Tag Archive: Food


immune systemOur immune system is what keeps us from getting sick and it is our own personal defense weapon (so to speak). Keeping the immune system in top shape, especially during viral season or during a time of crisis is actually pretty easy and can be done through a variety of methods. Our diet, being touched (yes touched in a positive way) stress reduction, getting enough sleep, and two specific herbs for the immune system plus herbs and foods that fight stress called adaptogens. An article on stress and the immune system can be found here.

Research has constantly noted that the healthier the immune system, the less likely you are to be infected and if infected, the less severe the infection will be. This has been proven time and time again amongst those living with HIV/AIDS, Lyme disease and even people who ‘catch’ the flu.

Our dietary habits become job #1 when we start talking about strengthening our immune system. Sugar, especially processed sugar actually depresses our immune system. And this includes all those artificial ones. Alcohol, drug use, processed foods also are of concern limit these as much as possible.

From top down lets talk about some of THE best supportive foods for the immune system.

Yogurt. People who consume REAL yogurt or Kefir without all the artificial ingredients (and no, not the low fat stuff either!) on a regular basis report few sick days. How? The body’s white blood cell count increases greatly and the GI tract (where many infections take hold of first) remains very healthy due to its bacterial community being strong. Suggested 2wo 6-ounce servings a day.

Oats and barley. Studies have shown that animals (and we are animals ehmm) that eat a mix of oats and barley regularly have fewer infections, including influenza. Suggested at least one in your three daily servings of whole grains.

Garlic. Regular intake of garlic boost the immune functioning. Studies have shown that people eating or taking garlic had a much higher rate of staying healthy than those who didn’t. Suggested two raw cloves a day and add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.


Selenium-rich foods. These foods help to clear infections FROM the body. In descending order of how much is found, highest to lower.

Brazil nuts
Fish:
Suggested at least two servings a week.
Tuna
Cod
Halibut
Sardines
Flounder
Salmon
Poultry:
Chicken
Turkey
Sunflower Seeds

Shellfish:
Oysters
Mussels
Shrimp
Clams
Scallops
Meat:
Suggested a 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides about 30 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for zinc. That’s often enough to make the difference between deficient and sufficient. Not a beef person? Try zinc-rich oysters, fortified cereals, pork, poultry, yogurt, or milk.
Liver
Beef
Lamb
Pork
Eggs
Mushrooms
Whole grains
Wheat germ
Onions
Garlic
Asparagus
Broccoli
Tomatoes.

Remember how mom used to make Chicken Soup when you got sick? Well, it does work.

Black tea increases interferon levels which is what the immune system needs. Suggested several cups daily. To get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags, bob them up and down while you brew.

Zinc-containing foods…zinc plays an important role in the immune system. Zinc enhances many actions of the immune system including T cells. Higher amounts can be found in these foods:
Oysters
Wheat germ
Liver
Seeds
Sesame
Pumpkin
Squash
Watermelon
Roast beef
Dark chocolate
Cocoa
Lamb
Peanuts
Garlic
Chickpeas
Mushrooms
Ginger
Broccoli (and other braccea’s)
Red bell pepper
Oregano

So you can see that indeed you are what you eat. Simple dietary changes can make a big difference in your immune system and how well your body can fight off invaders.

And there are two specific herbs that very specifically reduce the cytokine cascade (known as an immune system response storm which can in and of itself be harmful) that many viruses cause and also just happen to cause the right immune system response to reduce viral invasion within the body.

#1 Astragalus
You can eat this root as food, take as a tincture, water extract, tea, or powder. Best way to use this herb is to cook with it or using as a tea as heat releases the best immune system boosters/viral fighters.

To make an tincture/water extract:
5 ounces of astragalus root (powder or shredded root)
12.5 ounces of water

Place the astragalus and water into a pot…bring to a boil. As soon as it boils put a lid on the pot and get off the heat, setting it aside to steep overnight. The next day put ALL of this into a jar and place the lid on the jar. Put aside for the next two weeks and if you remember, shake it once in a while. After two weeks, strain the powder or root out and then add 12.5 ounces of pure grain alcohol to the steeped water so it stays good for up to one year in a cool dark place. Shake well before using.

You can then pour this tincture/extract into smaller bottles for ease of use. Per Stephen Bhuner:
30-60 drops up to 4 times daily as a tonic
In chronic illness conditions take 1 tsp 4 times daily
As a preventative from viral infections 1 tsp 4-6 times daily
IF SICK take 1 tsp about every 3 hrs

To make a tea to drink through out the day put about 3 ounces of astragalus into 1 quart of hot water and allow to steep for approximately 3 hours, strain and drink. Any leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.

