to have that professional help guide you because some people will be like, “I did it for three days and I didn't notice anything.” This is probably going to be a 6-month to 1-year, 2-year journey on consistency.
People want the quick fix. That's not a saying. It is true and I see that with my products. I will have someone who has had acid reflux for 40 years, and they tried 2 drinks and then they were like, “It's hard for me,” or they say it made it worse.
Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better in a lot of healing cases for sure.
It’s like a little die-off effect. When you change your whole body and you change your microbiome, you might have some symptoms that reoccur or some new symptoms, but you have to give your body a chance to change to revamp itself. I mostly did those consultations because when I was sick, it was so difficult. I remember ordering thousands of dollars of supplements and things and I didn't know how to use them.
I remember contacting somebody that I was buying supplements from, and it was very difficult to get ahold of any information. As I realized I was starting this company, I said, “I'm going to make myself available for one-on-ones for people who do have questions and for people who are sick and they are scared.” They don't know. They have tried everything. We always feel like we try everything and it's the fear of having to spend more money, having to maybe be sicker from something. It’s very vulnerable to be in that sick state and not have something that works and not have someone to talk to.
It’s like what we were talking about before the healing process is not linear. I see it a lot in chiropractic. Even for people who have a good first adjustment, what goes up is going to come down eventually. It's like the stock market in the beginning, and people want to know how to get through those lulls and not setbacks, but those healing when they are feeling the healing. I know every case is different, but in terms of timeline, how often do you recommend people stay with it?
I believe that eating wild fermented food should be a part of the daily diet. They have so many health benefits so why not? They are delicious too. They also train the body to migrate towards a tangy sour taste, which is very healthy for our whole body, especially for our microbiome. I find that most people, especially Americans, tend towards the sweet. They want sweet. They want donuts, sugar, oatmeal, and granola, things that we think are healthy.
Granola is healthy but it's sweet. When you start eating wild fermented foods on a daily basis, you will find that you don't want those sugary or sweet things anymore. Your sugar cravings and your sweet tooth go away, and that's because you are changing your body. The body, even though it has all the tastes on the tongue and you do want all those flavors, the healthy body wants the tangy, sour, and umami.
I do recommend doing it every day and I'm not saying that because I make these products. If you go and buy someone else's products, that's great. Have them every day because also you never know. We are inundated with toxins. Environmental toxins are building like, “I don't even know what this house was built out of. I have no idea and I don't want to know.” Toxins here are like our thoughts.
Toxins everywhere. We are doused with toxins these days. In the sky, it's falling. Fermented foods to me are super foods and it's insurance. I don't have health insurance. My health insurance is my ferment and other things like the sun. The sun is my health insurance, but why not have it every day? If it's expensive, if that's the problem, then you make it yourself. You can go on YouTube and make it yourself.
Wait till you get the bill for trying to cut corners. Wait until you see that medical bill.
You might as well spend a little bit every month and have them every day.
You mentioned wild fermentation versus just tossing things into it. Is there a way to tell when you are at a supermarket? Do some products say wild on them or you just don't know?
If they are doing a wild fermentation, they probably will say it's somewhere on either their label or their website. The way to know that someone is not doing a wild fermentation is if they list the probiotic strains. When I first started my company, every year, I send my products to labs to test them to see what strains are in there. I realized that it changes all the time because there are so many different factors. What farm am I getting my produce from? If I get it from the same farm, the soil is going to be different every single time. It changes rapidly.
Also, the hands that are making and packing it. The air quality. What was the air quality at the time of that cabbage growing? A week later, what's the air quality? That's all going to have an effect on what strains are in that sauerkraut or that kefir. It changes all the time. Now if you see a company that has a list, that tells me that they are intentionally adding it in.
Here are the lactobacillus and bacillus, and they can list them. Consumers think that's a good thing. I see that as not a good thing. I see that as a controlled fermentation that is taking a probiotic pill, dumping it in the cabbage, creating that sauerkraut, and calling it sauerkraut. It still is sauerkraut but it's a lack of diverse sauerkraut.
These are all great things to know. I learned a lot from having you on the show. Thank you for sharing all that wealth of information and your story. You also have a big social media following. Where can people find you on social media?
I'm on Instagram as @Fermenting.Fairy. I was on Facebook. Not anymore, but Instagram is active.
Your website is Fermenting Fairy.
You got it.
At the end of every show, I'd like to ask all my guests, what is one piece of advice that you have received that you would like to gift the audience? It could be anything. It could be Fermenting Fairy related. It could be whatever you want it to be.
Stop believing what other people say, including me, and get in touch with your intuition. I know for 100% that every single one of us has the answer to healing for whatever we want to heal. We have the answer. We are so inundated with social media that everybody knows everything these days and it's hard to connect within. This is where all the answers are. This is where you have to trust yourself first before you trust another person.
That's what my mom used to always say, “Trust that belly barometer.” Lauren, thank you so much for coming to the show. I am so excited to try your products. They look great. I would love to have you back anytime.
Thank you. I would love it.
About Lauren Mones
I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CROHN'S DISEASE IN 2014
At the time, I was what some people considered “Uber healthy”. I was racing triathlons. A normal workout day consisted of running, swimming and biking for up to 6 hours per day. I ate a mostly clean diet. I had a great career as a nationally certified Occupational Therapist. My personal relationships with family and friends were solid. But I began to show signs of terrible gut health. I was sick. Very sick.
CHRONIC DISEASE WITH NO CURE AND A LIFE TIME OF MEDICATION?
You can imagine my shock after my first colonoscopy. When the post drug drowsiness wore-off, the physician whispered in my ear "this is a life-long disease with no cure. You will need to be heavily medicated for the rest of your life." I was then told to go home, take my medication and eat anything I wanted, that food had nothing to do with the activity of the disease. My physician encouraged me that I would be able to “live an average life with Crohns”.
FAITH IN THE HEALING POWER OF FOOD AND A NEW WAY OF LIFE
Well, that didn’t sound exactly right to me. I didn’t know anything about Crohn’s at the time, but what I did know, is that food, in particular plants, have always had a healing effect on me. And I’ve never been one to live an average life. That fueled my fire! I changed everything. I eliminated inflammatory foods and added more foods that were closest to nature. I managed stress levels better with personal growth practices. I became particular about my circle of people with whom I interacted every day. I ended toxic relationships.
A SIMPLE JAR OF SAUERKRAUT CHANGED EVERYTHING
One of the biggest shifts came to me when I bought and consumed my first jar of sauerkraut. I felt a huge surge of energy. I was intrigued. I began diving head first into the art of fermentation and gut health. I began making sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha. I started studying the microbiome in depth. Not only was my body healing with these foods but I developed an absolute awe for the microbial world. A world that is teeming with life. A world of balance, symbiosis and chaos. A world that I couldn’t touch, see, hear, or smell but was doing wonders for my body/mind/ Spirit.
LIVING, MEDICINAL FOODS TRANSFORMED ME FROM THE INSIDE OUT
I threw away all of my medications and committed to a path of the Warrior. And then the most amazing thing began to happen. I started to really trust in my body’s own healing capacity. I continuously practiced slowing down to learn and listen to what I needed. I trusted. I trusted. And I trusted. Even in the face of fear, I chose to trust. Fermenting Fairy was born from this place of trusting my own inner compass and a deep desire to share these living, fermented, medicinal foods with you. Nothing makes me happier than knowing you are feeling your best and that Fermenting Fairy is part of your journey to the healthiest and most vibrant you!
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