Gemi Bertran provides health and wellness support to women seeking a healthier lifestyle in the Central Coast of California. She has created her own blueprint for health, adding all the knowledge, holistic techniques and tools that she’s learnt over the years in different countries. With years of experience, the founder and CEO of Nourish the Brain Institute talks about her story and journey that led her to empower others to create healthy lifestyle habits and routines.
Jonathan: Where are you originally from, because I know it’s not what people think?
Gemi: Well, I am from Barcelona originally. I’m from Catalonia and is northeast of Spain, and we like to be our own. I live in and enjoy California. I love being here, and I created my business and I feel like it’s the best time of my life here in California, at least professionally.
Jonathan: So, you married an American, came here as a spouse, got your green card, learned to work in California, so now this is home?
Gemi: Yes, now this is home.
Jonathan: Your story is incredible. You have a PhD, yet you don’t like to define yourself with this education. This tells me you’re an amazing student and you’ve taught yourself something that nobody else was able to teach you, which shows your ability to learn, but it also shows your ability to teach. You experienced a major trauma in your life because of external circumstances that you couldn’t control, and it affected your brain, right?
Gemi: My brain broke, not physically, but yes. Somehow, the brain is full of connections and wires, and the wires, when they are all connected, the body functions perfectly and there are no problems. When one of those wires get unhooked or de-attach from the central nervous system, our brain loses connection with the body, and depending which one is this wire, the body stops functioning in one area or others. That’s why people have mental health issues, or that’s why people have problems with their health. It can be from diabetes or autoimmune disorders or any kind of problems just because our brain doesn’t send the right signal at the right time, and then the body stops functioning perfectly.
Jonathan: Got it, so that’s what happened to you. Some of the background behind that was your father, who you’re very close to, had cancer, I understand?
Gemi: Yes, in my case it happened and a series of things stop working.
Jonathan: You went through this incredible adventure of adopting a little girl out of Haiti in the middle of a coup d’etat when everybody said you can’t even go in the country, let alone get a passport, so it’s not surprising that there was so much going on, but what’s most interesting was that you told me that the doctors just went, “no idea,” right?
Gemi: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, because when that happens, of course there is a wire that gets disconnected or more than one wire, but they cannot pinpoint specifically what it is because it doesn’t leave a trace. They can see that something is really wrong with you, but they cannot see what it is because they cannot open the brain and say, “that is this.” No, and then that’s a problem because when that happens, usually the body is exhausted. Emotionally you are not as strong. You feel more depressed. The tendency is feeling more depressed, so usually what doctors do is prescribe antidepressants. In my case, I was lucky enough that because the doctors couldn’t diagnose, they said, “we are not going to give you anything because we cannot say what it is.” I knew I wasn’t depressed, because my body wasn’t functioning. In my case, that was not what happened. For other people, it will show up more like a depression, and that is when they will get the prescription, so I was lucky that that wasn’t my case.
Jonathan: You’ve looked at the mind. You’ve looked at the body. You’ve looked at nutrition. You’ve looked at exercise, because if I look at you now, you’re a picture of health. Tell me about how you put that journey together of nutrition and exercise and mind exercises to really get you into a healthy place.
Gemi: Well, one of the gifts, because I think that that’s a gift that we have, is our intuition. From the very beginning when my weight started dropping and I felt like my body wasn’t healthy and my period has stopped, I start growing hair in my face because there is malnourishment. When there is no nourishment, that happens. The body starts functioning very weirdly. I mean by intuition that I did that to myself. I mean that, so I thought, “If I did it, I can undo it.” That was my thing. Also, I have two kids. I was a single mom of two kids. My mom was still alive, really sick at that point, and I didn’t have the luxury of not paying attention to what I was going to do, so I had to study and figure out for myself what I was going to do. I did study and do a lot of research and became very familiar with medicine and all the alternatives. But healing comes from food and food sources, like where we are buying our food and what we are feeding ourselves, and that was the first thing. Of course, at that point, exercise was out of the question because my body couldn’t function, barely walk upstairs, but yes.
Jonathan: Okay, and then eventually you moved from Spain to California. You met your husband. You were studying the American medical system of how doctors are literally just prescribing a pill for everything, and you already had this knowledge of how you effectively cured yourself. There was a frustration with the medical system, but you saw a different solution than most people, right?
