Archive for August, 2009

How I Cured a Raging Sinus Infection Naturally, with No Drugs

Over the last few months I’ve been hearing about a lot of people who have been ill with terrible head colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, flus, and sinus infections. It always seems strange to me when people are coming down with stuff like this in what is not typically considered the cold and flu season. But when you stop to consider the diet and subsequent state of health of people in general, it really shouldn’t be surprising.

In the summer of 2006 my husband, son, and I all became ill with a terrible sickness that I might have otherwise described as West Nile Virus – except for the fact that none of us had been bitten by mosquitoes or been around any areas where mosquitoes inhabit. Our symptoms were severe – extreme fatigue, malaise, body ache, and high fevers that lasted for over a week (in my son’s case he had a fever for 15 days!). From start to finish, the entire episode lasted for nearly two months. But our symptoms started subsiding immediately after we paid a visit to my acupuncturist and Chinese herbal doctor.

Since then I’ve been a devoted follower of natural treatments. This year, I was once again reminded just how useful natural treatments are when the sore throat and body ache I came down with turned into conjunctivitis and a horrible sinus infection. The sickness first came on in mid-June, and I figured it would just be a mild sore throat that would last a day or two…after all, I’m a pretty healthy person who eats a good diet and doesn’t get sick much anymore…but I was wrong. The sore throat, headache, body ache, fatigue and cough went on for about five days. Day six found me with a sinus headache and red, weepy eyes. I assumed these symptoms would go away without much consequence. Wrong again.

The normal course of action I take with a sinus infection is to use my neti pot and breathe hot steam with essential oils. Because at first my condition didn’t seem too severe, I didn’t irrigate frequently enough. Within a few days the infection became so acute I was in excruciating pain daily until afternoon when the congestion would subside and have me believing that it was on its way out. Then, the following day I’d wake up again only to be in agonizing pain within an hour or two.

Just two days before my sinus infection developed, I had paid a visit to my neighbor, a nutritional therapist. She said that I had strep in my body, and I tested positive for candida. I had performed a candida cleanse in 2007 which lasted about 14 weeks. I wasn’t too thrilled about having to do another candida cleanse, but knew from talking with her and my own research that both the sinus problem and the conjunctivitis could likely be caused by a candida overgrowth. After I put these things together in my head I decided to do another candida cleanse and went on a grain and sugar-free diet. My normal diet is pretty healthy anyway, so I just removed a few things and also began taking Candidase by Enzymedica. This is an outstanding product I’ve used before in the past, and is one of the most recommended products I know of for elimination of candida overgrowth in the body.

In the meantime, I was seeing little improvement. I tried everything my neighbor had suggested – I took an oil of oregano supplement and colloidal silver. My research revealed that goldenseal, apple cider vinegar, and various immune-boosting herbal products I already had in my house were effective natural treatments for a sinus infection. I also used hot compresses with oil of oregano, peppermint, lemon, melaleuca, and eucalyptus, breathed essential oils in hot steam several times a day, and used my neti-pot ’round the clock. I was drinking a lot of water and eating well, but nothing seemed to work.

During this time of course, everyone around me was urging me to go to the doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics. All I could think of was how this would wipe out my immune system – especially because I now had some kind of candida problem that would inevitably only get worse with antibiotics.

I’ve had enough!

Although I thought I’d lose my mind if I didn’t figure out a way to get over the sinus infection, this factor alone is what kept me from breaking down and going to a conventional doctor.  Finally, I decided to go see a naturopathic doctor who also has an M.D. working in her office. I decided that if she couldn’t help me with something natural, I’d have her do a culture to determine the cause of the infection – bacterial or fungal, as any sinus problem that goes on for that long is not usually caused by a virus. If the culture came out positive for something besides a virus, I was nearly resigned to taking antibiotics or an anti-fungal medication if necessary. From my experience and what others have reported, most medical doctors don’t think of sinus infections as being caused by fungal sources, they usually just tap on your head and write out a prescription for an antibiotic. I wanted to find out what was causing it and fix it. I didn’t want to be given some random medication and sent on my way.

The naturopath said she wasn’t sure that anything else she could do would cure my sinus infection since I had already been doing those things for three weeks and had not achieved results. But she was willing to try and wait to see if I felt any improvement the following day. We agreed that if what she did failed to work, I would come back and do a culture to find out what type of medication would be best.

The first thing she did was perform some manipulations (she knows chiropractic treatment) on my neck and head. Then she took four long cotton swabs and soaked them in essential oils and pushed them up into my nasal passages – yes, inside my nasal passages! It felt very odd, but once they were in it wasn’t a problem and she left them there for ten or fifteen minutes. While the swabs were in, she did some head and facial massage and manipulations on pressure points corresponding to my sinuses. After she was finished with these treatments, my head was almost completely pain free – for the first time in over two weeks! It was amazing. She also told me to go home and do alternating hot and cold compresses on my sinuses before bed, take an herbal tincture from her office, and perform a sinus rinse with colloidal silver in my neti-pot (I had tried the colloidal silver as a nasal spray already with no success).

