Lists, Listing and A New Adventure – Part 3: In with the Old Traditions

In case you missed them: Part 1 and Part 2.

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Traditional foods, you know, like our great grandparents ate, are likely the healthiest options.

Besides just choosing more produce, produce grown without chemicals (organic) and with a concern with the health of the soil (often called sustainable practices) are even better choices. If the soil is healthy, it will produce healthier food. If the food is healthier, so will you be.

Choosing meat and dairy raised on non-GMO pasture will be healthier. Choosing dairy that is raw or pasteurized at a low temperature leaves not only more of the protein intact, but the beneficial organisms as well. In high-temp pasteurization, lactase is destroyed. Lactase helps the body to process lactose. Wait, aren’t there a lot of people these days with dairy allergies and lactose sensitivity..? Ding, ding! Again, God has a beautiful, complex and perfect design, which we arrogantly continue to try to improve upon. In addition, raw milk does not rot because it isn’t dead; it will sour and, believe it or not, still be useful. Ask your ancestors.

Wheat and other grains, especially those not properly prepared, as well as dairy not properly processed, can be inflammatory, contributing to modern health issues. They feed the bad bacteria (more on that below) in the gut. Sugar also feeds the bad guys, including some studies indicating it can contribute to cancer.

Properly prepared grains, seeds, nuts and beans should be done the old-fashioned way – sprouted, soaked or soured. If done properly, this will break down the phytic acid and make the food more digestible and nutrients more bioavailable. It will also lower gluten, where it is present. And modern wheat and yeast varieties have been bred for bread, turning a formerly 24hr+ process into a 20 minute mass production process, to the detriment of our health.

Very few people consume fermented vegetables anymore, like the old-fashioned sauerkraut, not the vinegary stuff we buy at stores nowadays. These also contain the good gut flora, lactobacilli, the good guys for gut health. In some ways, our great-grandparents had great ideas.

Research indicates one condition contributing to many of our modern health issues is called “leaky gut,” in which the bad bacteria in the gut bores holes in the lining of the gut, allowing food that hasn’t been fully processed to pass into the blood stream, causing the immune system to go into overdrive, fighting these food particles as well as other good guys resembling them, the result being food allergies/sensitivities and autoimmune disease. The bad bacteria in the gut can be kept in check with good bacteria – lactobacilli, found in fermented veg, yogurt and kombucha, among a few other sources. To emphasize the importance of the digestive system: digestive issues can cause stress, resulting in raised cortisol levels and possibly adrenal exhaustion. So much of our nervous system is present in the gut that it is called the “second brain.” Also, there is a little known subset of bacterial microflora in the small intestine called the estrobolome which metabolizes estrogen. Women with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine issues, endometriosis, etc. often have digestive health and gut flora issues.

The toxins in the modern diet, artificial, genetically modified and overly-processed ingredients, put a strain on the liver.

Digestion, sugar levels, and liver health are key systems for overall health vs specific foods, e.g. eating/avoiding a lot of _______. But traditional foods, as mentioned above, give these systems the support they need.

In Part 4 will be what we have been eating and what changes we will be making.

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Not that the 3 people who read this will think otherwise, but I feel compelled to say — I’m not a doctor, just a regular old person sharing my experience and opinions based on what I’ve read. If you have health issues, I can’t be your doctor but I can be a friend and share more research (there is A LOT out there) and opinions and encourage you toward healthy choices.

Lists, Listing and A New Adventure- Part 2: I Believe, Healing Creed

Don’t forget to read Part 1, if you haven’t yet.

