5 Patio Container Vegetable Gardening Ideas to Get You Through COVID-19

This spring has hit us with a big surprise. A stay-at-home order from the Governor of Virginia. Even the County and Federal Parks are closed. Not that anyone was going anywhere with most “non-essential businesses” shut down anyway.

To save your sanity, I suggest patio container vegetable gardening. I have dug up my yard before and tilled and fertilized until mid-summer when the heat and humidity of Northern Virginia scare me back indoors. Patio gardens require less maintenance and you can always give the plants away to friends and family when you get sick of taking care of them.

Why Patio Gardening?

Before you jump into this new and exciting hobby. Let’s delve into some great reasons why you should start container gardening now.

  1. It will help you get out in the sunshine and fight off depression.
  2. It is a hobby that they will let you do. You won’t be congregating with over 10 people or meeting up unnecessarily.
  3. It can provide you with some fresh produce. (Let’s face it, if this shut down lasts for a few more months, we’ll all need some fresh food!)
  4. It is fun and exciting to see tomatoes growing on your patio or porch!

Garden Tools You Need

Before you embark on this gardening adventure, there are some tools that you’ll want to have on hand for container gardening. First and foremost, you’ll need some potting soil. I purchased some with fertilizer added to make my life easier, but you can also buy fertilizer for your veggies. You’ll want some pots and seeds.

  1. Pots
  2. Seeds
  3. Potting Soil
  4. Fertilizer
  5. Watering Can
  6. Labels
  7. Spade

5 Vegetables Ideas for Container Gardens

Most veggies can be grown in a pot. However, some do better than others. For example, watermelons may not be the best choice because they are vining plants and require a LOT of space. They also require a lot of water. You will find that you’re constantly watering them.

The vegetables that I decided on growing this year in containers are as follows:

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Basil
  • Green Beans
  • Cucumber

While each of these has their own space requirement, I have planted all of them in containers before and they grew beautifully. For the cucumber, since it is a vining plant, I let it grow up the side of the porch.

Basil and tomatoes tend to do well when planted together. They have different heights and their nutrient requirements are complementary.

I put some lettuce in the shade of the patio. Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, so I will be lucky if it grows in the next month before the weather becomes blistering hot.

Green Beans

Green beans are a favorite in my household. I purchased bush beans, so the space requirement is small. The beans tend to ripen all at once.

Green beans require warm soil, so plant them when all danger of frost has passed. You can plant in 2 week succession for continuous bush beans. The seeds should be one inch deep and 2-3 inches apart in a 2 gallon container.

Plant green beans in well-drained potting mix that is amended with some fertilizer.

Tomatoes

For the tomatoes, I started the seeds in a milk jug. The temperatures at night are still dropping into the 40s. This is known as “winter sowing.” The seeds are still exposed to the nighttime temperatures, but they are protected with a mini-greenhouse effect. I found this to be an effective way to start hardy tomato plants.

Tomatoes need at least a five gallon bucket with well-drained soil. You will need to water tomatoes every day. They are a very thirsty crop.

Tomatoes are a sun loving crop. Select a place on your patio that gets full sun. Tomatoes are heat-loving crops like green beans. Make sure all danger of frost has passed before planting them outside.

Basil

This herb is an easy herb to grow. You can plant it in smaller containers or right in with the tomatoes. Use a container that is at least a half-gallon if you are planting it by itself. You can start it from seed or purchase seedlings.

Plant basil in well-drained potting soil. Basil grows best in full sun. The ground temperature should be at least 70 degrees when you plant your basil.

Basil plants should be spaced out at least 12 inches. Water basil when the soil is dry to the touch.

Lettuce

Lettuce is a bit different. It is a cool weather crop. I didn’t need to buy a seed packet for my lettuce. I planted the end of the Romaine lettuce that I had cut up for a salad.

Lettuce should be planted in early spring. It will turn bitter as the summer wears on. Plant it in partial shade to keep it cool and prevent it from turning bitter.

Lettuce can be planted in beds or in containers. Use well-drained soil and make sure that you fertilize it. When starting from seeds, sprinkle them 1/2 to 1 inch apart. Cover with no more than an 1/8 of an inch of soil.

Cucumber

To grow cucumber on your patio or porch, you’ll need a bit of extra space for it to sprawl or a trellis to allow it to grow up. I tend to let mine sprawl on my porch, but it is up to you. A vertical support can make it easier to harvest the cucumbers.

Cucumbers are heat-loving curcubits. They grow best in warmer weather. Wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting them. For the Mid-Atlantic area, that will be in April or May.

A five gallon bucket is the perfect size container to grow your cucumber plant. Use well-drained potting soil and add fertilizer to it. Amend the soil regularly and make sure that you are watering the cucumbers daily.

7 Secrets to Staying Keto While Traveling

Whether you are doing the keto diet to lose weight or prevent seizures, it can be challenging to stick to a low carb diet when you hit the road. Restaurants don’t always offer low carb options and friends and family tend to serve up carbohydrate rich foods. Recently, I took a road trip to Ohio to visit my sister and nephews. I tackled the challenge of staying keto for the entire three days.

Here’s how:

1. Start with a Satisfying Breakfast

Before you leave, load up on the bacon and eggs that you love at your house. It will keep you satiated during the long road stretches when your car companions are turning to cheetos. (Yes, my family members love cheetos on road trips.)

