Monthly Archives: November 2014

Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

Lifehack: Immune boost. Wet socks

I *love* *lovelove* free things that work and this is one of the best – it’s called wet socks or wet sock treatment and it is just as odd as it sounds, but it’s an awesome lifehack immune boost. First I’ll tell you how to do it, and then I’ll tell you why you might want to, because god knows anything to do with wet socks doesn’t really sound like something you’d want to do. I promise, it is.

How To Do Wet Socks

That sounds like the punchline to a joke. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plain cotton socks – any height but try to at least cover your ankles.
  • Wool socks that are as tall (high?) or taller (higher?) than the cotton socks. Really try to get wool because it stays cozy even when wet.
  • Water
  • A cozy bed

Here’s the Simple Method:

  1. Find some plain cotton socks  and run them under the faucet so that they’re fully wet.
  2. Wring them out so that they are damp but not dripping
  3. Put them on your feet and put the (dry) wool socks on over top of them
  4. Go to bed and get a great night’s sleep.

What to Expect With Wet Socks:

  • Your feet will feel cold when you go to bed – that’s totally normal and they’re supposed to.
  • If you wake up int he night you will either be far too cold or far too hot, and far too hot is probably more common. That’s okay – just roll over and go back to sleep.
  • This will be an uncommonly good night of sleep – seriously.
  • You will wake up with toasty warm, mysteriously dry feet.

Why Do Wet Socks?

This is THE BEST FREE IMMUNE BOOST EVER. No joke. Essentially by making one part of your body cold while the rest of you is a normal temperature you are tricking your body into freaking out. Essentially your body can’t figure out what is wrong, so it starts to heat up your core temperature hoping to save your feet. At the same time, you boost your white blood cells in order to go out there and figure out what’s wrong.  If they happen to stumble across other things that have nothing to do with your cold feet, like say the flu virus or a cold or that sinus infection you just can’t shake, well then all the better.

Essentially you are telling your body to go on high alert and so it does, which is perfect if you feel like you’re coming down with something or the guy who sits next to you has done nothing but cough for days. Your sleep during the wet sock treatment will be abnormally deep and satisfying and you will wake up toasty warm.  The best time to use this lifehack immune boost is:

  • When you feel like you’re coming down with something
  • When everyone else in the house is sick and you’re the last man standing
  • When the guy next to you at work coughs on you constantly
  • When your kiddo comes home from preschool covered in snot
  • When you feel done with it all and just need an awesome sleep
  • When you know you’ve been pushing too hard and you can feel your body wearing down
  • When your lungs or sinuses have been congested and you can’t seem to break it up

Times not to do this:

  • If you can’t make time for a full night’s sleep – you’ve got to give your body enough time to work on this.
  • If you are taking prednisone, other steroids, or immune suppressing drugs because they will suppress your body’s response.
  • If you try wet socks and wake up in the morning with the socks still wet – this means your body just isn’t generating enough heat right now to do this thing properly.

    Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

    Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

The Benefits of Wet Socks:

  • You get an awesome night’s sleep
  • Your body spikes an artificial fever which helps your body to kill any unwanted bugs like viruses or bacteria
  • Helps break up chest and sinus congestion
  • Elevated white blood cells which helps stop infections from taking hold
  • Quicker recovery from illnesses
  • All of this is free and you don’t have to take any pills

Working with your body and with your immune system in this way means that you increase your bug-resistance and can stop the early phases of viruses or bacteria in their tracks because your body goes on high alert quickly. It’s so simple and it’s so brilliant. Wet socks or “wet sock therapy” is a great, easy, free lifehack immune boost.

Natural Ways to Beat the Flu

Flu season is here and as you know I’m not a huge fan of the flu shot, but there are some great natural ways to beat the flu. The best strategy is always to not get it, but if you do get the flu then we can also work on reducing the severity of the symptoms.

What is The Flu and Why is It Such a Big Deal?

The flu is actually an illness caused by the influenza virus, which passes around through the human population every year. This virus is so tricky because it spreads easily through respiratory droplets (sneezing, coughing, breathing loudly) as well as through contact with frequently touched items like door handles, door knobs, store counters and credit card machines. The influenza virus happens to mutate incredibly easy and has groups of interchangeable parts so it can sort and re-sort itself in unpredictable ways.  It can also interchange parts with strains that cause disease in birds (avian flu) and farm animals (swine flu). All in all it’s unpredictable and causes a pretty severe set of symptoms in humans that also varies from year to year.  Each year the strains of flu that sweep through the population are slightly unpredictable, but we take our best guess at what might be out there and then make the vaccines against that.

