By Tammera Karr PhD
The cacao tree, aptly named Theobroma cacao, by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus. The cacao tree only grows within twenty degrees of the equator in the tropics’ damp conditions. Once mature, the tree will produce small, white flowers that can only be pollinated by midges, a fly no larger than a pencil’s tip. When cacao pods are mature, they are harvested by hand using a machete. Each pod is broken open to expose the beans and white pulp and collected into a pile. The beans and pulp remain outside in the heat and high humidity to undergo fermentation.
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is a metabolic process that occurs with microorganisms. Bacteria and yeast thrive in hot, moist climates, and the cacao pulp is an excellent nutrient source. In this case, the bacteria and yeast are needed to produce the precursor compounds necessary for chocolate’s characteristic flavor and aroma. Bacteria do this by eating some of the sugar and acid content, converting it into other molecules. Fermentation typically lasts for about a week. Once fermentation is complete, the farmers will separate the beans from the pulp, used as a nutrient source during fermentation. Next, the beans are left to dry in the sun.
A little history
In Greek, Theobroma translates to food of the gods. Chocolate connoisseurs know there is more than a gustatory pleasure to be found in this food of the gods. In 1753, Carl von Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist, thought cacao was so important he named the genus and species of tree Theobroma cacao, which means cacao, the food of the gods. This food dates back to prehistoric times and was extensively cultivated in Mexico, Central, and South America for centuries before Europeans’ arrived. 173 The Mayan Indians began cultivating cacao about 600 AD. The indigenous populations ate only the fruit, which contains numerous health benefits. The seed or cacao nib was set aside for a psychedelic brew, called ayahuasca, and for medicines. According to Aztec myth, the cacao awakened power and wisdom. When the explorer Cortes brought cacao back to Spain in 1528, it was sequestered and enjoyed only by nobility and the wealthy.
The many uses of chocolate
In medieval times, chocolate was viewed as a luxury item and an indulgence. In modern times chocolate is used as gifts for mothers and sweethearts. It is made into cocktails, cold and hot drinks, candies, powders, wines, and lotions. The Spanish are widely responsible for the introduction and development of chocolate foods and beverages.
The making of chocolate foods
The most critical step is roasting. Roasting generates hundreds of the flavor compounds associate with chocolate. The beans are roasted at high temperatures for roughly one hour. There are many chemical reactions responsible for cacoa color, flavor, and aroma. Cacoa naturally has a strong, pungent/bitter taste, which comes from the flavonols. Without roasting, the cacao beans would never obtain the flavor profile we associate with modern chocolate. Cacoa nibs are crushed to form cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. There are several processing steps involved in reducing cacaos bitter taste. Cocoa liquor has a very concentrated, chocolatey flavor with a trace of bitterness and acidity. Other ingredients like sugar, milk solids, vanilla, and emulsifiers are added to the pure cocoa liquor. The addition of these ingredients to the liquor results in a coarse, heterogeneous mixture that still must be further processed. The more chocolate is processed (through fermentation, alkalizing, roasting, etc.), the more flavanols are lost. 174
What science tells us about the health properties of chocolate
Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods that offer specific health benefits. They are part of the polyphenol group (chemicals found in plants). Flavanols are a type of flavonoid found explicitly in cocoa and chocolate. More than 4,000 flavonoid compounds are found in various foods and beverages, such as cranberries, apples, peanuts, chocolate, onions, tea, and red wine. Most popular commercial chocolates are highly processed, providing little if any health benefits.
Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly eight times the amount found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help lower blood pressure nitric oxide production; they can also balance certain hormones. The fats in chocolate (1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid, and 1/3 palmitic acid) do not impact your cholesterol. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while preventing white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels’ walls. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis. Scientists found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect. Research published in the March 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal.
The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. Until the ‘dark chocolate drug’ is developed, however, we’ll have to make do with what nature has given us! 175, 177
Benefits of dark chocolate
Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. Look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel, or other natural flavorings. To enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it. Most studies used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day. One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories.
Enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., one ounce) a few times per week, and don’t forget to consume other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions, and cranberries. Your best choices are dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (especially milk chocolate that is loaded with other fats and sugars) and cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing (cocoa treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity).
Caution: According to the National Hazardous Substances Database: In large doses, theobromine may cause nausea and anorexia, and the daily intake of 50-100g cocoa (1.5 g theobromine) has been associated with sweating, trembling, and severe headache. Occasionally, people (mostly the elderly) have needed hospital treatment for a theobromine reaction.
By Tammera J Karr PhD
What are your must-have gizmos, gadget, tool, or appliance in your home or RV kitchen?
