Hone Your Axe Skills to Functional Fitness There is something about a strong hickory handle and a hand forged head that has been slammed by a craftsman over and over again. When I first picked up an axe with the right intentions I realized there was something electric about it. This article offers a look …
If you are SERIOUS about prepping and preparedness, and if you have ANY suspicion that life as we know it might one day become ‘real’ SHTF, then perhaps THE most important thing you can do NOW is to spend more of your time and resources on physical conditioning. A paragraph from a recent article reads […]
3 Exercises That Can Realign Your Body and Ease Low-Back Pain When preparing for emergencies or you are looking for a more natural way to treat back ache, exercise can help. If the SHTF you may not have enough pain meds to keep your pain at bay for the long term. There are lots of …
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If you believe in the value of being ready for a disaster, then you probably understand that the time to prepare is now.
Since the type of disaster or crisis may vary, it can be difficult to prioritize exactly where you should be putting your efforts. Below are five things you can do to better prepare yourself for a variety of challenges.
1. Get fit. This is far from easy, I know. Like most people, I prefer to eat more food, choose less healthy options, and engage in less activity than is optimal for my health.
But it is important not to lose sight of the future. The reason for preparedness is to increase the chance of survival, and to maximize the quality of life after catastrophe happens.
Consider how much more you’ll be able to contribute to the well-being of your family and community if you are capable and strong. If you are morbidly obese or frail and don’t have the capacity for endurance, you will not be able to play as big a part in protecting yourself as you would like to.
It is possible you could even place loved ones in additional danger. If you are unhealthy and go knocking on a dear one’s door when the world is in chaos, they are likely to take you in despite what it will cost them.
Better for you to pay the price now. And when you think about it, it’s hardly much of a price. By eating right, exercising, taking steps to lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, and building cardiac strength, you will most likely feel much better and be glad you made the lifestyle changes.
2. Get out of debt. Nobody knows for sure what will happen. Will the economy collapse? Will Wall Street crash? Will the value of the dollar suddenly plummet due to offshore circumstances beyond our control?
Some permutations of apocalyptic predictions say that lending institutions will cease to exist. Loans and mortgages will implode, leaving homeowners and borrowers to live by the adage “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
But there are no guarantees it will work that way. It is possible there will still be enough enforcement in place to repossess your belongings and put you out of your home. Even barring anything being hauled off by creditors, nobody needs the added stress of financial ruin in times of emergency. It is better to own free and clear as much as you can.
Another fact to consider is that debt is costly due to interest costs. The less of your income that is committed to monthly payments, the more money you can devote to investing in preparedness.
3. Get skills. Telling yourself that you can easily take up gardening or learn to use a cross-cut saw for firewood when the time comes is folly. Investing in supplies and equipment ahead of time is not enough.
Saying you will learn to use your stuff after disaster strikes is like saying you will learn to drive your car after you need to rush someone to the hospital. It might be possible, but it is certainly not the best way.
If you think your post-apocalyptic life could include hunting animals, living in the forest, raising livestock, sharpshooting, collecting mushrooms, canning vegetables, starting fires without matches, or living on the move – then get good at it while you can afford to make mistakes.
4. Get organized. None of your preps will do you any good if you can’t locate them easily and access them when you need them.
If disaster happens suddenly, those of us trying to survive will have to react with speed and confidence. There may not be time to wonder where you stashed those batteries or whether the latest 300 pounds of livestock grain ever made it into the barn.
In addition, it is harder to know for sure what you have on hand without organization. Lists and specific routines help, as does making sure there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.
5. Get real. Do not worry about zombies. Instead, concern yourself with laws that don’t make sense or with politicians who don’t have America’s best interests at heart. Worry about our nation’s enemies, natural disasters, the state of the planet’s resources and the economy.
You do not want to become so consumed with having a massive stockpile of every kind of weapon and ammunition known to humankind that you neglect to gain real independence. Having the ability to take care of yourself in a wide variety of situations, and knowing you will not perish while waiting to be rescued, is far more worthwhile.
Rather than holding mandatory all-day weekend sessions teaching your kids how to pick a lock using a secret pocket gadget cleverly disguised as a credit card, try teaching them potentially universal skills. Skills like finding their way without using GPS, preparing vegetables for cooking, and steering clear of poison ivy can be far more useful.
There has never been a time when the Latin phrase “carpe diem” – meaning “seize the day” – has been more important. By focusing on the above, you can improve your chances of surviving when disaster strikes.
What would you add to our list? Share your ideas in the section below:
History is amazing — not the dull, dry history you may have experienced in school, but the history of how people lived their day-to-day lives. We are so accustomed to our modern conveniences that we often have no idea how our ancestors did things. We look back through the years, and are often mystified about how they even survived.
