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My 19 Day Adventurous Retreat Journey in Nicaragua With My Daddy Who Has Alzheimer’s

For those that follow me on social media, you all know that I recently removed my 82 year old father out of his senior home ( I called it the “Love Kidnap”), to take him to Northern Nicaragua to give him his own “Gracious Living Lifestyle Private Retreat”.

For 19 days we travelled together to my brand new retreat home where I took care of him, fed him, cooked for him, did strength training with him, taught him to swim again, did daily drawing classes with him, and basically babysat him to make sure he didn’t hurt himself. Watch all my videos over on YouTube…here’s a super special swimming one:


The response has been overwhelming. My team calculated I got over 70 000+ likes, shares, and comments just on FB! I have so appreciated your support, love, and encouragement because bringing my 82 year old daddy who has Alzhemier’s to Nicaragua has been no easy task. It has been a plan that took me nearly 2 years to execute with many challenges and obstacles to overcome to do it.


(Photos from Week 1…floating in the water…first time in a pool in 30 years, drinking fresh, vegan, superfood smoothies, and getting his first massage in over 30 years, too.)


I did it because I believe in everything I teach and live. I did it because it breaks my heart to see my dad in an old age home where everyone is just waiting to die. I did it because thankfully being my own boss with my own business allows me a flexible schedule to do it. I did it because I knew that being in nature, eating anti-inflammatory menu, moving more, earthing, grounding, and being around life, love and joy, would bring him back to life. I did it because I believe in epigenetics. I did it because I believe given the right healing, positive conditions, we can heal disease. (My dad also healed his cancer over 10 years ago after being given only 10 months left to live with no hope). Click HERE. I did it because it is so important my daddy leaves this earth and his body with as much peace as possible.

This is a photo of me trying to teach him how to swim again…he would just sink because his arms were so weak…but he sure loved it!)

What I also didn’t tell anyone is that 1 week before my dad and I left, my dad ended up in the hospital for 5 days with severe diarrhea. Of course I wondered if that was a sign to cancel the trip. But I asked all the doctors and they all said it was ok, even though you could tell they thought I was slightly crazy for even contemplating it. Thank god I was in Toronto where my dad was so I could bring him green juices and healing plantbased menu during that time. I strongly believe that also got him better faster in that time.


I meditated on the situation. My heart told me yes, yes, yes. My mind said….ooooh, I don’t know.


I decided to go with my heart. And I didn’t look back. If I was going to do this, I had to be strong. I had to be positive, and I had to believe in what I was doing. It was now or never…and I chose NOW.


(Here are photos of my dad 1 week before the trip in the hospital..look at the difference in his face at the end….INCREDIBLE! He looks like a new man!):


My dad has lost 7 lbs just from eating better and moving more. His memory has improved. His humour has improved. His strength improved. He walks straighter and often without his cane now. He re-learned how to swim. He re-connected to his inner artist. His toes were all blue and crooked when we arrived. They returned to healthy colour and 8 of 10 completely straightened out. (??!!) His bowels regulated. His sleep improved. He became re-inspired by his life and future. He became more handsome! (His skin rehydrated and his dark circles disappeared)

Photos from Week 2 (notice the difference in how looks): Eating raw, vegan, chia pudding with fresh fruit, raw cacao & hemp seeds everyday:

Sunset with daddy:



Papaya workouts with my daddy (Yes, that is a Nicaragua papaya and yes, I made him do shoulder presses with it!

He loved it, lol. Look at that smile…and new muscles!)





“Earthing” and working on stretching out his toes for better balance



Wow. What an experience! The transformation has been in incredible to watch at 82 years old. Anything is possible with intention, no matter how old you are. The amount of support we have received from the local Nicaraguans, the local expats in the area, & our friends around the world, has been so positive and unexpected. Thank you so much for encouraging us. I have planned this event for nearly 2 years and it was no easy task to implement, especially off-the-grid in the tropics. Not only was this such a special, healing experience, but co-incidently I also got to celebrate my birthday as well as the birth of my new home. And somehow I also became a mother to my father. Sometimes life makes you a mom in unexpected ways I guess.

https://www.instagram.com/gracevanberkum

If you would like to see short videos about our trip, you can go here: https://www.youtube.com/user/gracevanberkum (I will add a few more next week, too) Did you see our funny impropmtu dancing video over on my FB page, too? My daddy is disco dancing without his cane! Charming and amazing! 😉


I will be writing a short, inspirational book about our journey together this month, with photos drawn by my dad.