The extra bacon fat will give you plenty of energy to sit in your seat.

2. Bring a Dozen Boiled Eggs

When the munchies do strike, you will have a low carb snack on hand. I found that eggs were fairly easy to shell and sprinkle with a touch of salt. Even though they are kind of bland, they did fill me up. I loved having them on hand. It meant that I didn’t need to wait until our next McDonald’s stop for a hamburger patty.

3. Pack Some Sardines

Eggs are great, but at some point you may want a complete protein. Sardines are a convenient way to eat nose to tail on the go. I found sardines great for snacking and supplementing the hotel’s breakfast. Even though the hotel served us bacon and eggs, it was nice to have a little extra protein on hand. (Not to mention, I’m an early-bird and tend to be hungry before hotels even serve breakfast.)

I did bring some tuna creation pouch from Starkist. It was terrible! I don’t recommend. Do not buy flavored tuna in a pouch.

4. The Buffet Strategy

While we were in the tiny town of Marysville, OH, my family decided we had to go out to eat. They selected a Chinese buffet. Yikes! Almost all Chinese food is fried or soaked in some sugary sauce. So, my strategy was to stick with the meats and veggies. There were some that didn’t appear to be too heavily soaked in sauce. I selected some boiled fish and hit up the salad bar.

I avoided the fried egg rolls and won tons. I walked past the fried rice and noodle dishes. There were some kebabs that were simply chicken that made it to my plate. Even though it was an All You Can Eat Buffet, I just ate until I was full. I didn’t try to eat an extraordinary amount considering most of the food had hidden carbohydrates.

5. Surviving Family Dinner

Luckily, my sister is a diabetic and has been counting her carbohydrates off and on for years. She knew that I was trying desperately to stick with a keto diet and was willing to accomodate. She set aside some beanless chili for me and her bean-hating child.

The second night, she whipped up a new pulled pork recipe, so I wouldn’t have to eat the sugar-laden pulled pork sauce. I also ate the salad she made for a side dish. I did pass up on the pie for dessert, but the kids figured it was just more for them. No one seemed to notice or care.

6. McDonald’s Lunch

Ok, so I did have to eat out at McDonald’s twice on our road trip. What did I choose? I ordered up the McDouble with only the patties and cheese. While I know McDonald’s has fake cheese, it did make the patties a bit tastier. It may not be optimal, but it definitely was tastier than a plain patty.

7. String Cheese

Oh, I love string cheese. It isn’t the lowest carbohydrate cheese, but it is so much fun. It isn’t something I buy on a typical basis, so for me, it was my big treat. String cheese with an egg was a really filling and fun snack!

During this road trip, I could have packed a ton of other low carb treats, but I discovered that I didn’t really need them. The eggs, cheese, and sardines were enough after a hefty breakfast. McDonald’s hamburger patties filled me up during lunch. The trip was only 8 hours, so we were only on the road for one meal.

These tips can be applied to longer distance trips. You could also pack celery and cream cheese if you want something crunchy to snack on. I will mention that the hotel shut down breakfast on the second day due to the Coronavirus, so it was handy to have the boiled eggs, cheese and sardines. I grabbed one of their yogurts on my way out as well. (It was Greek yogurt and a small container, so it fit into my macros for the day.)

4 Tips to Start Yoga At Home For Beginners

Whether you have lost your job due to the Coronavirus outbreak or are still working. These are stressful times. Yoga is one of the best ways to get fit and healthy. You can learn it at home with the help of some online videos. All you need are some comfortable clothes, a mat, and a quiet space for exercising.

Tip #1: Set Aside Time in Your Schedule

If you don’t schedule it in, it doesn’t get done. Well, that is how things go in my life. Without schedules and deadlines, I tend to procrastinate and not do anything. Or rather, I do a lot of nothing important. But yesterday, I penciled in my yoga workout and today I did it!

Tip #2: Start Slowly

You may have been a high school athlete like me, but if you haven’t worked out in a while (like me), you are going to want to build up to more difficult exercises. Don’t feel bad about not being able to do some of the poses that you used to be able to do. Flexibility comes and goes. A few weeks of practicing and you’ll eventually be able to do all the asanas.

 

Tip #3: Wear Appropriate Clothing

I will admit it, I put on some jeans and tried to do some poses with jeans and socks on. Not my wisest moment. I was just being lazy. I quickly realized that my socks wouldn’t allow my feet to grip the mat and hold essential poses and my jeans would restrict movement on many asanas. So, I changed.

When it comes to yoga apparel, you’ll want to go barefoot. Wear stretchy yoga pants or shorts and a t-shirt. Otherwise, you’ll be very uncomfortable as you try to stretch your body to new limits in clothes that are tight and restrictive.

 

Tip #4: Join a Group

It is easier to quit your exercise routine when no one knows about it. Joining an online group or some friends for a workout will help you stick with it. Since the Coronavirus has shut down gyms, you may want to look into connecting with other beginning yogis on Facebook or Instagram. This is a great place to share your progress and make new friends who are discovering yoga!