I believe, Healing Creed

  • God Almighty, Creator and Healer has put into His intelligent design of us, His beloved creation, the ability to heal so much of what is wrong, if we have the right medicine. In fact, with the right medicine, we can prevent many health issues.
  • I believe in the wisdom of the saying attributed to Hippocrates: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
  • Jesus declared all food clean (Mark 7). Two points here, are we really just talking about the health of our bodies with respect to clean food? Or what does not defile us in the sight of God? I contend, the overly processed, modified, chemically-created, bastardized stuff we try to pass off as food isn’t in fact food. It might not defile our souls, but it isn’t according to His design and doesn’t honor Him. No, food is not salvation, but it is not realistic to expect overly processed food, plastic and chemicals to nourish the way God’s food does. God has a design for our bodies, their functioning and fuel and He provides that fuel with whole, real foods. We, in our pride, decide we can improve on His design and end up causing disease.
  • It used to be people died of contagious diseases, now it’s heart disease, diabetes etc,
  • These modern diseases are a product of our lifestyles, including eating what we want and covering symptoms with pills rather than providing the right environment for healing and proper functioning, according to God’s design. I have read many cases of modern diseases, including allergies, asthma, ADHD, autism, and autoimmune diseases being reduced or reversed with diet changes. It makes sense than God’s design would be the thing that works!
  • Grave’s disease, as well as Hashimoto’s, is a modern, thyroid auto immune disease, but it’s really just a symptom. Pills or removing or killing the thyroid with radiation is the modern protocol. But this only removes the thyroid symptoms. There is a reason the thyroid isn’t doing its job right and that is now a common modern problem. THAT is the disease.
  • Autoimmune diseases can domino. Removing/killing the thyroid might remove symptoms for a while, again, the underlying problem still exists and could very well cause additional autoimmune symptoms/disease. In fact, I have had some possible adrenal symptoms as well. These systems are all related!!
  • Wheat allergy, another common modern disease, is not (always) the disease itself, but a symptom.
  • Thyroid issues being more common in women makes me believe giving birth has an effect. Guess what else is part of the endocrine system, along with the thyroid, pancreas, pituitary and adrenal gland… Stress is a factor as well. I am much less stressed than I used to be, but I am wired type A, and the move this year has had its effect.
  • We can’t change the past, but we put effort into doing better in the future.

So if Grave’s, Hashimoto’s and other modern conditions are just symptoms of the disease of poor modern habits, will a change to “healthy” food fix it? Maybe. Back to the opening statement of misinformation, what is healthy can be confusing. Also, when damage has occurred, limiting or eliminating foods which are otherwise healthy, will help in the healing process. What does all that mean exactly?

Part 3

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Not that the 3 people who read this will think otherwise, but I feel compelled to say — I’m not a doctor, just a regular old person sharing my experience and opinions based on what I’ve read. If you have health issues, I can’t be your doctor but I can be a friend and share more research (there is A LOT out there) and opinions and encourage you toward healthy choices.

Lists, Listing and A New Adventure – Part 1: Lists and Listing

Long time, no see! Well, I’m finally back with a little more of what has been happening. You might recall, a few years ago, we made some big changes to our eating habits for the purposes of better health and honoring God. In this short series, I will tell where we are now and the direction of our new destination.

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There is SO much information out there about what is healthy and what is unhealthy. To the detriment of many, much of that information conflicts. But, I believe when we keep in mind who God is, we can make sense of it all.

(By the way, you will find a number of lists in this post. I love lists! I hope you bear with me through them.)

Speaking of lists, I haven’t been feeling 100% for a couple years, with things really becoming worse this last year. Oh, we bought a small piece of a farm with a gutted house. We are excited about raising more of our own healthy food. It’s been good, but stressful. I/my:

  • have been fatigued (also guilty about not being able to accomplish all that I feel I should be)
  • have trouble sleeping
  • get a lot headaches and migraines (going to bed, waking me in the middle of the night or waking in the morning)
  • brain is foggy
  • get ocassional hives
  • have worsening vision
  • eyes are sensitive to light
  • have dry skin
  • get minor breakouts
  • hands swell, especially in the morning…

We changed our eating habits several years ago to much healthier options, including a greater variety of fresh produce and becoming more informed and familiar with the sources and growers of our food. I did feel better and more energetic for a while. And yet lately, I have been listing (you know, like a boat with no wind in its sails). In speaking with the chiropractor I go to, he mentioned a few months ago that it could be adrenal exhaustion. Hmm, I had been thinking maybe that was it. This move thing and preparing a new home and property has been stressful, though exciting. I found desiccated, pastured beef adrenal gland capsules per his suggestion… and usually forgot to take them. Meanwhile, headaches, fatigue and brain fog continue. At a recent visit, he mentioned it might be my thyroid and I might consider having my doctor (who I hadn’t been to in 5 years) check my levels. Again, what I had been thinking. (I want to interject briefly, I love my chiropractor; he’s Christian, intelligent, knowledgeable and appreciates the natural approach.) Sooo.. I made an appointment at the doctor to request tests, specifically for nutrient levels, thyroid function and food allergies. I think he wasn’t convinced, but he did care that I wasn’t feeling well. His concern truly showed when he asked what my hobbies are and I sat there like a lump with my mouth half open desperately trying to think of something. Does washing dishes count as a hobby?