Later that afternoon I talked to my neighbor again and she suggested putting a probiotic capsule in my neti pot. I take daily doses of probiotics, but had not yet tried breaking open the capsule and putting it in the pot. I used self-massage on my sinuses throughout the rest of the day, as shown by the naturopath. I also did the compresses and took the tincture as directed.

Now here’s the most amazing part – at bedtime, I emptied the contents of a probiotics capsule into the neti-pot and proceeded to pour the warm water, salt, baking soda and probiotic mixture into my nasal passages. Immediately I felt a terrible burning sensation that went on for a good ten minutes. It was quite painful, but as it subsided, I was filled with a peaceful calm, and then retired to bed and had a good night sleep. The next morning, I awoke and was surprised to find that even as time went on, my head remained pain-free throughout the day. The horrible “ice pick” sinus pressure which was normally in full-swing by 10 a.m. was completely gone. Whenever I felt like I was getting a slight ache, I performed the facial massage to my temples and sinuses I had done the day before. I also used the probiotics in my neti pot a few more times over the next five days, along with my Whole Body Defense from Gaia Herbs, and some grapefruit seed extract (about 5 drops in 6 ounces of water twice a day). I was cured! I really believe those probiotics did some magical trick – although I’m sure some of the other things I did helped as well – because the first time I did it, after the burning came and went, the pain was completely gone and has not returned since.

Some people might still be skeptical after reading this and say, “yeah, you got well naturally, but it took nearly 4 weeks!” Yes, that is true. But how many people do you know who take antibiotics and don’t get well for weeks…or become sick again after thinking they are cured? How many others take one antibiotic, only to have it not improve their condition, and then return to the doctor for one or two more rounds of other antibiotics? This is a pretty common occurrence, and I didn’t want to be one of those people.

Here’s something else important to remember: the first two weeks I assumed whatever I had would go away on its own and didn’t make much of an effort to treat it sufficiently. It wasn’t until at least week two where I realized it was a serious infection and decided to do something. In many cases, the first thing you try isn’t the thing that is going to work. Just as described above, medical doctors often try many different medications before something actually brings results…and still, sometimes, it doesn’t work.

The other factor in all of this that people fail to take into account is the natural immunity granted to your body when you allow it to recover naturally instead of using pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications. These artificially-produced, toxic substances weaken the immune system by wiping out friendly bacteria and depleting the body of vital nutrients. They are also responsible for  a wave of resistant bacteria which could ultimately cause the death of mass numbers of our population in the not-so-distant future. These bacteria become impervious to medications when they are actually needed, and in some cases, cannot be killed at all or will only be taken down by certain medications which are dangerous to use and can cause damage to the human body. Ultimately, I claim victory in this situation because even though it took me awhile to get over this, I did it without compromising my immune system and I gained natural immunity to whatever was making me sick.

Are antibiotics useful?

Remember that the word antibiotic literally means “anti-life”. Antibiotics have their place in the world, but they shouldn’t be used every time you get a flu, cold, or respiratory infection that lasts longer than 7 – 10 days . I once heard a story from a friend who went to the doctor and was given a prescription for antibiotics. When she asked whether antibiotics were really necessary, the doctor replied that she didn’t want to mess around with a possible infection and antibiotics were the best thing. My friend asked whether she would die if she didn’t take the antibiotics and to which the doctor replied, “it’s possible”.  So what if she hadn’t taken antibiotics for her infection? What would be the likelihood of her dying because she did not follow the doctor’s recommendation? Most people have compromised immune systems due to diet and poor lifestyle anyway, but taking antibiotics when your health is compromised will only make the problem later worse – even if it temporarily stops an infection in its tracks.

If you become sick and take antibiotics, you are really only wiping out all the bacteria in your body. You are not dealing with the underlying cause of the illness, which is why you became sick in the first place. This is why people get sick over and over again, even though they have taken antibiotics.

Viewing health holistically

It goes without saying that maintaining wellness isn’t just about curing yourself. It should be viewed holistically through a  healthy diet to give your body the foundation with which to fight off viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections in the first place. It’s also about getting enough rest, drinking enough filtered water, staying active, and avoiding chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, pesticides, and other toxins in the environment.

Would I do things differently in the future? I certainly would. But antibiotics still wouldn’t be part of my solution. Next time I feel something coming on, I’ll react more quickly to implement a natural remedy, and be more aggressive about treatment instead of waiting a week or two. After finding the right treatment, it worked to eliminate my sinus problem because the pain was still severe the day I went into see the naturopath, and when I left her office, the pain was almost 100 percent eliminated. Then, after following recommendations from the naturopath and my neighbor, the infection was gone and did not return. Nothing else I had tried up to that point made much difference.  So, never again will I believe otherwise – proactive measures are the best bet for staying healthy.

Update! Please take a few minutes to read Cheeseslave’s article about curing her bronchitis with Vitamin D (and also eliminating moles with iodine).

This article is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please visit her site and read the other great real food articles there.

