Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.~ Titus 3:14, NLT

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Monday, February 3, 2014

How to get yourself a little healthier. Quick, Easy, Cost Effective tips on what I did to help my immune system after I nearly kicked the bucket. Perfect for the average mom (and everyone else).

Last winter I became very ill and was hospitalized for over a week. It took 3 full months to recover from a nearly deathly case of pneumonia. I have had pneumonia every year for the past 10 years and each year I become more and more sickly. I have a host of medical conditions including a thyroid disease which limits my immune system's ability to function properly. After last year's battle and scare my Drs. said I needed to start thinking outside of the box to try to get myself healthier. We had tried all the conventional methods, so we began looking for more natural ways to get myself healthier. 

I made some changes that, so far. has kept me from getting sick since then!!!! I know that everyone is different, but I wanted to share some of the simple changes that have made a profound effect on my and my family's health. 

Multivitamins: Yup, this simple daily routine has had one of the biggest benefits. I had tried taking vitamins before, but they either made me sick, or made me dizzy. I also can't swallow pills, so I was really limited at times. I made it my mission to find anything that would work. After a little trial and error I found that I could take a specific women's gummy vitamin. It didn't have iron, so it didn't make me sick. It was also lower in B vitamins, so I didn't get as dizzy and out of breath as I did on others high in B vitamins. I will note that I did continue to have dizzy spells. I found they happened a couple hours after I took them, so I tried taking them at night. BINGO! No more dizzy spells. Now I know vitamins can be expensive, but they are worth it. Just think about how much you spend on Dr. visits and medicines when you are sick, not to mention pay lost on sick days. You can score great BOGO (Buy one get one free) deals on vitamins. Check the sales adds for stores like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aide and even Target. 

Vitamin D: Next I had my vitamin D levels checked. I was feeling super tired even though I was napping and sleeping 10+ hours at night. Apparently I was extremely deficient. I did some research and learned that not only is vitamin D crucial to your immune system, but over 70% of Americans are vitamin D deficient and don't know it. I tried a few over the counter vitamin D supplements per Dr.'s orders but they weren't affecting my levels. I even tried a prescription that didn't work. One day I was talking with my chiropractor about my issues, and he said he had some that he recommended and sold, and that he'd give me a bottle to try for free. (He really wasn't trying to sell me something, he was genuinely trying to help out.) I started using it and within a couple weeks my numbers started to rise! After a few months I was within healthy normal ranges. Consider getting your vitamin D levels checked out. It's a simple blood draw. It does take 2 weeks to get the results, but then you will know if you need it. I would not recommend loading up on vitamin D without checking your levels first. Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins that can build up in your system and can cause issues if you have too much. Here is the Vitamin D I have been using: http://www.innatechoice.com/dsufficiency.cfm  

Probiotics: Probiotics work by adding good bacteria to your system that helps fight off bad bacteria and helps your digestive system work more efficiently. In effect, it helps your body fight things off easier. I had tried probiotics here and there and they always gave me the worst cramps. On a whim I decided to try a newer probiotic I found at my local Target. It had a different form of good bacteria in it, so I thought why not. I began by taking 1 gummy (normally adults take 2). I didn't cramp, but was still worried. I took them once a week, then added more days until I was taking 1 a night every night. I was so surprised how much better I felt! For the first time in my life not only was I regular (sorry for the TMI lol), but I also have had less episodes of irritable bowel syndrome. In fact I have only had two episodes and both were when I ran out of probiotics to take. I also normally have major issues when I travel and drink the local water (I won't go into details, but let's just say it isn't good), but this year it was dramatically decreased. I barely got sick! Here is the probiotics I have been taking and giving to my kids as well. It does come in pill form too. 

Local Honey: Because a lot of my health issues when I get sick are respiratory centered, my Drs. suggested I start using local honey. A lot of the "honey" in stores are not real honey! It's colored and flavored high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners. Look at the ingredients and make sure it says honey and nothing else. Take an extra step to find local honey. Honey from your home state is better, but the closer to where you are the better. Eating honey that is produced close to where you live helps to ease allergies and even has natural antibacterial qualities. Fun fact: during the American Civil War Drs. would apply honey to wounds to help keep them clean and fight infection. You can find locally produced honey at places like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Earth Fare and even your local Kroger or super market. Just look and see where is was produced. If it doesn't say, it's probably not local. I like to add my honey to tea, bbq sauce, yogurt, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and even bananas. 

Coconut Oil: I was researching ways to help my daughter's dry skin when I discovered a bunch of info regarding coconut oil and it's uses. One of the things that struck me was that it can be used to help thyroid function! I also discovered that it is a natural anti-fungal. There are literally 100s of uses for coconut oil. Our faves are: lotion replacement, lip balm, hair conditioning treatment, eye salve, cooking oil, teeth cleaning and diaper rash healer. (It can even be used to naturally kill lice) Here is a great article listing all the uses and benefits of coconut oil: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/18/coconut-oil-uses.aspx
You can get coconut oil at most stores these days. You can also order it for a really great cost through amazon just Click HERE.