Powder form: (which can be mixed into food, water or capsules)
Chronic conditions: 1 tablespoon 3 times per day
If sick, 2 tablespoons 3 times per day

From the book Herbal Defense you can make this broth using astragalus:
Ingredients:
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1 ounce astragalus
1 bulb (5-10 cloves) garlic
Salt/pepper to taste

Combine water/broth, astragalus, garlic and simmer for several hours until garlic is soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Consume all the broth if you feel something coming on or take a cup or two through out the week to prevent infection. Consume the cooked garlic separately or leave in the broth.

You can even use the powder when making barley, rice or anything else, the point is that you can use this herb in your cooking to kick up the immune system a notch.

Please note: those with auto-immune diseases may be sensitive to this herb. Those with late stage Lyme disease should avoid as it may make it worse.

Cordyceps is an herb that is used as a food. It is indicated that one should consume 3 to 9 grams per day. For preventative measures/strengthening 6 grams a day. If actively sick then 12 grams per day. Please keep in mind that most OTC capsules are 500 to 1,000 mg measurements. So if you get 500mg you will need to take 12 capsules to get 6 grams. 1000 mg capsules you will need to take 6 to get 6 grams.

So, eat healthy and reduce your stress. Food and herbs for your immune system are readily available to you, some directly help and others support. A few simple changes now might just keep you healthy!

As always, please keep in mind that I am not a professional healthcare provider, I am just very passionate about helping others help themselves and all information is taken directly from professional resources.

Stay safe and be prepared.
Survivingshtfmom

References:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm

http://www.organicgardening.com/living/9-foods-boost-immune-system

Herbal Antivirals by Stephen Harrod Buhner

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stressimmuneWe have one great defensive team to protect ourselves in this world full of germs, viruses and bacteria our immune system. We are born with it and while not perfect, it keeps us alive in most cases if we ‘catch’ something and it has a great memory for prior foreign invaders.

Our immune system is what keeps us from having to live a sterile environment and it’s in our best interest to keep our immune system strong so that when some invaders comes a knockin’ we have a fighting chance to live. I would hazard to guess that most people don’t even THINK about their immune system and what would happen if it went bye-bye or was seriously compromised. Day in and day out we go about our lives full of stress and surrounded by germs. So, in this day and age when we typically don’t eat right, sit around a lot and stress out about everything and ding our immune systems with literally hundreds of different chemicals everyday what can we do to support our immune system? Fight STRESS!!!

Stress…stress can kill you and that isn’t a joke…according to Paige Bierma, M.A
“Some kinds of stress — very short-term, that last only a matter of minutes — actually redistribute cells in the bloodstream in a way that could be helpful,” says Suzanne Segerstrom, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky who has conducted studies on stress and the immune system. “But once stress starts to last a matter of days, there are changes in the immune system that aren’t so helpful. And the longer that stress lasts, the more potentially harmful those changes are.”
The fight-or-flight response (short-term stress) goes something like this: When a villager in Africa sees a lion charging at him, for example, the brain sends a signal to the adrenal gland to create hormones called cortisol and adrenaline, which have many different effects on the body, from increasing heart rate and breathing to dilating blood vessels so that blood can flow quickly to the muscles in the legs. Besides helping him run away, this type of acute stress also boosts the immune response for three to five days (presumably to help him heal after the lion takes a swipe at him).
When humans experience stress, our bodies react the same way that animals’ bodies do. Once the lion is gone, a zebra or gazelle’s stress level will return to normal, but humans have more trouble getting back to our routines after a stressful event, whether it’s a car accident or a divorce. We’ll think about it, dream about it, and worry about it for a long time, and that sets us up for long-term problems, says Robert M. Sapolsky, a Stanford University stress expert and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.
Over time, continually activating the stress response may interfere with the immune system. How this affects your disease risk, Sapolsky suggests, depends partly on your risk factors and your lifestyle, including your degree of social support.

Infectious disease and stress:
A number of vaccine studies have also found that the immune system of highly stressed individuals have sluggish responses to challenges. In one study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, a pneumonia vaccine was administered to 52 older adults, including 11 people caring for spouses with dementia. After just six months, the levels of antibodies produced against pneumonia in the caregivers had dropped off, while the non-caregivers’ levels remained stable. A similar study in which 32 caregivers were given the flu shot also found that caregivers received less protection from the vaccine than did a control group of non-caregivers.
If you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to get sick — at least it seems that way. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine actually found that higher psychological stress levels resulted in a higher likelihood of catching the common cold. The researchers accounted for many variables — including the season; alcohol use; quality of diet, exercise, and sleep; and levels of antibodies before exposure to the virus — and concluded that higher stress was to blame for lowered immunity and higher infection rates.
In the meantime, there is enough evidence to convince us that we should find healthy ways to keep our stress levels down, which is advice we got from our grandmothers: Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.
“Stress is inevitable,” Spiegel says. “The trick is to learn to manage it, to find some aspect of our stress and do something about it. Don’t think in terms of ‘all or nothing’ but in terms of ‘more or less.’ ”

An immune system that is continually ‘working, working, working’ never gets a chance to recover so when challenged by an invader it cannot mount an adequate defense.
Learn to manage your stress!