 

Conclusion

Yoga is a great way to increase strength and flexibility. It also fits into the new governmental restrictions of avoiding social contact with others. It can be done at home, on your porch, or in your backyard. Yoga is great for beginners and can help to improve muscle imbalance that may arise from certain sports such as running or cycling.

Get started today! Check out this 20 minute Yoga for Beginners video that I used in my morning yoga practice. The teacher has a nice pacing and explains what to do well. It is ideal for people who have a tight schedule as 20 minutes is easy to fit into a morning or evening routine.

Check it out!

 

 

How to Prevent CoVid-19 in 6 Simple Steps

Well, COVID-19 has hit the United States and everyone is responding. I can’t say whether the threat is real or imaginary. I haven’t met anyone who has had the virus. I don’t know if the reports are true or false.

I’m going to give a disclaimer and my conflicts of interest upfront. I will make money any time you click on my Amazon links and make a purchase. Someone makes a few cents from Amazon off each affiliate purchase. You won’t be charged more or less.

So, how does one prevent the coronavirus? We barely know anything about it. What we do know has been reported by governments and agencies that aren’t always truthful. But we’ll include their advice just in case.

1. Wash Your Hands

It is great advice to practice good sanitizing techniques. You should always wash your hands after you use the toilet and touch commonly handled objects. Washing your hands prior to meals is a great idea as well.

When you come in contact with someone sneezing up a storm, you’ll want to avoid shaking their hand. If you do shake hands, you may want to wash yours an extra time.

 

2. Boost Your Immune System

This is the one that I believe in the most. Having a robust immune system has likely prevented me from falling sick to the flu when all of my friends were catching it. I have a slightly different method to boosting my immune system than the commonly recommended vitamin C and elderberry.

My approach to a healthy immune system includes the following:

  • Eliminate processed sugars
  • Stop drinking soda
  • Consume a low-carbohydrate/high fat diet
  • Increase vitamin D intake
  • Drink plenty of water – stay hydrated

Sugar can reduce your immune response by up to 50%. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you are trying to consume cakes and candies and then hoping a quarantine will prevent you from getting the disease. Stop the sugar consumption.

Break the sugar addiction. It will be difficult, but you can do it. I was able to break my sugar addiction by going keto in about 2 weeks. Sure, it can be tempting when you are around sugar. The thought of a sweet taste in your mouth is tempting, but you won’t crave it.

According to a study done in the Journal of Investigative medicine, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as susceptibility to infection. The vitamin D receptor is expressed in immune cells.

Harvard Health reported that micronutrient deficiencies may reduce your immune response. Deficiencies of selenium, zinc, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B, C, E and K alter immune responses in animals. It is less clear whether they impact the immune system in humans.

To combat nutrient deficiencies, I am recommending a ketogenic diet. It is high in the fat soluble vitamins of A, D, E and K. Meat also tends to have plenty of iron, copper, folic acid, selenium and zinc. (Based on what the cronometer app is telling me when I put in my food diary! Not sure how accurate it is!)

3. Cover Your Mouth When You Sneeze

The CDC recommends that you cover your mouth when you sneeze. This is pretty good advice. If you do happen to have the virus, it will prevent the spread. From what I understand, the virus is spread through fluids. Use a tissue to capture any liquids you expel when you sneeze.

4. Monitor Your Symptoms

You won’t likely have symptoms when you first come in contact with the virus. The incubation period is 5 days. You could be spreading the virus for up to 5 days without knowing it. Once you start feeling symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, you’ll want to isolate yourself.

Don’t ignore the symptoms of COVID-19. Seek prompt medical attention if the symptoms are worsening. Most symptoms are mild and can be maintained at home. The CDC recommends that you call your doctor before going to prevent the spread of the virus. They will let you know if you need to be treated.

Symptoms of COVID-19 and the percentage of people who had them according to WebMD:

5. Avoid Crowds

In a crowd the chances of interacting with someone who has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus are higher. Steer clear of crowds where people may be spreading the virus unknowingly. This includes going to concerts, church congregations and sporting events.

The government has already shut down most places where there will be crowds, so this one should be easy.

6. Buy Plenty of Toilet Paper

There is no telling when diarrhea will hit and you will need more. (I’m kidding. I have no idea why toilet paper is being stockpiled. I do know going to the bathroom will be very uncomfortable when we all run out… Perhaps it is time to invest in a bidet.)

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 may be difficult, but stay positive. We can get through this. And hopefully, we’ll all survive!

Simple and Easy Nose to Tail Eating for Beginning Carnivores

You have heard all the raving about how wonderfully rich liver and organ meats are. The “Strong Sistas” rave about buying a cow and eating “nose to tail” but it just doesn’t seem that practical. Kelly Hogan and Dr. Shawn Baker dismiss the idea that you need to eat nose to tail.

Well, I’ve got great news for you. It can be simple, cheap and easy to eat nose to tail.

No, you don’t have to go out and buy a second freezer. There is no need to rush out to a nearby farm and put an order in for a whole pig.

You can eat nose to tail with grocery store sales. You can do it on a budget. You can gain all the benefits of organ meat and gelatin with a quick stop to the grocery store. It can be very simple.

Buy a Whole Chicken

So, it may be more like nose to beak, but when you purchase a whole chicken, you can gain the benefits of nose-to-tail eating. All you need to do is roast the chicken in the oven and eat the crispy skin. Eat the chicken breasts and thighs. With the remaining carcass, create a rich bone broth.