How Can You Prevent the Flu Naturally for Yourself and Your Family?

The biggest and most important ways to prevent the flu are also the most basic (and the most overlooked)

  • Wash your hands frequently when you’re around lots of people, before every meal, and before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze, preferably sneezing into the crook of your elbow, count-dracula fashion so that your hands don’t get covered in germs to spread around.
  • Get good sleep – your immune system will stay so much stronger if you give your body enough time to sleep and the right sleep environment.
  • Stay hydrated – your immune system works best if your hydration status is good.
  • Cut down on the sugar – all simple sugars like table sugar, honey, agave nectar and fruit sugars decrease the ability of your neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) to respond to threats.  That means the more sweets you’re eating over the flu season, the less likely it is that your body can defend itself (more in the next couple of weeks!)
  • Homeopathic preparations of Influenzinum can be used to prep your body for flu season and help you to fight off the virus if you’re exposed.  Look for a 30C potency and take 3-5 pellets under your tongue once weekly. This is safe for kids and adults.
  • Good natural antivirals like elderberry syrup can really help to prevent the flu even if you’ve been exposed.  1 tbsp per day for adults under normal circumstances and if you know that you had a major exposure you can take a tablespoon every couple of hours.
  • All the good basic immune boosters like zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium, echinacea and colostrum can be used for flu as well, although they aren’t specific for the virus.

    Dracula Sneeze poster from the University of Arizona Health Services. The easiest way to beat the flu is to not get it.

    Dracula Sneeze poster from the University of Arizona Health Services. The easiest way to beat the flu is to not get it.

Natural Ways to Beat The Flu If You Have a Big Exposure

Yeah – your boss just came back to work after being out for an entire week and the first thing he did was cough on you. Great. Just great.  Not to worry, there are a few great things you can do to boost your immune system like crazy to hopefully keep the flu away.

  • No sugar – give your body a fighting chance to keep your immune system up and eliminate all sugar for 24-48 hours.  This includes table sugar, pastries, sweets, chocolate, honey, agave nectar, juices, fruit and sugars in other foods.
  • Dose up the elderberry – 1-2 tbsp every 2 hours that you’re awake
  • Aim for 10 hours of sleep. Nothing helps your immune system like sleep does.
  • Treat yourself to some at-home hydrotherapy like the wet sock treatment. If you haven’t heard me talk about this before – it’s AWESOME. This will be the entire topic of next week’s post. It’s just as crazy as it sounds and it’s also the best free immune boost out there.
  • Use some saline nasal rinse in a neti pot or just a regular nose spray and also a salt water gargle for your throat.  This helps to make these environments less friendly to the flu virus. If you can do this right after your exposure then all the better, but if not then do it in the evening when you get home and again the following morning.
  • If you have some at home, the natural flu remedy oscillococcinum from Boiron seems to be able to stop the flu in it’s tracks. Just one dose after an exposure should do, but if you tend to over think things then feel free to take a second dose after 24 hours.  1 tube should be enough to dose an entire family of 4.
  • Echinacea extract has been shown in studies to help prevent the flu, and with a known exposure you can take a dropper full of the liquid extract every couple of hours or 1-2 capsules every couple of hours for the first 24 hours.  If it doesn’t kick it after that then it isn’t going to.
  • You don’t have to do all of these, but try to really focus on supporting your body and giving it what it needs and use whatever tools you can. The most important things are avoiding sugars, sleeping and doing a good saline nasal rinse and gargle.  The supplements can be added in just depending on what you happen to have at home.

    Oscillococcinum from Boiron.  A great tool in the flu-prevention kit.

    Oscillococcinum from Boiron. A great tool in the flu-prevention kit.

How To Beat the Flu Naturally Once You’ve Already Got It

You tried everything you could, but this year’s virus is a strong one and you came down with the flu anyway… Here’s how to handle it.