Gemi: Well, what happened is, yes, in the beginning when I moved here I was already healthy and doing well and there was no problems, because this is the good thing about brain is that it can almost recover and go back to 100% functioning from anything. If we give time to our body and brain to heal, it will go back to normal because the brain always remembers how to function, how to put things together, and when I moved here, what are the odds that I start working as a business director in a behavioral health facility, and I saw how that worked, that everybody was being prescribed the same type of medications, stimulants, antidepressants, antianxiety, and something to wind you down at night, and I was horrified. Working in a place that was so far from my beliefs, it was hard. It was difficult for me to be in peace with it. Later on when I had all my education and my certification in nutrition, I thought, “I cannot do that,” so because they wanted me to stay working there, they said, “do whatever you want,” so they allow me to work with patients to give them advice and nutrition guidance, but I still felt really out of integrity telling them, “eat kale and don’t forget your prescription.” I like to be very truthful to myself because if I don’t do that, it’s just nothing works for me.
Jonathan: There are so many diets out there. Obviously, there’s the keto diet, gluten-free, plant-based whole foods. There’s lots of different ways of eating, but eating’s a big part of it, but also exercising and mindset and having a plan around all of that, and you’ve brought all these three elements together, right?
Gemi: Yes. We can order our brain to do whatever we want, but we do it from our mind, so if our thoughts are not in the right direction, it’s not going to happen for our brain because we have to put our willpower there, be consistent, create a structure, create routines, and that … Of course, food helps, but the mind is first, the mindset and the thoughts in that direction.
Jonathan: It’s not as if you’re saying carbs are bad or sugar’s bad or you can’t have gluten. You’ve found a way of being able to live a normal lifestyle but making the right choices. I saw a video you did the other day about when you go to the supermarket, plan ahead for what it is you want to achieve, so do you want to tell me about that planning ahead a little bit in the supermarket?
Gemi: Yeah, so one of the things that many people have the tendency, and I’m sure that people listening will relate with, is that if we go shopping when we are hungry we are more prone to buy junk food because what happens is we go for the fast thing, and the fast thing is usually processed, and you will find those in the middle aisles, so what I always do is I always go through the aisles that surround the supermarket. Usually, produce is on the right of the door and you just keep going, keep going. You will find cheeses and the meats and fish and all of that, and please close your eyes when you are right before the register because they have the cookies there. Do the shopping around the supermarket around the surrounding aisles. Also, meal prep is very important, so the meal prep starts with your shopping list. Have a clear idea of what you want to cook this week, create a shopping list, and stick to the plan. Don’t go off the shopping list because then you are not going to do so well.
Jonathan: Is eating organic the right way to go? Is gluten bad? I’m just hearing so many people now with food allergies or certain food insensitivities. What do you say about that?
Gemi: Allergies always develop because our immune system is not strong enough to fight whatever external threat that comes in. First off, it doesn’t mean we have a weak immune system. It just means that our body doesn’t tolerate certain type of foods so well. Usually it’s cooked foods that create inflammation. Our body creates and develops inflammation towards something specific. It fights it with creating more sensitivity inside, so those problems can create bloating, more mucus, discomfort, constipation, more gas. Those are the typical little things. When those things are not addressed, it increases. It can increase exponentially, and that can go towards other foods sources.
There are inflammatory foods that mainly cause potential allergies or food sensitivities. Gluten is one of them. Gluten, sugar, dairy, those three are highly inflammatory, and then we have eggs which is also inflammatory, corn in less level, but also still inflammatory. Soy is another one and of course alcohol.
Jonathan: I heard somebody say that a little red wine is good for you, is that true?
Gemi: Yeah. Everything with measure is good. If we say we are eating bread that has gluten but is whole grain and you don’t have any problem, because whatever is inflammatory, it doesn’t have to be inflammatory for everybody. It’s potentially inflammatory, but some people process this better. In my case, I’m not processing gluten well, so I haven’t been eating gluten for many, many years.
Some people process this well, so we will never take people off if they are used to something and that something doesn’t cause any problem. That will be very personal. Everybody has a different body, so just because I don’t eat gluten it doesn’t mean it will work for somebody else.
Jonathan: Over the last few years, you’ve helped several friends with their eating plan, exercise, mental routines to get them into a more balanced lifestyle. It’s become a passion project for you, but also a business passion. You started studying under a mentor by the name of Bob Proctor, I’d love to know a little bit about that journey.
Gemi: Well, I worked in the material health field for four years, and then I created my own business because conflict of integrity with that, and that was three years and a half, five years ago. After that, yes, I found that I was missing the part where the signs of the mind work with that. That is when I met Bob Proctor and his education, and I became part of his inner circle, and we studied the material, and everything is about the signs of the mind how to change your mindset to create the kind of life that you want or the kind of body that you want.