Some of the things that medical science proposed in the past are laughable today. Take head bumps, for example. There was actually a time when the cutting edge of medical diagnosis, in some quarters, was reading the bumps on a person’s head. This was supposed to tell about chronic health problems that the person suffered. We can place that alongside “bleeding” a patient to release the evil spirits from their body, and bury the two of them in medical history.
Modern medicine has years of medical research behind it. While it is not yet perfect, the ability of our medical community to deal with trauma, sickness and chronic health issues is much greater than that of a few short generations ago. Treatments for diseases that were previously known as killers are available now, and emergency room techniques to save lives have progressed exponentially.
All of that is enough to make us wonder how our ancestors even survived. Looking back in history — say to the pioneering days — one has to wonder how the people dealt with sickness, disease and injury, especially when you consider that most towns didn’t have a doctor. Yes, many died, but many more lived, and lived through things that we wouldn’t think they could have survived.
The conventional wisdom today is that people in the 1800s lived far shorter lives, but that is mostly not true. The average life expectancy has grown because of lowering infant mortality rates. In other words, for people who did survive childbirth, many lived to old age – 70s, 80s and even 90s.
The very fact that they survived tells us that we study what they did. We may yet see a day when all the fancy pharmaceuticals and medical laboratories are gone. Should that happen, the health techniques that our ancestors used may very well be the only thing left to us.
So, what did they do? Let’s take a look.
1. They ate healthier
When you talk about “American food” in other countries, the first thing any of them think of is McDonalds, Burger King and Coca-Cola, perhaps adding Starbucks to that list. This is the food that we are known for. Most of what we consume is either fast food, junk food or otherwise unhealthy food.
Our bodies need an incredible number of different nutrients to maintain health. Theoretically, we are supposed to receive those nutrients from what we eat. But donuts, greasy burgers and a side order of fries don’t supply those nutrients. Some people try to make up for this by taking vitamin supplements, but there’s a real question about how well those supplements absorb into the body. Some brands don’t dissolve properly and merely add to the waste our bodies process.
While the diet our pioneering ancestors enjoyed wasn’t as varied as our own, it was a whole lot healthier. Essentially, they ate meat, beans, vegetables and bread. Fruit was considered a delicacy, and things like sweets were extremely rare. Their favorite drink was fresh spring water — not sugar dissolved in carbonated water.
Not only did they eat a healthier diet, but the foods they ate were healthier than today’s equivalent. Cattle and hogs weren’t fattened up to the extent they are today, before slaughtering. Often they were grass-fed. But many pioneers ate game meat, which has always been leaner and lower in cholesterol. Even chickens were healthier, as they free ranged and fed off a more varied diet. The ground hadn’t been overworked, and so the vegetables that they ate had a higher mineral content, improving their nutritional value.
Nobody overate in the Old West. There just wasn’t enough extra food to even think of overeating. Besides, they burned a whole lot more calories wrestling steers or plowing with a horse-drawn plow, than we do punching keys on a computer.
2. They performed physical work
Our bodies need a certain amount of physical work to maintain health. Yet, except for those who go to the gym regularly to work out – or do hard labor on the job — few of us get that physical work.
Many of our chronic diseases were all but unknown in pioneering days. The physical work that people performed on a daily basis was enough to help their bodies regulate the critical balance of these key health indicators.
Even today, the best advice for a diabetic, whose blood sugar is high, is to take a walk. That allows their body to burn off some of that excess sugar, reducing their sugar level to normal. Yet most of us expect the doctor to fix our problems with medicine, rather than having to do anything to takes us out of our comfortable chairs.
3. They were leaner and more muscular
The combination of diet and exercise affected their bodies greatly. More than anything, if we were to look back in history, we would see a people who were leaner and more muscular than we are today. This came from a combination of hard physical work and diet.
Even housework was harder back then. Women had to have the physical strength to wring out clothes by hand, carry a dead animal to the kitchen to slaughter it, and draw their own water from the well. Most jobs that men performed required much more strength than what we have today. In fact, the average worker today probably couldn’t make it through a day of work back in pioneering days.
We face a chronic nationwide obesity crisis, something that could not have existed back then. Oh, there were very fat people, but they were rare. Their lifestyle just didn’t offer much opportunity to store energy as fat. You were much more likely to find fat people in the settled areas of the east and west coasts, where there were more people who worked in sedate offices and stores.
4. They had more knowledge of natural medicine
Humans are very adaptable creatures. When we don’t have one thing we need, we tend to try and find something to use as a substitute. Our ancestors did this with medicine. Since they didn’t have all our modern medicines, they used what they had … what nature gave them.
Actually, many of our modern medicines are substitutes for what nature supplies. All medicines start in nature. Pharmacies, though, didn’t exist in the Old West. The only medicines around were in the doctor’s office (if there was a doctor) or the general store. So, people did what their ancestors had done and used what nature provided. In many cases, those medicines were just as good or even better than the ones we have today.