  • Take time off work. Most people know that when they have the fever and body aches and chills then it’s a good time to call in, but just in case.  Flu needs plenty of rest to heal and it can linger if you don’t rest up front so might as well enjoy just about the only benefit to the flu, which is a few days off of work.
  • Hydrate like you’ve never hydrated before.  Fevers burn off a lot of moisture and so does all of that mucus.  It is much easier to dehydrate when you’ve got the flu and much harder to fix it (plus being dehydrated gets in the way of your natural defense mechanisms and slows down your immune response).
  • Clean foods only – for a few days avoid the grains, dairy products and especially the sugar. Lots of chicken soup and simple to digest foods can be really helpful. If you don’t have an appetite then just focus on the water and liquids – broth can be tremendously helpful.
  • Sleep. Seriously sleep is a big part of when healing happens so sleep at night, sleep in the day, just sleep. You’re off work anyway – what could be better than falling asleep in front of a Seinfeld marathon?
  • Elderberry syrup can shorten the duration of the flu by 24-48 hours (which is about what tamiflu® will do as well). 2 tbsp three times daily for an adult.
  • Manage the symptoms.  The congestion and stuffiness that can come with the flu gets better with NAC 600 mg between every meal.  The body aches are helped by a hot bath with epsom salts, natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric or ibuprophen if you tend in that direction.
  • Fever is generally a good thing because it’s one of the ways your immune system kills viruses, but if it starts to get too high (which is rare with the flu) then take something like acetaminophen or a tepid bath to reduce the fever.  My idea of too high in an adult would be 103-104* but figure out what your feelings are about it and stick to that.
  • Call your mom or dad if you can. Really nothing makes you feel better when you’re sick than talking with someone beloved.

Next week we’ll talk about wet socks because that one always makes people curious. All in all just take good care of yourself this flu season and if you do get the flu, don’t panic.  Just look at it as a forced relaxation – sometimes your body needs that. The best natural ways to beat the flu really are the simple things like keeping a good diet, good hygiene and getting good sleep.

Do you know which foods cause inflammation? You can take this list to the grocery store.

Foods That Cause Inflammation – Nutritarian Eating

Diets come and diets go, but inflammation lasts forever and at the end of the day there are some foods that cause inflammation no matter how trendy they are. The great news is that any diet or lifestyle change can be shifted so that it’s less inflammatory and even anti-inflammatory.  For instance the paleo diet, which I love, can be done in a way that is highly inflammatory, or it can be done in a way that is highly anti-inflammatory so the most important thing is to educate yourself about inflammation and about ways to personalize your diet to your body. Also, in the never-ending quest to become more of a nutritarian (meaning to get more nutrient dense foods in my diet) this list is really helpful.

Some of the factors that can increase the inflammatory value of foods also have to be considered – like pesticides, herbicides or hormones in the food.  For that reason I’m also giving you the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists compiled by Environmental Working Group. These are lists of the foods that concentrate pesticides within their flesh (and so should be bought organic whenever possible – this is the “Dirty Dozen” list) and the foods that hold on to the least pesticides and so can be purchased conventionally to save those organic dollars.  Likewise products from animals that are conventionally raised using hormones and antibiotics are going to be significantly more inflammatory than products from animals who are raised organically, grass fed, or hunted. Therefore just choosing a better quality version of the same thing can help you to reduce inflammation.

Quick Food Guide: The Foods That Cause Inflammation

Do you know which foods cause inflammation? You can take this list to the grocery store.

Do you know which foods cause inflammation? You can take this list to the grocery store.

For a free .pdf download of the food list, click on: FoodChartNew

As you can see on the Quick Food Guide, some foods are also more likely to cause inflammation in your body just because of the nature of the food itself.  In general there are many of these that you probably could have guessed – white flour, white sugar, white rice, artificial sweeteners. Also the things we know are not so good, like partially hydrogenated oils and trans-fats.  The great news is that focusing on increasing your foods in the anti-inflammatory list will help tremendously on the

Making Paleo Diet More Anti-Inflammatory

Paleo diet can be really meat-heavy and that is great for some people, but not for people with inflammatory disorders to begin with. Granted it’s already cutting out a lot of the inflammatory foods like white sugar, corn syrup, white flour, white rice.  That is awesome!! The issue comes when people just eat meat three meals per day and forget about the veggies or the meat quality.  Here are some tips to optimize your Paleo diet so that you’re not boosting inflammation:

  1. Veggie-Bomb: Always get twice as many veggies as you get meat, and if you have an inflammatory condition like RA, autoimmune disease or cardiovascular disease then bump that up to 3 or 4 times the veggie to meat ratio.
  2. Eat Quality: Make sure your meats are organic, grass fed and grass finished (for beef), hormone-free and antibiotic free. Quality is so much better than quantity with animal products.
  3. Optimize the Organics: Check the “Dirty Dozen” list before you buy veggies to make sure you’re optimizing your organic food budget. It can get expensive, so getting it right really helps.
  4. Be Active: Diet is only half of the inflammation picture and exercise and activity will go a long way to normalize inflammatory levels.
  5. Hydrate: Drink plenty of water. Any protein-heavy diet puts some extra strain on your kidneys and if you’re a little dehydrated then this can start to impact how well you feel and your overall level of inflammation.  At least eight 8oz glasses per day.