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Eating Healthy in a Time of Recession

The name of the game in tough economic times is to save money. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of people I’ve heard say they buy cheaper food because they can’t afford anything else lately. But consider just how expensive some of that cheaper food really is. On the surface, a six-pack of soda or juice can run anywhere from 2 to 3 dollars (and if you buy name brand, it could be higher). And what are you getting for your money? Sugar, chemicals, and toxins.  Does it satisfy your thirst? Do you have to keep drinking more to feel satiated? If so, chances are you’ll buy more. Many people become addicted to sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks, so they buy more to feed their addiction. And in the process, they are harming their health by continuing to consume these beverages which contribute to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Diabetes, and cancer. Is this really a good definition of saving money?

Water may or may not be cheaper, but it depends on what type of water you are buying. Most bottled waters are of questionable quality, and can leach BPA and other toxic chemicals from the plastic bottle. Find a good source of water at your local health food store that you can buy in your own refillable bottles or invest in a good filtration system for your sink or home. This will ensure you are getting better quality water and you are saving money from continually purchasing expensive bottled water that may or may not be good quality.

Your tap water is dangerous to drink and should be avoided. According to the Ralph Nader Research Institute, tap water contains over 2100 toxic chemicals.  Some of those are heavy metals like cadmium, iron, mercury, and lead. It also contains arsenic, fluoride and chlorine, proven in studies to be harmful to the human body. Finally, tap water that is filtered out by water reclamation sites does not get filtered for all the other substances that go down the drain – prescription medications that people take, pesticides, and many other toxic chemicals.

What about a box of processed cereal? A box of Cheerios will probably cost around $3, less if you buy the generic. If you buy whole, organic grains from the bulk section of your store, you will spend anywhere from around .75 to just over $2.00 a pound. But the whole grain cereal will last you longer because it is a real food and will deliver nutritional value to your body that the boxed doesn’t. Processed cereals contain extruded grains that the human body cannot absorb, and the nutrients are all stripped away during processing and then synthetic nutrients are added back in. Because this is not a real food, it is not useful to your body.

The cost of buying commercial, industrial meat may be less on the package, but what are you getting for your money? Meat that is loaded with hormones, antibiotics, too many Omega 6s from the animals eating the wrong types of feed (corn, soy, grain), high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, and low in protein. Nutritional content in this type of meat is not only poor, but the chemicals contained in the meat help deplete your body of nutrients as well. Locally-raised, grass-fed meat, on the other hand, is high in protein, low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates, and is an excellent source of Omega 3 EFAs and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Grass-fed meats generally cost more, but they are nutritionally good for your body and can help prevent heart disease, Diabetes, and cancer.

Then there’s the long-term effects and deferred costs of eating nutritionally-bankrupt foods. Weakened immune system. Frequent colds and flus. Headaches. Sore throats. Allergies. Asthma. Chronic fatigue. Depression. Insomnia. Anxiety attacks. Fluctuating blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance and Diabetes. Weight gain. Irritability. Heart disease. High blood pressure. Cancer. The list goes on.

So then: if you are buying cheaper foods, but they are not delivering nutritional quality to your body, is that a waste of money, or do you still persist in thinking you are saving yourself money by eating this way? Investing in your health and well-being doesn’t have to be an exorbitant cost, it just has to be planned out and managed well.

Here are some ideas for saving money and still eating healthy during a recession:

  1. Eat all or most of your meals at home.
  2. When you shop at the store, buy only real, whole foods. Avoid purchasing foods in packages, cans, and boxes.
  3. Eat some meals meatless or spread your meat out amongst several meals. Use foods like cheese, milk, eggs, and butter as your main source of protein and fat in some meals, along with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (soaked or sprouted).
  4. Plan your shopping so you can make less trips to the store.
  5. Buy from farmer’s markets and local food growers. You will be supporting your local economy and you can often get foods for reasonable prices because you are not paying for packaging, marketing, processing, and transportation of your food.
  6. Become interested in and learn to grow, can, jar, cook, freeze, and sprout, soak, and prepare foods at home. The more you do these types of things, the further your food will stretch. You will save money and your health.
  7. Use up all your food at home before going returning to the store.
  8. Plan your shopping trips, make a list before you go and stick to it.
  9. Use networking in your area to find new resources for healthy food. Talk to neighbors and folks at the farmer’s markets and local health food stores. Attend events where local food is being served. Look in your local paper for a list of resources and activities centered around local food and food growers.
  10. Take time out to grow food in your own yard or space. Be sure to use organic fertilizers when you plant so that the nutritional content and disease resistance of the food you plant is higher.

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit this site and read the other real food posts there.

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Nutrients You are Probably Lacking in Your Diet

Does this picture bring memories to mind of what you ate recently? Maybe you think your diet is just fine. Or, perhaps you are thinking your diet needs some adjustment. If you regularly eat “foods” such as those shown in the picture, it’s time to change your thinking about food and your eating habits.

Here’s something you may find surprising though – even if you don’t eat the foods pictured at left much or at all, you could still be lacking in many critical nutrients that your body desperately needs, and worse – you could be eating foods that you believe are perfectly healthy but are actually a detriment to your health. Even if you make home-cooked meals, you may be mislead in thinking that the foods you are using to create meals from scratch are healthy to eat when in fact they aren’t healthy at all.