It wasn’t just doctors who had knowledge of herbal medicine; most people had at least some. It was not uncommon for a woman to grow medicinal herbs in her garden or for a cowboy to pick up plants along the way, when they had a toothache or upset stomach. Herbal medicine was as much a part of life as anything else.
What would you add to this list? Share your insights in the section below:
The modern world has done a number on our sleep cycles. While surely there have always been sleep disorders, living in a high stress world filled with lights, gadgets, and on demand entertainment has turned many of us into sleepless zombies. About 10% of the American population has chronic insomnia, and between 45% and 55% of us experience it infrequently.
Clearly this is a widespread problem. Calling it an epidemic would be an apt description, since it’s so common and incredibly bad for us. Sleep is like food and water. If you don’t get enough of it, every function in your body will be hindered in one form or another. And that of course, can put you into an early grave.
Fortunately there are a few simple (though not always easy) things you can do to finally get a good night’s rest. If you don’t want to be among the sleep deprived masses, consider the following:
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Caffeine
Everyone knows that caffeine can keep you awake and shouldn’t be ingested before going to sleep. Tobacco is another stimulant that can keep you up, and not just because of its brief energizing effects. If you smoke once or twice every waking hour, then that’s what your addicted brain is used to. But when you try going to sleep, all of sudden you’re going several hours without smoking. This often leads to restlessness and waking up in the middle of the night.
And finally, alcohol is one of the worst substances you can ingest before bed. Initially it will help you fall asleep fast, but like tobacco it hurts the quality of that sleep. You’ll get less REM sleep, and it may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Light and Dark
It’s common knowledge that a dark environment is ideal for a good night’s rest. Even the slightest speck of light can hinder melatonin production (even with your eyes closed too) and throw a wrench in the gears of your circadian rhythm. It could be the numbers on your alarm clock, the lights on your TV, or the street lamp outside your window. Anything can throw you off. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy a sleeping mask and/or blackout curtains for your bedroom. Most people don’t even realize how much these tiny lights are ruining their sleep until they try out these options.
What most people don’t know however, is that experiencing daylight is just as important for your sleep. Research has shown that seeing and feeling more sunlight throughout the day helps you sleep better at night. When you stay inside all day under artificial light, your body doesn’t really know when it’s day-time and night-time. Thus, it doesn’t know when to sleep.
And while we’re on the subject of how light affects your sleep, you should avoid all contact with electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. As I said before, any form of light can hinder your sleep to some degree, but computers and cell phones are the worst. The light from these devices, as well as LEDs and fluorescent bulbs, is often tinted blue. That color actually induces wakefulness and focus, and it can hinder your sleep for several hours after you see it.
Skip the Snooze Button
The problem with hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock is that it interrupts your sleep cycles, which typically lasts about 90 minutes and consists of 5 stages throughout the night. Hitting the snooze button causes that cycle to restart unnecessarily as you drift back to sleep. You would feel more restful if you had just set your alarm clock a few minutes later. Not only that, but the snooze button has a tendency to disrupt your hormones and your circadian rhythm.
And when you think about it, you shouldn’t need an alarm clock either unless your work schedule changes from day-to-day. If you need an alarm clock to wake you up every single morning, then you’re not getting enough sleep. Set it every night anyway just in case something disrupts your sleep, but don’t rely on it. If you’re really getting plenty of consistent rest, and you’re disciplined enough to go to bed at the same time every night (which your body loves), you’ll wake up at the same time every morning a few minutes before that alarm clock goes off.
One of the best remedies for occasional insomnia is a workout. If you sit on your butt all day, your body will have an abundance of energy that it wants to burn off, and that will keep you awake. If you really want to conk out fast, then you need to feel exhausted at the end of the day, and obviously exercise can do that. Even moderate exercise like walking and jogging can help take care of your restlessness. Keep in mind however, that this works best for the majority of the population that doesn’t have a sleep disorder. If you have chronic insomnia, then you should know that exercise may not have the same effect on you.
Find the Perfect Temperature
We all know that a hot muggy evening or a freezing cold night can make it difficult to sleep. However, the temperature range that provides the best sleep isn’t as broad as you might think. Anything between 65 and 70 degrees will put most people to sleep the fastest, and help them feel more restful when they wake up. To fall asleep, the temperature of the human body needs to decline slightly, and that aforementioned temperature range helps your body maintain that state. If the room temperature drifts too far from that range, then your body will have to work extra hard to maintain the lowered temperature, and you’ll struggle to sleep.
Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.
Joshua’s website is Strange Danger
This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition
Support Your Body, Mind, and Soul for Healthy Weight Loss
Looking for holistic weight loss strategies? While there’s a whole psychology around weight loss, there are a few simple tricks that you can implement right away.
The first is sleep. As any health practitioner will tell you, if you aren’t sleeping properly, you can kiss your weight loss goals goodbye (yes, it has everything to do with cortisol and adrenal health).
