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Archive for the ‘disease’ Category

I couldn’t have chosen a better week to be sick as a dog, because the U.S. Figure Skating Championships are this week. So fortunately, I only had to do one thing all week- watch the live stream.

There’s nothing more boring than being kinda sick. If you’ve got the full out flu, you feel like you’re going to die, but at least you sleep through most of it. Illnesses like this one– low grade fever, general lethargy–don’t even come with a loss of appetite and I always say what the hell is an illness good for if you don’t even lose any weight. Of course, I probably lost weight anyway, because my husband kept forgetting to feed me.

So here are some things to keep you from being completely stir crazy:

1. Technology
What in the world did we do when we were sick before there was broadband? In addition to figure skating, I’m pretty sure I got to the end of the internet. Also, you can still talk to people, even when you can’t talk, via chat and texting. Forget the tv– that’s so last century.

2. Rooms
As in, move from one into another. Fortunately, I just finished upgrading my kids’ rooms into guest rooms, so I spent the week moving from my bed, to the side bedroom to the front bedroom to the living room and back again. At least the scenery was different.

3. Complaining about the nursing
This is easy in my house, since they all learned their nursing skills from me (see above, re: meals), and I’m the world’s worst nurse. I am also extremely crabby when I’m sick, not that it’s all that easy to tell the difference.

4. Georgette Heyer novels
Just respectable enough to not be embarrassing to buy, but trashy enough not to require too much brain power.

5. Baths
Okay, while technically not “in bed,” you’re still prone, right? Don’t do this if you have a high fever, because it will raise your core temp, but it’s fine for a low grade fever, and again– change of scenery. Plus, sweetie, you know I love you, but after 3 days in bed, you’re a little ripe. Get your nurse, such as s/he is, to change the sheets while you’re in there.

6. Make lists
I always keep a pad of paper in the nightstand, on the theory that I can jot stuff down in the middle of the night so I don’t forget in the morning. Things like “Don’t forgetl;kajdao[kerh” So helpful. While you’re lying there semicomatose, however, you can take the opportunity to mentally walk through the house and write down all the projects that you’re not going to do when you’re better anyway.

7. Get your own damn dinner
I’m sure he meant well, but seriously, somebody fix meals for the poor patient. This is the major drawback of a whole foods (no, not Whole Foods) diet. You always have to cook, because there’s no prepared foods.

What do you do to entertain yourself when you’re sick?

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I’ve read many places that indoor air may be more polluted than outside air. This isn’t surprising to me because I’m very sensitive to smells and really notice the off-gassing of chemicals from anything new I bring into the house (the laptop I’m typing this on being the most recent). That’s why this time of year when I start seeing all those articles about sealing up the drafts in your home I kind of cringe – when you do this you’re only keeping in all the pollution!

Over the past couple years I’ve been thinking more about indoor air quality because I’ve been searching for ways to detox my life. We started with food, getting rid of any non-organic, non-local, prepackaged items. Then moving on to personal care and cleaning products. We have also been replacing items in our home that were made from pressed wood, plastic and other materials. Thankfully we never used non-stick cookware, but I have been replacing my stainless steel with enameled cast iron (even stainless steel can leach baddies in some instances). I’ve been using VOC free paint and only painting in the summer when I can have the windows open. I also replaced any CFL lightbulbs with incandescent *gasp* I know – but I’m no longer comfortable with the risk of any pollution they cause and I’ve noticed they also cause sleep issues and headaches for me personally. The FDA and EPA tell us all these toxins and pollutants are within “safe” levels for healthy humans, but I believe that while each individual level might be “OK” they all add up to a toxic overload for our bodies. All the toxins increase our risks for cancer, nervous system problems, lung and breathing issues, headaches, colds and flu, allergies, and all sorts of other health problems.