He ordered the tests I asked for and a few others:

  • blood counts
  • blood sugar
  • cholesterol
  • various nutrients
  • liver function
  • TSH
  • common food allergy
  • EKG (He heard a murmur, I said it’s been checked a few times before, but he wanted to check again. “It’s nothing to worry about.” Mhmm.)

Results: Everything was right in the middle of the appropriate range, with just a few exceptions:

  • Wheat allergy returned “low” and dairy returned “undetermined.”
  • Cholesterol — Total was a little high, but HDL was 20 points higher than the range. As the doctor said (he actually called me on the phone to talk about the results!), there really isn’t a “too high” for HDL, and the LDL was right where it needed to be, so it is “perfect.”
  • TSH — made by the pituitary to tell the thyroid to do its work. This was not detectable, indicating the pituitary wasn’t functioning properly or the thyroid was overproducing, sending the message to the pituitary to stop doing its thing.
  • based on TSH result, additional tests were ordered to determine T3 & T4 levels. These are tested when hyperthyroidism is suspected. T4 was just a tiny bit high = hyperthyroidism. Cause? Inflammation/Grave’s Disease/auto-immune disease or nodule(s) on the thyroid…

Another test –(Radioactive) iodine uptake scan — to determine if it might be Grave’s disease or a nodule

The doctor called to say it is Grave’s disease; I would need a daily Rx (can’t remember what it is, I haven’t picked it up) and an appointment with an endocrinologist (yet to make this appointment, will see what (s)he has to say). I said I’d like to work on this by way of changing my eating habits. He respectfully said that while he appreciated me wanting to go a natural route, changing my diet wasn’t going to help. If you know me, you know I like to think for myself. 🙂

Read Part 2 to find out what I believe…

Reclaim Your Terrain

ForestAs some of you might know, I have begun an herbalist class. I see it as a natural continuation from the changes we have made in our diets. I have always been interested in plants and natural solutions. Maybe a love inherited from my Grandma. Besides the changes in our diets, we have started making some of our own cleaning products with plans to make more, are choosing more natural solutions for those products we purchase, and have begun making changes in the medical professionals we choose to more holistic practitioners.

Following some plant walks & a class with a knowledgeable local, native plant expert (thanks Abby!), I’m happy to have found a natural health school founded and run by Christians, using Biblical principles. Our goal has been to eat more foods that are closer to how God made them — less processing. I believe God has also provided us with plants to help us stay well and to heal. All a part of “let your food be your medicine.” The first several units of the herbalist class are about food, so I thought I might share the related projects with you here. Please feel free to share your thoughts on these issues, as well.

Reclaim Your Terrain

By Heather Shaut

      I recall my grandmother, who graduated from nursing school in the 1930s, telling me that many times a child would come to the hospital sick and all they needed was a bath. After being bathed and changing in to clean clothes, these kids would quickly feel better. From Dr. Semmelweis’s discovery in the maternity ward to my grandmother’s deduction and beyond, evidence supports the hygiene hypothesis. With so much substantiation, it would be a tough argument against the effect of preventing or treating illness via hygiene. Again, though, evidence is mounting that our society has gone to the extreme in attempting to sterilize our environments and our bodies. Our society has become overmedicated; treatment of disease has produced resistant strains of bacteria, illness and disease are disguised by veiling symptoms with medication. We use hand sanitizer to kill the germs on our hands before we eat our food yet consume junk devoid of nutrition resulting in an increase in disease to the point of epidemic. Beneficial bacteria have been forsaken. Despite the advances in modern medicine, cancers, heart disease and diabetes are all on the rise. While a concern with hygiene is not completely unwarranted, it is time we reclaim responsibility for our health and support the terrain. It’s time to give these pathogens a hostile environment.

Having a healthy body, designed to protect us from and fight off illness, is key to maintaining or regaining health. God’s intelligent design does not need to be fixed or changed, but recognized, accepted and supported. He has put into His beloved creation, us, the ability to stave off sickness and disease. Included in this design is the need for exposure to germs to keep the immune system strong and in working order, homeostasis. While this battle is not one fought cognizantly, the choices we make each day strengthen or hinder the body’s ability. Are we allowing what God created to work or have we set up roadblocks and traps? The best way to establish a more resilient terrain, to support the interieur milieu, is to learn as much as we can and resolve to apply this learning to the choices we make. Reexamining what we think we know about healthy food, reforming our thoughts on medication and disease being the expected eventuality, and reclaiming responsibility for our own wellbeing are our best weapons in the battle for good health. With respect to germs or terrain, working with God’s design is a successful battle plan.