We often hear about malnutrition in underdeveloped countries. Those of us living in first-world, developed countries rarely associate this phenomenon with our own population. But the truth is, we are some of the most overfed and undernourished in the world. The nutrients we will discuss in this article are a few important ones that many people in developed countries are lacking in, across the board. Deficiencies in these nutrients can cause degenerative disease to occur – diseases that people often seek to “cure” with drugs and surgery from conventionally-trained doctors. Some of the most prevalent diseases that are caused and/or worsened by nutritional deficiencies are heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus.

The reason we are so deficient in these important components of diet is because of the way our food production has evolved in growing, manufacturing, sales, and eating habits. In developed countries, we have food available anytime of day or night – and much of it is toxic, processed “food” with little nutritional value. Cooking is something we do less than ever before in history due to our stressful lives and busy schedules. Even people who cook food at home are using processed, convenience foods to prepare their meals. These foods include the meat and dairy products you eat, grains and grain products, fruits and vegetables, nuts, drinks, and foods containing fats such as oils. Do you know if your food is truly healthy?

No amount of drugs or surgery will cure disease.  Even if you take drugs for a disease, the disease will still be there. It just might be the case that the drug or surgery will cause one or more of the symptoms to disappear for awhile, making the person who is taking the drug believe they are cured. But those drugs also cause side-effects as well – side effects that can be harmful or fatal.

If you treat your health problems naturally with lifestyle and proper diet, the body is able to begin the important process of changing the conditions where disease exists. Given the proper tools and nutrients, the body is incredibly resilient and possesses a great capability to eliminate disease and heal itself. The following are some critical elements in nutrition that you may be deficient in (and remember, many of these nutrients will actually prevent disease from occurring):

