You haven’t been sick in how many years?

Since 2006 when I started college and caught a cold/flu virus. Since that time I have made it safely through thirteen years of no colds, flu, sniffles, coughs, throwing up, or fevers. Amen!  I have had food poisoning once in the past 15 years that lasted 3 days–thanks to a not fully cooked quarter pounder about 12 years ago. My allergies–I’m allergic to mold, animal dander and ragweed, have been pretty good since I quit smoking several years ago. I sneeze maybe a dozen times a year now and take absolutely nothing for allergies in the way of meds anymore. All that to say I have had an issue to deal with since June that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

For personal reasons my recent issue isn’t the point of my post–in all honesty you will thank me for this—lol. The real reason I am posting about it at all is because what I’ve discovered may convince others to make a change to their diet and lifestyle.
First of all what I’ve been dealing with is serious, but it isn’t contagious (I didn’t catch it), it isn’t life threatening, and it isn’t a disease. It’s an issue that has popped up in my body that is uncomfortable to deal with, hard to care for, and extremely painful. I have dealt with issues similar to this for several years, and it has finally gotten to the point of being a problem. One that is slow to heal and that even doctors struggle with knowing how to help other than to perform surgery which really isn’t recommended. I’m not trying to lead you on with mystery, but I’m just not willing to share the details on the internet. Suffice it to say it could be almost anything–and whether it heals or not seems to rely solely and totally on my health, diet, and lifestyle. Which of course is the story here and the real purpose of my post.

I’m in both the enviable and unenviable position of being able to reap the benefits of years of healthier living and dealing with an issue that almost solely relies on good health, healing, and lifestyle changes in order to heal and be healed entirely from this awful issue.

For three months I have not been myself. I have been unable to travel much, I’ve missed attending Farmer’s markets every week as I intended to do, we shortened our vacation, limited our weekend getaways, and had to forfeit a couple of friend get-togethers. The good news is my different projects in and around the apartment have been completed, I have done quite a bit of volunteering, and I have fortunately not missed any work. I really had to prioritize everything– summer fun kind of went by the  wayside. Free time was spent resting and when I was rested on the weekends I spent time in my garden or talking with my husband or catching part of a movie with him. My issue has caused me to be uncomfortable, feel helpless, unmotivated, scared, and out of sorts. I have seen my doctor, I have had him tell me what my issue is–I already knew, and I have followed his instructions on how to heal my issue. Again, I hate to be cryptic, but suffice it to say it is an issue associated with my digestive tract. I’ve been working on a healthier lifestyle for almost fifteen years now–this blog was actually created to act as kind of a journal for my journey. I started by trying to remove all of the chemicals in my diet because at the time I had just quit drinking and smoking. After I did that I started incorporating organic food and dairy in our diets. Soon after that I began changing out chemical cleaners/household stuff for non chemical cleaners. I stopped using all sprays, perfumes, dyes, candles, and began eliminating snacks, processed food, and fast food from our lifestyle. This has taken years–in no way can any of this be done overnight. There are a lot of sad moments when you realize how many things you may have to give up to live a clean, chemical free–as much as possible, life. We were never big consumers of this kind of stuff anyways, but we consumed enough. I spent years researching alternatives for everything. Nowadays all of that information is readily available online via good ole Google–thank goodness. It is more acceptable, daresay almost trendy, to do the kind of things I did fifteen years ago. Back then we got a lot of strange looks as well as some pretty negative comments about all the changes we were making. I never doubted once that what I was doing was the best thing for my husband and I to do–so we got over the negative comments and looks fairly fast. lol.

I wouldn’t say good health runs in my family. Based on information I’ve been able to find out about grandparents three generations back on both sides–the average age of death has been 80. Heart disease seems to play a major part on my Dad’s side and respiratory issues and arthritis and chronic pain issues (perhaps related to fibro and also the arthritis) on my Mom’s side. I didn’t know any of this information in 2004, but once I learned of it, I was motivated more than ever to make changes and stick to them. Somewhere around 2009 I began having GI issues related to intolerances. There were a lot of fruits, veggies, and foods I’d been eating for years that started causing me health issues. Though today there is a lot of disbelievers of gluten intolerance–it is a very real thing. I don’t necessarily think that it is 100% just the wheat or the lack of tolerance of chemicals, but more a person’s body/systems/ gut and it’s reaction to modern hybridized wheat combine with all the chemicals in today’s food system and its affect on certain people/immune systems. On top of having to eliminate wheat products, I had to eliminate all the gums–guar, zantham, locust, cellulose and all other food additive gums. Not much left for me to eat after removing everything containing preservatives, thickeners, and wheat. It was quite a shock to my system and I did feel defeated and angry for quite some time. Turns out for some reason my body is also missing the ability to break down short chain carbohydrates (fermentable carbs). So to stay healthy and symptom-free I follow a FODMAP diet. I also take a probiotic called Accuflora and in the last couple of years started taking some supplements after an intense amount of research coupled with consulting with my physician and a nutritionist.

