From Bedridden to Radiance: How I Used a Holistic Lifestyle to Heal From a Near-Death Accident

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

We live in a stress-filled world. Poor quality nutrition, toxic chemicals, xenoestrogens, EMFs, blue-light, deadlines, and traffic have us competing for our health. But on March 20, 2011, life got much more stressful than I could have ever imagined.

That particular day, I found myself in an ICU bed after recently being hit by a series of large vehicles. I recalled crossing a busy street in Traffic Nation, a.k.a. Los Angeles, where I was unexpectedly hit by a Land Rover headed west. The force of the blow threw me into the eastbound lane, where I was then run over by a Toyota Tundra. Needless to say, my world was rocked.

Lying unconscious in the middle of Melrose, paramedics and first responders aided my broken body. Upon impact I had seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung and “the worst compound fracture’ the maxillofacial specialist at the hospital had ever seen…BUT I was still alive. Perspective.

For any person, this would be a traumatic experience, but for a young, 30-year-old working actor and model, my future was suddenly completely unsure. At this time, my physical appearance was a huge part of my livelihood, and quite honestly, I wasn’t certain I would ever look the same.

My body wrecked and my confidence not far behind, I found a silver lining by focusing on what I DID have rather than what I didn’t. Some say true purpose is born from tragedy, and luckily for me, this was the case. As easy as it would have been to give up, my near-fatal accident turned out to be the ultimate blessing in disguise — that experience sparked the fire in my soul’s purpose. I set forward with passion to recover my health and to get back in better shape than I was before the accident. Along the way, I shared everything I had learned about nutrition, natural healing, skincare and how to feel better about the reflection in the mirror with the rest of the world.

All Natural Recovery

My recovery wasn’t easy, physically or mentally. I had pain from head to toe, my jaw wired shut and nubs for front teeth, I felt myself turning into a zombie from the antibiotics, CT scan and monthly x-rays. It was dark. I lost my zest as a human being. I definitely wasn’t my ‘happy-go-lucky’ self, and it is a scary thing to witness yourself changing for the worse as a person. But I didn’t give in to that feeling, I quickly decided I was going to do everything in my power to ‘beat’ this funk that I was in and recover as quick as I could, as best as I could. A walking ball of inflammation, I began researching ingredients for how I was going to accelerate my healing both internally and externally. I met with several Chinese herbalists and developed a morning tonic that would help build my blood, assist in ridding my body of toxins and provide the best nutrition possible while not being able to chew food. It was extremely tough. Deer Placenta, egg yolks, bison liver… You name it, I tried it. I just wanted to get back to the old me!

In addition to this, my face was extremely swollen, covered in abrasions, and I had an unsightly deep scar on the left side of my face from point of impact that really was an eyesore. Social situations were uncomfortable, so I spent most of my time in my little apartment researching. Unhappy with the toxic, paraben-laced products that my doctors were recommending that I use to heal my skin, I began obsessive research into creating my own remedy. My simple understanding of the negative side effects of the medical and conventional led me into an ever-evolving journey of education of ingredient decks. I learned a lot about the physiology of toxic fragrances, artificial colors and other synthetic chemicals.

It turns out, most conventional skin-care products were going to do more harm than good for my skin. Parabens, one of the more common ingredients, is estrogenic and antagonistic to androgen production, meaning they interfere with the endocrine system’s ability to produce and regulate hormones—this physiological mechanism makes them correlated with breast and other cancers. This sort of research only further validated my protest against the recommended creams and further fueled my desire to heal my body, naturally. I understood that the skin pores are vulnerable to everything they are exposed to, so I only use products that are free of any known toxic, carcinogenic, inflammatory substances. I also ensured that every ingredient that touched my skin came with beneficial, therapeutic effects for my skin cells. I deeply felt that my skin would respond best to a blend of nutrient dense organic ingredients, clays, superfood extracts, cold pressed essential oils and butters.

Researching and finding these hidden gem ingredients became my own little creative outlet! I would isolate certain ingredients and note their effect on my skin, I would pay close attention to the activity of the ingredients and the synergy that they created together. What started as a carefully formulated blend of clays sourced from all over the world, quickly turned into a mineral rich, superfood regenerative meal for the skin on my face. Not only did it help reduce the swelling, and completely heal the abrasions on my face, but my complexion was crystal clear and silky soft. I knew I had something special. The same people that saw me in an ICU bed were blown away by what they saw just a few weeks later. Wondering what I did to heal so quickly, I drove all around town with my backpack, wooden spoon and bowl and would mix up a mask for them to try.

Blown away by the feedback, I knew I had something special. The Alitura Clay Mask was born! Next thing you know I’m melting down cacao butter in a cast iron pan in my kitchen, combining it with Manuka Honey, adding Sea Buckthorn Oil and other skin healthy botanical extracts…. And the best part…seeing and feeling results! The concoction made out of that cast iron pan became my Alitura Night Cream. It was great because I really became my own biggest science experiment. The cell turnover process was sped up by staying extremely consistent with a routine of using the Clay Mask which exfoliated dead skin, then following with the cream that I was making to heal, hydrate and deeply nourish the freshly exfoliated skin’s surface. I started to look forward to doing it.

Just 2 1/2 months after a life threatening accident, I was back on the runway, modeling for Macy’s! My first victory in my recovery.

Shortly after that, Bulletproof CEO Dave Asprey heard about what I was doing and had me on his top ranked podcast ‘Bulletproof Radio.’ Our podcast got such a response from it that he invested in me and my brand and the rest is history. Four years after launching the business out of a dingy studio apartment in North Hollywood, California, Alitura Naturals now has 20 products and is in 76 countries. Alitura is Latin for ‘feeding and nourishing,’ and we maintain that in our core brand mission and ingredient integrity in every product that we make.

I specifically want to say thank you to Mark Sisson and the extremely kind staff at Primal Blueprint, Primal Kitchen® and Mark’s Daily Apple. The first book that I ever read in the health and wellness space was The Primal Blueprint. From cover to cover, I found myself devouring information in that book and implementing it into my and my family’s lives. That book flat out changed my life, and was the catalyst in leading me towards an enriched quality of life by keeping me on a path towards my ultimate purpose.

It truly is an honor to contribute on a blog that I have read and been a fan of for years. Thank you!

— Andy Hnilo, CEO & Founder, Alitura Naturals

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Folks, I hope you enjoyed Andy’s story as much as I have. I’m happy to share that Andy’s offering Mark’s Daily Apple folks a generous discount. Check out his product line and use the coupon code “primal” (of course) to receive 20% off anything in the entire store—and enjoy free U.S. shipping, too.

Be sure to catch Andy on this coming Monday’s Primal Blueprint Podcast (10/22/18). Our own Elle Russ chats with Andy about his near death experience, his commitment to full recovery, and the thriving business that came out of his resolve. 

Have an awesome weekend, everyone. 

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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