The second is stress. And your food can be a major part of your daily stress management. Eating is a time of rest and digest. It’s a time to sit down and replenish. Enjoy your food, and chew it thoroughly.
The third is appreciation. Being grateful for your food helps you to appreciate all that you have right now. If you are thankful for the food, then you will be thankful for the person who worked hard to grow the food, and guess what… that person is you! You’re eating healthy food, celebrating an accomplishment, and you’re starting to feel better already.
When you’ve got the basics down and you’re ready to really shed some weight, your garden is a great resource for weight loss.
Here are 8 weight loss strategies that should fit right in for home gardeners. Think home grown veggies, fiber, and water. And, of course, some exercise too.
8 Holistic Weight Loss Strategies for Gardeners
The 80-10-10 Rule
One of the best tips for weight loss is to follow the 80-10-10 guideline: 80 percent of each meal is comprised of low glycemic veggies with the other two 10 percent portions being protein and fat. Note the word guideline here, because you can play around with the numbers.
For example, one person might choose to eat 50% low glycemic veggies and 30% medium or high glycemic veggies (e.g. carrots, squash, potatoes, etc). Another person might use this rule and eat 60% low glycemic veggies and 20% medium to high glycemic fruits. Yet another person might up the protein or fat, perhaps to 15% each, with 70% being low glycemic veggies. And still another person might not make much fuss about the glycemic index and just eat a combined total of 70-80% veggies.
Generally speaking, making half of each meal with low glycemic veggies is a good rule of thumb to follow. Here’s what that might look like: a green smoothie for breakfast, soup with veggie “buns” for lunch, and steamed veggies with protein and a salad for dinner.
Having snacks on hand to curb hunger and prevent you from eating something not-so-healthy is also a really good strategy. Keep low glycemic fruits like Granny Smith apples; cut up veggies like carrots, celery, and bell peppers; or a handful of seeds and nuts, or trail mix, on hand for times when you have the munchies. Fruit leathers, fruit chips, veggie chips and kale chips are some other healthy snacks that you can DIY for cheap.
Read about several healthy DIY snacks here: 5 Dehydrator Recipes for Home Grown Fruits and Vegetables
Swap out the Carbs
A great way to follow the above rule is to out swap out high glycemic foods like bread, pasta and cereal with low carb veggie options. There are also many snacks and desserts you can make where veggies are the main ingredient. Look for recipes of this kind in Paleo cookbooks. If you’re the kind of person that says you just have to look at carbs and you’ll put on the pounds, you’ll really benefit from incorporating this eating strategy. Looking for a few ideas right away? Get the scoop and a slew of recipes in my article 8 Ways to Replace Carbs with Home Grown Veggies.
Think Liquid Nutrition
Does your green smoothie make you feel like voguing? It should! Green smoothies feature fiber-rich, low glycemic greens married with sweet fruits and blended to a smooth puree.
Some people have an issue with downing a green colored drink. They wonder whether or not green smoothies taste good. The answer is unequivocally yes!
Green is the new black, folks. Greens are hot, and they are always in style. Not only are greens low in calories, but they are a good source of protein. Green smoothies make an excellent choice for breakfast, snack time, or as a pre-/post- workout energy boost.
The secret to making an outstanding green smoothie? Finding that perfect balance of sweetness from the fruits to smooth out any rough edges from the bitter greens.
Everyone’s taste buds vary, but as you get used to that healthy taste, your body will actually crave a more bitter tasting brew; in other words, more greens and less fruit.
The bitter taste is actually the most underdeveloped taste here in the West. That’s a shame, because bitter foods and herbs are great ways to stimulate the production of bile from the liver to help with digestion.
Here’s a fun recipe to try that boasts minerals and vitamins by replacing the water in a green smoothie with an herbal weight loss infusion:
Banana Kiwi Nettle Silk-y Smoothie Recipe
- 3-4 handfuls chopped red kale
- 2 oranges, peeled & seeded (or manually juiced if you prefer)
- 2 apples, cored (peeled if you prefer)
- 2-3 cups corn silk* and nettle infusion**, for consistency
- 2 bananas, peeled
- 2 kiwis, peeled
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and whip to a smooth consistency.
Variation: Juice the kale, oranges and apples first. Add the juice to a high speed blender with the rest of the ingredients and whip to a smooth puree.
Variation of Herbal Infusion: Use 1/3 ounce each corn silk, nettle and lemon balm.
*Corn silk can be purchased at Asian markets, but you can also collect those corn “strings” when you eat fresh corn on the cob (simply let silk dry out by spreading on newspaper or on mesh sheets in a dehydrator before making the infusion). Corn silk is used as a diuretic and weight-loss aid.
**To make the infusion: place 1/2 ounce each corn silk and nettle in a 1-liter mason jar. Add in boiling water to the top. Place on lid and screw cap, let sit 4 hours, then strain out solids and use in recipe.