I’ve been taking NOW supplements for four months and can honestly state I don’t know where I would be without them. I’m scared to think how much farther behind I would be in my healing without having something that was keeping my arthritis pain at bay. I’ve been taking glucosamine twice a day for four months and my pain has been cut in half. Now doctors and scientists and researchers say this is unlikely, but for me it has given me a reduction in pain–inflammation, and better mobility. I was low in vitamin b6 but unable to take it due to having IC –thanks to the Now P5P I’ve taken for almost three months my levels are improving! Last but never least I haven’t had an IC flare since I started taking D-Mannose for one week once a month almost eighteen months ago. If you are diabetic you have to be careful with this one. I am not so I’ve been taking it with great success.  I began having symptoms of IC in 2004 and really I believe I may have always had some form of it. To this day I firmly believe it is a low-grade undetected by labs UTI. That’s just my own opinion, but it fits with a lot of issues bladder related that I’ve dealt with in my life. I experienced flares that were pretty painful and at times life altering from 2004-2017. The physicians I had at the time both told me it would go away on its own. My current physician wanted to try a few procedures that had been effective in a small percentage of women. I declined. Eventually several things helped me to become flare free for the last 18 months–it took years, patience, and perseverance to get me to where I am now with this issue.

My supplements cost a total of $210.00 a year and I feel pretty grateful that they are the only thing in pill form  that I take. My diet for quite some time now has been low fat, low carb, low salt, no red meat, high in fiber, fruit, and veg. I enjoy very little caffeine, eat hardly any sweets, and I don’t drink or smoke. I sleep 8 hours a night and if it ends up being less, I take a nap when I can.  I walk year round–usually a brisk walk at least 3x a week. All that to say, I’m happy because the one thing  I’ve worried about since I quit drinking and smoking is my health and what affect both of those things had on it. Maybe I’ll never truly know but for now I’m good! Eating better, taking care of myself, and getting proper rest really works. My doctor is always blown away by my level of healthiness, both physical and mental health, and the fact I am not taking any kind of medication at all at my age (mid-fifties). He’s happy supplements are working for me–disclaimer: I would advise everyone to talk with your doctor before you start any new supplement or reduce or restrict things in your diet. I’m blown away all the time that I am as healthy as I am because most of my life I did not live very healthy, ate junk, and rest? who needs rest?

When I made the changes in my lifestyle they were pretty harsh, but they kind of had to be because I started seeing the light so late. So for anyone out there wondering if eating healthy, eating natural or organic, studying labels, restricting things that are bad for you, and getting good rest really helps– a resounding  Yes all of the above.

This isn’t a sponsored ad at all. I researched this company, its supplements, its reviews, and talked personally with people taking them and then made my decision. As I stated, I also talked with my physician and a nutritionist. I had labs drawn and because of my good health I am able to take supplements as needed. Taking supplements is a serious thing and many can interfere and even cause toxicity. Never take a supplement without consulting with your physician first. Always always remember to do all your homework and be prepared anytime you have an issue and visit with a doctor and be your own health advocate. No one thing is a magic pill-good health takes hard work and constant attention to changes, levels of stress, rest, weather, and your immune system.

So for now I’m getting better slowly but I believe surely. Had my health not been as good as it is I may have needed to take personal leave or just let everything in my life be put on hold until things progressed. The time period for healing what I have can be a year, but I hope to be healed by the end of month 3. If I’ve learned anything in my life it is to never ever take my health and well-being for granted.

One last thing I personally do not use Google persay to find answers to my health questions. I instead rely on https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/  for most of my research and information.

That’ s it for now–be well, take care of yourselves, and eat healthy, good for you, clean whole food and local if at all possible food!

Building a strong immune system–what’s in my medicine cabinet

Headache/Sinus Headache/Facial Migraines –Peppermint Essential Oil.

Colds- 1 tsp elderberry syrup every 1-2 hours for 12 hours.

Menopause issues- I eat yams–roasted, pureed, anyway they taste good. Sometimes mixed with mashed potato and sometimes with applesauce. They help a lot with hot flashes.

Sleep- Lavender Essential Oils on the bottom of my feet, and I take 320 mg of magnesium a day. Magnesium works great for constipation as well. I found a great article on using Magnesium supplements here.

Stress- Frankincense Essential Oils on the bottom of feet.

Sore achy muscles- we take Epsom salt baths several times a week. Epsom salt is great for relieving muscle aches and pain and also detoxifies your body.

For over 20 years I have incorporated healthy living and a healthy diet into our lives. It’s been many years since I’ve been sick and when my husband gets sick his recovery time has improved. I don’t say this lightly–it takes work and considerable money.