This question had come before me frequently of late and got me thinking about all the tools we have available today, designed for one form or another of food preparation. It is quite overwhelming when you do a small search on Amazon, Overstock, or Wayfair for Kitchen tools and appliances. As a food historian, I have seen kitchen tools from colonial days to the present, some have lasted over the centuries, and others came and went. The one tool every kitchen has at least one of is a knife. History and archaeology can show us blades of every shape and material dating from man’s earliest forays into tool making.
When reading about pioneers coming west and what individuals started with, then left along the trail; the list is long from furniture to wood cook stoves, books to rugs, copper pots, and pans to bone china. But the knife always seemed to make the list of must-haves. When families packed up their belongings and moved during the dust bowl, the kitchen knife was secured in the load once again. So what about today – does the humble knife still have relevance with food processors, electric carving blades, mincers, blenders, and more?
Ohh, Ya, our fascination with knives is still very real. Each time I open one of my social media pages, an ad for Damascus steel kitchen knives with wood, ceramic, bone, and composite handles of every size and color greets me. I feel like a magpie drawn to shiny – wanting this one and that.
Unlike the pioneers or my grandmother, I have to consider the requirements of another kitchen appliance that rules supreme – the dishwasher. My grandmother never had to weigh the acquisition of her mixing bowls, hand tools, dishes, and knives against Dishwasher Safe. Ok, many folks don’t have dishwashers, but what about microwave ovens?
The microwave oven made it big in the mid-1980s when the once expensive countertop high-tech oven became affordable to the masses in North America. A whole new approach to cooking took the states by storm. Candy, bacon, rice, and potatoes in minutes, and soon freezers were filled with not the functional aluminum oven TV dinner but the snazzy plastic dish quick meal. I admit that this is one electric appliance short-lived in my kitchen and RV. After three years of not even using the microwave’s timer function in our RV, we removed it and turned the space into convenient storage for those kitchen tools used almost daily. I enjoy cooking and find it as fast as ready-made meals. The motions involved with preparing a meal are timeless and allow one to slow down and take stock in the day’s events while flavoring the food with intention and care. On the practical side, I’ll admit at home and in the RV counter space to use those nifty knives on will always win out over another electrical gadget.
Did you grow up with Pyrex? Pretty much every wedding from the 1940s to the present has had at least one set of Pyrex mixing bowls if festive or retro colors. Countless batches of popcorn, salads, mashed potatoes, and pasta have been offered up to family members in Pyrex over the decades, and they were the first freezer to oven to tableware of the modern age. There are downsides to grandmothers stoneware and Pyrex. The heavy metal content and exposure from ceramics pre-2015 are serious considerations, especially if children eat from these dishes. But will this champion of the kitchen be replaced with Silicone? Maybe, but there is a lot we don’t know about silicone cookware – remember how Teflon took over the kitchen in the 1970s and 80s? Today we know there are health dangers from cooking and using Teflon, so much so that the US government banned its use. Ok, they may have excluded it more for the threat to the ozone than your health, but we will take this win any way we can get it.
There are still more appliances filling the cupboards; electric frying pans, instant pots, hand benders, ice cream makers, popcorn poppers, and more. When it comes down to it, just how many of these appliances do we really need, or even use more than once a year? If we were loading a wagon to head west today, how many of these would be left behind? There is something to be said for simplicity. When we use the knife, rolling pin (reminiscent of the mortar and pestle), and spoon, we are using tools that have passed the test of time. The physical motions we do of slicing, chopping, ladling, pouring, rolling, and pressing are little changed from that of the pioneers or ancient peoples who first settled our world. When explorers of old went forth, simplicity ruled due to practical needs. Today millions of people in other parts of the world still use rudimentary kitchen tools to prepare their daily meals; these tools may have been passed down through generations or fabricated from available materials. Why they are still in demand comes down to serviceable, dependable, and portable.
Consider the appliance invasion that may have been going on in your kitchen. Before buying the newest gizmo, pause and ponder how much space it takes up, and if its value is real or just because everyone else has one. Keep those tools that increase the enjoyment of cooking, that connect you to family and friends – the rest pass them by in favor of less stuff to weigh you down.
To read more on the modernization of the kitchen by Tammera Karr
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
In my home, we had canned and pickled sugar beets with a side of greens. For me, the beet greens were (and sometimes still are) the only edible part of the plant, but many people love beets in all their forms.
The first significant benefit of beets is that they are vasodilators. This is because they contain nitric oxide, which acts on the blood vessels to widen them. Imagine your veins and your arteries becoming wider.
While that might sound a little scary, what it means is that blood and oxygen are more easily able to get around the body. This then means that you get more energy to the parts of the body that need it and beets area considered incredibly useful for athletes. Another benefit of nitric oxide is that it encourages blood flow to the brain. This is important because it can help to boost attention, memory, and mood.
