In other news we haven't bought any mushrooms or seaweed yet. Although I did accidentally make butter twice when trying to make whipped cream with our raw milk. How does one accidentally make butter, you ask? Well, when you don't have a hand mixer and you decide to just shake your cream in a Tupperware container because thats 'essentially the same thing as whisking it' - I shook it for too long and hey presto butter! Kyle said the expression on my face was hilarious. The second time I did it, I was trying to make whipped cream in my food processor because I was cooking other things and didn't want to just stand there holding the hand mixer to make whipped cream. Yeah I beat it too long then, too. I will say that fresh buttermilk is AMAZING though!
Ok so why are we getting all green and gross. Well, I'll tell ya. Basically Kyle and I have been severely vitamin and mineral depleted for a while now, and we're falling apart and we're only 28!! How did we get this way? The short answer is a lifetime on a standard American diet. A sometimes healthier-than-usual standard American diet, but pretty standard nonetheless.
Both our mama's tried to feed us descent food on strict budgets without the benefits of all the awesome new research and resources that are coming out. The result of which is that there were a lot of carbs and 'dead foods,' - foods that had all the nutrients zapped out of them through processing and preserving. Nutrient-dense food doesn't have to be expensive (although it certainly can be!) but if you know what to look for you can still have a highly nutrient dense meal on a budget. The problem is you do have to make some front-end investments. You end up spending the same amount of money in the long run, but you have to plan and budget and pray and do without. Neither of our mom's knew what to look for, where to get it or how to pay for it front-end. I will say my mom knew a bit more than Kyle's mom, because we did go through regular health/diet episodes in my family while growing up. (There was the Great Chili Year in which we ate nothing but homemade chili, cornbread, and if we were really feeling froggy had some popcorn for desert! Yeah I hung out at friend's house a LOT that year just to get some variety in my diet! I'm still not over it. I don't care how healthy beans are for you I refuse to cook them. I'll make Indian lentils and I do love using garbanzo beans but THAT IS IT!)
When I was in college I experienced that lovely epidemic that went around a few years ago: Swine Flu. Upon reflection, the illness itself wasn't all that horrible. It was the effects it had on my body long-term that were devastating! My health was just done after that. I got sick almost every other month; and not just the common cold either. I had ear, eye, and respiratory infections - and odd strains of those as well! It took the doctor's about a month to figure out what was wrong with my eye and how to fix it. Even when the infections stopped coming so frequently, I still was out whenever any kind of flu or cold came through town. I had no clue how to recuperate from illnesses, nor what kind of effects multiple rounds of antibiotics does on the infrastructure of one's body chemistry. Even though I worked out and was in GREAT shape, I was very susceptible to muscle injuries and was constantly spraining, straining or pulling something.
My then-boyfriend-now-husband took VERY good care of me - as much as he knew how! However he thought it was because I was way too thin (which, to be fair, I was too skinny at the time) so thought I just needed to eat MORE.
He had rarely been sick growing up, and thought it an injustice to society whenever he or those he knew were in any way ill. BUT right after we got married he donated Bone Marrow to a Cancer patient. We didn't know the recipient, it was all anonymous. The three days before the transplant were MISERABLE. Our representative from the donation organization was amazing and walked me through everything, but even she admitted she had never had or heard of a donor being that sick. Neither Kyle or I slept much and were in and out of the ER for those three days trying to figure out where Kyle's horrible migraines and flu-symptoms were coming from. Was it the bone marrow medication? Was he really sick? Could he still do the donation? After the transplant, Kyle was ill for about 3 months. It was like he didn't have any immune system left, but nobody knew why or what caused it. My sister recommended trying Probiotics, so one day I walked into a health food store and went to the service desk. "I don't care how much it costs or what it is, just give me something to have a healthy husband again!" was my general message to the bearded assistant. (why do most men working in health food stores have to have Hittite-like beards???) Instead of taking enormous financial advantage of my desperate state like they could have, the sales clerk recommended an iron supplement and a strong probiotic to start taking. I purchased them and noticed a HUGE difference in both of us once we started taking them. (here's the thing about health journeys: if your spouse is doing something crazy health-wise, its just nice to do it with them. And you probably need to be fixing up your diet yourself,so its just better all-around if you eat the horse pills and off-color foods with them instead of feeding it to them while you dash off to a fast food restaurant)
We started taking vitamins and probiotics regularly. I began avoiding processed foods and packages or frozen goods. We saw some improvements but not a lot. The main thing I knew to do was increase veggies and home cooked meals but that was it. We kept kefir and yogurt around because i knew those had probiotics and when we went out to eat we tried to avoid soda's and always get a side salad with our meal. But I was still getting sick a few times a year - especially in winter - and Kyle still felt worn out all the time.