Cease Striving: Confusion Say Proverbs is a To Do List

Dock…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. Philippians 1:6-7

I love a list. Did that. Check. Progress verified in writing. Lists help me to remember all the things I need to do and I feel a sense of accomplishment each time I can cross something off. If I do something not on my list, I like to add it for the simple satisfaction of being able to cross it off. Holidays are a great time for lists (and checking them twice) to aid in getting tasks done.

And for stressing about what isn’t getting done, for losing sleep and forgetting the reason for all these tasks – family, friends and our Lord, for getting cranky with our loved ones, and WHO put That ornament THERE!?… oh, wait.

Once we finally make it through Christmas, it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions! Another list! …yeah. Set a goal, or maybe 10. Common ones are eating better and getting more exercise. I even saw one on facebook that said “be more pleasant.” As a perfectionist, it’s easy to set my aim too high, in the wrong direction or too many directions and end up defeating myself before I even start.

Numerous Bible studies give lists of the qualities we should exhibit and we can begin to create to do lists –

  • The Prov 31 woman — weave, farm, lose sleep, feed everyone, work fast, be strong, start & run a business, make a profit, provide a portion for the household, give generously to those in need, produce well-made clothes and bedding to keep everyone warm, have another business, be wise and share this wisdom, don’t be idle. IF you do all this, THEN you are worth more than rubies, your husband will be respected and your children, husband and the whole town will honor & praise you. What? Whew! I’ll just give up before I start.
  • Galatians 5:22-23, Fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All facets of one fruit, without one facet the whole precious gem is damaged, flawed, worthless. *sigh*
  • 1 Corinthians 13 – No matter what I say, what I know, what I do or what I share, without love I am nothing, so I have to be patient, be kind, don’t envy, don’t boast, don’t be proud, don’t dishonor others, don’t be self-seeking, don’t get angry easily, don’t keep track of others’ wrongs, don’t delight in evil, rejoice in truth, always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. Always? As in not ever not doing it even a little, not even once by mistake? Hmmm….
  • Don’t forget Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 4-6, and 1 Tim 5
  • And if you’re still feeling energetic, you can check out the rest of Paul’s writings and the rest of Proverbs. As for me, I’m tired.

Hmmm, I just made a list, didn’t I? But I can’t be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman. If you are, let me know the secret, would you? Proverbs 31 is wisdom from a mother to her son. Jewish comedies are fraught with the notorious epitome of the mother-son relationship, nobody is good enough for the Jewish mother’s son. But seriously, I believe the intent was to remind her boy what to look for, not necessarily to tell women what to be. It tells her son what kind of women would make a good wife to keep the relationship going beyond the puppy love. What to look for beyond the pretty face so he isn’t distracted by the temporary, the physical. Someone with whom to survive all life has to dish out, to count on for Godly counsel, to be a woman to love. Also, there are clues to women as to what kind of godly wife a godly man is looking for. What qualities will cause her to be treasured by those she meets. A reminder to both men and women to focus on deep issues like Godly character. This is not about perfection, just a picture, an example.

So, what am I to do? As the woman of the house, I have a huge influence on the tone of the house, an impact on the relationships between family members, not to mention friendships. It’s important for me to remember I am setting an example to my children and all who see me. Am I putting more effort into a task than the result is truly worth? Often, the cost is too high, the reward worthless – praise from others. Losing sleep, losing relationships all to give the right impression, do the job “right,” get praise and approval from others. What is the real value in that? There is so much more in life that is important.  As one perfect task is completed, the next comes along. A never ending cycle that takes the living out of life. I have learned if I put God first, the rest will work out. Studying & memorizing scriptures will put them in my heart so they reach my hands. Allowing God to bring the changes through study, knowledge, and opportunities to practice living out a Godly life, puts Him in charge of the spiritual to dos.  My best isn’t going to be THE best. God doesn’t ask me to be THE best, just my best with Him. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have standards, but I need to be realistic and remember what is important, relationships with people & Jesus, seeing the beauty in God’s creation, including my family and myself, including our flaws. It’s time to have fun, enjoy friends & family, live life… and trash the spiritual to do lists.