Betalain red-colored pigments are found in other foods like the stems of chard and rhubarb, but the peel and flesh of beets offer an unusually high concentration. An estimated 10-15 percent of U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets in everyday amounts. While this phenomenon is not harmful, it may indicate problems with iron metabolism. Individuals with iron deficiency, iron excess, or particular issues with iron metabolism are much more likely to experience beeturia than individuals with healthy iron metabolism.
Beets have been shown to help lower the amount of glucose in the blood as a result of the soluble fiber called inulin.
A little history
Like many fresh vegetables, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. In the 19th-century, it gained significant commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. The Amalgamated Sugar Company was founded in 1897 in Logan, Utah, and is now located in Boise, Idaho. The company markets its sugar under the White Satin brand. By the 1950s, White Satin sugar was in every grocery store in the Pacific Northwest.
Beets are in the same family as chard and spinach, and both the leaves and root can be eaten. The leaves have a bitter taste, whereas the round root is sweet. Beets come in a variety of colors, including white and creamy yellow.
How and What
Beets can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. Beets are exceptionally healthy, especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a splendid source of fiber, manganese, and potassium. Beets help the liver to detoxify harmful chemicals from the body. The greens can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach. A unique source of phytonutrients called betalains are found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains found in beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.
Inulin is a dietary fiber that may benefit gut health.
Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in beets and is a fructan. Like other fructans, it is a prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules. The molecules link together in a way that the small intestine cannot break down. Instead, they travel to the lower gut, where they feed beneficial gut bacteria.
The gut bacteria convert inulin and other prebiotics into short-chain fatty acids, which nourish colon cells and provide various other health benefits. Plants containing inulin have been around for thousands of years, and some early humans consumed much more inulin than we do today.
The gut microbiota is the population of bacteria and other microbes that live in the gut. This community is highly complex and contains both good and bad bacteria. Having the right balance of bacteria is essential for keeping the gut healthy and protect the body from disease. Inulin can help promote this balance. Studies have shown that inulin can help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Increasing the amounts of healthful bacteria can help improve digestion, immunity, and overall health.
Here is to real foods that build our health.
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by Tammera J Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
So often we forget about the nutrients that have been around for decades. Zinc is one of those minerals that have a multifaceted nature. Forty years ago the essential nature of zinc and human health was first reported in the Middle East. It is required for cellular enzyme function, the formation of hormones, and it provides the immune system with a unique skill – zinc is used by the immune system to strengthen the T-helper cells. The current estimate is that over 2,000 transcription factors may be zinc-dependent.
Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system. Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and NK cells. Macrophages also are affected by zinc deficiency. The ability of zinc to function as an anti-oxidant and stabilize membranes suggests that it has a role in the prevention of free radical-induced injury during inflammatory processes.
The role of zinc in modulating oxidative stress has recently been recognized. Oxidative stress is an important contributing factor in several chronic human diseases, such as atherosclerosis and related vascular diseases, mutagenesis and cancer, neurodegeneration, immunologic disorders, and the aging process.
In studies of zinc deficiency, researchers found when zinc intake was insufficient it resulted in; decreased serum testosterone level, oligospermia, severe immune dysfunctions, hyperammonemia, neurosensory disorders, and decreased lean body mass. It appears that zinc deficiency is prevalent in the developing world and as many as two billion subjects may be growth retarded due to zinc deficiency. Besides growth retardation and immune dysfunctions, cognitive impairment due to zinc deficiency also has been reported recently. Our studies in the cell culture models showed that the activation of many zinc-dependent enzymes and transcription factors were adversely affected due to zinc deficiency.
For viruses to anchor to cells, we have to have a week immune system, which is a result of poor diet, sleep and heightened stress. Zinc is pivotal in the effectiveness of the anti-malarial drug function being used for COVID-19, and it is responsible for loss or off-taste and smell being reported by those who have recovered from COVID-19.
A lack of zinc can make a person more susceptible to disease and illness, along with increased risk for macular degeneration and infertility. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”
According to the European Journal of Immunology, the human body needs zinc to activate T lymphocytes (T cells). T cells help the body in two ways: controlling and regulating immune responses and attacking infected or cancerous cells
Zinc is responsible for a number of functions in the human body, and it helps stimulate the activity of at least 100 different enzymes. Only a small intake of zinc is necessary to reap the benefits. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc in the United States is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.
Vegetarians may require up to 50 percent more than the recommended intake of zinc because of the low bioavailability of zinc from plant-based foods.
Foods with the highest reported zinc content are:
raw oysters (Pacific),
beef, lean chuck roast
baked beans, canned
King Alaskan crab,
ground beef, lean
Zinc supplements are also available in the form of capsules and tablets. However, the tolerable upper limit for zinc is 40 milligrams for males and females over 18 years. It has been proven time and again that isolating certain nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from whole food. First, focus on obtaining your daily zinc requirement from foods, then use supplements as a backup if necessary.