Here are some ideas for making juice and smoothies from some items you might not have thought about: 9 Ways to Eat Commonly Wasted Seeds, Stems, Peels & More
More Options for Liquid Nutrition
Other options to get you thinking liquid nutrition? Freshly made green and veggie juices, soups and congees.
While juices don’t have any fiber, they offer up a quick rush of energy packed with antioxidant power and they help alkalize your system. And while green juices – which boast leafy greens and low glycemic fruits like apples – are low in calories, veggie juices like carrot and beet juice are excellent to help the liver flush toxins out of the body. You can also use the psyllium tip below before gulping down that juice to help keep you feeling full for longer.
When it comes to soup, have you ever noticed that pureed veggie soups are similar to green smoothies and juices, except that the veggies are first cooked before being pureed? Carrot, broccoli, leek and potato soup, all make for light liquids (or meals) that fill up the stomach. Yet to help keep you satiated for longer, consider trying this hack: add water to a one-pot meal and puree it into a soup. For example, take rice, chicken, and veggies and add sufficient water to turn it into a puree. Make sure to add your fave herbs and spices, warm it up and done! The trick is that because you’ve added water and your belly can only hold so much, you’ll actually be eating less food than had you eaten the one-pot meal by itself.
Congees are similar to soups, and like soups they offer up lots of water with few calories: the usual recipe is 1 cup rice to 5-7 cups water (although I’ve seen recipes for as much as 8-9 cups water). Place both in a crock pot and let cook overnight. You can do this with brown rice or white rice and even some whole grains like rye and millet. To add taste to your congee, replace the water with chicken, veggie or mushroom stock and add in your fave herbs and spices to taste. You can also add in 1-2 tablespoons of miso or hoisin sauce to add flavor; add in chunks of chicken, fish, or tofu; and add in 1-2 bunches of chopped green onions or shallots. In Chinese medicine, congees are seen as a nourishing “porridge” for those under the weather or who have weak digestion, but they also serve as great comfort food during the colder winter months. Here’s a simple and tasty recipe to help you out with this idea:
Easy Ginger & Tempeh Rice Congee Recipe
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 8 cups water
- 1 package tempeh, diced
- 2 bunches spring onion, chopped
- 2 TBsp freshly grated ginger
Instructions: Add all to a crock pot and place on low for 6-8 hours or overnight. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Fill Up On Fiber
When we think of fiber, we often think of fruits and veggies. But while fruits and veggies offer up insoluble fiber – mucilaginous seeds like flax and chia, as well as psyllium husk, offer up soluble fiber that not only helps to regulate bowel movements but that helps keeping you feeling satiated for longer. To help keep you full – and hence, to help you eat less – take 1 tablespoon psyllium husk with a glass of water, half an hour before meals. You can also use 1 tablespoon ground chia or flax seed as well.
Green Goddesses of Weight Loss
Most of the herbs that are used in weight loss tend to be stimulants that work on metabolism, or diuretics that help flush water out of the body. A simple green goddess herb for holistic weight loss is Chickweed (Stellaria media) – it grows wild, is easy to grow, self-seeds readily, and is shade-loving. Chickweed contains saponins and natural lecithin that mop up fat and allow for better absorption of nutrients and minerals.
You can make a standard infusion of 1 ounce dried herb to 4 cups boiling water in a mason jar, let sit 4 hours, then strain and drink 2-4 cups a day.
A daily dropperful of tincture will also work: chop fresh chickweed with scissors and slightly pack to fill a mason jar (size depends on how much herb you have). Fill the jar with 100 proof alcohol (50% by volume), put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain and pour into sterilized amber bottles. Chickweed can also be juiced, added to smoothies, tossed into salads and cooked like spinach. If you don’t happen to have any on hand, Mountain Rose Herbs has both dried chickweed and extract.
Another green goddess herb for weight loss is parsley – this known diuretic might already be growing in your garden. Nothing could be easier than giving this spritely herb a rinse and juicing her with other fruits and veggies to partake of her weight loss benefits. Here’s a simple and refreshing recipe that doubles as a green juice and green smoothie:
Parsley Rules – Juice or Smoothie Recipe
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 1 bunch celery, chopped
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
Instructions: Juice all ingredients and drink up! Alternatively, add all to a blender with enough water for consistency. And a third option still: juice the fibrous celery and parsley. Add to a high speed blender and blend in the zucchini and cucumber.