Jonathan: Coupled with that new mindset training with the new nutrition and the body balance and exercise, you started helping some professionally. Professionally, you helped some individuals, but now not only have you been able to help one-on-one people as private clients, that you’ve got some group training, and you’ve also got an opportunity to actually train other people to help other people, as well, so it’s not just you anymore, right?
Gemi: No. I’ve been working with one-on-one clients for the last three years very intensively from all around the world, because I had clients in Australia, Canada, Europe and here in California, and everybody needs different things, so we work differently for each specific case. Now, because talking with Bob Proctor, he has suggested that I should be certifying professionals to do what I do, because he said, “what you are doing is very specific and there is no other people that has this kind of job, and if you die, it will die with you so you have to train people to do what you do.” Since my main goal and the reason most people come to me is because they have unhealthy habits and they don’t know how to change it, or they are taking medication for years and they want to go off medication. In those cases, I always work with their doctors. I will never do that by myself, but along with their doctors, we have conversations, we talk, and we help the client and the patient to go off medication, and that’s been very successful. I am especially proud about this part, and I need a lot of people … the world needs a lot of people to do the same for others because there is nothing else in the world that brings you more joy and more satisfaction that have people go off medication.
Jonathan: You’re able to not only help people heal themselves, but then help them go and help other people get healed?
Gemi: Yes. The program is the Brain & Behavior Academy Program and it’s a very specific program and is based on brain education and mindset through healing the entire body and their entire lives.
Jonathan: How long does this course take?
Gemi: The course takes six months, so in six months, you can be a certified Brain & Behavior Academy Program, but for half of the course, you start doing practices inside the program. We provide practices subjects and I’ll take the program and you get a taste of what that will look like, and it’s very exciting for people to go through that process because then they have clearer grasp of how that will feel. You get somebody that needs your help and you help them and that changes lives.
Jonathan: Wow, and I know you’ve been doing this with James who has now gone through your program and he’s going to be helping other people in his world, so it’s obviously a model that’s replicable. If someone was interested in this and they wanted to know how much it costs or exactly the time commitment, how would they best get in touch with you?
Gemi: Well, the best thing is to send an email to James or to myself. It’s email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan: All right, and then what would the process be? They’d have a phone call with you and a Zoom meeting and or something like that?
Gemi: Yes, usually what we will do is set up a phone call, we will have a conversation, and whatever is more comfortable for them if they want to pay in full or they want to pay in split payments, we are very flexible, so we don’t have any problem to accommodate everybody’s needs.
Jonathan: People always say you need to drink more water, but from your experience, how much water really should we be drinking without having to run to the bathroom all day long?
Gemi: Yeah, so what happens is there is all these stories about drinking a gallon of water. That, first off, is unrealistic because who has that time? It’s a lot of water, and they might be doing it for a short period of time, but at some point, they will get tired of doing, then people cannot be consistent with that routine, but the best routine water drinking is eight cups of water like a bottle of 20 ounces or 16 ounces four times. That would be like eight cups of water a day and that will be plenty, and it’s a really reasonable amount of water.
Jonathan: If you drink other fluids like coffee or tea, does that count toward your water intake or not?
Gemi: Not coffee. If you drink coffee, coffee is a dehydrating drink, so there is this theory about drinking coffee that is healthy. It’s not so healthy. Coffee depletes the adrenal. It causes high in the moment, but then you crash, and also it’s dehydrating, so you have to think that per cup of coffee that you drink, you should be drinking two cups of water. Tea is a little bit different because it doesn’t have that big amount of caffeine, but still is not considered water, so when we talk about water, it’s just water. Soda doesn’t count, either.
Jonathan: I stopped drinking soda about two years ago, and what a difference. Now I find that even the diet soda that has less calories are not healthy, right?
Gemi: No, it’s not. Diet soda is very tricky, because what happens is you check the label, the nutritional facts label, and it will say it has zero sugar, and it’s true because they don’t put sugar, but they put aspartame. First off, that one is cancerous and second, it will trigger your pancreas because it is still very sweet. It will still release insulin and fat in your body. There are no calories from the drink itself in the moment, what happens is every time that the pancreas gets triggered and releases insulin, at the same time it releases fat, so it’s not the fat that the calories have in the drink. It’s the fat that your body makes to protect you from the insulin release.