To a Healthy Spring, Real Foods and Resiliency
Prasad, Ananda S. “Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells.” Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.) vol. 14,5-6 (2008): 353-7. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
Our grocery stores have changed a lot over the last 20 years. Gone in many areas are the local specialty grocers like seen in films from the 1950s, replaced by mega Walmarts or warehouse stores. The hardest part about this change is the overwhelming volume of food products. In these vast stores, you may feel like you need a GPS and a sleeping bag before you find your way out of the jungle of shelves, freezer cases, and focus-grabbing end aisle displays.
When you are tired and stressed from work or family needs, trips to the market are even more problematic. This is prime time to be tempted by those cleverly colored and displayed industrial foods. Market researchers fully understand what is happening inside your overwhelmed brain; they know what colors, flavors, and even sounds will attract you to buy. Just like a skilled hunter knows how to find and lure the food sources in the wild – so do modern food marketers and retailers in the wilds of the grocery store aisle.
Shopping the outer rim
For decades we have told clients to limit their shopping to the outer edge of the grocery store – the problem is marketing experts know what we are telling folks trying to regain control of their diet. With increasing frequency, ultra-processed food items are making their way into the produce area. Additionally, now produce can be divided up by companion ingredients such as salad dressings and dips, croutons, and shredded cheese interspersed with vegetables, colored sugar glazes, and caramel dips and chocolate with fruit.
When pandemics take over our lives, it is even more critical than ever to be resilient. Now is a perfect time to turn to local farmers’ markets and butcher shops for our food. Not only does it support the businesses in our communities, but it also increases the nutritional value of the foods we consume. This is a win-win when we are looking at cost; our communities are a big part of who we are, so keeping the local economy healthy involves more than supporting franchise chains. The closer the food is to us, the higher the immune-boosting nutrients.
Where to begin?
Plan your excursions into the grocery stores just as you would a family camping trip or vacation. Planning ahead, buying dry goods, and staples in bulk saves money and frustration.
Change the frequency of trips to the market. We are far more prone to spontaneous unhealthy purchases when we shop for food daily or even weekly. Limit your weekly shopping to fresh produce, make an event out of farmers’ markets or farm stands over the added exposure of megastores. Don’t be afraid of blemishes on fresh produce at farm stands or markets. Save money by buying seconds; produce that has defects are called seconds, they may be too large or small, have bruises or scars on the skins or be older. Seconds work great for smoothies, hot cereal, compotes, desserts, and salads.
Buy in bulk: flour, rice, beans, lentils, pasta, oatmeal, sugar, tea, and coffee
Take advantage of sales on favorite canned goods and condiments. Depending on the best buy dates, these items may last 6-12 months, saving you trips to the store and allowing for creative flexibility in the kitchen. Limit the food-stuffs that are a specialty; it is better to have tomato sauce over spaghetti sauce, for example. A simple base food such as tomato sauce can be used in meatloaf, soups, sauces, and made into tomato soup.
Buy large cuts of meat: by buying a whole chicken, turkey, fish, and roasts, you can downsize your purchase into a multitude of meal options and save money. One turkey thigh in an instapot with vegetables and water makes several meals for one or two people. A pork loin can be cut into chops, roast, stirfry, and ground meat. One pork loin 3-pound roast can produce up to twenty meals. A whole chicken can be boned and sectioned, the bones and trimmings make broth, breast meat shredded for tacos, thighs for pot pie, and so forth.
Utilize leftovers for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks
Buy organic quality cooking oils and butter – the healthy fats we consume are worth the extra money.
All of these suggestions save you money, time, and frustration, especially when local stores are having a hard time getting shipments. When you keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer, hoarding and unscrupulous purchases driven by fear, are kept in check.
To a Healthy Spring, Real Foods and Resiliency
Check Out Our Online Course
Let’s Begin the Journey of a Lifetime!
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CGP, CNW
St. Patrick’s day and many other hallmark holidays may feel like frivolous events to celebrate – but it is during times of high stress and fear that the perfect prescription is a “Lightening of the Mood with a Wee Measure of Frivolous.” In truth, life goes on; most of us have deadlines, work, and responsibilities. Yet during quarantines, we may be working from home or navigating the prickly world of board spouses and kids. The weight of events is heavy, and silly celebrations lighten our feelings of isolation, fear, and boredom. It activates our immune responses and improves our brain chemistry.
You know where I’m going with this, my point is there is far more we can do during this pandemic then snip at each other, bing buy, be rude to grocery clerks or fellow shoppers, or post stupid toilet paper comments on Facebook. Now is when we call on our pioneer heritage and help those in our communities. Our combined know-how is stunning, and when there is a will, some humor and ingenuity amazing things blossom. Thank goodness we have a growing number of farmers’ markets, local butchers, and food sources. Being able to produce and procure local foods, resources, and more is what kept the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak from decimating so many rural communities.