Since we spend so much time indoors, especially during the winter, it actually doesn’t make sense to over insulate your home and seal out all air flow. This traps all the VOC’s and other air pollution inside. As a result of all of these things here are some tips I came up with for keeping the air a little safer in your home this winter:

  • Don’t seal up your house too tightly, allow some air flow. Spending a few extra dollars on heating is well worth it and you will most likely more than make up your savings in health care costs!
  • Don’t caulk too much (this also off gasses chemicals into the air, don’t over insulate, don’t use draft dodgers). Little cracks here and there throughout your home will allow fresh air in from outside.
  • If you’re going to add more insulation to your home consider using a natural material like wool.  Wool itself can help mitigate VOC’s and other pollutants.
  • Crack a window, even in winter, especially if you’re doing something like printing, painting, cooking, using a ventless heater, etc.
  • Change your furnace filter often and consider switching to an activated charcoal filter, these do a better job mitigating air toxins.
  • Run exhaust fans when cooking/baking/showering (if you don’t filter your water the chlorine and other pollutants in your water get into the air)
  • Do not use ventless free space heaters (especially gas), if you have one make sure you crack windows. There’s a reason these have been outlawed in many states and most other countries beside the US! We have one in our home but it’s only used in emergencies if the electric is off.
  • Do not paint, stain or use any kind of chemical inside your home. Do not store lawn or other chemicals in your house.
  • If you haven’t already make the switch to non-toxic cleaners (you can save tons of money here by making your own).
  • Have lots of houseplants. Plants are one of the best ways to keep the air in your house clean and purified. On average each houseplant will clean 100 sq feet of air. Try to have at least one plant in each room if possible. (here’s an article on my blog about which plants can mitigate different chemical pollutants).
  • Avoid running printers, photocopiers, etc in your home.  If you do have a home office make sure you have some plants in the office and keep a window cracked especially during printing.
  • If you purchase new items, let them off gas in a garage or outside before bringing them indoors.

So if you’re thinking of sealing up your house against drafts to save money on heating – think again.  That exchange of fresh air might just be what’s keeping you a little healthier!

Have you ever considered indoor air pollution? Do you do anything specific to keep the indoor air clean & fresh in your home?  

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Your Day Magazine, and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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slice

 

Almost three years ago, my husband was diagnosed with a triglyceride level of someone twice his weight, and was borderline diabetic. Not wanting to be tied down to a lifetime of prescription drugs, he opted to adjust his cholesterol levels by adjusting his diet. Fortunately we had the support of our family doctor in this transition.

I immediately started poaching everything, removed butters and switched to olive oil and margarine, swapped to skim milk from 2%. We removed all cured meats, breads and pasta from our diet, in addition to the few boxed and frozen processed foods like macaroni and cheese that we ate. We added wheat germ and removed egg yolks, in other words – we did everything the American Heart Association suggests in their diet.

Hubby also stopped eating cheeseburgers and french fries at lunch. He started eating vegetarian wraps for lunch and within a short time he lost 30 pounds without exercise. In essence he starved himself. He ate likely less than 1200 calories a day and he had almost no fats or sugars going into his body because we limited ourselves strictly to protein and vegetables. And it showed. Sure, he lost the few pounds he needed, but he looked hollow and weak. His shoulders looked like those of someone twice his age, he had circles under his eyes, and his skin looked sallow. What was important at that time was that his triglycerides were where they belonged.

One year ago our family warily committed itself to the Real Food Challenge. And while I had already introduced organic homemade butter and milk to our diets and we had baby chicks on the way, I don’t think we were quite prepared for the changes the Challenge would make to our lifestyle.

Hubby gained 10 pounds immediately, but his cholesterol levels remained healthy because we added good fats to our diet (no sugar), and he’d long stopped “starving” himself. We didn’t realize that we’d want to keep eating Real Food forever. I thought after that month that I would go back to purchasing some pre-made foods, but even sandwich bread, no matter the brand, tasted flat and dead to me – and all other foods are too sweet or salty.

We’d grown accustomed to the taste and flavors of good, healthy food. Sure there were some flops. My husband didn’t care for my pasta recipe, I’d had homemade wines explode in my storage room, and there were last minute bread baking adventures.

