By KATINA TENGESDAL, Staff Writer, email@example.com
The Healthy Lifestyles group in Minot has been meeting for over seven years to discuss alternative medicine and natural health. The group was began by Clayann Almquist, after she had her own experiences with natural health.
In 2000, Almquist underwent surgery to remove a tumor in her breast. Not wanting to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, or tamoxifen therapies after her surgery, Almquist turned to alternative medicine. She underwent chelation and laetrile, or Vitamin B-17, therapies. She also changed her diet.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Clayann Almquist, founder of the Healthy Lifestyles group in Minot, shows some of the books she’s collected on alternative medicine and natural health.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Juices, organic yogurt, fruits, and home-baked bread are some dietary staples for Healthy Lifestyles founder Clayann Almquist.
"I was told to go home and do chemo and radiation," Almquist said. "Those words scared me worse than the word 'cancer.'"
After her recovery, Almquist was determined to get the word out about alternative therapies.
"I thought, I need to let people know that there are alternatives," she said. "My neighbor and I, who also chose not to do chemo, decided we'd like to start a group."
The Healthy Lifestyles group meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Parker Senior Center in Minot. Anyone is welcome to attend. There is no fee, but donations are accepted to help with the cost of handout materials and other expenses.
The Healthy Lifestyles group began with just a few members, and meeting at a restaurant. It grew to include 40 to 60 people per meeting, and now meets at the Parker Senior Center. Almquist said she's kept the group's goal always in mind to educate and inform about other options.
The group has listened to individuals present on several topics, including organic farming, Crohn's disease, thermography, fermenting and vaccinations. In their most recent meeting about vaccinations, presenters explained the possible dangers of vaccination. Almquist said that many parents might feel pressured to vaccinate their children.
"People are intimidated, and they don't know they don't have to do this," Almquist said.
The group maintains that diet and exercise is extremely important for health and well being.
"What you put in your mouth is very important. There isn't good stuff in processed foods. With fruits and vegetables that are not organic, I soak them in grapefruit seed extract or apple cider vinegar and put them under a magnet to neutralize chemicals," Almquist said.
"I'm a big advocate of eating organic foods," she added.
Many group members like to research alternative therapies and share their findings with others. Almquist said that after her own health scare, she became even more interested in researching different options. The group has built a library of books for members to check out so they can share information.
The group also invites vendors to meetings that sell organic foods or health products, and they have a product fair each December where several are invited. Group members then take part in a healthy snack potluck.
"In recent years, people have really become more aware of baking healthier," Almquist said.
The information the group provides is aimed at informing individuals that they do have many options for health and well-being.
"We put out the information so that people know what's going on out there. We feel you should have a choice in what you're doing," Almquist said.
Almquist herself believes that alternative therapies and a good diet have greatly enhanced her life.
"My goal is to live healthy until the day I die. To this day, I'm not on any medication. I've learned to really watch the foods I put into my mouth and how important exercise is," she said.