Sometimes whole chickens will come with a bag of the organs that you can eat too. I would simple sautee them in A LOT of butter (because I love butter) and cut them into bite-sized pieces. I usually down them with a gulp of water.

Make sure you:

  • Eat the skin
  • Eat the breasts
  • Eat the thighs and wings
  • Boil up the carcass
  • Eat the organs

Eat More Eggs

Eggs form into a whole animal. They have all the components for the chicken or duck to grow into a bird. Eating an egg can be considered as eating nose-to-tail. Eggs are great scrambled, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, deviled, and over-easy.

If you are adventurous, you can swallow the yolk whole. The yolk is the portion that would have created the chick. It contains many of the vitamins and nutrients that you need in a very easily absorbable form.

Eggs are readily available at the grocery store for an inexpensive price. If you want to support regenerative agriculture, you can visit your local farmers market and purchase pastured eggs. While they will cost more than the conventional eggs, you’ll get five times the nutrients from them. Either way, it is a great way to get some nose-to-tail action into your diet.

Collagen and Gelatin

Collagen is an excellent way to enhance your carnivore diet if you are worried it focuses too much on muscle meat. If you aren’t keen on making your own bone broth, you can scoop some collagen into your coffee or tea (which I know aren’t carnivore).

There isn’t a strong flavor to collagen and it will support the protein synthesis of your hair and nails. If you’re lucky, you’ll have faster-growing hair and stronger nails!

Chicken Livers

Most grocery stores sell chicken livers for about $1 per pound! That is an excellent price per pound for the nutrition that you’ll get. Best of all, you don’t have to make a special trip to the farm to pick up an organ. They are right there in your local grocery store.

Chicken livers have a milder taste than beef liver. I sautee mine in butter and eat small pieces at a time. I favor the flavor of the butter over the flavor of the liver.

Dehydrated Supplements

For people who aren’t nearly as adventurous as Dr. Paul Saladino, you can buy dehydrated brain, liver, kidney, thymus, and heart from Ancestral Supplements. There are a few other brands that sell grass fed organ meat supplements.

This is a more expensive option, but it is super convenient. It is ideal for when you are traveling and want to get in your daily serving of offal. You can order it through Amazon Prime and get it delivered straight to your door in 2 days.

Order Rocky Mountain Oysters

When you are in the West, order Rocky Mountain oysters. You’ll eat testicles. When I was a missionary in Colorado for the Mormon church, some members served me Rocky Mountain oysters. Being the city slicker from the East Coast, I stupidly replied, “Oh, I like oysters…” I had no idea what they were.

Be careful. Most of the time Rocky Mountain Oysters are deep-fried in vegetable oil. If you really want to try them fried, you may have to make them at home and fry them in tallow or bacon grease.

Canned Salmon

When it comes to eating fish, salmon has loads of vitamin D. Even the cans of salmon that are labeled “boneless salmon” tend to have bits of bone in them. This can help you get some calcium and minerals into your diet without making bone broth.

Three ounces of canned salmon per day can help you meet your daily recommended vitamin D intake (if you believe the cronometer app). Canned salmon is also fairly high in iodine as well.

When purchasing canned salmon, you may want to check the label and make sure that it is packed in water and not soybean oil.

One of the great things about buying canned salmon is that you can often find coupons and sales for them. They can be purchased very inexpensively.

Sardines

They are just little fish. You eat the whole fish each time you consume a sardine. All the goodness that is in the bone marrow, organs and skin.

One can of Atlantic sardines (about 3 ounces) contains 191 calories, 22 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat. It is one of the best available sources of vitamin B12.

Sardines are readily available from your local grocery store. You can also order them from Amazon.

Sardines pack easily for a snack or lunch. You can take them hiking with you or on a road trip.

 

Ground Beef

Ground beef is just muscle meat, right? Well, maybe. Most likely they incorporated some connective tissue and ground it up. Even though ground beef is one of the cheapest cuts of meat you can purchase from the grocery store, it may be helping you to achieve that nose-to-tail goal.

If you have your own meat grinder at home, you can sneak some liver into your ground beef and make meatballs or burger patties out of them. It is an excellent way to boost your nutrition!

So, you may realize that you probably have been eating a bit more nose to tail than you thought! I know that some people swear that they only eat ribeyes, but if they are getting in a few eggs they are occasionally eating nose-to-tail! Ideally, you will make friends with a hunter who gives you some fresh meat, but if you’re just starting out why not vary your diet with these different nose-to-tail eating options!

Testing Out a Keto Carnivore Diet (or Paleo Keto Diet)

Today is March 2, 2020. I have decided that for the month of March, I will test out a keto carnivore diet. The carnivore diet is becoming quite popular. The ketogenic diet is also very popular. Does this mean they will help me overcome my autoimmune issues? Who knows?!

Why the Keto Carnivore Diet

There are a lot of healing diets out there to try. I’ve tested out the majority of them. From AIP to keto, and even vegan. When I examine the common features of the diets, they all typically include meat and exclude an irritant that occurs in plant matter. (Except for the vegan diet, but that did nothing for me.)