Our diet– I’ll start by saying 60% of our diet is organic. I know some people are going to say to themselves I’m a food snob or? But I’m really not. I’ve had Fibromyalgia most of my adult life–probably close to thirty years now. I spent four years researching diets, food, and food safety and discovered that it was possible to feel better and live the life I wanted to if I changed my diet. So I did. It hasn’t happened overnight. We are still working on several changes in our diet. All total we’ve been working on a complete 360 almost fourteen years.

We aren’t big meat eaters. Before I got married I had been a vegetarian for over ten years. Since being married I’ve been a vegetarian for another ten years. We eat red meat once a week. We eat poultry or fish twice a week, and the rest of the week is meatless. We don’t eat out more than 12 times a year. When we eat out we usually choose homemade food restaurants or a local pizza place. I can’t think of anything we eat that we overeat. I don’t use any cheese in my cooking, processed foods are out, and most of what we eat is fresh and usually locally grown. When we grocery shop we shop in the outside aisles for the most part. I don’t buy anything in cans, boxes, or the freezer section except ice-cream.

We don’t drink alcohol and neither of us smokes. We also don’t use any OTC medications except Tylenol and hubby uses Nyquil if he gets a cold.

We weren’t always this healthy I assure you. Twenty-some years ago we had a cold every year, sometimes twice a year, just like everyone else. We also had the stomach flu a time or two. But overall I think we’ve been fairly lucky, considering I worked for almost twenty years in healthcare.

Having fibromyalgia has been the hardest thing for me because so many other things have come with it. I’ve dealt with IBS off and on since I was a teenager, but since changing our diet most of my IBS symptoms are gone. I’ve also had IC for about twenty years and that can be a very frustrating thing to have. But again diet plays a major part in controlling the symptoms of IC.

Before I quit smoking I had a lot of allergies. I probably had a severe allergy, that caused me to miss work, or be in bed all weekend, 3x a week. Now, I maybe have a couple of bad allergy episodes a year. Though in the last few years I have been getting facial migraines from sinus issues. I probably get two or three facial migraines a year. I also deal with jaw pain at times which is also something found in people who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Another important thing for me to add in about my health is that I suffered from malnutrition most of my young life. I was diagnosed at eight years old. Growing up not only was I a picky eater, but I also had major issues regarding food. From a baby until eight or nine my diet was extremely limited. This aversion to food caused by malnutrition remained an issue until I was in my late thirties. To give you an example of the degree of malnutrition I had.  I weighed 60 lbs in 5th grade. When I graduated high school I weighed 92 lbs. I tried twice in the eighties to join the military and twice weight issues prohibited me from being able to join.

To say my health was extremely fragile when I was 30 and met and married my husband would be an understatement. I shouldn’t really be as healthy as I am now. I owe most of my good health to eating right and using a homeopathic approach to all of my health issues.

In addition to my homeopathic approach, I am also careful about getting the flu shot. I have never had a flu shot–I’m certain this statement will cause some readers to become very unhappy with me. But it’s true– no flu shot ever. I’m allergic to eggs and penicillin–and in the old days you couldn’t get a flu shot if allergic to eggs (and I’m sticking with that recommendation, even though the CDC has now relaxed it). I still have issues with eggs if they’re not organic eggs from Organic Valley. In my whole life, I have had to use an antibiotic 3 times. Once in my childhood, once with strep throat, and once when I had foot surgery. That’s it. My husband has used an antibiotic just twice in his life– he too is allergic to penicillin.

Sometimes I am convinced that being allergic to penicillin has been a good thing for both my husband and I. I once sat in a room with 15 students and our instructor and was the only student not to get the swine flu. My husband is 1 of 2 people out of 100 people not to get the flu this year. It’s on its third time around in his workplace.

Three Secrets to a Strong Immune System

  • Probiotics- I eat Activia yogurts 3 x a week. I stop using them if I start to get too much gas or bathroom activity. That tells me I have enough active strains in my system and need no more at this time.
  • Sleep- 8 hours every night.
  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in clean filtered water every day.

I’d like to say we drink kombucha a lot or eat kimchi on a regular basis but we do not. We’ve tried both but unfortunately did not like them. Probiotics were difficult for both of us at first. I tried several brands of probiotic supplements and had varied results. If you’ve been reading my blog awhile you’ll remember I thanked Accuflora–a probiotic tablet, for helping me to recover from a serious intolerance to gluten. I took Accuflora off and on for about two years with great success and then switched to Activia.

