Believed to be high in antioxidants, noni is also said to be good for cancers, brain disease, and is anti-inflammatory, making it useful for pain and cardiovascular disease.
The fruit has an unpleasant bitter taste – making it useful for liver conditions, but can be mixed with other foods to mask its flavour.
Gathering the fruit from friends and family, the Marsters family take noni juice almost daily and swear by it for their health.
Others will drop the fruit off so that Cheryl or her husband Junior can mix up a juice for them and get some healthy living tips to go with it.
Cheryl, who follows a 100 per cent plant-based diet, says it was something that came to them over time.
“We have witnessed firsthand the power of diet,” says Cheryl. “What you put in is definitely what you get out.”
“It’s a move back to the way islanders historically ate, when they were healthy and free of most disease. Now we are influenced by a Western-type diet and we are getting sicker.”
Cheryl arrived on Rarotonga nine years ago.
“It was the last week of a whole year of overseas travel and when I woke up on my first morning here, I knew I wanted to stay.”
Born and raised in England, she says she had the opportunity to cook for room and board, “And a month later I met my husband”.
After reading American Christian pioneer Ellen G White’s account on a healthy diet and lifestyle they now follow “God’s 8 Laws of Health” – or “NEWSTART”, which involves nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest and trust in God.
“It’s about living in optimal health,” says Junior. “A lot of people are living but not living optimally – there’s a difference.”
The Bible verse John 10:10 sums it up, he adds. “‘I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly’.”
Cheryl agrees. “We don’t have to accept that sickness comes with age, because it doesn’t have to. We can grow old and grey and still be healthy.”
“So many people are living half-lives and filling up on drugs, but they have easy access to natural healthy foods.”
Cheryl says an example of their diet starts with a mixed-fruit smoothie, nu and coconut cream, or a fruit salad with coconut cream to start the day. Lunch is often a red lentil curry with brown rice and a raw tomato salad.
“We eat something fresh with each meal like a coleslaw and something hot like roasted kumara. We keep things simple but always include coconut cream”.
Dinner is usually a light meal with “more fruit” she says.
“We make sure we have plenty of healthy fats which are essential – avocado, coconut, and plenty of protein from chickpeas and nuts. And the kids don’t go without – we have frozen fruit ice creams and fruit and date desserts. I’m always looking out for new ideas.”
While Cheryl is a stay-at-home mum and Junior a professional photographer, the couple are available for healthy-food demonstrations to groups. They plan to get more involved in education through the media and want to pass on what they see is working.
“We have a friend from New Zealand who was diagnosed with cancer and full-blown jaundice. He could have stayed there and had treatment, but he decided to come to Rarotonga for his healing.”
“Three weeks here and he has lost weight, done a gall bladder and gallstone cleanse, his gout is clearing and he says he feels his body healing.
“That’s on healthy food, healthy lifestyle and noni juice,” says Cheryl. “We see that sort of thing all the time – we live by it.”