I didn’t know that I’d become an advocate for food in a society where women are supposed to shy away from eating heartily. I wasn’t aware that I’d fear eating processed foods again. I was surprised how much I’d love to cook on a daily basis since now it’s all an experiment. I was amazed at the wonderful flavors Real Food had and appalled at the flavors processed food lacked.

For some odd reason our culture has equated eating tons of meat, large portions of food, dining out too much, eating fast food or processed box meals with the lifestyle to have. Sorry, but if I were to compare my life to the Jones’ I wouldn’t want to be so busy that I would have to resort to eating this way. And if you know someone who eats this way because they cannot afford to eat healthfully, perhaps you could share something from your garden with them this year, or share some knowledge to help them eat and cook better.

As for Hubby and I, the Real Food Challenge is like an anniversary of sorts reminding us why we spend the extra time and money to eat the way we do. We actually decide what we’ll give up in order to afford this lifestyle.  We’re always looking for new recipes and trying to stay on top of healthy eating news. If you need some ideas for recipes or information pertaining to the Challenge, be sure to click on the Resource tab at the top of this page. Also, at the end of this month, we’ll be giving a few things away in celebration of the Real Food Challenge.

Be sure to stay with us all month long!

 

You can find Jennifer at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about raising chickens, a daughter, and gardens; shares recipes and rants; and otherwise discusses life in rural Tennessee, often with a view from the back of a motorcycle.

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Flu Shot?

As most of you know my mom is fighting breast cancer.  One of the first things her oncologist had her do before she started her chemotherapy was to go and get her flu shot.

Which of course started me thinking about this very shot.

There is so much conflicting data over the effectiveness and side effects of the flu vaccine that one cannot help but be confused.

This year’s shot is especially troublesome to me as it is a trivalent shot that included the H1N1 Vaccine, influenza A and influenza B.

I am a firm believer in staying as healthy as possible to keep my immune system in good shape to help my body fight off seasonal bugs…yet as my mom’s caretaker this year I am weighing my options.

I want to start a discussion with this post…I want to learn more about this before I decide.

Here are some links I have found about the flu shots

Against

Dr. Mercola with ‘proof’ as to why the flu shot does not work

Doctor recommends vitamin D instead of flu shot

For

CDC a video on children lost to the flu (warning, tear jerker)

Flu.gov the government’s flu website

*****

Do you get the flu shot?  If so why.  If not, why not.

If you have any blog posts or links please feel free to share them.

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Since Kim talked about using garlic to help deal with a cold or flu I thought I’d talk about one of the things we do around here to boost our immune systems not only so we don’t get colds but also to help protect us against cancer and other baddies. Along with a healthy diet and lots of exercise, eating mushrooms regularly can help you fight off the cold and flu and help you fight all sorts of things like cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. Here’s an interesting article about mushrooms and immunity. When it comes to mushrooms, usually the tastier the better for you, although even white button mushrooms help boost your immune system.

You’ll want to look for the more obscure mushrooms like: shiitake, hen of the woods, oyster, morel, etc. I’m lucky that we have a local mushrooms grower that specializes in these types of mushrooms. Each week at the farmers market I buy whatever mushrooms they have for sale. Last week I found Hen of the Woods mushrooms for the first time. I also really like baby portabella mushrooms, which I buy at my local health food store.

We also forage for mushrooms in the spring, so far we’ve only found and eaten a few varieties of morels. I really want to learn more about growing mushrooms myself so I can grow them in the garden. I’m thinking of talking to the people I buy them from at the market to see if I can buy spawn from them since I know the ones they grow do well in my climate.

I’m quite lucky because I LOVE mushrooms of all shapes, colors and sizes. Some of the more exotic ones take some getting used to, but after a few times you’ll find them quite delicious. Mr Chiots used to refuse to eat mushrooms when we first got married, he’s come around though and now happily asks for seconds when we’re eating sauteed mushrooms.

Are you a mushrooms lover? Have you ever considered adding more mushrooms to you diet for health reasons?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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As the cold and flu season is upon us I have done some research into ‘cures’ for the common cold.