Variation: You can add a cored apple or two for sweetness. You can either juice the apples or add them directly (peeled, if desired) to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is another diuretic and lymphatic system stimulant that is a superior ally in breaking down cellulite and encouraging the kidneys to release metabolic waste. Drinking 2-4 cups daily of this nourishing infusion will also supply you with a host of nutrients that support overall health, including adrenal health, such as chlorophyll, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and Vitamins A, D, and K. To make a nettle infusion, follow the directions above to make a chickweed infusion but use nettle instead. For a recipe idea using nettle infusion, try this nettle soup recipe:
Nettle, Asparagus & Broccoli Soup Recipe
- 3 cups nettle infusion
- 2 bunches asparagus
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 1 handful broccoli florets
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup water
- 3-4 tsp Chinese 5-spice or Moroccan marinade mix, to taste
- 3-4 TBsp olive oil
Instructions: Blend nettle infusion with veggies and water in a high speed blender. Add soup to pot with spices to taste and warm up. Place in soup bowls, add in oil and serve.
A very important rule for weight loss is not to eat after 7 PM. This is not only a “secret” known in bodybuilding circles, but is a truism known in Chinese medicine that eating late at night puts a strain on the liver that impinges weight loss. As I’m sure you’re aware, the liver is a major organ in the body that plays a crucial role in fat digestion and in detoxification, and does a host of 500+ jobs in the body.
From a nutritional or naturopathic perspective, not eating late at night also makes sense: eating a heavy meal at night (e.g. protein and fat) that can take up to 5-6 hours to digest will impede the process of rest and repair during sleep. If you are hungry after 7 PM, make it something liquid, such as a green juice, or something easy to digest like a small piece of fruit. I can’t tell you how many people have followed this simple rule of timing and have seen weight loss results (plus have been helped with their liver issues).
Polar Bear Skinny Dipping
If this sounds like you plunging into cold water in your birthday suit, you’re spot on! It’s also called cold water immersion therapy, cold therapy, cold thermogenesis and cryotherapy.
To do: fill your bath tub with cold running water. If it’s winter weather, the water will be cold enough. If not, add in a bag of ice or two to get that water really cold. Get in and sit in the tub for 5 minutes.
The first time is the worst, I’ll warn you now. It’s darn cold, but your body will go into thermogenesis, a fancy term which means that your body will kick start its metabolism to conserve heat and you’ll start shivering. During this process, your “brown” fat (brown adipose tissue) which is found in your sternum, collarbones, neck and upper back will start to burn up the white fat that hangs around hips, thighs, buns, and bellies – the stuff that everyone wants to get rid of. You can do this every day or every second day. Try to add 5 minutes each time you do it until you reach 30 minutes.
In case you’re wondering if this is healthy, this technique has been shown to boost the immune system, improve sleep quality, enhance hormone levels, improve sexual performance, lower blood sugar, and help with food cravings.
Does it work for weight loss? Many people swear by this technique, although it is a little extreme.
If you’re looking for a much more gentle approach – which will work on the lymphatic system – you can play with the cold and hot water taps during your shower. After washing up, adjust the water to a cool temperature that is kind of cold but that you can withstand. Do this for 30 seconds up to 1 minute, then put it back to warm for another 30-60 seconds. Do this for a minimum of 10 times. With time, your body will be better able to tolerate the cool water, and you’ll be able to adjust the water so that it’s much colder. This technique will help you to flush toxins out of your body, as well as to support your weight loss goals.
We all know that exercise is important, and the great news is that you don’t have to pay a cent to lose weight. The cheapest and easiest? Walking. It costs nothing and you can do it anywhere, anytime, right from your front door. Snowstorm or not, there’s just no excuse (in fact, you actually get a better workout walking in the snow because of the resistance). Other free workouts include gardening, dancing, and shoveling snow. Gardening is especially good exercise, because the more you do it, the more your diet improves.
There’s a plethora of free instructional videos on YouTube – everything from barre classes, belly dancing, and pilates to high intensity cross-fit and sandbag training – that you can do in the comfort of your home.
Two other dirt cheap ways to shed pounds? Skipping and rebounding. For a few dollars, you can buy a jump rope and walk-jump on a pedestrian path, along a track field or in a park. Skipping burns more calories in less time than running; although if you have joint issues, you’re better off going for a jog in the pool or jumping on a rebounder. Jumping on a rebounder is a great way to stimulate the lymphatic system, helping your body with detoxification. It also boost the immune system, increases mitochondrial production (provides energy), and improves balance and coordination. It makes very little noise (great if you live in an apartment) and a hand rail can be used for those with mobility issues. Rebounding is used by astronauts to help with bone mass and density – which goes to show you that something as simple as rebounding can have a profound effect on your body.
So get moving already!
Finding the Right Diet and Exercise for You
So what’s more important, diet or exercise? How about both?
Finding the right types of food and exercise for your lifestyle and your specific body type are a much better prescription for holistic weight loss than any of the latest diets du jour.
To help you discover what’s best for you, you can refer to some existing classification systems that recommend eating strategies according to body type. You might be interested in learning about eating for your metabolic type (see Dr. Mercola’s website), your dosha type according to Ayurvedic medicine (see Nature’s Formulary), or your blood type (see Dr. Peter d’Adamo).