Time in nature, fresh air, and sunshine are also gifts from the Creator that help us stay healthy. There is a reason we have a spring cleaning bug. It motivates us to clear away the dust and throw open the sash, letting in light and air. Which medical staff learned in 1918 had an anti-viral activity. Clearing away the dust mites, lint and dander, helps our immune systems, at the same time keeping our hands busy.
When we “put on the green,” it isn’t just about the Irish. It is about new beginnings, spring, bursting forth new life, and those foods rich in nutrients that help us stay healthy. Even though we are still in the “hunger months” for fresh food production, there is a fantastic wealth of produce available in stores and markets. Albeit some of the bounty is due to our aversion to vegetables. The sooner we put the green on our plates, the faster we will pass through the current pandemic.
Current infectious disease models are projecting the coronavirus pandemic that may last well into 2020. If that model is accurate, then we have every reason to order garden seeds and become proactive in helping our neighbors. Our faith will and is being tested, can we practice the good works on our own without the audience? I hope so.
Taking back the control
As much as I see the uselessness of many of the precautions being mandated by state governments (ineffective face masks, wearing them improperly, hand sanitizers that damage immune systems, unnecessary closure of businesses, and general paranoia) I do believe in the potential for a fall rebound of COVID-19.
Please keep in mind this rebound virus will not be the same as what circulated in January and February, just as the virus present in May or June has two or more generations of adaptation to that found in China. Therefore any effective vaccine is very unlikely. Viruses are sneaky little bastards, changing and using our normal body systems to hide from the immune system. THAT IS WHY we should be doing everything we can to strengthen our immune systems. This is not done overnight by a magic pill with a prescription label.
Our best recourse is those tools provided by nature that viruses are unable to mutate or adapt or mutate beyond.
1. Clean all the processed foods out – go with local vegetables, fruits and meats. Now is not the time to be eating sugar or processed foods. As much as I love bread, the increase of carbohydrates that increase inflammation, congestion, and blood sugars should be limited. Bread even naturally fermented sourdough does little to improve our ability to fight off viral infections.
2. Get your hands dirty – yup our immune system depends on microorganisms- they make up 85% of our immune response. We are intimately connected to the wee bugs in our soil, water and air. Our pets and homes share a common microbiota with us, it is the wee bugs that act as our front line defense against infections. We keep our microbiome healthy with the inclusion of fresh vegetables, ancient grains, and fruits. When we are constantly wiping down surfaces with bleach, vinegar, and alcohol disinfectants we are also damaging the microbiome of our environment. If you are worried about getting the COVID-19 virus from fresh vegetables – STOP, as with bacteria if in doubt steam, saute, fry, blanch, boil or bake the vegetables and fruits.
3. Get plenty of quality sleep – cut your alcohol consumption as it interferes with sleep quality, and lowers immune function. Turn off the WiFi at night, put your phone on airplane mode, cover blue light indicators, go to bed at the same time to ensure normal sleep hormone levels, keep your bedroom 60 or lower for temperature.
4. Utilize nature’s antiviral foods and herbs – garlic, ginger, elderberry, blackberries, black and green tea, onion, thyme, oregano, nettle, citrus, goldenseal, olive leaf, free-range protein, natural fats,
5. Old school – high-quality silver solutions are still used for third-degree burns, viruses are not able to hide from quality silver. (Please buy from a reputable company like Designs for Health or Quick Silver, pretty much all of the brands found in health stores are useless.)
6. Time in nature, research supports the multitude of health benefits from time in nature. Nature immits negative ions that stimulate hormones that support immune function. From just sitting and meditating, enjoying the view or hiking a trail; time in nature stimulates digestion, detoxification, circulation, vitamin D synthesis, and endorphins.
7. Turn off the news and Do Not Believe most of what you read, hear, or see. Now is when I’m seeing a big uptick in fake, incomplete, and poorly understood information. If you are healthy, doing the right things; “Falling Victim To Fear” will increase the risks of becoming ill. Fear suppresses our immune function.
8. Above all think ahead, plan, and be sensible.
Plan for the worst, hoping it never happens. Prayer, meditation, journaling, dance, sing, and laugh to improve immune function and brain chemistry.
Consider “putting on the green”; as a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and helping hands for those in your neighborhoods who are frightened, alone, isolated, and even hungry. Busy hands make for light hearts, so if you know an elder or disabled person is alone, drop off a jar or pot of soup, fresh bread, or bag of produce. Ask if you can weed their flower beds, trim bushes, chop firewood, or mow their lawn. Calling and checking in on friends and family, having actual conversations dose wonders. How about choirs sharing mucic as if they where caroling? All of this can be done from a safe distance. Rural communities have always come together during trying times and now is no different than 1918.
