Happy New Year everyone!
In the last post, I shared about mindsets to have (or not) that will help with successful habit change. This week I want to share about some of the habits I think are most important to consider integrating into your family. This is not an exhaustive list! These habits are simple and sound. They are not flashy or trendy (necessarily), and they have stood the test of time. And remember, I am not suggesting you start ALL of these habits at once, or that these are the highest priority for your family. I am merely suggesting ones I think are important. For your consideration. Here they are:
Six Habits I Recommend on a Regular Basis:
1. Eat More Animal Fat
This is my number one recommendation, and it is something you can incorporate into your food right now! Everyone should be eating more animal fat! Here's a post about why you should add more animal fat to your diet. Animal fats are butter, lard, tallow, ghee, chicken, duck and goose fat, bacon, and sour cream. This is where the money is! But what about avocados, coconut oil, and all the "healthy fats"? Those fats are fine and healthy (if they are good quality), but they cannot replace the amazing benefits that animal fats bring to your body. Those fats are fine to eat, but focus on increasing the animal fats. I recommend people work up to eating a minimum of 1/2 cup added animal fat per person per day. This includes children (they need fat for their developing brain!) This can be accomplished by adding fat to everything! Fry everything in butter, lard or bacon grease. Butter your steak! Eat butter cubes and dried fruit for a snack. Eat a tub of sour cream with a spoon! These are just some ideas to get you started. And if you are worried about fat and heart disease or obesity, I recommend you check out the book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride called Put Your Heart in Your Mouth, which explains the real reason for these epidemic diseases.
2. Drink Meat Stock Daily
Meat stock (not necessarily bone broth) is a liquid gold that I think every person can benefit from. To learn how to make it, view my post about it. I recommend that every person (children included) consume at least 1 mug of meat stock every day. With every meal is even better. This doesn't have to be in the form of soup—it can be a mug of the strained stock. And this is great place to add in extra fat (see previous point). And yes, there is a difference between store-bought and homemade—you can make something of infinitely higher quality than anything you can buy. And please, even if you use a microwave for other things, warm up your meat stock on the stove!
3. Eat a Fermented Food
Until the age of refrigeration, we naturally had some time of fermented food at least once a day. Either foods were fermented on purpose to preserve them longer (like sauerkraut), or during the course of a few days stored at room temperature, they grew some amount of mold, yeast, or bacteria on them.
Today, food in this state goes instantly into the trash (often container included), but for most of history food was rarely wasted due to a little mold! Now, I am not saying you should eat food that is molded or rotten, but our bodies function in a more healthy state if we regularly eat microbes. After all, a large part of our bodies are microbes! Here is a fun little video about how microbes work in your body. To help your body get or stay healthy, it's good to get these healthy microbes in us! You can do this by taking a probiotic, or eating fermented foods. There are different reasons why one is better than the other, and sometimes both are needed, but eating a ferment (or fermented food) is a great way to start out!
You can buy your ferment (like live, refrigerated sauerkraut), or make it yourself. In addition to sauerkraut, beet kvass and vegetable medley are two of my favorites. When you start with any probiotic or fermented food, go slowly! Too much too fast can cause what's known as a die-off or Herx reaction. This is not fun, but can be avoided by increasing the amount you eat slowly! Start with one bite of sauerkraut, or 1 ounce of beet kvass. See how you feel for the next 24 hours, then use that as a guide to let you know how fast you can increase (or if you need to decrease).
The last three habits are related to detoxing and cleansing your body.
4. Filter Your Water
This is a fairly simple change to make, yet it can reap large benefits. City water, most bottled water, and some well water contains chlorine in one or more forms. It is put there to keep species of bacteria, fungus and other microbes from multiplying to unhealthy levels. However, when we drink this same water the chlorine negatively affects the flora living inside us as well. And when we bathe and shower in it, not only do the chemicals dry out our skin and the fumes irritate our lungs, the protective barrier of our skin (maintained by skin flora) is damaged. You can largely prevent all of these things by filtering the chlorine (and some other things) out of your water. There are many levels of filters, and depending on how sick you are and what's in your water supply, a stronger filter may be necessary. But most people see benefit with simple filters for their drinking, cooking and bathing water. I use this filter or this filter for my drinking and cooking water, this filter for my baths, and this filter for my shower. You could get them all, or start with one and build from there.
5. Take a Detox Bath
A detox bath is an excellent way to help your body get rid of toxins that have accumulated there. There are three factors in a detox bath: water temperature, time, and amount of detox material. You can adjust all three of these to find your perfect bath! Common detoxing materials are Epsom salt, baking soda, and raw apple cider vinegar with the mother. And as we just discussed, dechlorinated water is preferred. The goal of a detox bath is to make you feel lighter, clearer and better. If you go too high on any of the three detox bath factors, you may get nauseated, a headache, increased heart rate, brain fog, muscle cramps, irritability or other like symptoms. If this happens during your bath, no worries! Just get out of the bath right away, drink plenty of water, and your symptoms will usually disappear in a few minutes. If they don't, lie down for a little while to let your body rest and recover.
Water temperature: you want a warm bath, but if it gets really hot, your body can jump to that other level of detoxing that will give you all the undesirable symptoms. This temperature will be determined by you, and may vary slightly day by day.
Time in the bath: to detox, most people need to stay in the bath about 20 minutes. You can stay in longer. But sometimes staying in more time can cause you to start having symptoms. If that happens, bath time is over! It's time to get out! Shorten your bath time by a few minutes the next time.
Amount of detoxing materials: for each bath, you want to use one of the detox materials listed above. Amounts vary between 1/4-1 cup. Test and see what works for you. It's good to rotate the material, using all three at different times, for a more comprehensive detoxing.
Enjoy your bath!
6. Walk Outside in the Sun
This is actually a two-for-one! Sunbathing (with nothing on your skin) is a great way to detox AND increase your levels of vitamin D. Of course, different seasons will have a different influence on vitamin D levels, but talking a walk in the sunshine has undeniable benefits (and probably ones we don't even understand yet!) The full light spectrum can help fight daytime fatigue, which in turn helps our hormones to balance. And you are getting gentle movement exercise on top of it! This will stimulate blood flow and increase your body's ability to remove toxins, as well as stimulate lymph movement, which does the same. It's important to expose your skin to the sun without any barrier, including light barriers such as coconut oil. Commercial sunscreens should be avoided altogether as they contain many known carcinogens. If your skin is not ready for the amount of sun exposure it's going to get, it's best to cover up with clothing, and/or gradually work up the time in the sun. As a side benefit, the more animal fat you eat the less likely you are to sunburn! So use this winter wisely! By the time spring and summer come, you should be able to increase your sun time gradually without problems! And yes, this includes you blondes, redheads, and fair-skinned people!
So there you have it!
The top six changes I recommend on a regular basis. Let me know which one you tried out first, and how it went!