Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Health Journey

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

So many people feel that health is easy for me because I have always been healthy. 
Unhealthy Puffy Glen

Now that's funny!

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago where I lived until I was 44 years old. Trust me when I say that the Chicago area is not one of the highest levels of nutritional integrity that you'll see in the U.S.. Even better is the fact that prior to me beginning my journey in health and wellness I used to own 5 different fast food restaurants. Yes, I was a part of poisoning our society. Shocking but true.

Let's back up a bit.

Growing up, I learned just as most did in the Midwest. When you get sick, you either grab an
Healthy Glen 15 Years Later
over the counter med in your medicine chest or if things get tough, you go to your doctor and get some prescription meds to fix you up. I can remember getting a cold or flu and reaching into the medicine chest to grab a Contact,Tylenol, Advil and anything else I can find and wash this down with of course...NyQuil. Of course I would also rub Vick's vapor rub on my chest and under my nose and head to bed with some Sucrets. I have to share, I am cracking up at myself writing this right now but this is so shockingly true.

Now I can honestly say I cannot even remember the last time I have taken any kind of med, whether this would be prescription or over the counter. Heck, it has been well over a decade since I have taken an aspirin for a headache.

Of course I did all the "normal" healthy things. You know, vaccinations, 9 silver amalgam (mercury) fillings, flu shots and everything else in conventional medicine to remain healthy. You get the picture right?

There was another issue when I was younger. 

When I was 17 years old, I had my first grand-mal seizure. Yes, I would pass out, flip around like a fish out of water and afterward, I would feel like I just got run over by a Mack truck. My seizures did not end there. These continued into my twenties and I was eventually diagnosed as Epileptic and put one anti seizure meds for the rest of my life. (Not!) Heck, I was even having seizures when on the prescription meds.

When I was 20 years old, this was the beginning of myself and a high school buddy opening our fast food restaurants in the suburbs of Chicago. So with owning fast food restaurants, you can imagine my diet. Chili cheese dogs, pizza puffs, french fries, soda, coffee, and of course an unlimited amount of chocolate shakes. Heck, most of what I ate actually came out of a deep fryer. To top it off, my beverages of choice were soda, coffee and alcohol. Water, are you kidding me? It did not even exist in my world back than. 

Scary, isn't is?

I did not even mention yet that sugar was my basic food group. I loved sugar and ate a lot of it! I can still remember eating donuts (multiple) every morning for breakfast, followed by a pot of coffee. How I made it out of my twenties is still amazing to me.

Well, something happened!

That something was a couple of articles that really hit home for me. The first was a short article on sugar consumption in a muscle magazine that I read when I was in my mid twenties. This article was talking about the average consumption of sugar and how disruptive this was to the body. When I was reading the article there were two points that stood out. The first was my surprise to hear that sugar was so bad for you. Yes, believe it or not, I was ignorant to that fact. The second point that hit me was the realization of how much sugar I actually ate. I would have been the king of sugar consumption according to that article.

As I began showing an interest in health, I came across another article basically telling me that the prescription meds I was on for the seizures could cause long term neurological damage. I thought, "wasn't I on these because I had a neurological issue?"

Well, that was the beginning of the rest of my life. I needed to get off these meds and find a way to stop the seizures naturally.

I systematically began to change everything. I remember stopping drinking regular soda and switched to diet. Yes, I like so many thought this was healthier. Eventually of course, I stopped the diet soda and dare I say it, started drinking water. 

I could not get enough books on nutrition and supplements and began to turn my nutritional integrity around and yes, I stopped eating donuts and coffee for breakfast every morning.

My nutritional journey has been extensive and I did not change everything overnight. I would make small changes but made them continuously. This enabled me to build on my small successes and stay motivated.

There had to be a huge shift in my mental/emotional approach to life. I used to be a complete type A, high strung and even violently reactive personality. This had to change if I was going to be healthy. Through years of deep mental/emotional work I was actually able to change my personality. When I think of how I used to react decades ago, it is tough to think of that as me.