Putten on the Green Kale Sauté with Garlic and Lemon
1½ pounds (about 2 large bunches) kale*
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced (use more if you wish)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Juice from 2 fresh lemons
Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces; place in a large colander; rinse well under cold water.
Fill a large pot with water. Add about ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil; add kale and cook for 4-6 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain well.
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add kale; season well with sea salt and black pepper. Cook, often stirring, until wilted and tender, 4-6 minutes.
Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice; toss to combine. Serve immediately.
*Collard or mustard greens work well also, blanch greens instead of boiling
by Tammera J. Karr
The history of essential oils is intertwined with the history of herbal medicine; in most ancient cultures, people believed plants to be magical, and for thousands of years herbs were used as much for ritual as they were for medicine and food. In the modern world, science is exploring the medicinal value of many herbs, and plant extracts in efforts to locate new therapies for antibiotic-resistant conditions. There is a growing pharmacopeia of anti-inflammatory herbs additionally.
The Atlantic magazine highlighted the antimicrobial qualities of plant extracts and essential oils. The article notes that “various oils have also been shown to effectively treat a wide range of common health issues such as nausea and migraines, and a rapidly growing body of research is finding that they are powerful enough to kill human cancer cells of the breast, colon, mouth, skin, and more.”
I reflected and realized I had shared information on this topic during a superbug outbreak in 2015.
Just a little recap of an article from the Alliance for Natural Health – On April 14, 2015 – A New Tool for Antibiotic-Resistant Killer Bacteria: Essential Oils; What should you stock to protect yourself?
Drug-resistant tuberculosis—and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” in general. These infect at least two million Americans each year and kill 23,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to Karl Rotthier, the chief executive of a Dutch-based pharmaceutical firm, antibiotics are making their way into rivers and waterways due to lax safety measures. Some of the drugs are flushed directly down the toilet, while others pass through the patients first—and it all ends up in the water supply. Too many drugs come from manufacturing waste.
There is a growing body of research supporting the natural antibiotic properties nutrients and herbs, here are just a few:
Silver, the world’s oldest known antibiotic. (still used in hospitals as silvadeane cream for burns and wound healing)
Vitamin C may be effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant infections.
An article released February 13, 2020, from Orthomolecular Research on the use of vitamin C, Goes on to say – “Viral pneumonia is a dangerous condition with a poor clinical prognosis. For most viral infections, there is a lack of effective targeted antiviral drugs, and symptomatic supportive treatment is still the current main treatment. Vitamin C, has antioxidant properties. When sepsis happens, the cytokine surge caused by sepsis is activated, and neutrophils in the lungs accumulate in the lungs, destroying alveolar capillaries. Early clinical studies have shown that vitamin C can effectively prevent this process. In addition, vitamin C can help to eliminate alveolar fluid by preventing the activation and accumulation of neutrophils, and reducing alveolar epithelial water channel damage. At the same time, vitamin C can prevent the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps, which is a biological event of vascular injury caused by neutrophil activation. Most deaths from viruses are caused by pneumonia. Vitamin C has been known, for over 80 years, to benefit pneumonia patients greatly. In 1936 Gander and Niederberger found that vitamin C lowered fever and reduced pain in pneumonia patients”.
The sited study can be seen at: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v16n17.shtml
While these studies are not conclusive on the total value of nutrients during challenging health events, they do provide hope for many. The foundation of our health is directly tied into the foods we eat every day, and it is easy for many to add more of the traditional herbs, spices, and foods into their diet during the expected seasonal health challenges.
To Real Foods for Health.
1.University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (2015, September 16). Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 19, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916162120.htm
2.The antibacterial activity of oregano essential oil (Origanum heracleoticum L.) against clinical strains of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 2012:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23484421
3.Coriander essential oil and linalool – interactions with antibiotics against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30471142
4.Antibacterial activity of traditional spices against lower respiratory tract pathogens: combinatorial effects of Trachyspermum ammi essential oil with conventional antibiotics. 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30187508
5.Inhibitory effect of Allium sativum and Zingiber officinale extracts on clinically important drug resistant pathogenic bacteria. 2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22540232
6. University of Melbourne. (2020, March 17). COVID-19: The immune system can fight back. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200317103815.htm
7. University of Virginia Health System. (2020, March 19). Understanding how COVID-19 affects children vital to slowing pandemic, doctors say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200319125201.htm
8. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. (2020, March 23). ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers may increase the risk of severe COVID-19, paper suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323101354.htm
9. University of Maryland School of Medicine. (2020, March 23). Anxious about COVID-19? Stress can have lasting impacts on sperm and future offspring: Study identifies biological mechanism by which stress alters sperm and impacts brain development in next generation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200323132410.htm
10. Stanford University. (2020, March 26). How to identify factors affecting COVID-19 transmission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326160759.htm
11. Stanford University. (2020, March 26). How to identify factors affecting COVID-19 transmission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200326160759.htm
12. Semantic Scholar Free access to COCID-19 Research https://www.semanticscholar.org/feed/create?name=COVID-19&paperIds=4adf89030bb59f9cd97a55af21b419aad9045287%2C272c530d8b3a2daae3af01fa4a59b350f3a5398b%2Ca42902bc3f4d92b72f46775420be6569d19e3f73
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by Tammera J. Karr
Often we catch the flu because our immune systems have been worn down by poor eating habits, stress, long hours and overindulging. This may be one of the reasons, so many folks come down with the flu following the holiday season.