The autoimmune paleo diet excludes wheat and dairy, but allows for the consumption of carbohydrates through fruits. The ketogenic diet allows for limited amounts of carbohydrates. It allows for vegetables that may be goitrogenic and irritating to people with thyroid issues like myself.

It is a huge challenge to overlap these diets and only eat the healing and nourishing foods. The GAPS introductory diet has you start out with basically meat, meat stock and some fermented vegetables. This will basically be the GAPS introductory diet that I have been skipping.

For my keto carnivore approach, I’m going to consume plenty of bone broth and a variety of meats. There are many people reporting huge success on clearing up their autoimmune issues by eliminating the plant toxins that irritate them.

The Trial Period

I started my keto carnivore approach on March 1, 2020. My hair is still not growing very well. After 7 months on the GAPS regular diet, I’m noticing a few clear eyelashes and pubic hairs. My fingernails still have vertical ridging, but it seems today like it is reduced and limited to a few fingernails.

I will be testing my TSH levels tomorrow to determine whether this diet impacts my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in six weeks. I have tested high on the TSH test (indicating low thyroid hormones) for years. It will be interesting to see if completely eliminating goitrogenic foods will have an impact on my numbers.

I will retest my blood levels during my spring break in April. This will give me a full six weeks to see if the changes made any difference.

Dietary Changes

The dietary changes that I am making are going to be dropping the vegetables completely. If the broccoli that I consumed weekly was preventing my thyroid from fully functioning, we’ll find out.

I’m using the cronometer app to hit my ketogenic targets and vitamin levels. One of the levels that I’m closely monitoring is vitamin D. I am eating 3 ounces of salmon per day to ensure that I hit the daily recommended dosage of vitamin D. While I don’t want to supplement, I think once per week, I may take a magnesium supplement with vitamin D in it and take a break from the salmon.

I will be including GAPS intro foods! Instead of scrambling my eggs, I plan on tossing the whites and putting the yolks in with my chicken stock. This is supposed to have a healing impact on my gut. It may be that I am sensitive to the whites and my body has been reacting to them all along. We’ll find out!

Other BioMetrics

I have been testing my ketones! They say that ketosis will help prevent seizures, but I feel like it is hit or miss with me. I think that my thyroid hormone has more to do with whether or not I have a seizure. I have been in ketosis and had a seizure in the past and I have eaten complete junk and not had seizures for months. But, it can’t hurt to be in ketosis.

The thing I love about ketosis is that I can go long periods of time without craving food or needing to eat. While I love foods, I no longer feel like I have to munch on everything left out at work. I can easily go hours without snacking.

So far, my urine strips have shown that I have optimal or high ketones. That is interesting. It will be more interesting if I have a seizure and pee on the stick and see that I’m in ketosis, but I hope that doesn’t ever happen.

My Motivation to Do a Keto Carnivore Diet

Yes, I would love to get my hair back. However, I haven’t been this dedicated to my health outcome in the ten years that it has been missing. So, what gives?

My teeth. Last summer my teeth became extremely sensitive. While I loved pizza and cake, I suspected that I shouldn’t be eating it. I could feel the sensitivity returning as I continued to eat the standard American diet. My seizures also returned after stress and pizza. So, I knew I had to make a change.

One day while I was eating, I bit down on something that felt like bone. It appeared that the enamel had chipped off my tooth. I couldn’t quite tell which tooth it had come off. I debated whether I should go to the dentist. (I know some people will say yes, but I didn’t want them to drill and fill. I also knew that the teeth could repair themselves after reading Heal Teeth Naturally.)

So, in August 2019, I cut out wheat, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. I focused on eating meat, vegetables and one or two fruits per day. My tooth sensitivity is slowly getting better. My teeth feel strong and I can’t detect any areas that are missing enamel. Maybe it was a bone in the meat I was eating? Who knows.

Current Symptoms

  • Angular cheilitis (cracks in corners of lips)
  • Alopecia Universalis (no hair anywhere really)
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (TSH levels at 5.2 last I checked)
  • Vertical ridges on fingernails
  • Occasional seizure (I had them under control and weaned off my medication for them, but went back to eating junk. Time to heal and seal the gut again and get them under control again with GAPS)

My Second Attempt

This will be my second attempt with the carnivore diet. Last year, I quit the carnivore diet after almost seven weeks. I had a seizure that discouraged me. In evaluating my diet, I realize that I may not have eaten enough vitamin D rich foods. This attempt with the keto carnivore diet is much more well planned. I had a consultation with Dr. Zsofia Clemens who instructed me on the Paleomedicina protocol.

I also plan on using the cronometer app! This can help me track different minerals and vitamins and ensure that I have a 2:1 fat to protein ratio. I did not worry about the fat to protein ratio last year when I attempted the carnivore diet the first time. This time, I hope to track it much better.

Stay tuned. I’ll update the blog with some before and after photos and an analysis of my second attempt.

GAPS Diet and Alopecia Universalis: 7 Month Update

So, I have been at the Keto/PKD version of the GAPS diet. I didn’t consume the expensive probiotic supplements that Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends. I did the first time I tried the diet and did not notice any difference. This time around, I have been focused more on getting the organ meats and animal proteins that are supposed to rebuild the body.