And yes, the silver amalgam (mercury) fillings in my mouth. They definitely had to go. Through my readings and research, it was easy to understand that mercury was building up in my body via these fillings and mercury is a known neurotoxin. I felt that if I was going to overcome the seizure disorder, the fillings had to go. This lead me to working with a holistic dentist for eventual removal of all 9 of my fillings. Of course this was done with every precaution available to lessen that chance of further exposure to this know neurotoxin.

I eventually had to work through detoxification of the mercury, balance my adrenal function,
Old Inflamed Glen
address some pathogens in my gut and begin working on proper digestion. As time went on I also focused on releasing inflammation in my body, improving brain function, circulation and so much more. Exercise became a regular part of my life and adjusted my work schedule to create an environment in which I could find health and balance.

I worked with other experts in the field to work on my structural body, my soft tissue imbalances and every other avenue possible.

So now you know, I was actually very unhealthy long before I became healthy and honestly,
Anti Inflamed Glen
due to my past, I still have some work to do. At least I know that I can continue to become healthier and metabolically younger as time goes on. It is important to recognize that decades of poor health practices do not just go away and it is important to be patient in your journey to health and happiness.

Oh, and by the way, I did eventually overcome the seizure disorder. I have not had a seizure in well over 15 years, I have been of the anti seizure meds for even longer and I am not concerned about have another seizure the rest of my life. Actually, when I look back now, I can say that those seizures were a gift. Without that health issue, I would have likely continued my poor health practices and a shutter to think of what my life would be like right now if nothing would have changed. Tell me I am not fortunate.

This journey for me is what feeds the passion and compassion I have in the natural health field. This is also what allows me to "get" where my clients come from. I actually came from a similar if not more challenging poor health space as most people that I work with today.

...and I am so happy to help!

If you have any questions or comments in regard to this article, leave a post below for me to answer personally.




  1. Wowsers! Years of chatting with you and I had no idea! Inspirational!!! :)

    1. There's even so much more, but that would have been a book and not an article. LOL!

  2. Glen, congratulations! It is inspiring to read your story. Grand mal seizures are no fun -- I've had thousands of them and have lost a huge chunk of my memory. They are scary and affect your whole life. I'm avoiding grains, legumes, dairy, most processed foods, etc. It is difficult to find supplements that do not have a form of MSG or free glutamic acid. Most have carageenan, maltodextrin, gelatin, or or processed using heat, fermentation, yeast, autolysis, enzymes, or some method that frees glutamic acid from the source making it a potential trigger for seizures. Any suggestions?

    1. Sometimes it's addressing areas that are deeper. Such as assessing the blood/brain barrier function, getting adrenals balanced due to their affect on neural connectivity, increasing blood flow to the brain while bringing an increase in nutrients and oxygen. So much to work on...

  3. Glen,
    Such an inspiring transformation! You can see the difference in the photos. There is an inner glow that shines through you! (and it's more than the tan) ...Grateful for your journey, and the wealth of knowledge you've gained to share,and to mentor myself and others!

  4. Well Done!! I'm just so happy to have you as a part of my life and health!

  5. Loved this article Glen. I also had no idea you battled these health challenges. I thought you were "one of those people" who was always fitness and health-minded. Congrats on turning it around and sharing your story. BIG thanks for inspiring me and so many others to resolve our health issues as well!

  6. Glen, your story is great! Thanks for sharing. As a proud former employee of your restaurant it's far more gratifying to say I had to LEARN to make the right choices in life. It's not a surprise that the Chicago food culture many times promotes the wrong food choices.

    1. Thanks Neal...and of course you were the energy behind me sharing this story. Thank you!

  7. so what fast food restaurants did you own?

    1. They were called Michael A's. We had 5 restaurants total and specialized in Italian beef and sausage. Of course all the other health choices too. LOL!

  8. I enjoyed reading this, also. It gives me hope. I have 7 autoimmune diseases including myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis, POTS, fibromyalgia, raynaud's, celiac, and asthma (no treatment needed for that). I have leaky gut syndrome and working on getting that under control to treat my AI's. I was recently put on chemo shots (was on for 8 weeks) and it damaged my intestines so much that I fear it will take forever to correct. Thanks for the encouraging read and making me realize getting better doesn't happen overnight.

  9. Keep moving forward Stephanie. Our bodies have amazing abilities to heal even after years of challenges.

    Let us know if we can help on any level.