You have all asked for my dad’s daily regimen.  These are some of the things I did with my dad and what has worked FOR HIM. Please keep in mind that you need to make sure that none of these superfoods have contra-indications with any medications you or your loved ones are taking. Please consult your doctor or naturopath before taking anything you don’t normally take.


(This is my dad on Day 2. Notice the difference in his skin and his eyes from this photo and week 3).

Daddy Van Berkum’s Speedy Healing Food Regime: Upon waking:

Fresh Lemon Ginger Tea with a shot of Synchro Liquid Turmeric Gold: http://synchrogold.com/#oid=11931_635

To Stay Hydrated: 1-2 X a day: Ultima Replenisher Electrolyes http://www.ultimareplenisher.com/ultima-products/ (Type “GraciousLiving35” for 35% off)

2 X a day: Fresh Ginger Tea, Fresh Hibiscus Tea

2 X a day: Watermelon Mint Water: (watermelon cubes and fresh mint soaked in a jug of water)

1 X a day: Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom Packets from Four Sigmatic: http://us.foursigmatic.com/collections/all/products/instant-lions-mane

1 X a day: 10 Chaga Drops from Giddy Yo YO: http://shop.giddyyoyo.com/medicinal-mushrooms


Breakfast included smoothies from Sunwarrior, Ergogenics Nutrition. http://www.gracevanberkum.com/category/recipes/juice-and-smoothie-recipes/


We also made smoothie bowls, and chia puddings all available here: http://www.gracevanberkum.com/category/recipes/breakfast-recipes/


We ate lots of raw Nicaraguan cacao: http://www.gracevanberkum.com/category/recipes/dessert-recipes/


My daddy is not fully vegan (about 90%). He eats organic eggs from our neighbour and wild fish from the Nicaraguan ocean. Even though he eats high quality animal products, he still mainly ate planbased, plant powered, and plant strong. He was eating mainly raw, mainly veggies, super clean, and as alkaline as possible.


SALT, SWEETENER, & OILS: Daddy ate himilayan sea salt only local, raw honey as a sweetener (in moderation) and raw, organic coconut oil. I also sprinkled Organic DULSE Sea Vegetable Sprinkles on all his savoury food for extra minerals and saltiness.


PROBIOTICS: (2 twice a day on an empty stomach). Needed for immune health, brain health, gut health, cell health. This brand is great for travelling because it requires NO refrigeration.


LIQUID LIGHT(Mineralized Solar Energy) a raw, plant-based fulvic acid and liquid mineral complex created by nature. The minerals were captured by ancient plant life, free of modern pollution and contaminants, fulvic acid was produced by beneficial microbes, and the complex is extracted from an ancient, undisturbed plant deposit using pure cold water. This creates a liquid supplement that contains one of the most powerful nutrient transporters found in the natural world.


**My daddy ate no sugar, no table salt, no gluten, no dairy, no meat, no processed foods, no chemicals. **He ate only fresh foods, real food, & wholefoods, and mainly superfoods, plantfoods, & sunfood….and plenty of hydrating liquids and foods.

I used FRANKINCENSE & CEDARWOOD essential oils on the soles of his feet, palms of his hands, back of his neck, and rubbed on his chest every night before bed.


1 MONTH BEFORE THE RETREAT


Thank you for teaching me how to stay open to life.



Stay open in your mind and heart, forgive, be grateful, enjoy life, have fun, explore, laugh, sing, dance, eat anti-inflammatory real food fresh from the earth, be in nature as much as possible, move your body daily, and take time to rest.


"When you begin to understand that you come from nature, your choices to eat foods from nature and spend time in nature become second nature." Gracious Living Lifestyle XO


**More great tips here: http://draxe.com/alzheimers-natural-treatment http://draxe.com/lewy-body-dementia

• REGISTERED HOLISTIC NUTRITIONIST • RAW FOOD & PLANTBASED CHEF •
• SIVANANDA, YIN, RECOVERY, AND CERTIFIED ATHLETIC YOGA TEACHER •
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