Hair Regrowth

Oh, I wish I could report that I had hair regrowth at seven months into this stinkin’ diet. I know that Natasha Campbell-McBride says that some people need 2 years on the diet. I have read accounts from other people with alopecia that say they started seeing growth after a month and other people reporting hair growth at around eight months. It looks like I may be one of the few who are going to see results around month eight.

What I am noticing is a few more vellus hairs. What are vellus hairs? Those clear hairs that you need a magnifying glass and the right lighting to see. Nothing on top of my head. I am getting some funny lopsided growth patterns in the pubic region.

Nail Ridges

It actually looks like the number of vertical ridges on my fingernails are reducing. I have seen this before. It has come and gone, so I don’t know if this is real progress or simply different lighting. I almost thought that there were fewer affected nails, but as I examine them a bit more, it does appear that every nail on my fingers has a small amount of vertical ridging.

The toenails are a different story altogether. Two of them have a thick fungus on them. (I asked a doctor what to do about this and he basically said, “there is a very expensive prescription that usually doesn’t work. Don’t let it bother you.”) My two big toes have lots of ridging, but it isn’t necessarily vertical.

Epilepsy

I wish I had better news to report with my epilepsy. During the sixth month, I had two seizures ten days apart. This could be my fault though. I had been reading up on vitamin D and how it can help with autoimmune conditions. I took a high dose of 50,000 IU of vitamin D. The very next day, I had a seizure. I have read that sometimes supplements can throw you too far out of balance. Luckily, I can now feel the aura coming on and lay in bed so I don’t hurt myself.

These two seizures were quickly recovered from. I felt more mental clarity afterward as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride described in her book. It could be that it was simply my body getting rid of toxin overload. Another explanation could be that there was too much sodium in my brain. Sometimes with the ketogenic diet, the body releases a lot of water at one time. This throws the electrolyte balance out of whack. It could be that this prompted it.

While I had great seizure control prior to starting the diet, my health was deteriorating in other ways. I hate that the adaptation phase of a new diet triggers my seizures, but overall I feel very healthy, energetic and good.

Allergies

My allergies are non-existent. I have had a histamine reaction to some frozen beef a few weeks ago. I noticed that sometimes I will react to older meat occasionally. It caused my eyes to swell up and itch for a few hours.

My allergies to dust are gone. My cat allergy did not appear even though I watched a movie and petted a cat at a friend’s house. I didn’t have seasonal allergies in the fall and haven’t noticed seasonal allergies in the springtime much the past few years.

Psoriasis

The psoriasis is almost completely gone. There is a spot the size of my fingertip that looks a bit red. I don’t know if it will flare up out of nowhere or not. I’m staying optimistic about it. Sometimes it does seem like out of nowhere the dry skin overproduces and there will be a plaque on my skin.

What I’m Still Suffering From

  • occasional seizures
  • weakened nails (alopecia universalis)
  • hair loss (or no growth rather – alopecia universalis)
  • a skin tag
  • some dry skin patches on face
  • occasional bloating

What Has Cleared Up

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Congestion

What’s Next?

I did not do the introduction diet for GAPS. The reason for this is that the day that I planned on doing it, a family friend took us out to lunch and gently pressured me to try sushi. So, I had some sushi and sashimi on January 1st. Otherwise, I have been pretty strict with sticking to meats, a few non-starchy vegetables and 1 or 2 fruits per day.

I am looking into the Carnivore diet or the intro diet for March. This week, I have a date and my birthday. It is so much easier to eat out when you are keto than carnivore. You can eat the side salad or broccoli and a bunless burger and steak. Eating only the meat on the plate makes you look a bit wasteful to your date.

I’m going to increase my exercise with Buteyko Breathing. I have found that usually provides me with a ton of energy. GAPS diet bone broth

ButcherBox Review – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

ButcherBox Review

Name: ButcherBox Meat Delivery Service

Website: Butcherbox.com

Price: $129

Overall Rank: 75 out of 100

Butcherbox, Product Overview

Butcherbox is a meat delivery system for those of us who don’t live particularly close to farms, but want meat from sustainably raised, grassfed, healthy animals.

The service will deliver a box of 8-11 pounds of meat per month to your doorstep. The meat is frozen and delivered with dry ice to ensure that is stays frozen until you get home and put it in your freezer.

The Good & the Bad

The Good:

Pro #1: The meat was very flavorful. It didn’t taste gamey like some grassfed meat does.

Pro #2: There were a variety of cuts included. While I received four pounds of ground beef and only two steaks, I also got a roast and some sirloin tips. It was kind of fun to have someone else select my meat cuts for me. It challenged me to look up some new recipes.

Pro #3: It is super convenient to have things delivered to your house.

The Bad:

Con #1: I received an email asking me to evaluate the meat before I received it. This freaked me out a bit that someone stole the meat from my front porch. (They didn’t. It came 10 hours later…) 


Con #2:
The price is just okay. The local farmers market has some grassfed meat that is comparable. You can also choose cheaper cuts and pick ones that have more marbling when you are at the farmers market.

Con #3: Not all the cuts will be processed to your liking. For example, the “free bacon” that I received as a promo was thick cut bacon. It was so thick that it never crisped up when cooked. I prefer thinner bacon that crisps on the edges.