For specific types of weight loss exercise (as well as dietary recommendations), see either Dr. Eric Berg or Dr. Abravanel for your hormonal body type.
We have been blessed with some amazing advances in modern technology which has allowed us comfort that was not possible a mere 100 years or so ago. But despite these advances, we suffer from severe chronic and degenerative diseases that were unknown to our recent ancestors.
We are a sick nation, overburdened by conditions such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and allergies. Our healthcare system expense hit $3.8 trillion in 2014 — and is still on the rise. Yet we remain 37th out of 190 countries in the effectiveness of our healthcare system. We are plagued with disease, yet we have access to many technological advances that other countries will never be able to imagine, let alone realize.
According to Daniel Lieberman, a professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University:
The fundamental answer to why so many humans are now getting sick from previously rare illnesses is that many of the body’s features were adaptive in the environments for which we evolved but have become maladaptive in the modern environments we have now created.
This would explain why we have seen such a major spike in degenerative diseases such a Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Since the industrial revolution, the production and consumption of processed and fast food has skyrocketed, along with a sedentary lifestyle.
It is no longer the norm to grow our own food. Instead, we prefer our drive-through lunches and quick microwaveable dinners. The human body was not created to metabolize high volumes of vegetable oil and sugar — the main ingredients found in our industrial food supply. In addition, we were also not built to live such sedentary lives. Yes, things are very different than they once were.
In 1900, pneumonia was the leading cause of death in America and the life expectancy was only 47. In the early part of the 20th century, doctors were busy treating infectious diseases and inventing drugs to cure pneumonia and tuberculosis. With these advances, people lived longer and – thanks to poor lifestyle choices — began to develop coronary heart disease at startling rates. By the 1930s, heart disease became the leading cause of death.
It was and still is poor lifestyle choices that ultimately result in millions of lives lost each year to heart disease and other lifestyle-related illnesses.
So, while on the one hand, science and technology have allowed us to live longer, “advances” in our food supply and various other “tools” have turned our nation into a “drive-through” people, making us sicker.
We don’t move as much as we used to. We eat too much. We eat the wrong food. We don’t manage stress well, and we generally disrespect what God created and declared good. Children are more obese than ever and battling earlier onset of diabetes and other dangerous conditions.
So, what did our ancestors get right? That is a simple answer: plenty. Here is a short list of what they did that we no longer do:
- Grew their own food
- Cooked with whole foods
- Rarely snacked
- Engaged in physical labor
- Went to bed early
- Got up early
- Ate a traditional diet
- Led a simple life
- Did not have electronics
The answer to a long, healthy and disease-free life rests in how we treat our body. We succumb to lifestyle-related illnesses today because of the lifestyle that we choose to live. Our ancestors had plenty of threats to their health, but they were mostly external threats and things that they had very little control over.
We have the extreme advantage of being able to live in a world with clean water, advanced emergency medical care and access to tools that make our life very easy compared to our ancestors.
How healthy you are depends a great deal on the daily choices that you make. With a new year, now is as good a time as ever to start making the right ones!
Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over, the cold weather has set in, and spring seems like a long time away.
If you are like many people, you may be experiencing a post-Christmas letdown or what we commonly call the “winter blues.” Some of the causes include the low amount of daylight hours, the wintry weather that keeps us more sedentary and the after-effects of some holiday diet splurges. In addition, we may be less than thrilled with heading back to the same-old, same-old after a festive break from our normal routine.
Take heart. There are some tangible ways to combat the winter blues. Here are seven ways you can get your 2016 off to a healthier and more energetic start.
1. Get outside. During the shorter days of winter, our bodies produce more melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. As a result, we can feel more sluggish. When we combine that lack of energy with the wintry weather outside, we may stay inside more than we should.
To combat the negative feelings that result from staying put too often, plan to spend some time outdoors each day. Even a 20- to 30-minute walk can improve your outlook by triggering the production of mood-boosting endorphins in your brain.
Aim to make the most of the day’s sunlight, since the sun provides the body with important Vitamin D. In addition, when you are inside working, try to sit by a window to expose yourself to as much light as possible during the day.
2. Get some exercise. If it is too cold or wet to spend much time outdoors, head to the gym for a workout. Even 20 minutes of activity can elevate your mood and reduce anxiety levels.
January is a great time to start an exercise class or to take up an indoor sport, such as swimming, that will get you moving. It’s even a great time to start an outdoor sport, such as snowshoeing.
Don’t forget to use exercise as a time to unplug from your electronics. A growing amount of research indicates that our dependence on our smartphones and other forms of technology is making us more stressed.
3. Bring the outdoors in. Indoor plants can boost your spirits and make your home or workplace healthier. Many plants absorb airborne pollutants and release fresh oxygen and beneficial negative ions into the indoor air.