Stressful events are a fact of life and they can be even little ones like too much noise or activity going on around you. You can learn to identify what stresses you and how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally in the face of stressful situations. Learn to UNWIND in a healthy way.

Stress management strategies include:
Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep
Practicing relaxation techniques or learning to meditate
Fostering healthy friendships
Having a sense of humor
Seeking professional counseling when needed
Learn to say no! Set yourself realistic expectations and learn how to say “no” when your workload or social and family commitments get too much.
Learn to switch off. Leaving the office for the day? Then it’s time to switch off your work brain as well as your mobile phone. Unless you need to be on call for work, there’s rarely anything that can’t be solved the next day with renewed perspective.
Breathe! When we’re stressed, we tend to shallow breathe. Try to take deeper breaths into your diaphragm.

But hey! There is good news on the stress/immune system relation using herbs called adaptogens and these can be included into your healthy diet as herbal supplements. According to Frank M. Painter, D.C.:
The body expends a great amount of energy keeping itself in a heightened state of readiness. When weakened by prolonged stress–be it caused by lack of sleep, poor diet, chemical toxins in the environment or mental assaults–the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis can be compromised, and illness can result. Adaptogenic herbs have traditionally helped prevent the imbalances that can result from stress and have therefore prevented or minimized disease. At the core of an adaptogen’s scope of actions is the ability to help the body cope more effectively with stress. Specifically, adaptogens recharge the adrenal glands, which are the body’s nominal mechanism for responding to stress and emotional changes. The adrenals, which cover the upper surface of each kidney, synthesize and store dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. These compounds are responsible for the changes that occur during the fight-or-flight reaction.

Well known adaptogenic herbs are:

Ginseng
Suma
Ashwaganda
Astragalus
Schisandra
Jiaogulan

And while mushrooms are not technically herbs Reishi, shiitake, maitake mushrooms have been shown to have adaptogen properties also.

Homeopathy can also play a role in reducing stress levels when needed and be apart of an overall stress reduction program:
According to Claire Zarb LCPH, it’s advisable to start with a 30c potency and take every hour or so when the feelings of stress are at their peak.

Argentum Nitricum
Ideal for treating anxiety, caused by the anticipation of a big event, such as an exam, party or public speaking event. Dizziness and diarrhea may also be experienced, especially in the morning. People who need this remedy are often enthusiastic and suggestible, with a tendency towards being quite impulsive. They often crave sweets which usually make their symptoms worse.
Gelsemium
When a dull, heavy, but restless, weariness dominates you, think of Gelsemium. A dose before an exam or interview can keep your mind from drawing a blank. Heavy fatigue with muscular weakness means it’s great for flu, restless colds, diarrhea and dull, pressing headaches. This can be a very steadying remedy, especially to quiet, often low-spirited people who dread public speaking.
Nux Vomica
This remedy’s reputation is based on its ability to treat modern day complaints of indigestion, intoxication, and stress. Nux Vomica acts to neutralize both the effect of stress on the mind, and excess intake of food, alcohol and drugs on the digestive system. Nux Vomica offers comfort when travel, hangovers, busy schedules, overwork, or late night meals cause digestive and mental distress. Ideal if you’re a ‘workaholic’ who is easily irritable and tired.
Lycopodium
Ideal for nerves and indecision and especially good if you worry a lot and battle with self-confidence (too much and too little!). Digestively, it applies to acidity, gas, bloating, colic and constipation. There may be a fear of change, irritability, obstinacy, stage fright and exam nerves.