  • Iodine – Much has been written and stated about the lack of iodine causing goiter during the earlier part of the 20th century. Iodine deficiency is actually a major cause of disease in developed countries due to the inadequate consumption of iodine-containing foods. Cysts in the breasts and ovaries can actually be caused by deficiency of this vital nutrient in the body. Many patients suffering from hypo and hyperthyroid conditions who take medications or have surgery can benefit greatly from iodine supplementation to alleviate symptoms and repercussions of thyroid disease. Because iodine deficiency can also cause problems with the adrenal glands and thyroid system, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a health care professional in dealing with this syndrome. Other conditions caused by lack of iodine include Graves disease, Hashimoto’s disorder, fatigue and other auto-immune disorders. Infertility and miscarriage can also result in women trying to conceive, as well as reduced IQ in children born to mothers who lack sufficient iodine, which can result in mental retardation. Iodine also helps aid the body of ridding itself of heavy metals such as mercury, bromines, chlorines, and fluorides.  All of these harmful substances are present in our conventional food system and municipal water systems, the air we breathe and soil. Good sources of iodine in the diet include seafood and sea vegetables such as kelp (seaweed), dulce, and nori. Because most people do not eat enough of these foods, a supplement is usually necessary. Iodoral and Lugol’s are both reputable brands and can be obtained from a knowledgeable health care practitioner.
  • Vitamin D – another nutrient we are severely deficient in, Vitamin D is something we are generally unable to obtain from our diets. We must obtain Vitamin D from the sun. Sun exposure has come under tremendous criticism in the last 40 years, and we have been repeatedly advised against prolonged sun exposure and told to use copious amounts of sunscreen. Sunscreen can be harmful in and of itself because it blocks important rays needed by our bodies to synthesize critical nutrients, and most sunscreens on the market contain dangerous chemicals that can actually cause health issues. Our skin is the largest organ and absorbs substances 10 times greater than our digestive tract. That is why sun exposure is so important. If you are concerned about being sunburned when you are outside, limit your direct exposure in any given day to about and hour and use long sleeves, pants, skirts, dresses, hats, and scarves to cover up after that time period. Repeated, short span exposure to the sun will allow your skin to become acclimated to exposure to reduce burning and increase your Vitamin D intake that is so critical in lowering your risk of many different diseases.  Foods with saturated fats like grass-fed meats/poultry/pork, eggs from pastured hens, raw dairy products, and Fermented cod liver oil from Green Pastures are your best bets for obtaining enough Vitamin D through diet – as well as Vitamin A and Omega 3 essential fatty acids – if you fail to receive daily adequate sun exposure.
  • Omega 3 essential fatty acids – in developed countries, most people have a deficiency in Omega 3 EFAs, while they receive too many Omega 6s due to consumption of processed foods. Omega 3s are responsible for proper brain, eye, and cardiovascular function. If this important EFA is missing in the diet, serious health consequences can occur. The over-abundance of Omega 6s in the diets of people in developed countries creates and inflammatory response in the body which leads to many health problems – obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, depression, premature aging, and many auto-immune disorders including Diabetes. Omega 3 EFAs can be found in grass-fed meats and dairy products (raw is best), cold-pressed flax-seed oil, fermented cod liver oil, lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut and other vegetables, eggs from pasture-raised hens and other fowl,
  • Vitamin B complex – in the United States, we live very stressful, demanding lives. Our bodies become depleted of nutrients easily when under strain. Among other things, B vitamins are essential for our adrenal glands, handling sugar, and dealing with stress. Take the average American who has no time for enough sleep, rest, a healthy diet, and add in the pressures and stress of modern life and what you’ve got is an invariable deficiency in all the B vitamins. Health problems that can develop range anywhere from mental disorders to heart palpitations to sleeplessness to chronic fatigue and panic attacks.  Good sources of B Vitamins include bananas, tempeh (fermented soy), potatoes, real, whole grains, lentil beans, eggs, green vegetables, dairy products from grass-fed animals, pasture-raised poultry, and healthy grass-fed meats (especially organ meats). Vitamin B is water soluble (is not stored) and must be replaced in the body daily, so obtaining an adequate, natural source of Vitamin B complex regularly is really important.
  • Iron – when you become low on iron, the amount of oxygen which reaches your cell is limited. The result is fatigue, poor mental and physical performance, and lowered immune function. An iron deficiency can cause you to feel tired and appear pale in the complexion.  Iron is essential in the natural fat burning process in the body as well. Good sources of iron include grass-fed meats (especially dark and organ meats), eggs from pasture-raised hens, wild-caught fish like tuna and salmon, oysters, . Vitamin C is necessary for absorption of iron, so be sure to eat plenty of natural sources of Vitamin C such asorganic citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables (which also contain trace amounts of iron from the soil minerals).
  • Vitamin E – many people have a deficiency of vitamin E which causes weakening of the immune system (like Vitamin B deficiency) and the breakdown of vital red blood cells. Vitamin E is one of the most important fat-soluable antioxidant nutrients. It is essential in elimination of free-radicals in the body. It can also reduce the risk of cancer, immune system disorders, dementia, cataracts, and Diabetes. This critical nutrient also aids in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy by reducing artherosclerosis.  Good sources include healthy nut oils like olive oil, peanut oil, carrots, avocadoes, hazelnuts, peanuts, and almonds, real whole grains, spinach, and wheat germ.
  • Saturated fat and cholesterol. Yes, I said saturated fat and cholesterol. You may be thinking, “but the medical community frowns upon saturated fat!”. It’s true, they do. If saturated fat and cholesterol are such a problem, why do we have so many rampant health problems in our country? Problems like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes…I could go on. Sure, we eat a lot of meat and fat, but the issue is that we are consuming the wrong kinds of meats and fats. The average citizen eats factory-farmed meats and dairy products, and processed, rancid fats from genetically-modified oils to obtain their so-called nutrients and nutritional value. These products are the actual reason we are seeing so many health issues today at such staggering rates. Fats and cholesterol from industrial meat and dairy products and  processed, rancid oils are one of the main culprits behind our health woes. Traditionally, people who consume healthy fats from grass-fed meats and pasture-raised animals, their eggs and milk and milk products, are some of the healthiest people on the planet. They have very low incidence of heart disease and obesity. So yes, eat plenty of real organic butter and other healthy dairy from antibiotic-free, pastured-cows (raw is a bonus!), eggs from pasture-raised hens, cold-pressed olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, cold-pressed flax seed oil, meat, tallow & lard from healthy animals who are on open pasture and not administered chemicals in their feed or antibiotics, and fermented cod liver oil.

The solution for health problems and nutrient deficiencies is to change your lifestyle and improve your diet. What should you be eating? Let’s start with some of the things you might be eating which can likely cause deficiencies in the first place:

  • Processed foods such as cereals, breads, pastas, crackers, food bars, nuts, desserts, soda pop, soy and soy products, juices, coffee, teas, and many others.  These foods are the lowest of the low. They are not real food nor do they contain any value to the nutritional needs of your body.  These should be eliminated completely and replaced with real, organic, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Conventionally grown produce – vegetables and fruits. These seem like they should be healthy, but the reality is that these foods are grown in the most contaminated soils that are depleted of minerals and other vital nutrients. Damaging farming methods as well as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides strip the soil and ultimately crops of nutrients. These dangerous chemical substances also deplete nutrients from our bodies and cause health issues.
  • Commercial and industrial meats and dairy products – these are some of the worst offenders because in addition to lacking the proper balances of Omega 3 EFAs, they are too high in Omega 6 content, contain many chemicals/hormones/antibiotics/steroids/other harmful chemicals as used by agribusiness to cause animals to grow bigger in a shorter amount of time (to maximize profits). Our bodies store fat in our cells, which means these foods are some of the biggest problems we have that affect our health. The chemicals come from all angles in the form of medications administered to the feed given to the animal to the environmental conditions where the animals are raised. All of these substances are toxic to the body (the animal’s and yours), and contribute to an overall inflammatory condition where nutrients are lost or not properly absorbed, and stress is placed on vital organ systems and  cell structures.