I have many herbal teas that we use when we’re sick…but I wanted something I could take at the very first symptoms of sickness to knock it out  before it became a full blown, week long, snot fest!

Twice in the last month my darling children have passed their colds onto me.

Twice I have at the first sign of sickness made and drank garlic tea.

Twice my cold failed to be anything more than a 24 hour slight dribble and headache.

Garlic has been used throughout history for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Recent scientific studies have indicated that a diet high in garlic (more than 2 large cloves a day per person) can reduce the incidence of certain cancers especially those of the intestinal tract and breast cancer.

Here is a good page to look at from the National Cancer Institute on more specifics of garlic and cancer.

When using raw garlic it is important to crush or mince and then let your garlic sit for 15 minutes…this allows the chemical compounds in the cloves to be released.

My garlic tea is simply one clove of peeled, crushed garlic allowed to sit for 15 minutes after crushing.  Then I place it in the bottom of a coffee cup and pour boiling water over it.  I let it steep for another 15 minutes.  Then I remove the garlic and add honey and lemon.  I slowly drink the tea while chewing on the clove of garlic.

I will admit that I smell like garlic for at least an hour after this…so I would not do it when headed out to an important appointment!

Now I am not going to say that this is indeed the cure for the common cold but so for the evidence has been compelling.  As the colds have lasted from 5 days to a week for my husband kids it has lasted less than 24 hours for me and has had considerably milder symptoms.

Now if I could just convince the rest of my family that the stinking rose really does make a beneficial…if not stinky tea!

So do you have a ‘cure’ for the common cold that you would like to share?

 

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!

 

 

 

 

 

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Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life

As I told you last week I have been intentionally and methodically reading and learning all I can about making wise diet and lifestyle choices for not only my mom who is going through chemotherapy, but for my family also.

I also let you know that diet seemed to be overlooked as way of fighting cancer in our community cancer center where my mom is being treated.

When she was first diagnosed I turned to books, those that had been through this before, and the internet for information.  One of the books that I purchased is called ‘Anti cancer A new Way of Life’ by  David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD.  He himself is a 2x cancer survivor.

Of everything I have read this book was the one that I was most deeply moved by, as it is a book that is memoir, part scientific study as to the inner workings of cancer and what makes it grow. It takes a practical view of the roles traditional western and alternate health care can play in cancer treatment and prevention.

In the very center of this book is a glossy colored section called ‘Anticancer Action’ which in tables and and easy to read graphs summarizes the actions to take to help avoid cancer. It even has a grocery list of things to have for an anticancer diet!

Here are a few of the suggestions:

Avoid products containing industrial chemicals whenever possible.

Example, air our your dry-cleaned clothing, avoid chemical cleaning products, avoid parabens and phthalates in cosmetic products.

Eat Grass-fed organic animal products

Eat a balanced diet.  Reduce your intake of sugar and white flour and trans-fats.  Increase your omega-3 intake.  Increase you intake of anticancer products like green tea and specific anticancer vegetables and fruits

Filter you tap water

Spend 20 to 30 minutes a day in physical activity

Expose yourself to sunlight for 20 minutes a day (vitamin D)

Here is what the ‘anticancer plate’ looks like

A colorful plate full that is divided between the largest portion of fruits, vegetables, and vegetable proteins like beans and lentils. The next largest being filled with multi-grain breads and whole grains like rice and quinoa.  Next is good fats high in omega 3’s like olive oil and flaxseed.  Herbs and spices are an important part of this plate too, tumeric, mint, and garlic are included.  Lastly is the optional animal protein section that included organic meats, eggs, and dairy products.

This is certainly the most insightful, well-documented and practical of all that I have read so far.  There is deep and  compelling evidence that we all have the capacity for not only prevention of disease but to actually participate in healing of our own bodies.

I highly recommend this to not only cancer patients and their families but anyone interested in prevention of disease.

*****

I would also like to thank you all for your great comments last week.  I learn so much from all of the readers here!

*****

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!

http://www.youtube.com/v/2lwiQm5QaTs?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0

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