And don’t forget the Food!
According to Michael Ozner, MD, the top 10 stress fighting foods are:
1. Spinach contains magnesium, which helps improve your body’s response to stress and may prevent migraine headaches.
2. Asparagus is a good source of folic acid, which produces serotonin and helps stabilize mood.
3. Beef helps stabilize mood by supplying zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
4. Dairy products such as milk and cottage cheese provide protein and calcium.
5. Nuts and seeds are good stress-fighting snacks. In addition to containing vitamin B12, magnesium, and zinc, almonds also provide vitamin E, which, like vitamin C, fights stress-related free radicals that cause heart disease. Walnuts and pistachios are known to lower blood pressure. Sunflower seeds include folate, which helps produce dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical.
6. Fruits such as oranges and blueberries contain vitamin C, which fights cancer-causing free radicals. Blueberries also counteract the effect of hormones such as cortisol, and bananas provide potassium, which lowers blood pressure.
7. Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, can boost serotonin levels and limit the production of anxiety hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
8. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat and potassium, which lower blood pressure.
9. Milk, including skim milk, is high in antioxidants and vitamins B2 and B12 and also provides protein and calcium, which can reduce muscle spasms and tension and soothe PMS.
10. Crispy rice cereal or corn flakes aren’t necessarily low in sugar; however, they offer B vitamins and folic acid, which reduce stress. Have a bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk for a stress-fighting breakfast.
Four foods to avoid:
1. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate, can cause anxiety and raise stress hormone levels.
2. Sugar causes spikes in blood glucose levels and increases insulin. This affects your adrenal glands, which regulate stress hormones and help the thyroid regulate body weight.
3. Trans fatty acids such as hydrogenated vegetable oil are found in many baked goods and can hinder the immune system and increase the risk of heart disease.
4. Alcohol puts more sugar in the body, and excessive consumption can damage the adrenal glands.
While stress is just one factor in keeping the immune system healthy you can see that there are ways of helping the body to defend itself against stress and boost our body’s resiliency against stress. So get moving, eat ‘right’ and get your SLEEP and don’t forget to add homeopathy and herbs into your life to LIVE! Your immune system will love you!

Stay safe, be prepared!
survivingshtfmom

shelter in placeOkay, so you have come to the conclusion that it would be a very smart idea to get some supplies together. But where to start? Below is just a jump start to get you going. Your personal circumstances will dictate what you can and cannot do.

Just think this way: if you knew a hurricane or blizzard was coming what would you get from the store? And then make sure you get enough for at LEAST one month if not three months (which is where I would personally be most comfortable starting from nothing). Tess Pennington has a great resource for what to buy if you can do so. But there are a lot of options including 30 day buckets made by various emergency preparedness companies that range from $60 to over $200 per person. Keep in mind these bucket NEED WATER and some way of cooking/heating.

Short term food supply

Long term food supply

Both of the links above will take you to Ready Nutrition

For those on a tight budget facing potential mandatory lockdown (or voluntary if you are smart in live in a high risk area) you can subsist on peanut butter, crackers, tuna, and other canned foods that can be bought cheaply. This is something only you can decide on since YOU know your circumstances. But lay in your food storage now before real fear sets in. Remember your pet too. Do what you can with what you can when purchasing your food items. And buy only what you WILL EAT.

Do you have a way of cooking outside of the microwave or your stove? Do you have enough ‘fuel’ to last and sit out in isolation for a few weeks to possibly months? And the biggest question, is do you know how to use that alternative cooking method. If you answer no to any of these questions then now is the time to either get one you can work (NO CAMPING STOVES INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!) and make sure you know how to use it now and have enough fuel on hand for daily use for at least a month. Personally if I lived in a city or other highly populated area I would go for minimal cooking. Less noticeable.

Do you have water? We use so much water in our daily lives to do so many things…cooking, cleaning, washing. The school of thought is 1 gallon minimum per day per person/animal. Frankly, I like to get 3 gallons going per person just to have extra. I learned this after going through Irene with no power for a week. Water is KING. Yes, right now you have electricity and the water is flowing…but the idea is not to wait for it to stop flowing before being ready for it not be flowing.

First Aid items. What is in YOUR house? The last place you want to be going in case of an outbreak or potential one is the doctors office, ER or Urgent Care especially if you can take care of it at home yourself. Most coughs, sniffles, bumps and bruises and other things can safely be handled at home. If you are sure, get a good home first aid book to walk you through things. But remember, have the little things ON HAND. There is no going out remember? Not unless you absolutely have to do so. Isolation is the only sure fire method of prevention. Again, Tess Pennington has a great ‘get you started list’.

First Layer of First Aid

More First Aid

Medications that you take regularly. Is that prescription filled? Keep it filled and don’t wait until the last moment to do so. I know and understand that many medications are only dispensed one month at a time, but see if that is due to pharmacy regulations/FDA/DEA regulations or if its an insurance thing. If its an insurance thing then you may want to go ahead and pay out of pocket for that extra refill before its due. Don’t hesitate to ask the pharmacy if they have some sort of discount card available as many do. If things start to look ugly, don’t hesitate to contact your private doctor and discuss options with them. It does not hurt to ask!