So if you think your diet is healthy enough, compare what you are eating to the items listed above. Here’s what you should be eating for optimal health:

  • Grass-fed meats, poultry, and dairy products – meat and dairy products from animals raised on pasture and who are not administered chemical substances in the form of medications or feeds that contain pesticides, fertilizers, or are genetically-modified. Cattle are meant to eat grass. Their digestive systems are not designed to handle corn, soy, and grains. Animals eating grass have higher levels of protein in their meat and are lower in fat and calories.
  • Eggs from pasture-raised hens. Eggs that come from hens who are allowed to roam around, forage, and eat plants and insects are healthier. This is not the same as cage-free or free-range, as these terms are virtually meaningless and often only mean they are still crammed together in small spaces and let out to wander very seldom.
  • Wild game animals and birds that are raised naturally – either domesticated and living out on pasture or wild caught (with no chemicals, pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics, of course).
  • Safe-source, wild caught fish from a deep sea source – deep sea fish and animals contain less mercury and other harmful substances. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, some tuna, and anchovies are good choices.
  • Real, organic fats that are free from chemicals and toxins – cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, coconut oil, sesame oil, cold-pressed grapeseed oil, flax oil, pumpkin seed oil; real butter, lard (from pork), fermented cod liver oil, tallow (from chicken or beef) or other real fats from a healthy, grass-fed source.
  • Raw, organic nuts and seeds. Choose selections that are not processed, roasted, altered, or cooked in any way. Nuts are best if soaked and/or sprouted as well.
  • Organic fruits and vegetables in their whole forms. Stay away from organic fruit juice, as this product is just another way to deliver a shot of sugar without fiber, vitamins, or minerals.
  • Moderate amounts of soaked, fermented, and sprouted organic grains. You do not have to avoid gluten in grains if you eat them properly prepared. Soaking and sprouting any good quality grain renders the grain more available to the human digestive tract and increases nutrient absorption. One reason so many people are grain intolerant, gluten sensitive, or celiac-ridden is due to the fact that most of the grains and grain products we consume are processed, ground into flour (which goes rancid), and full of dangerous chemicals such as pesticides. Most are also genetically-modified. And these grains comprise a hefty percentage of what people in in their diets. When those factors are all present, what occurs is digestive disease and intolerance or allergies to foods.

Eating healthy can be a challenge, and it certainly takes some effort to obtain real foods from a healthy source. But, if you believe eating healthy is too much trouble and too expensive, then consider how much it costs to treat diseases and health conditions that are already in progress!

Prevention is the best course of action to keep your health on track. For more information about urging our government and health agencies to be proponents of healthy eating and prevention, read ACTION NOW! An Open Letter to the President and  & Other Decision Makers Regarding Preventative Health Care.

This article is part of Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please read the other informative real food articles listed there.

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American Dietetic Association Refuses to Acknowledge Benefits of Organic Food

It should come as no surprise to those who are faithful to sustainable, traditional ways of eating that many far and wide oppose our beliefs about returning to nutrient-dense and older ways of growing, preparing, and selling food.  It is our duty to take a stand against agencies that seek to bring down the potential of great health we have in our communities by speaking out against literature and “research” which makes false claims.

Because of this transfer of false information, there are many people led astray in trying to decide what’s truthful information and what isn’t. The American Dietetic Association is one of the primary organizations relied on by the public for sources of health and nutrition. For decades, the ADA has provided a wealth of information about these topics. Unfortunately, they have been guilty of releasing  much incorrect information, much to the detriment of the masses. As with many topics on nutrition, they have taken a stand about organic food, and it is this:

If you visit their web site, you will find a definitive statement claiming that “no scientific evidence shows that these foods are healthier or safer than conventionally grown foods.” They maintain this stance despite the following research conducted by their Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group which reveal that plants grown in organic systems contain higher levels of nutrients and an organic diet avoids the serious health risks associated with pesticide exposure.

Unfortunately when agencies like the ADA who are followed so closely by individuals, health centers and organizations, physicians, and other entities recommend information to the public of this nature, many don’t realize the harmful effects their guidelines have on general health. By failing to support this important information, the ADA is undermining one of the best ways we as a civilization have of combating degenerative illness and disease, as well as degradation to our environment and economy. According to the Journal of Applied Nutrition, across the board, organic foods are superior in nutritional content and contain less toxic materials than conventionally grown foods.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The ADA also refuses to acknowledge the dangers of chemical ingredients and the genetic engineering of foods grown and sold on the market. It is interesting to note that this organization is a non-profit with a healthy donor list comprised of many influential and powerful corporations and individuals including, but not limited to, the following (with donation amounts listed for 2008):

  • Pepsi Co ($25,000 to $49,000)
  • Cargill ($10,000 to $24,000)
  • General Mills ($100,000 in 2008)
  • McCormick & Company ($5,000 to $9,999)
  • ConAgra ($5,000 to $9,999)
  • The National Cattleman’s Beef Association ($10,000 to $24,000)
  • National Dairy Council ($10,000 to $24,000)
  • Unilever Best Foods ($1,000 to $1,999)

Each of these corporations are well-known and documented to produce industrial food in the form of meat or dairy products, grains, and many packaged, processed foods containing toxins and chemicals found to cause health problems when consumed by human beings. One great source of information for this is the movie Food, Inc. Also, visit the Organic Consumer’s Association for reliable information about the effects of Monsanto’s product, Roundup. Sustainable Table has reliable data and sources detailing the dangers of pesticides and other harmful chemicals that are used in every aspect of our food system from meat to dairy to grains to soy to produce.