Cease Striving: It’s OK

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God –  nobody is perfect

3:24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus – but it’s OK, Jesus has me covered.

As a young adult I knew I was a perfectionist and didn’t see any problem with it. In fact, would proudly exclaim this. Thinking it said to others, I don’t give up until I’ve done it perfectly. While this is true to a degree, there were many things I didn’t even try, knowing I wouldn’t be good at them or having tried once and failed. There was no room in my life for not doing it well, to near perfection. For those things that I did do well, there always seemed to be someone better. I had high standards for others and even higher standards for myself. High, impossible, unreachable, perfect standards. Whew! How I survived to adulthood with my sanity intact, though that point might be debatable by some, is uncertain. I thought it was a good thing. Once my oldest daughter was born, I began to realize, not only how much perfectionism had permeated my life and so much in it, but also that it wasn’t ok, maybe even a bad thing. How do you perfectly raise a child, keep house, cook, etc. all at the same time? I preferred to make foods from scratch and still do. But with a baby that refused to sleep and required entertainment 24/7, this overwhelmed and introverted mama had to come to the realization that nobody died from spaghetti sauce from a jar. I began to realize the grip this perfectionism had on me, this need to not make mistakes. Where did it come from? In part, it came from the Creator and the fabric He wove in me. But this was also nurtured in me by parents, aunts, uncles, teachers and others. For a first-born, the standard was high. As a quiet, smart little girl who could do much independently, the expectations were even higher. I can even remember moments of being taunted and teased by adults when I didn’t know something or performed sub-par. Though I will assume it was done in good nature, nonetheless, I added these expectations to my own. I added the deflated value of myself reflected in those taunts to the expected result if I did not perform perfectly. And so I spent much of my life striving. Striving for perfection, striving to perform perfectly, striving to know everything, striving to hide what I couldn’t do and didn’t know.

My first-born was a blessing in so many ways, but one of the most significant to me is that at her birth God began a transformation in me. But it wasn’t so much a light switch flipping on as it was a dimmer slowly bringing into view the different areas of a room. I began to make small changes and accept my own limitations, but still struggled with feeling accepted by others in my imperfect state. I always viewed being imperfect as a privilege afforded to others, but not to me. That other people in their failings found support, forgiveness and camaraderie with their fellow man. I felt harshly judged, unaccepted, unworthy. It was several years later I realized I was still struggling with wanting to know where the line of acceptable/unacceptable imperfection is. In other words, I was striving to be perfectly imperfect!  Thankfully, God is patient and continues to turn that dimmer switch a little at a time, to shine light on as much as I can handle to address at once. Still, I occasionally struggle with accepting my best in the circumstances as good enough. I questioned whether to write this series because don’t have it all figured out. But it’s ok. I need to accept that what I can do is good enough. What God does through me is not good enough, it is simply good.

Even as I now write, I think of the people that will not approve, who will think little of the efforts I have put forth here. Like the preacher I once overheard saying I have no gift, no talent, from God. I’m guessing there are others who have felt the sting of being slapped in the face by the words of others. Those people, those word-slappers, for their own reasons, find only fault with what even God does. I don’t want to absorb those words into my view of myself, or attribute them to how God sees me. I don’t want to see every one of my faults all at once, counting them, becoming overwhelmed at hiding until I fix them, worrying that others see them and judge my value to God by them. I’m not perfect. God loves me. It’s ok.

Cease Striving: A Perfectionist’s Perspective

Cease Striving: What’s in a Name?

Bacon, Beans, Squash & Greens

Inspired by Chef Jose at the Carriage House Farm OEFFA Farm tour, Martha Stewart and the 10 squashes I had on my counter, I created a surprisingly delicious dinner. Roasted butternut squash, blended with milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice topped with a combination of sauteed red onion, broccoli and canellini beans, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with bacon. Quite filling, yet another of those meals that 2 servings didn’t seem to be enough for everyone. I imagine this would be equally good with the addition of tomatoes and garlic. Or salad greens instead of broccoli for a cold salad. I think I’ll be trying Martha’s butternut squash pot stickers soon. With my own twist, of course. 😉

What are your favorite ways to eat squash?