Stay Active and Physical: Notice I didn't say exercise. Now don't get me wrong. Exercising is great and has it's benefits, so if you like doing it great. For me personally I can't do it....literally I will pass out due to a heart condition. I know many just don't have the time to do it. It requires a large amount of self discipline that most of us just don't posses. This is why I suggest you stay active. Don't just sit around all day. Get up and take your kids to the park, enjoy an outing to a museum, run around an outdoor area, go mini golfing or bowling, etc. As a mom, I get more exercise taking my kids all over town, than some get at the gym!  Find fun places to go and explore. Zoos and botanical gardens are great places to roam around. They are filled with beautiful scenery, children love it, lots of fresh air and plenty of walking to keep you fit. Anywhere you go is good. It doesn't have to be a major physical activity, just getting out of the house and experiencing something new can be good for your soul and spirit. Studies show that when you are happy, your immune system works better, so go out and find some happy places. Here's my favorite happy place to run around, get fresh air and learn a little: 

Eating Better: Now I know what you're thinking, "I don't like health food" or "I can't afford all organic food or "I don't have time to make better food". To that I say you don't have to! I am a very busy mom with 5 kids. I do a LOT of volunteering, so time is critical. Living on 1 income, money is even more critical. For me personally, I know that I can't afford to feed a family of 7 all organic whole foods 100% of the time. What I have found though is that just making a couple of small changes here and there can have a profound impact. Here is what I did. 
1st: Limit the amount of processed and fast foods. I simply tried when I could to prepare a lunch ahead of time if I knew we would be out. I also started making more dinners at home. I was raised by my southern granny, so I know how to cook! My issue is with time, soI started getting good use out of my crock pot. Throw some ingredients in, run errands or do house work and by dinner time it's done. I might not use all organic, free range, antibiotic free foods, but it's still healthier than pre-made meals, frozen foods and fast food. You can check out my Pinterest Crock-Pot board for all sorts of recipies. Click HERE.
2nd: Buy organic and non-gmo when you can. I used to walk past the organic section assuming it was too much. One day I decided to take the time to see what the prices were like. After a while, I began seeing that there are often sales on organic items that make them the same prices as non-organics on sale. I also noticed that I can find a lot on clearance. Over the past year I have seen a trend in organic prices going down! More people are making an effort to eat better and as sales go up, prices get more affordable. Next, simply consider the prices. If a bunch of bananas are $.20/lb more for organic, are you really going to fuss over the $.40-$.60 when you can just get a healthier option? If you have a store like Earth Fare, Trader Joes or Whole Foods, sign up to receive email and text deals from them. Many coupon bloggers offer coupon match ups for these stores too. I LOVE my local Earth Fare. They offer a LOT of sales and deals and have great coupons that make great food cheaper than regular food.
3rd: Frequent farmers markets, farm stands, local farms, etc. Not only will you be able to score some healthy produce and other items, but you will most likely save a little money while helping a small business/farmer. Not sure where any are around you? Ask around. You'd be surprised what you can learn just by asking a question like this on facebook esp if you have local moms or community groups you can ask. I found sooooo many around me by doing this. I can get fresh produce, eggs, local honey and even meats locally. 
4th: Put in a Garden: You don't have to go crazy and try to plant a farm, just a couple plants. (Unless you want to go crazy! lol) We are fortunate to have a good sized backyard, so I planted a bunch this year. Even if you don't yield a lot of produce, you get out in the sun (more vitamin D) and it makes you happy. Don't have a yard, that's no excuse. Patio gardens are a huge trend. You can even buy the plants already growing and ready to go. Just put on your patio or porch and water. You can even find out if there are any community gardens near you. These are great. There is a certain amount of land that multiple people share  to garden on. They can work 2 ways. Some you plant certain things and everyone shares the harvest. Others you get a certain plot and can grow whatever you want and it's yours. There are all sorts of options for being able to garden. When planting, make sure you get heirloom seeds or plants. This means they aren't gmo (genetically modified). You can find both at local farmers markets, and even your local hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot. (If you are in the Central Indiana region, Conner Prairie has an amazing heirloom plant sale the weekend before Mother's Day.) Don't plant things you won't eat. If you like tomatoes, plant those. I personally focus on tomatoes, peppers and herbs. I can make spaghetti sauce, pizza and salsa which make me happy, so that's what I plant. You can get all sorts of gardening tips on my Gardening Pinterest board by clicking HERE. 

I hope these tips help inspire you to live healthier. Don't go overboard. Ease yourself into these simple changes and enjoy the added health benefits. 

Be sure to follow me on facebook for even more deals and ways to help others! http://www.facebook.com/ChangingtheWorldPebblebyPebble

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