Who is ButcherBox For?

Butcherbox is great for someone who is insanely busy, but interested in eating healthier. It is great for people who already use a grocery delivery service. Butcherbox is ideal for people who have more money than time. They will enjoy the convenience of receiving their high quality meat in a box every month.

It is NOT for people who want to bargain shop and get the lowest price. It is NOT for people following the GAPS diet or the PKD diet and want the unusual cuts of meat like organs and offal.

ButcherBox Support

The support offered with the product is great. I emailed them regarding my order and the weird email I received prior to getting my box. They assured me the box was on the way through a chat. I didn’t have to wait hours for them to respond.

When I sent them an email, they were responsive as well, they responded within 24 hours.

ButcherBox Price

The price of meat ordered from Butcherbox comes to about $10-$12 per pound. This is a bit pricey for grassfed ground beef, but a good deal for NY strip steak.

To compare, the local grocery store sells grassfed ground beef for about $6 per pound. The local farmer’s market sells ground beef for $7 per pound. It is important to keep in mind that grassfed beef will always be more expensive than conventionally raised meat. The quality and omega 3 to omega 6 ration will be better because the animals are raised on a natural diet.

My Final Opinion of Butcherbox

My opinion of Butcherbox is rather neutral. While the quality and convenience were good, I didn’t love using the service. Sadly, I am not going to recommend the product or continue to use it on a regular basis. I wanted to love it and recommend it. I really did!

The prices at the farmers market and grocery store are often much better than Butcherbox. For me, the grocery store is only a mile away, so it isn’t very inconvenient to go to the grocery store. The same is true with our farmer’s market. 

If you truly don’t have the time to swing by a farmer’s market or stop by the grocery store and money isn’t a factor, Butcherbox is a great option. You get popular cuts of grassfed beef and it is conveniently delivered to your door. 

Butcherbox at a Glance…

Website: Butcherbox.com

Price: $129-$169/month

Rank: 75 out of 100

VERDICT: LEGIT! They delivered meat. It did taste good. My family enjoyed eating the meat. However, I just like picking out my meat and talking to local farmers more than stressing out about whether or not someone stole my order from my front porch!

My 5 Month Review of the GAPS Diet

I learned about the GAPS diet about ten years ago. This is not the first time that I have tried it and I should mention that I have yet to do the GAPS introductory diet just yet. I do plan on doing that in January.

GAPS stands for the Gut and Psychology Diet. It was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist who created the diet after her son was diagnosed with autism. She based the bulk of the dietary recommendations on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. She adjusted it to target healing and sealing the gut. The goal is to reduce intestinal permeability and the toxins from herbicides and pesticides from wreaking havoc on our bodies.

There is anecdotal evidence that the GAPS diet has helped individuals with autism, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, allergies and more. As someone who has epilepsy and autoimmune conditions, I decided to give it a whirl.

My GAPS Diet Results

I must admit that my seizures were pretty much under control when I started the GAPS diet this time around. I had fallen off the bandwagon around July when I traveled and went out to Independence Day parties and indulged on pizza and cake. That brought on a seizure and the realization that I needed to clean up the diet again. I had been eating the Standard American Diet for a few months and my teeth sensitivity had come back along with some allergies.

From past diets, I knew that it would take a few weeks of discipline to eliminate the carbohydrate addiction to the gluten and casein that had been in my diet. The first month was mainly and adjustment phase. I took all the grains, nuts and legumes out of my diet. I focused in on eating vegetables, meat and one serving of fruit per day.

While bacon from the grocery store is technically off the GAPS diet, it has lots of dietary fat which helps to keep me full. I created a somewhat ketogenic version of the GAPS diet with a focus on animal fats. This helped me look forward to breakfast every morning and gave me a food that I enjoyed so much that I looked forward to it. In a few weeks, I didn’t mind being on the diet.

I’m trying to grow my hair back. I have alopecia universalis. I have heard of people with alopecia universalis getting some fine hairs after a month on the introduction diet. However, in the past when I have altered my diet so quickly I have triggered seizures. For that reason, I chose to do a few months of the full GAPS diet and then transition into the introductory diet at the beginning of the New Year.

Alopecia

I really haven’t seen any hair growth. This is discouraging to admit. However, you have to take into consideration that for hair to grow to the top of the skin, it takes about a month. Before hair can appear, you have to reduce or eliminate the inflammation within the follicle that is preventing it from growing. I would imagine that I may start seeing some hairs emerge within another month or two.

Alopecia universalis also impacts the fingernails and mine are awful. I have the vertical ridges and weakened nails that are associated with severe forms of alopecia universalis. The nails seem slightly stronger than they were in the summer. In the summer they would break all the time. It was so painful. So, I may be on the right track with the diet, but it is a SLOW process of healing.

Psoriasis

I started out with a bit of psoriasis between my butt cheeks. I would post a photo if it were in a different location. Within the first month, I was pretty excited that the redness had decreased. This is something that I don’t see and neither does anyone else, but it can cause some discomfort. At 5 months on the GAPS diet, the skin is almost to its normal color. There is no itchiness. I did notice this morning after eating more fruit on Christmas eve that there was a tiny bit of inflammation.

I am optimistic that this will go away within a few months.