All the news is about the Coronavirus – as we have learned from Dr. Jane M. Orient, this virus makes regular runs through the population. The effects on health vary because of the individual immune system response. So, the healthier your immune system the better chances you have of dodging any flu viruses that you may encounter. Over time, silver has been used for numerous medical conditions, mostly empirically before the realization that microbes were the agents of infection.
At the turn of the century, there were over 90 medications that contained silver; it is still used in third world countries due to its affordability and effectiveness. Burn patients, whether from radiation therapy or accident, are treated with Silvadene cream due to its ability to reduce inflammation, pain, and scar tissue and prevent infection.
Because silver weakens the wall of the bacteria, it also allows conventional antibiotics to enter more easily. Research on mice at Boston University showed that with silver added, lower doses of antibiotic drugs were needed to kill bacteria. Silver was also able to reverse the antibiotic resistance of E. coli bacteria, making them once more susceptible to tetracycline. The mice were left unharmed by the silver.
This is huge, if only because it may force medical authorities to recognize silver as a therapeutic agent. It could also be the answer to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant diseases that are becoming endemic
Vitamin C has a long and well-documented history of improving immune function. Not everyone can tolerate high dose vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid; however, taken in natural food form, the associated GI disturbances are often a non-issue. Citrus is one of the best-known sources. Of all citrus fruits, lemons and limes have the highest citric acid content, about 1.4 grams per ounce, or about 8 percent of their dry weight. Lemons and limes also contain ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, and malic acid.
Pomegranate juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. It also has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation. The juice of a single pomegranate has more than 40 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C.
Viruses do not become resistant to herbs like they do to commonly prescribed medications, many of which are intended for bacterial infections. Herbs strengthen the immune system without killing the beneficial flora that resides in the digestive system. Remember that 85 percent of your immune system is in your digestive tract. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to side effects and drug-resistant microbes.
Horehound has been used to make lozenge candies that are believed to help heal sore throats, improve your appetite, and relieve intestinal gas. Horehound contains a variety of nutrients that are needed for the immune system to work they include; Examples include B-complex vitamins, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Other conditions that horehound may help include sinus inflammation, hay fever symptoms, and abdominal swelling. Horehound is also known to increase immune system activity.
Garlic and Onions
Studies have shown that onion extracts, like those of garlic, decrease blood sugar and lipid levels, prevent clots, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation (onions are one of the only foods that contain prostaglandin E1), improve asthma and allergies and retard viruses by strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C, fiber, biotin, folate, chromium, vitamin K, and thiamine are found in members of the onion family.
These are just a few of the hundreds of effective holistic ingredients that support our health during times of virus outbreaks.
To a flu-free late winter and spring.
by Tammera J. Karr
The 21st century has presented us with more than one challenger to our health. How can it be that what is seemingly innocent or benign factors could be the cause of so many health problems? Modern innovation has provided us with countless tools and conveniences that make our jobs and lives easier. The unintended consequences of innovation can be more plastic trash, fractured time, and industrial denatured foods. How do we take out the trash both figuratively and physically without driving ourselves and others, around the bend? I look back at what was the normal before …. Which often was simple, affordable solutions to everyday needs.
Our most proactive and sustainable changes for our health involve adding more vegetables and removing 300 calories a day.
Here is one example: I have a client who is a truck driver. He tries to eat as best he can on the road five days a week, but there is not much selection in truck stops. He tries to make some food he can take with him, but he only has a tiny refrigerator and no real way to cook on the road.
Solutions: Incorporate a shake once a day with freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders. 12-volt blenders make smoothie mixes palatable, or blended coffees. The freeze-dried blends add in greater nutrient variety; they also can be used as a touch of seasoning flavor, provided they do not contain protein powders or other flavorings like strawberry and chocolate.