Sanitation is how you plan on keeping things clean and the garbage taken care of. This is a tough one for those who live in cities. We can all think back to when the garbage workers went on strike in New York. YUCK! So it would be best to minimize garbage, but on the otherhand, if water becomes an issue then you will need to go to using disposable items (or better yet, eat out of the can, yeah, I know gross, but we are talking drop dead situation here, no pun intended). If you have power and sewage still going on then you don’t need to worry about mother nature, but what about Toilet Paper? Got enough for a while? And what if that good ole toilet stops working for some reason? Need to plan for that too and there are many ways of dealing with this issue. Don’t forget cleaning supplies too. I always keep waterless ways of cleaning on hand such as surface spray and those moist floor cloths (found at dollar store). And use paper towels.

Again, I will refer to Tess Pennington’s 52 Weeks to Preparedness:

Sanitation 1
Sanitation 2

This is just a start up to get you thinking about what you would need in an isolation/mandatory quarantine situation so that you do not have to go out. While we have not come to that point where it is happening, the potential is there and I hope you understand the potential threat and take action now. Hey, look at it this way, you get something together now and if you don’t need it great! Then when the next storm comes around you can sit back and relax…you got it covered!

Don’t forget to visit Tess’s website for even more information on how to prepare for any situation. She is an awesome lady with tons of great, reliable information.

God bless and stay safe!
survivingshtfmom

Lets face it…you are making a huge investment into your future by storing food and supplies or maybe you just have enough to get by…but no matter where you live or how ‘clean’ you keep things, PESTS will find their way into your home and life.
In the following video by my partner in preparedness, Phil of VaCreepinOutdoors we look at a very simple and effective tool in controlling rodents and the difference between rats and mice (not that I personally see a difference between them, they all chew and spoil food, equipment and such).

Not for the faint of heart! A mouse is shown setting off a trap. And no, we didn’t set it up that way, it just happened that after filming the segment on the best trap (in our opinion anyways) that Mr.Mouse couldn’t resist the smells of peanut butter and we were there to film it.

Be sure to check out his other videos:

As another note…after we caught that one we heard another trap in my workshop go off and that one caught TWO mice in one shot…

I love the Snap-E Traps…bye bye mice!!!

more to come on rodent control!!

And just for giggles and grins…this guy from Jersey is too funny…reminds me of the song “I Can’t No Satisfaction” lol…beware of the language heehehhe

Anybody can catch a bluegill. Right????.

ISD…okay…just what is that you ask? I is for improvised, S is Storage and D is for Device…Improvised Storage Device…yeah, okay, okay, I will admit that older son #2 came up with it and he is an admitted warfare nut and everything is put or translated into militaristic terms if you communicate with him. But hey, an ISD sounds lot better than ‘repurposed’ or ‘recycled’ doesn’t it?

So what is an ISD exactly…well, see the picture below for a few ideas…

20130920_2

Of course the wonderful, multi-purpose 2 liter soda bottle. I use these to store rice, flour type products, popcorn, salt, sugar and other liquids (not water though as they are too thin as I have found out for long term use/storage). Gatorade bottles are great too for storing rice, flour, liquids and BEANS very easily. (Anyone who has tried to get beans into a 2 liter soda bottle knows what a pain in the rear that is let alone get them OUT and I am not into self torture food storage). How about those lunch meat containers? Put them into the dishwasher and guess what? Instant free storage. Old salad dressing bottles are great for making your own salad dressings, storing ‘homemade’ liquid soap or, if you are like me and buy in bulk, putting that liquid into a manageable container. I save and reuse the spice bottles too, again, great for breaking down from bulk purchase to manageable and you can use them to make and store your own toilet/tub scrub. One gallon water jugs that have been used? Either refill them and put outside for use as grey water (flushing toilets, watering plants, etc.) or refill with some other liquid purpose (recently I made bug killer from concentrate and used a one gallon jug to store extra in). I saved the empty laundry detergent containers to refill and reuse with my own laundry detergent and make gallons of bug killer from concentrate. Cottage cheese containers, sour cream containers? Yeah, those things that we constantly throw away…perfect for storing non-food items in such as nails, screws, thread, crayons, you name it…if it fits, it stores. Big vinegar containers I reuse to make large amounts of cleaners using vinegar. And, I will admit to reusing those zip lock bags too, a simple scrub and air dry and you get more than one use out of them. I save and reuse anything that is a ‘container’. I have a couple of totes with clean empty containers in them ‘just in case’. You never know…Any one with more ideas? Please do share your reuse ideas for ISD’s…improvised storage devices.