Epilepsy

The first couple months on the GAPS diet, I did experience a slight increase in auras. I noticed that the GAPS protocol also included Epsom salt baths. Incorporating Epsom salt foot baths while I showered and taking a magnesium supplement helped to reduce the auras.

I did have a seizure at 4 months into the diet, but I felt like this was probably a detoxification type of seizure. I read other testimonials of people who used the GAPS diet for seizures and they had their final seizure at 5 months into the diet. My cognitive function felt much better after the last seizure, so I’m not terribly concerned about it.

Going Forward with GAPS

My plan is to do the GAPS intro diet after the New Year. So far, I made it though Thanksgiving and Christmas and mainly stuck to GAPS foods. There were a few instances where I had a piece of cheese or ate out at a restaurant where I wasn’t 100% sure what oils they used in the vinegrette, but other than that I was pretty strict with it.

At this point, I feel confident that I can complete an Intro diet with good planning. I am planning on doing broth and meat for the first week and then add in eggs and a butternut squash. I will slowly test out other vegetables and keep a dietary record of what I react to and what seems fine. 

One of the things that seems to cause me trouble is too much fruit. My mother and I bought a batch of seconds from the local orchard and made some wonderful applesauce. After a few days of eating a few servings that would equate to 2 apples per day, I started getting cracks in the corners of my mouth (angular cheilitis). It tends to go away in a week and it did after I got back to my normal diet. However, a few days ago, I increased my fruit consumption with tangerines and berries to celebrate Christmas. I notice some cracking this morning, so I backed off the fruit. 


Why You Need Epsom Salt Detox Baths

Epsom salt detox baths are not popular or common, but they should be! As our modern agriculture is stripping the land of minerals, our diets are becoming more and more magnesium deficient. However, magnesium is an essential element for virtually all of our body’s functions.

It is just as necessary as water!

Epsom salt baths can help supply your body with magnesium as it absorbs through your skin.

Benefits of An Epsom Salt Detox

Magnesium absorption is the main benefit of an Epsom salt bath. There aren’t many studies that confirm this, but a 2004 study examined 19 participants. It found increased levels of magnesium and sulfate in the blood after the baths

  1. Improves Sleep – High magnesium levels are essential for sleep. This is due to the fact that magnesium helps your brain to produce neurotransmitters which induce sleep. Epsom salt baths have a calming and relaxing effect.
  2. Reduces Stress – Magnesium helps to produce the neurotransmitters needed for stress reduction.
  3. Eliminates Constipation – Magnesium is commonly used to treat constipation. It will draw water into the colon and promote bowel movements.
  4. Improved Exercise Recovery – Epsom salt has been known to improve muscle soreness and relieve cramps.
  5. Better Exercise Performance – Magnesium helps your body use glucose and lactic acid. This can help your exercise performance because your body will be efficiently using fuel and not building up lactic acid to cause muscle soreness.
  6. Reduced Pain and Swelling – Epsom salt baths have been known to reduce pain and swelling. Many individuals have reported symptom improvement with arthritis as well. This could be due to the fact that these people are often deficient in magnesium.
  7. Fibromyalgia Relief – A study conducted by the Journal of Integrated medicine concluded that applying magnesium chloride to the skin can help reduce symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
  8. Cholesterol LevelsA high magnesium diet or supplementation can improve HDL levels.

Whether you simply want to relax or are looking to prevent sore muscles, epsom salt baths can help. They will gently increase your magnesium levels in an enjoyable bath. The right temperature water can help you calm down and prepare for a great night’s rest.

How To Create an Epsom Salt Detox Bath

Epsom salt detox baths are simple to set up. You’ll need about 2 cups of Epsom salt for a standard-sized bathtub and warm water (do not exceed 102 degrees Fahrenheit).

Pour the Epsom salt under the water spout of the tub. This will ensure that the salts dissove faster and mix into the bath. The water mixture will feel a bit silky.

Soak in the bath water for at least 12 minutes. To relieve constipation, soak for at least twenty minutes.

If you want to add some aromatherapy benefits, you can use essential oils with the bath. Add in a few drops of lavender, peppermint or tea tree oil to the bath.

Side note: You may want to avoid using epsom salt in baths with jetted tubs unless the manufacturer has said that it is okay. The clean up may be very difficult.

Risks with Epsom Salt Detox Baths

Epsom Salt baths are relatively safe. However, if you have a health condition, you may want to check with your doctor. The risks are very low, but precautions should be taken for infants, children and pregnant women.

Pregnant women, children and individuals with kidney function should not take oral magnesium. Poorly functioning kidneys may not be able to eliminate excess magnesium. This can put an individual at risk for serious complications.

The side effects of an oral magnesium overdose include:

  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • breathing problems
  • increased urination
  • slow heartbeat
  • lethargy
  • blurred vision
  • muscle weakness

These side effects are rare in people with normal kidney function. It is unlikely that an epsom salt bath will trigger these symptoms of excess magnesium, but it is good to be aware of them.

 

Conclusion

Magnesium deficiency is associated with structural and functional abnormalities of cells, organs and systems in the body. The changes that are caused by magnesium deficiency depend upon its extent and duration.

Epsom salt baths are a great way to increase your magnesium levels and prevent diseases that are caused by magnesium deficiency.