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Life Extension Magazine December 2012
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Elena Pezzo's Innovative Thinking Saves Her Brother and Helps Her Find A New Career

By Jon Finkel
Elena Pezzo's Innovative Thinking Saves Her Brother and Helps Her Find A New Career  

Sometimes, you just have to take matters into your own hands. In the case of Elena Pezzo, the matter that needed to be dealt with was the rapidly deteriorating health of her brother, Anthony.

To hear Elena talk about it, Anthony was your average, ambitious American man. "My brother was a total meat and potatoes guy," she explains. "He was an entrepreneur in New York City. He owned a car wash. He worked hard and fast and had that kind of personality. He was high stress."

Whether that stress led to Anthony's eventual condition, nobody can be sure, but what we do know is that a seemingly healthy man with energy to burn suddenly dropped to the ground in a parking lot.

"On June 6th, 2011, Anthony had a seizure in a parking lot and it turned into a stroke," she says. "He was found 24 hours later on the ground. As soon as I heard, I flew up from Florida to take care of him. He was in bad shape. He wasn't able to see and he couldn't speak or walk. The doctors even suggested pulling the plug."

What a lot of people don't understand is that strokes do strike younger people, which is why controlling blood pressure and vascular disease risk factors such as LDL and C-reactive protein are important at any age. Anthony was only 46 when stricken by this severe stroke.

Even more disturbing, the doctors suggested that she watch the movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which chronicles one man's battle with 'locked-in' syndrome, which is a condition whereby someone is mentally aware of their surroundings, but their body is completely paralyzed. It is a horrific ordeal that can happen rarely following someone awakening from a stroke.

"I chose not to pull the plug and instead decided to give treatment with supplements a try," she says.

This tactic, of course, was not supported by her brother's physicians. They had concluded that Anthony had suffered such a severe lack of oxygen to the brain that there was no hope for recovery. Elena says she saw the scans herself and could see that his entire brain was affected, not just one side. In her own, general terms, "His brain was fried."

"It was horrible," she says. "He was a vegetable and as far as his medical team was concerned, there was nothing they could do. He was in a coma and he was not coming out."

Prior to Anthony's stroke, he had not taken any supplements, but his sister says that he was in average health. Sitting there, watching him day after day, Elena became determined to not just let her brother slip away. She knew that she had to find some way to make him better or she should just pull the plug.

Thinking Outside the Medical Box

Thinking Outside the Medical Box  

Having been an avid Life Extension® reader for many years, Elena knew that many established positions in mainstream medicine are wrong. At this moment, with her brother's life hanging in the balance, she turned to the knowledge that she had gained over the years about nutrients and how they can radically affect the brain. Particularly, she focused on two supplements: CoQ10 and omega-3 fish oils.

"I remembered reading several articles and news items in Life Extension® magazine about how good omega-3s are for the brain," she says. "I read the same things about CoQ10. Life Extension was the only place I trusted because me and my mom live with this magazine. We love it. The biggest message is what stress does to the body and how you can take holistic approaches to problems. I knew about the power of nutrition and supplementation."

She also remembered reading a profile that Life Extension did about Dr. Mark Hyman and how he mentioned both supplements as powerful brain boosters. At first, the doctors did not want to listen to what Elena was telling them about the powers of supplements, but she needed Anthony's doctor's permission to give them to him.

"It took a lot of convincing," she said. "But eventually they let me give him the supplements. They weren't thrilled about it."

Since he couldn't take the drugs orally, the nurses had to administer it through his feeding tube. She began treating him like this at the end of June 2011 and he started to come out of the coma in October.

"Of course, my first reaction was that I wanted to call his doctors and let them know that he was doing great," she says. "Part of me also wanted to let them know that if I listened to them, he'd be in his grave. Thank God they couldn't find his will, which had a "Do Not Resuscitate" in it.

A year after coming out of his stroke, Anthony made a full recovery mentally and his physical recovery is coming along slowly. He began walking once again at the end of the summer of 2012.

An Interesting Inspiration

With her brother on his way to what Elena one day hopes will be a full recovery, she turned her attention to starting a business that would help other people take care of themselves better.

"I looked at how well my brother was doing and I wanted to use it as an inspiration to teach people to eat healthy," she says. "My brother never stopped to smell the roses before his stroke. He now has a new appreciation of life and health and he was honored that I'd start my business with him in mind."

The business she's referring to is a healthy food truck that delivers nutritious foods throughout South Florida.

"There are no healthy food trucks in Florida," she said. "I love super foods and I wanted to open a truck that serves them. Eating healthy creates a balance in your life and detoxes your body. You are what you eat."

Serving the area between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Elena serves vegan raw super foods, as well as super food smoothies, with names like You Macha Me Crazy and Zen Berry.

She mostly serves gym events, health and wellness fairs, and yogi events, and she's soon going to be introducing raw foods and boxed lunches into her menu.

Elena's SUPERFOOD healthy truck can sometimes be seen parked outside seminars held at the Life Extension Nutrition Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

She calls her truck The Zenergy Truck, which is a combination of Zen and Energy. Next time you're in South Florida, be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the road for Elena, the self-described Health Junkie on Wheels.

Healthy Almond Pancackes Recipe

Healthy Almond Pancackes Recipe  

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups almond, rice or soy milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cups oat or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  • Mix egg, milk and oil in a medium-size bowl.
  • Mix flour, almonds, baking powder and salt into a small bowl.
  • Combine dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  • Mix until dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Using a 1/4 - 1/2 cup measuring cup drop pancakes onto a lightly oiled skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides.
  • Serve warm with maple syrup or honey.

Notes:

  • Try 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and/or 1/4 cup malt-sweetened chocolate chips instead of almonds.
  • Try a little lemon zest, the juice of one lemon (add a little less milk) and 1/2 cup poppy seeds for lemon poppy seed pancakes.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

For more information on Elena Pezzo and her Zenergy Truck, visit: http://elenapezzo.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/