According to the American Dietetics Association web site, the ADA’s purpose is the following:

“The American Dietetic Association Foundation (ADAF) is the world’s largest charitable organization devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. ADAF is the philanthropic arm of the American Dietetic Association and a 501(c)3 charity”.

How could a charitable organization be so closely tied with big powerful corporations? Seems that there is a conflict of interest here. So if you were wondering whether the American Dietetic Association provides factual, scientific information about health, food, and nutrition, it bears mentioning that their philosophies and recommendations about what to eat are right in line with what industrial food companies sell to consumers.  All you have to do is follow the money – some of the most profitable and powerful food corporations in the world, as it turns out, are some of the ADA’s biggest sponsors.

“Smells like money to me!” – Food, Inc.

School lunch woes

One prominent place you can see the influence of the ADA at work is in managing school lunch menus for children. I’ve personally had conversations with the registered dietitians who run the school lunch program in my city, Boise, Idaho and gotten pretty much nowhere. I started an effort and was joined by a small group of parents and other concerned citizens last summer. We brought the film ‘Two Angry Moms‘ to our city in October of 2008. The dieticians watched it, and were almost completely unaffected by its important message.

Our goal was to make much needed changes to our menus by doing research, providing reliable evidence of the negative effect the food served by the school system has on children’s health, and have a discussion after the film about what we could do together to change things for the better. The head dietician got up to speak after the film and said, “it’s nice to know we’re one of the good guys!” To which the majority of the audience was utterly appalled and in disbelief.

It’s been over a year and nothing has happened (yet). The persistent idea held by these dietitians that children need low-fat foods and that processed foods are just fine and healthy to consume is not only annoying, but it is permanently damaging to our children’s health. This is one reason among many that I am thankful we are homeschooling this year.

ADA guidelines and recommendations for health

From my own experience, I have observed that the general teachings of registered dietitians (like many conventional doctors and nurses) include following a low-fat diet with “lean meats” that are “skinless and boneless”, little “red meat”, and “whole grains” (which include many processed foods such as store-bought breads, crackers, pasta, cereals, bagels, and  tortillas). We are also told to avoid healthy fats like butter and lard, cut sodium from our diets, and are encouraged to consume polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils (which seems contradictory given the fact that most of the processed foods they tell us to eat are high in salt!).

Registered dietitians remind us frequently to count calories, watch fat, and maintain portion control. So, eat less and cut out the things that give us staying power and keep us from getting hungry sooner – fat and protein. No wonder people are always hungry and can’t maintain their normal weight!

They do recommend eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but do not stand behind the idea that organic is superior for health.

Because their  beliefs include eating a lot of processed, industrial foods, it seems unbelievable that anyone would actually follow these  teachings. But the reality is, it’s these very ideas which have brought our nation and many other developed nations into the heart disease, Diabetes, obesity, and other degenerative diseases epidemic we now find ourselves in.

Anyone reading this who understands the importance of real food and traditional foods in the role of health knows that dietary fat is critical in maintaining health – but not just any fat…we need real butter, lard, and tallow from healthy animals raised naturally. We need grass-fed meats and poultry, and pasture-raised eggs. We need sustainable, organically grown fruits and vegetables. We also need naturally-fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented vegetables.

In short, we need REAL FOOD. Can we achieve this? Of course we can!  It just takes some education and determination. We need the real foods from nature as intended by our Creator to make us healthy. People have been eating this way for millennia. It’s only been in the last 100 plus years that we’ve seen a sharp decline in our good eating habits, and consequently, chronic degenerative disease.

So I ask this simple question:

How could modern-day science possibly succeed at altering and improving on something from nature (i.e., real, whole foods) that have worked to nourish our bodies for so many thousands of years?

This post is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival.

This post was featured on the Organic Consumer Association’s News Headlines page on August 21, 2009. Visit their site and read about organic and sustainable news there.

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Should Our Right to Purchase Real Food Be Taken Away?

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The tension about our ability to be able to obtain real, untainted food is growing stronger every day. No doubt, all we need do is look in the news for a barrage of reports about the government attempting to put regulatory laws on the manufacturing, production, and sale of food. It’s certainly true that we’ve had an inordinate occurrence of foodborne illnesses and disease outbreaks related to the consumption of food.

The source of the problem

When you hear these stories, pay close attention to where the diseases and illnesses are believed to have originated – from commercially-produced sources which usually have a trail to a factory or industrial farm. If the source is reported to be from a so-called “organic” farm, you can bet that with a little research, you’ll probably find that there are questionable practices going on in the environment where the food is being raised or grown. In other words, the farm is probably not really an organic or sustainable farm.

The government is now stepping in to take charge of the problem.

