“Back to Basics” is a weekly series that focuses on preparedness and simple practical life skills to help inspire you on your natural living journey.
The autumn season has officially begun! With all that has been going on with Covid-19 and all of the government state restrictions and some extended quarantine times, you may be wondering what the upcoming “cold and flu season” will look like. But instead of stressing over it or keeping yourself and your family on permanent “lock down,” why not take advantage of your own amazing natural defense mechanism…your immune system!
You may be thinking that anti-bacterial soap, hand sanitizers, social distancing, wearing masks, and the newly developed vaccine will help keep America “healthy”, but the sad truth is that the health of our country was already in trouble way before Covid-19 came on the scene. Due in large part to the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is high in sugar, refined carbs, and trans fats. Not to mention artificial colors, preservatives, and antibiotics which can disrupt a healthy gut ecosystem and can compromise the immune system. Harmful toxins, fragrances, and pesticides have found their way into our food, household cleaning products, tap water, and personal care products which can alter the state of our health on a cumulative level.
Many people find themselves turning to prescription drugs to help treat the symptoms caused by a poor diet, harmful products, overly processed foods, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. But some prescription drugs can also have a slew of side effects that may be even more damaging than the original symptoms. Things like stealing nutrients, causing chronic inflammation, excessive weight gain, brain fog, damaging the gut lining, and disrupting hormones, to name a few. Just watch one of those drug commercials and wait for the list of possible side effects at the end! (gasp) Our bodies were never meant to take on this kind of a daily assault! When we work with God’s natural design, our bodies can do amazing things! Including, fighting viruses and disease.
Over 2500 years ago, Hippocrates shared this simple reminder.
Did you know that our microbiome is made up of trillions of diverse bacteria and fungi that when treated properly, create an unparalleled environment that can keep you and your family healthy and strong, no matter what season it is? It’s true! Your gut is home to your body’s immune defense and is directly related to whether you have a healthy immune system or a weak and compromised one.
We recently had our final homeschool field trip of the summer. We took the family to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. It was a great way to end the summer and to begin our new homeschool year, because along with feeding our bodies well with good nutrient dense foods, we need to feed our soul with the Word of God if we want to be able to stand firm in a world with such unrest and resentment towards the things of God. You can read more about our homeschool journey here if you have been considering homeschooling.
As we were heading home, we visited some family en route for dinner and caught something. Nothing too bad. Just a common cold, most likely. We don’t make regular trips to the doctor’s office or the ER, even when we caught what was most likely Covid back in late February at the Gaylord Hotel during a homeschool convention. Not going to lie to you…it was NOT fun, but we did what we knew works to help naturally support God’s design and we got better. The only times we go to the ER is if someone has an injury that needs stitches or setting, but that rarely happens. So, when we start to feel a little tickle or start feeling a little under the weather, instead of running to the doctors, we turn to our natural remedies that can easily be made and taken at home, to help boost our first line of defense naturally.
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SOME OF OUR FAVORITES THAT WE HAVE FOUND MOST HELPFUL
1. BONE BROTH
Bone broth is very popular these days! It is a wonderful way to naturally bring a more rich flavor to your soups and stews. But more importantly, the slow cooking process (at least 48-72 hrs for red meat and 24 hrs for poultry) helps to demineralize the bones and helps release the nutrients into the broth. It supports joint health, improves digestion, builds immunity, and so much more. It’s so nourishing for those cold fall and winter days.
Making your own at home is simple. All you need is a slow cooker, apple cider vinegar (2 TBS), 1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 celery, 2 garlic cloves, fresh herbs like bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, oregano, 2 lbs (or what can fit in your crock pot) of soup bones like knuckles, feet, joints, oxtail, shank, etc (can be from beef, pork, chicken, or turkey).
I like to roast the bones in the oven for 30 mins at 425 degrees to help draw out more flavor. After rough chopping the vegetables, I simply add all the ingredients in the crockpot and turn the temperature to high. Once the water starts to boil, I bring it back down to a simmer and set the timer for 48 hrs. I have also slow cooked it for 72 hrs. Both ways produced a rich flavor that adds that something special to our soup dishes. Since I use organic grass-fed beef bones and organic chicken bones for our bone broth, they don’t produce a lot of the impurities that float to the top. But if some do rise up, I simply scoop it up and throw that out. Once the broth is done cooking, cool slightly and strain. Then pour into a glass mason jar and place in fridge for up to 5 days. You can also place it in the freezer for longer.