Other things that can be done to assure strong immunity and healthy living–

  • Wash bed pillow often or change it out.
  • Keep all toothbrushes separate from other toothbrushes and not out in the open in your bathroom. I keep mine on a piece of paper towel in my medicine cabinet. Change out toothbrushes every 2 months and more if you’ve been sick. Change out the piece of paper towel or cup it is kept in every 2-3 days for the cup, once a week for paper towels.
  • Wipe down doorknobs if there is someone that has been sick in the home.
  • Wipe down toilet flusher on toilet daily with a baby wipe or antibacterial soap.
  • Clean toilets twice a week or more.
  • A banana or apple a day really does keep the doctor away.
  • Wash hands often. Don’t touch your hands to your mouth when out shopping in stores. Try not to touch bunker railings (where the meat etc. are kept in the meat and dairy department). Every time I’m at Walmart I see someone sneeze and wipe their hands all along the bunkers in the meat and dairy department.  My husband and I do use hand sanitizer all the time. We have heard that is really doesn’t work, but for us, it works even if it is semi somewhat psychologically. Maybe it’s because that is what is on our hands vs. germs from the meat bunkers in Walmart? No clue.

I understand that not everyone can follow a homeopathic approach to their health. Many people have very serious issues that do indeed require regular doctor visits and prescribed medication. Other than my having Fibromyalgia and back issues my husband and I do not have health conditions that warrant being under a doctor’s care. Believe me when I tell you we do not take our good health for granted. At any time, for many reasons, our story could change. I hope this post is helpful to some of you. I wish everyone good health in 2018!

 

Kombucha

Kombucha Recipe

One of the most important things you can do for you and your family’s health is to improve your gut health. Most people are under the impression things like that take care of themselves. They don’t. They probably did take care of themselves fairly well many years back before our food contained large amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, GMO’s and preservatives. At one time most of the people in this country preserved their food. Most people’s diets contained several pickled and fermented foods. Pickles of all kinds, coleslaw, and sauerkraut were table staples.  These foodstuffs helped keep human guts balanced with the proper bacteria. Bacteria and enzymes in our gut help to break down our food.  The food we eat, once broken down, travels off to different parts of our body to nourish us. We need to stay well nourished to stay healthy.

My experience with gut problems began about thirteen years ago as I detoxed from years of smoking and not so smart eating habits. First came the transition to a healthier diet, then came transitioning to organic foods, and then came my intolerance to everything gluten.  After suffering for about 5 years with gluten issues I read an article about gut health. Before I get started let me show you where your gut is and what parts of your body make up your digestive system.

The gut, otherwise known as your digestive track,  has many components– it starts with your mouth and teeth and technically ends where your waste exits. The stomach is one of three parts of your gut that absorbs and digests food, with the small and large intestine being the other two parts that break down, digest, and absorb nutrients. The linings of our small and large intestines are the largest part of our immune system. Now, this was a big find for me. Not only did I not have a clue our immune system is in our gut, but I was simply blown away discovering the largest part of it is the mucosal lining of our intestines. Nutrients enter the blood stream, once broken down, from our small intestines. There are tiny villi all along our intestinal wall. These villi are how nutrients enter our bloodstream.  The intestinal wall is permeable to some extent so that these nutrients can pass through. In a normal, healthy gut the good stuff passes through and the bad stuff does not. But sometimes bad things start passing through, and sometimes the intestines become damaged and the lining develops holes allowing undigested food to pass through.

Learning all of this information made me wonder- was there a way I could heal my gut lining if in fact it was damaged or malfunctioning? So  I began reading about the gut lining and found that there were other people, just like me, experiencing issues with “out of the blue” food allergies and/ or intolerances who were using probiotics as a way to improve their overall gut health. Probiotics as we know help to maintain the good bacteria in our digestive tract. That good bacteria is part of a large ecosystem of bacterial flora that lives mainly in the large intestine.

Gut flora is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota. (Wikipedia)

So I made an appointment with our family physician and asked for his opinion on whether or not starting on a probiotic would be a good thing or bad. He didn’t see how taking one could hurt and so I began using a probiotic about two years ago. Of course, I should note before I forget– a steady diet of kombucha and other fermented food in your diet would alleviate your need(most likely) to have to depend on a store bought probiotic. A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea.

A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea. I currently take a probiotic daily, but I’ve also incorporated fermented foods and kombucha into my diet as well.

Other than those very rare occasions I am presently symptom-free from issues associated with gluten intolerance. I believe the probiotic healed my gut to some degree by restoring the healthy bacteria I needed to process and digest my food. Some of the ways you can contribute to having unhealthy gut flora — a diet high in sugar (which I had for years) and low in fiber (that too).  Chronic stress(yes!) and chronic use of NSAIDs (yes to that too). Also if you are a person that has a lot of infections and relies heavily on antibiotics (thank goodness I can say nope to this one) you are at risk for having an unhealthy gut.

http://www.loveyourgut.com/what-does-the-gut-do/the-digestive-system/

http://www.enzymestuff.com/conditionleakygut.htm

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about Kombucha, probiotics and gut health as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Until next time–be well!