Why Is It Important to Reduce Inflammation?

Inflammation is linked to almost every major disease and disease category we have including:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease including heart attack, cholesterol and stroke
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Obesity
  • Mood disorders (brain inflammation)
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other neuro-degenerative diseases

The bottom line is that real food, real veggies, and minimizing the chemicals is always going to be the best route to keeping your inflammation levels down. Knowing the foods that cause inflammation can help you to make better choices at the grocery store.

Is Consumerism Killing you? Cash Register Receipts are Toxic.

There are plenty of problems with consumerism, but this one is reasonably unanticipated – because register receipts are toxic.  In terms of neutral substances that I am not likely to consider harmful, paper generally ranks high on the list.  The problem with thermal receipts is that it’s paper that is coated with massive amounts of BPA as a developing agent for the print. According to a University of Missouri – Columbia study, this issue is compounded by using hand sanitizer, creams or lotions before you touch a receipt. We’ll talk about that more in a second, but let’s cover the basics first.  Also remember the new substitute for BPA, BPS,  is TOXIC!

What is BPA?

According to Frederick vom Saal, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU, “BPA first was developed by a biochemist and tested as an artificial estrogen supplement,” apparently, having been declined for medical use, the manufacturer found industrial uses for it.  BPA (or it’s little sister BPS) is now used to make plastics soft, but the estrogenic effects are still there. BPA and BPS are most commonly found in:

  • Store and restaurant receipts
  • Airline tickets
  • ATM receipts
  • Plastic bottles and food containers
  • Linings of cans for canned food
  • Baby bottles
  • Dental composits

Many plastic water bottles currently available are proudly labeled “BPA FREE!” but that’s misleading, because they just substituted BPA for BPS which has the same endocrine disrupting effects. And obviously, the BPA hasn’t been taken out of anything that isn’t consumable – like the toxic register receipts.

BPA free is a load of B(p)S! And because of BPA register receipts are toxic

BPA free is a load of B(p)S! And because of BPA register receipts are toxic.

What Does BPA Do To Humans?

BPA has strong estrogen effects. It has also been shown to alter signaling mechanisms involving hormones. Excess estrogen is strongly implicated in obesity, mood disorders, hormone disorders and infertility, breast and prostate cancer. Not to mention reproductive harm to fetuses – meaning exposure to BPA in utero may lead to reproductive problems for that child when they grow up.  Seriously – if they can harm your unborn child, then register receipts are TOXIC.

How Much BPA do You Get From Touching Register Receipts?

This research study tried to establish a feel for how much BPA is absorbed with normal shopping behavior.  Subjects BPA levels were tested before and after handling register receipts when the subject had previously used a skin product like hand sanitizer or lotion. Their levels were also tested after handling register receipts and then eating fries. The results? BPA is absorbed very rapidly in these conditions, which mimic normal human shopping.  Vom Saal, the primary researcher, went on to say:

“Our research found that large amounts of BPA can be transferred to your hands and then to the food you hold and eat as well as be absorbed through your skin. BPA exhibits hormone-like properties and has been proven to cause reproductive defects in fetuses, infants, children and adults as well as cancer, metabolic and immune problems in rodents. BPA from thermal papers will be absorbed into your blood rapidly; at those levels, many diseases such as diabetes and disorders such as obesity increase as well. Use of BPA or other similar chemicals that are being used to replace BPA in thermal paper pose a threat to human health.”

The press release from MU can be found here.  I have to say, I feel a little weird that we live in a world where register receipts are toxic. These things in our environment that we come into contact with on a near-daily basis shouldn’t be implicated in things like cancer and fetal reproductive defects.  The important thing is knowing as a consumer how to protect yourself because clearly we can’t rely on our government doing it for us. Make sure you handle receipts, airline tickets and ATM printouts as minimally as possible and never after you have put on hand sanitizer or lotion.  Also wash your hands before eating to make sure BPA you have touched doesn’t make it into your food. After all, if something as simple as a register receipt is toxic, just think of all the other things you come into contact with.