2. ELDERBERRY SYRUP
Using herbs to make teas, tinctures, and syrups are a great way to add some extra vitamins to help you fight sickness. One of our favorites is Elderberry Syrup. It is so simple to make and is chock-full of antioxidants and vitamins that help boost the immune system. This simple recipe consists of 3 cups of filtered water, 1/2c of organic dried elderberries, 1 cup of raw honey, and 2 large slivers of fresh ginger root. You can also add 1 cinnamon stick or cloves if you have it. Add all ingredients, minus the honey in a medium sized stock pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. When it’s done, strain and smash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula and pour the liquid into a quart sized mason jar with lid, cool, then stir in raw honey (which adds its own natural health benefits). Store in fridge. It should last between 2-3 months, but always check and do a sniff test before consuming any of your homemade cultured, fermented, or long-stored natural remedies and foods.
3. GINGER TEA
Ginger tea is so simple to make. Can you see the SIMPLE theme here?! I love keeping things as simple as possible! Ginger tea has so many health benefits, but some of my favorites are that it contains antioxidants and offers antibacterial properties. Making it a wonderful addition to helping fight the flu or cold season. It also helps naturally lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. My mother and grandmother would make up a pot of ginger tea at the first sign of a sniffle or ache. To make, cut fresh ginger root slivers (between 2-4 depending on the size of the batch) and place in a pot of water on the stove top (determine how much water to add by how many servings of tea you plan to serve). Bring to a boil and then steep on low temperature for 5 minutes. We typically like a stronger tea, so we steep ours a little longer. Add fresh lemon juice and raw honey for even more immune boosting support or drink as is.
4. FRUIT INFUSED WATER
Everyone knows that staying hydrated is important to stay healthy, but did you know that drinking water also helps to push out the toxins and helps carry oxygen to your cells? Our organs need water to function optimally. When we are sick, maintaining your water intake can help loosen up any mucous, replace any lost electrolytes and fluids, and can help relieve congestion. So we don’t skimp on our daily intake of water, especially when we are not feeling 100%. If water seems too bland for your tastebuds, try infusing fruits high in antioxidants like lemon, cucumbers, or berries into your water. These can also help you get some added vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to help fend off common offenders.
5. VITAMIN D
Over 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficient and don’t even know it? Those over 65, women entering into menopause, and those with poor nutritional habits are among the highest. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and helps our immune system fight off infection, viruses, and diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Vitamin D is necessary to help your body absorb calcium. We get vitamin D from certain foods like pasture-raised eggs, tuna, and wild caught fish. Another way to make vitamin D is getting enough sun exposure every day (minus sunblock) for at least 15 mins at midday, without sunscreen. During the colder months, it is easier to stay inside to lessen the chance of catching something, but without the adequate sun exposure outdoors, you can be more susceptible to becoming more vitamin D deficient. This is when you may consider adding a quality vitamin D supplement to fill in the gaps. If you do choose to supplement, make sure you are taking the vitamin D3 form to maximize absorption and get the most out of your purchase.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral and has shown to be helpful in shortening the duration of symptoms caused by a common cold. It has also been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant which helps fight oxidative stress. Since our bodies do not produce zinc on its own, we have to get it from the food we eat. Unfortunately, many Americans are deficient in this very important mineral which can cause other health issues like weight gain, hair loss, and digestive problems. Certain foods like seeds, nuts, grass fed beef, pastured eggs, yogurt, kefir, chicken, wild caught salmon are a good way to add zinc into your daily diet. We also fill in the gaps with our plant-based aloe infused adult multivitamin here and our favorite children’s multivitamin with probiotics here.
Along with adding the above to our daily regimen during the winter, it is important to find a quality probiotic supplement you trust to help support your overall health and well-being. Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bididobacterium have been proven to offer powerful immune boosting capabilities. Note: One course of antibiotics has the potential to kill off a third of your good bacteria, in addition to killing off the bad? It can take up to a year or more to fully restore your gut microbiome back into balance. So, we stay clear of antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
Check out our go-to probiotic blend supplement here. We have tried many different brands over the years, and our current choice has not only helped with digestion, immunity, and absorption. It has helped tremendously with my prior IBS symptoms, bloating, tummy unease, seasonal allergies, and poor sleep. Along with our powerful probiotic blend, we love adding in more lacto-fermented and cultured foods like these. Learn how to make your own sauerkraut, and ferment your own water kefir soda and kombucha in these posts. Don’t forget the healthy benefits of making your own sourdough starter and long fermented breads. Make sure to add natural prebiotics from foods like apples, leeks, kale, onions, asparagus, bananas, and garlic to your daily diet to help nourish and feed the healthy gut bacteria. We love making superfood smoothies for breakfast or a midday snack! You can download your FREE Superfood Smoothie E-Guide to help you add more healthy greens to your family’s diet, by simply subscribing to our e-mail list.
I hope that you found this post helpful and I hope you give these simple and natural remedies a try, next time you are feeling under the weather or simply trying to stay healthy and strong.
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Disclaimer: The health and wellness posts shared here on GracefullyHome.com are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any illness or disease. The information provided on this blog is for general educational purposes, has not been reviewed nor approved by the FDA and is not intended to take the place of advice from your medical professional, licensed dietician or nutritionist.
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