The Environmental Research Laboratory reports that rooms filled with plants can contain more than 50 percent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants.
Additionally, a 2014 study by Exeter University that was published in the journal of the American Psychological Association found that employees were 15 percent more productive when a few houseplants were added to their previously bare workspaces.
Similarly, another study by Washington State University found that workers with common houseplants in their offices were 12 percent more productive and reported less stress than workers without plants in their offices.
Another way to being the outdoors inside is with better indoor lighting. Many sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) find they feel better when they spend time in front of or beneath a light box. Your doctor can give your more information on this light therapy.
4. Watch your nutrition. You don’t need to beat yourself up for all of those Christmas goodies you ate, but now is the time to get your diet and nutrition back on track.
When we reach for sugary foods and for comforting carbohydrates such as pastas and breads, we may in fact be contributing to our feelings of winter doldrums. Be sure to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean proteins in your diet.
In addition, many of us neglect to drink enough water during the winter. With dry indoor air and cold outdoor temperatures, we need to make an effort to stay hydrated. You’ll feel better and look better if you do!
5. Plan activities you enjoy. After the holidays, we can miss the social aspect of parties and other events. There is no reason your winter calendar should be a blank slate. Look for ways to keep active.
Try an art class or a book club, for example. Attend movies, concerts, plays or museum events. Plan fun activities or outings around winter holidays such as President’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
6. Help others. Many people look for ways to give back to the community over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the need for volunteers is great all year-round. A benefit of volunteering is that it makes you feel better while you are helping others.
The opportunities for helping others in your community are endless. Check with your place of worship, your local food bank or homeless shelter. You also could ask at your library or area schools.
7. Plan for spring. Another way to lift your spirits is to make concrete plans for the warmer months. Check out seed catalogs. Create a map for your spring and summer garden. Take a gardening workshop. Reorganize your garage workspace for spring projects.
When the weather permits, prepare your garden for vegetable planting by turning over your soil. Add compost, leaves and other organic material to the soil to enrich it for your spring garden. Research ways you can conserve water when the warm weather hits.
What advice would you add to this list? Share it in the section below:
DIY Health Options Keep the Doctor Away
By Frank Bates
There was a time when doctors had their patients’ best interests at heart. You could count on getting an honest – and, for the most part, accurate – diagnosis based on your symptoms, as well as an effective treatment plan.
Hopefully you still have a doctor like that, but in reality, there are too many people in the medical profession these days whose jobs depend on making money for their employers. As a result, far too many expensive tests are ordered and far too many unnecessary drugs are prescribed.
Even if doctors know that natural and healthy alternatives would be better for you, you won’t necessarily hear about them. They and the pharmaceutical companies have no qualms about draining your resources while weakening your system with potentially harmful drugs.
The single most important thing we can do to combat this problem is to discover and use alternative health options. This starts with staying as healthy as possible in the first place. Make natural, common sense decisions, including…
- Eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables every day.
- Make sure you get plenty of Vitamin D for your bones and blood vessels, and B vitamins for breathing issues including asthma and wheezing.
- Eat walnuts to help lower your cholesterol, relieve your arthritis and battle depression.
- Drink coconut water for asymptomatic infections and take iodine for your thyroid and your circulation.
- Drink a little red wine for your heart and eat blueberries to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
- Drink apple cider vinegar and honey. In a 10-ounce glass of cold water, stir in two tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of raw wildflower honey. Drink it as is or heat it up and drink it as a tea.
Because moods can affect how we feel physically, it’s also important to use natural means to remain as upbeat as possible. For mild depression, try some of these natural remedies:
- Consume fish oil and Vitamin D. Both are directly tied to emotional health. Eat fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon. Also, get 30 minutes of sun on your face and arms daily.
- Eat more protein and fat, and less carbs and sugar. Sugar can lead to chronic inflammation and suppress healthy proteins. Focus on organic, animal-based foods, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- Consume herbs. Two herbs that have been shown to have beneficial effects on mood are Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) and St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum).
- Fast now and then. Fasting for a day or at least skipping a meal here and there helps your body digest and eliminate cellular debris. It’s a good way to clean out your system and elevate your mood.
- Exercise. Patients with depression improve as much as those treated with medication when they stick to an exercise program, according to studies.
- Laugh. Laughing lowers cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. The effect can continue hours after you’re finished laughing.
Frank Bates of 4Patriots LLC is the editor of the Patriot Alliance Messenger, as well as the content writer for blogs and articles at Patriot Headquarters. He is also the creator of Power4Patriots, a series of DIY solar videos and manuals; Food4Patriots, the supplier of emergency food suitable for long-term storage; Water4Patriots, featuring the Alexapure Pro tabletop water filtration system; SurvivalSeeds4Patriots, maker of the Liberty Seed Vault; Patriot Power Generator, a portable solar generator; and other products.