A Divine Gift
By Anna Elena Berlin, Certified Life Coach
The myth has a few versions, but the one I heard in my host’s centuries-old olive grove was that Athena threw her spear into the ground and it grew into Greece’s first olive tree. Truly, a Divine Gift to the Greek people from the Goddess of Wisdom. According to Homer this sacred tree has been thriving in Greece for over 10,000 years. Ancient Greeks considered the olive tree a symbol of wisdom, triumph and peace, and crowned their Olympic champions with olive branch wreaths. Greeks consume more olive oil than any other people on the planet; to them it’s the original Tree of Life. There are more healthy old people walking around Greece than any of the dozens of other countries I’ve visited.
Standing in an ancient grove next to an over 1,000 year old olive tree that’s still bearing fruit is awe inspiring. Especially since I had come to Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese on a quest, well, several actually. On this my 14th trip to Greece I was on a healing journey. My aims were to regain the physical and mental wellness that emotional trauma had stolen from me, learn to thrive again, and help others to do the same. These organic trees, it turns out, are the wellspring of health and wellbeing.
How is that even possible, you want to know? Many health savvy people have known for ages that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil is the healthiest for humans. Olive oil contains the polyphenol oleocanthal which has the potential to reduce cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s Disease. Its powerful antioxidants stimulate our bodies’ own repair mechanisms. Its anti-inflammatory effects are as potent as taking low dose ibuprofen.
Plus it combats: autoimmune disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, stroke, depression, cancer, diabetes, and the oxidative stress associated with aging.
As if these weren’t enough, this life enhancing oil is a nutrient dense, healthy fat that satiates—helping you to feel full longer, and it blocks an enzyme that creates fat out of carbohydrates, both effective in fighting obesity and diabetes. In an effort to become healthy and keep from sliding further into mental and physical illness through neglect, I challenged myself to be my own top priority—for a change. I knew that eating in Mexico and America had contributed to making me sick because a lot of foods are insidiously toxic. Especially, widely used vegetable, seed, and grain oils which are all omega 6-rich, notoriously inflammatory, polyunsaturated fats.
So, I decided to go old school. The traditional vegetable and olive oil abundant foods of Greece always made me glow, and the sunny weather and sea always made me feel vibrant. Both good motivators as I had a lot of health to gain and a lot of weight to lose.
Since the highly-lauded book Genius Foods listed extra virgin olive oil as its number one healthiest brain and body food, I made it my mission to find an excellent one. I wanted the finest organic oil I could find, from an honest single source grower that would have no chance of being diluted by those who would profit by tainting it. My daughter, Lacy, and her boyfriend consume a liter and a half of Greek organic extra virgin olive oil a week as a health practice. She’s a Certified Vegan Chef that wants to start a Comfort Vegan Food business using a superior oil. With her really high standards in mind, I set out to find an oil that would be the best for our family’s health and business goals.
Enter—Theion Doron, literal English translation: Divine Gift. Owned and operated by handsome Air Force Captain Panagiotis Georgiopoulos and his family for so many generations that no one really knows how long they have had their beautiful olive groves. Panagiotis is so hands-on that he not only oversees every step of the growing, harvesting, and oil processing, but he even turns the earth around the trees by hand himself to assure the best water absorption. The conventionally grown trees just across the dirt road bear fruit that is far smaller and shriveled by comparison.
Even though Panagiotis is the grower, he was a bit resistant to me coming from Hawaii to check out his operation based on liking his website. But, he invited me anyway to tour his groves, taste his products, and visit the high-tech, award- winning, family run factory where he oversees his olives turning into oil in just one hour. It is the best tasting, and healthiest, olive oil I’ve ever had. His cousin, Maria, even had a pretty apartment I rented, in the historic center of lovely mountains and sea- set Kalamata.
It was an easy walk to everything I wanted... coffee culture, family run tavern as with traditional, healthy Greek food, a gym to regain my strength, and nice people to meet. It was perfect. In less than a month I went from barely being able to walk a couple of blocks to walking over a mile and losing 15 pounds. I was also able to get rid of the angst that poisoned my life and kept me stuck. Focusing daily on exercise, delicious high nutrition, inspiring exploration, meditation and praying has healed me more than I had hoped for.
Going halfway around the world to accomplish these good goals took me away from the emotional and mental triggers that were keeping me depressed. It got me away from the bad for me foods and no exercise habits that were aging me much too quickly. As a Certified Life Coach I believe that being willing to work these self challenges to fruition breathed new life into me, as I look and feel ten years younger after just one month. With these new insights I am again able to help others to challenge themselves to feel better and do better.
If that’s not a Divine Gift I don’t know what is.