He plans 2 hours on a day off to make up small airtight containers with raw vegetables, nuts, and fruit. It is much easier to eat a handful of sugar snap peas, kohlrabi, turnip, broccoli stems or yam slices than to stop and peal or try and eat whole. I recommend the glass Snapware brand because they seal tight and, they do not leak. Our experience has been the glass containers fit easily in a small soft-sided cooler and work in a HotLogic. Experience has shown us foods hold up in these containers in the fridge or cooler for 3-4 days.
Hard-boiled eggs in the shell, canned chicken, pork, beef or fish like sardines and salmon are easy proteins. The eggs are good in a small refrigerator or cooler with plenty of ice for three-four days. The low sodium canned meats do not require refrigeration and can be used with convenience store salads, rye crackers, or a loaf of hearty bread: pre-cook brown rice or red potatoes add more variety.
Next my client purchased a small HotLogic portable food warmer. Before heading down the road, he uses the prepped vegetables in their glass dish, a small sliced potato, one can of meat, with liquid, and plugs into the 12-volt outlet on his dash. In 2-3 hours, he has a meal hot and ready to eat when he fuels up or parks.
For this individual spending, a little time prepping for the coming week and investing in a couple of small appliances meant he dropped 400 calories a day without having to think about it or go hungry. He increased his vegetable consumption and found he passed up chips and snacks because he wasn’t craving them or fighting sleep. On his weekends, he enjoys eating with his family or friends’ guilt-free.
The increase in vegetables in his daily routine does more than act as fuel; they provide valuable fiber for removing harmful chemicals. They feed our brain for cognition, support healthy blood sugar, build the microbiome supporting our immune systems, remove excess cholesterol, and sodium while providing potassium and magnesium for heart health.
All we have to do is think back to times before, prepackaged processed foods, and fried convenience foods from gas stations. While those foods are easy, they are also at the heart of America’s growing health problems. Do you remember – Lunches of fried chicken, cold steak and potatoes, meatloaf, bread and butter, apples, carrots, tomatoes, biscuits and meat pies, and Stanly lunch boxes?
Returning to Real Foods for health.
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The Aesop Fable of the Ant and Grasshopper has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks as the Federal Furlough of over 800,000 individuals like my husband goes on. I reflected on this story:
“In a field one summer’s day, a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “We have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came, the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger – while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need”.
First, let me say I am not one of the modern “Preppers,” If you must pace a label on me – the closest most days would be that of a “Traditionalist” who sees the value of wise counsel and wisdom from the past. This Aesop’s fable while short holds true wisdom, especially for members of the modern American world.
When I reflect on the young federal employees I know with babies and blossoming lives; I see the two veterans who served their country in the Marines, I see the Postal worker or crew foreman decorated for his or her service to our country. Granted many of the federal employees are not veterans, they may be single parents, or people just like you with responsibilities and dependents.
The fable of the ant and grasshopper and the lesson it shares, I can only hope has been taken to heart by not just those on furlough but also by you the readers of this column. We need more than money in the bank to get us through the storms and winters of life, and those who plan for the short payday, seasonal lay off or rock slide benefit from lower incidence of stress-induced illnesses.
Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, migraines, anxiety, insomnia, and cancer are all chronic illnesses that increase with stress. Food insecurity for the elderly and low-income members of our communities compounds stress and anxiety. Now I like many of you think stress gets a bad rap in today’s world to often the word “stress” is used as an excuse. Stress is a fact of life and necessary – the difference is how we cope and teach our youth to prepare for its inevitability. My Grandmother, Aunt, and Mother-in-Law all, by example, shared the importance of having a full pantry, and store of paper products – No one wants to be without toilet paper, trust me!
Taking advantage of local produce when it is in season is an excellent place to start. Canning fruit was one of the first things I learned. Glass jars are reusable, safe and easy to use for food storage. It was years before my parents were able to afford a freezer; canning allowed venison, fish, vegetables, and fruit to be available year around. Home canned foods fill the gaps for when fresh produce is unavailable, poor quality or as to frequently the case today – recalled for contamination.
Dehydrating of fruit and nuts, at first was done with screen racks over the floor furnace vent or in the sun in the yard. Today we can purchase efficient food dryer/dehydrators for home use that can be used to make far more than apple slices. Dried foods are lightweight and easy to transport. Additionally, even if you live in a tiny house, apartment, dorm room or RV, a food dryer can be found to fit the space you have.
A small 7 cu. Ft freezer may be all you have room for, but it provides storage for extra meat, vegetables or fruit available from local farms, ranches or seasonal grocery sales.
Just like the ant of Aesops fable the effort we spend on storing food for the winter, yields security and peace of mind during those times of high stress and uncertainty. While money may come and go in our lives, I know the pantry is full, and we can make it to summer.
To Traditional Food and Wisdom of Old