On August 6, 2009, the FDA announced plans to create a tight system where authorities will come down heavily on violators and be more vigilant about investigations of foodborne illness. But how exactly are they planning to take care of the culprit of the problem – the methods in which industrial farming produces food – the reason behind all our food recalls and disease outbreaks in the first place? The focus mistakenly remains on how to take care of a problem after it occurs – and nothing at all on making the food system safe in the first place so that we reduce the overall number of outbreaks due to food safety issues.

The way to make our food system safe, of course, is to require that farmers use clean, sustainable methods in which to raise and grow food. This rule is currently not how food is produced in our food system. With emphasis placed on profit and numbers, the majority of food growers are unconcerned with the quality of their products. When quality suffers, so does the health of the public and the environment.

Should the limitations and regulations which will soon be required of large, corporate farming operations also be imposed upon the small, sustainable farmers who deliver to our local communities? Smaller farmers and food producers simply cannot compete with the massive farming outfits who have unlimited money and resources to keep up with complex, changing laws and regulations. Such changes could effectively wipe out our sustainable food choices and prevent us from having those options in the forseeable future. Read this article from Mother Earth News about Joel Salatin and the challenges he faces in his efforts to maintain his sustainable, 100-acre farm in Polyface, Virginia.

Consider how much of the food that we eat is altered in some way with  chemicals or toxins that are harmful for us to consume. If you look at what has been happening, there are a prominent number of cases where people have become sick from eating processed, industrial food. Time and time again, we read news stories of individuals becoming ill from eating mainstream, processed products that are linked back to the industrial food industry. It is ironic that we are in the midst of such food safety issues, where our elected officials are voicing criticism about the legitimacy of sustainable-produced food, but don’t seem to comprehend what is going on in the industrial food sector. The industrial food sector, is in fact, where the food safety issues are most prevalent.

Industrial farms

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or industrial, factory farms are where the majority of the meat eaten in developed countries originates. These facilities place a high value on profits and very little consideration toward animal welfare and farm employee welfare, grossly mismanage the waste produced by the animals residing on the property, use genetically-modified, pesticide ridden feeds like grains, soy, and corn to promote quick growth of the animals, and employ widespread use of antibiotic and other medications on animals who become sick and infected due to the conditions where they live and the feed they consume. Cattle, in particular, are not designed to ingest grains, soy, or corn. Because this method of feed places a significant strain on the digestive tract of these animals (and subsequently their entire state of health), they become sick and farmers administer medications to combat illness.

Although the price tag of this type of meat is lower in the supermarket, the hidden costs of consuming such meat come later down the road. In addition, there is a significant burden on the part of the taxpayers – that’s us. Due to the pollution rates of factory farms which have a serious impact on public health, we experience an continual rise in overall medical costs.

Who is protected?

Government subsidies which are partially allocated to pay for large industrial farming outfits are funded by everyone who earns an income (our taxes). This structure causes loss of employment and drives wages down for the average person still employed. Large corporate takeovers eliminate smaller businesses. Industrial farming provides jobs, but wages are extremely low and working conditions for employees are abhorrent and dangerous.

Factory farms remain untouched by the regulatory measures that other industrial industries are required to follow. Lobbyists from special interest groups that are affiliated with these large farming entities have major influence over government agencies such as the FDA and USDA, and help make it possible for industrial farms to continue unethical business practices and continue to pay low wages, pollute the environment with hazardous waste, and use toxic chemicals to produce food that people consume.

Proposed regulations and fines that will be imposed upon the food production industry as a whole will be harmful to smaller, sustainable farming operations. The smaller farmer simply cannot compete with the corporate industrial farm’s ability to pay fees for operation costs required by the government in order to stay in business.

Making a difference

Although it takes extra effort to purchase locally-produced, sustainable meats and other food, the benefit to both human and environmental welfare as well as positive economic impact is measurable.

The fact is, real food doesn’t have to be for elitists. The notion that there are too many people on the planet for everyone to eat real, organic foods is based on nothing real or scientific; people mistakenly believe that if everyone switched over to real, whole foods and eliminated processed foods, some of us would starve. But if everyone supported their local, sustainable farmers and food growers, we would have enough food to feed our regional communities, plain and simple. It’s not impossible as everyone imagines.

The absolute best way to ensure a future for health, sustainable agriculture, and food is to purchase as much of this type of food as possible. The more you place your buying efforts towards healthy, organic, and local, sustainable food, the less money will go toward supporting the big, corporate, industrial farming machines that are propagating disease, illness, and environmental and economic downturn.

Another way to make a difference is to contact your elected officials and voice your opinions. Do some research and educate yourself on the issues. Get involved locally and abroad by writing letters, signing petitions, and supporting the efforts of those who seek to keep sustainable agriculture alive and well. Visit Take Part and learn more about these activities and become an activist!

Want to eat less? Lose weight? Enjoy better health? Save the environment? Buy local, sustainable foods and cook them yourself.

For more information on the latest news in food safety policy and laws, visit:

Food and Water Watch

Organic Consumer’s Association.

Suggested reading:

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture by Andrew Kimbrell

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival.

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