Finally I talked to my friend's mom who is getting her license as a Nutritional Therapist. (I actually called her for another friend of mine who thought she had MS.) What resulted was a 15 page questionnaire for both Kyle and I and an 8 hour consultation that usually takes an hour per person. (Now, the timing was partially due to the fact that this friend's mom has been praying for me for 10 years and I for her and this was the first time we had met face to face. So we had a lot of talking to do since we both knew all about each other but never met. But for the most part the conversation centered around our health.)
Kyle had severe internal inflammation in all his organs, and I had a good deal myself. Both of us were severely deficit in vitamin and mineral stores in our bodies. Our digestive systems had become so sensitive to carbohydrates and processes sugars that they were causing Kyle digestion issues, and that was why my immune system wasn't working.
'Great." I thought. "We're gonna die at age 35. Or contract some horrible chronic illness!" My friend's mom calmed my fears by saying that yes, if we had continued on in the way we were going we probably would have contracted some form of chronic illnesses in a few years. BUT since we were catching it now and wanted to change, that didn't have to happen. But we had to change some stuff.
My friend did the consultations all for free and didn't and doesn't want any credit. She didn't sell us anything and she didn't prescribe anyone who did.
Rather, she gave us resources and places to find good information. She gave us basic guidelines.
1. Take your body weight, divide it in half. That's how many ounces of water you should be drinking PER DAY. If you have any diuretic drink - such as soda, coffee, or tea - add an extra 2 ounces to your daily quota PER diuretic drink. So if you have 3 cups of coffee that 6 more ounces of water you need to drink.
2. Every time you eat, be it full meal, snack, or whatever, make sure you have a oil, good fat, and complex carbohydrate.
3. Find raw milk and only use that. It has powerful enzymes that aid in digestion. Pasteurized milk has all the good bugs boiled out of it and is basically just fat - and whatever hormones or antibiotics they gave the cow!
4.Avoid WHITE foods: white sugar, white salt, white flour, potatoes, etc. and stick to complex carbs.
5. Buy healthy oils and use good fats in cooking and get rid of dead or volatile oils in cooking. So goodbye crisco and vegetable oil! (I never used margarine. It tasted like plastic to me and come to find out, it IS plastic!) And hello cold pressed virgin oils, butter, and lard! (yes, lard. Preferably duck lard but pastured-pork lard is also good. And yes I will talk about weight gain in a minute so hang on)
6. Use sea salt and butter. Use them often, use them lovingly, use them generously. They contain vitamins and minerals and properties that help your body assimilate other vitamins and minerals in digestion.
7. Focus on Whole foods and Nutrient-density. Red meat, salmon, and soaked grains fall into this category.
8. Because our bodies were in deficit, we needed to focus on HEALING our bodies. Not just switching stuff around. Drastic fast changes to diet was NOT recommended as this would through everything into shock and cause more harm than good. Rather we needed to make slow changes. Switching out a few things per week was the goal, not cleaning out the entire fridge and pantry and starting from scratch. We also needed to get some good supplements of vitamins and minerals to replenish our depleted immune system stores.
Sound pretty counter-intuitive? I mean, she's telling us to eat fatty, buttery, salty food, right? Everyone knows thats bad for you! Originally when I wrote this part of my 3-part blog post on health my response to 'your gonna gain weight!" was part of this post. But again, it got too long. So stay tuned to next time! I don't want this to turn into another health/food blog, because there are so many of them out there and seriously there is more to life besides obsessing about food! However I do want this to be a blog that celebrates The Good Life in Christ, and I strongly believe that eating WELL is part of that life. So I hope I haven't bored you with this healthy food talk. I hope you are learning and growing and being challenged to ask questions and find out more for yourself!