BYU business graduate Nathan Hessing faced a problem when his diet was impeding his capacity to do one of the things he loves most — running. In his struggle to find a cure, he and his wife Cristin found a way to make bread that his body could digest and use as fuel to help him run again.
Nathan faced serious health issues during his time as a student at BYU. He was a cross country runner in high school, but as a student at BYU, he could barely walk around campus. He said he felt like he was going to be in a wheelchair by age thirty-five.
“I would walk across campus, and my legs would swell up so much that they would press against my jeans,” Nathan said.
What Nathan didn’t know at the time was that it was an autoimmune disorder that made it difficult for him to manage the day to day tasks as a student. He cut several things out of his diet, including gluten, in his struggle to gain strength to run again. After years of battling against his health, he said he felt like there was nowhere else to turn.
“At this point, I was thinking about giving up on God and the Church,” Nathan said. Feeling at the end of his rope, he turned to God one last time, as well as research, to find ways to live life again. He said that following unforeseen obstacles and trials of faith, he and his wife, Cristin Blankenship Hessing, found ways to heal and fuel their bodies, and are now helping others do the same.
After much trial and research, they created a sourdough bread that people with gluten intolerances can eat. It only contains three ingredients: flour, water and salt. These ingredients are combined with an age-old fermentation process that makes the bread celiac friendly. Cristin explained that this discovery was something they wanted to share with others.
“It’s why we sell bread and why we teach free classes so other people can learn to do it themselves,” Cristin said.
Former BYU cross country runner, Britney Lund, is one of several people grateful for Nathan and his wife’s efforts. She too was dealing with an autoimmune disease that led her to cut out soy, gluten and dairy from her diet.
Lund explained that it was very difficult to cut gluten from her diet as an athlete. She found herself struggling to have the energy to run the 40-50 miles a week with BYU women’s cross country team.
“It was frustrating trying to find things to snack on,” Lund said. “I was falling asleep in classes all the time and slowing down in practice.”
Lund said that athletes, especially cross country runners, need to eat energy-rich foods to replenish the calories they burn off and help their muscles recover. Lund discovered the bread through her mom who had a connection with Nathan — a connection that would have a lasting effect.