Thursday, June 30, 2011

Low ferritin levels, iron & B-12.....

So, I'm learning a lot more every day! Making a long story short, I'm in for some routine blood work, I find out my ferritin levels are low! I didn't even know I had a ferritin! Come to find out your ferritin  numbers are a gauge of your body's ability to store iron. My regular iron levels have always been on the edge of just-okay so I occasionally get deferred from donating platelets & whole blood.

Considering the things I eat that are incredibly healthy (especially compared to the Standard American Diet) and the great vitamins & supplements I take, you'd think I'd be all set. Well, my Primary Care Physician puts me on prescription iron to take daily--in addition to the raw/vegan iron supplements I take--I checked with him it's okay, I brought in the bottles of supplements and everything. Then we will closely monitor my iron/ferritin levels for the next few months to make sure the levels are behaving. And to rule out any internal hidden bleeding somewhere my doctor recommends I experience an upper endoscopy & a colonoscopy (at the same time, thanks, get it over with!). I am curious now to see what's going on inside. To tell you the truth, I'm nearing that age when they encourage a colonoscopy so the doctor suggested we'll just do it a couple years ahead of schedule.

I also learned online that when taking iron supplements you should not consume dairy products, coffee, tea, or chocolate for 1 hour prior and 2 hours following. Well, since I don't do coffee/tea or a lot of dairy that wasn't an issue. However the raw/vegan organic chocolate that I have fallen in love with  may have been a factor. The other thing I read somewhere that dark greens can inhibit absorption of iron. I sip my green smoothie all day long! I guess I have room for improvement! I do know to vary your greens to prevent oxalic acid buildup which can inhibit calcium absorption but the iron too? Anybody have any ideas/input on the entire situation?

I learned yesterday from my chiropractor (the walking encyclopedia/medical dictionary) that it takes a minimum of 5 months to restore your ferritin levels back to normal. Wow! They didn't even tell me that online or in my PCP's office! Love my chiropractor! I'm learning good stuff constantly!

I lean towards high raw/vegan diets (probably 85-90% of the time) I have added in cooked eggs & the occasional piece of cheese for the vitamin B-12 & the other day I had a bun-less burger for the iron. And this morning I had some steamed chicken livers for the iron content. So I'm not sure what to say when people ask me about my raw/vegan diet. Certainly I am into 100% health & I am listening to my  body's intuition. Anybody have any suggestions on the title of the blog now? I'm open to ideas! There is another person of prominence I have followed over the years who is also raw/vegan and she needed to add in cooked fish & eggs into her diet because of the B-12 issue because the B-12 shots her body started requiring were not enough for her needs.

I'm interested to know if anyone else has any information/answers/suggestions/testimonials on this subject of iron/ferritin levels & other vitamins in their healthy eating travels. I appreciate your interest & support as we're all in this thing together! Feel free to post comments below, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Emergeny Preparedness & Eating Raw/Vegan


This is not only a "Boy Scout thing" but it's great advice for anybody. Being healthy & being prepared is tricky but can be done after a fashion. Don't plan on life being 100% roses. Keep in mind what you need to SURVIVE not what you're used to!

Disclaimer: Please remember that these thoughts are my own opinion & are based on information gathered over the years. Do what is right for your own family & situation. There are MANY excellent books & information out there that are informative & helpful. Some of my recent favorites: "98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your (rear end) Alive" by Cody Lundin. (If you breathe & have a pulse you NEED this book). Also by Cody Lundin: "When All (heck) Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes". (How to Survive Fear, Panic, & The Biggest Outdoor Killers).

Important things to remember: (1) Store what you eat & eat what you store. (2) Rotate! FIFO: First In First Out. Rotation happens naturally when you are storing what you eat & eating what you store. (3) Never think that you can run to the grocery store in an emergency. There won't be enough for everybody & you never know if there will be electricity/availability/safety to get what you need.  (4)KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid! Don't go into debt obtaining food storage you will never eat or don't know what to do with. Again there are many excellent resources out there to help you learn and to improve. Check the internet, public library,  church, guru's you may know who don't mind if you pick their brain, Amazon.com, YouTube, well, you get the idea!

Ways to preserve: Canning (your own or buying canned goods on sale from the store) freezing (but don't count on electricity), dehydrated foods, wild edible foraging, gardening outdoors/indoors, prepared/boxed food, backpacking/hiking type foods.

Keep in mind your own needs & the needs of your family. If you need medication daily or if you have allergies--including food allergies--store what you need if possible. Most doctor's offices won't let you have extra prescription medications but it doesn't hurt to ask if maybe you can obtain an extra week or something even if it's only for 3 extra days. 3 days is how long the emergency personnel can get to people (if at all) so it's a good time limit to shoot for if that's all you can do.

Now on to healthy stuff: Buy in bulk! (if possible). I know my family & how long certain things last. For example: Raw/organic nuts & seeds bought in bulk  (even though they suggest keeping them in refrigerator or freezer) can last us up to a year sitting in my basement (humidity controlled).I buy dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut by the 25 pound box. I also buy big Medjool dates by the 20lb box. Near the end of the box they can sometimes start to crystallize & seem to dry out but I just soak them a little in water before adding to recipes. I love NutsOnLine for their superb service & products. Raw/virgin coconut oil (from Tropical Traditions) (purchased in a big 5 gallon bucket) lasts us a little over a year. I buy a lot of things online at Amazon.com such as WFGF (wheat/free/gluten/free) mac & cheese,  WFGF pastas or powdered cheese sauces, WFGF bread & baking supplies in bulk, they ship it right to the house. Amazon.com even has a subscribe & save feature where you sign up for free to be put on a schedule of delivery of items/foods/supplies for things you use all the time and shipping is free. For example: 1 lb. bag of Nutiva Naturals raw/organic cacao powder at the health food store is roughly $20. I can get a 2 pack (2 one lb bags of the same thing through Amazon.com is probably $22 approximately). You can get on a schedule of 1, 2, 3 or 6 month delivery, they charge your credit card & ship it to your house. You can adjust your shipment times--if you need it sooner or if you still have a lot you can postpone a shipment. You can also cancel Subscribe & Save anytime.

In an emergency you want to already be prepared! I have taken wild edibles from my yard (and the neighbor's yard with their permission--they don't spray pesticides/herbicides) & dehydrated them & put them in food saver bags or even zip top bags. These are great for traveling or at home for adding to green smoothies. To avoid confusion in the airport I put the dried greens into my other powdered greens that I had purchased so it wouldn't look like I was smuggling marijuana into my luggage ( I know, I'm paranoid). The summertime of abundance is the time to preserve food for the times of scarce. Try to think what you need to SURVIVE. Do what you can! Even if it's only buying 1 extra can of soup a week, you're on your way! When things go on sale, buy a big "whack" of it if possible. Rice & beans are cheap. A 40 lb bag of white rice at Sam's Club is $12. Some places can sell you 25 lbs of dried beans. Learn to use them before you are in an emergency. 25 lbs. of salt (a years supply) at Sam's Club is really cheap. I know the quality is not the best nutrition for you but these things will keep you alive if you have nothing else. Some countries won't let you store up food & supplies beforehand because it's against the law. Do what you can. Be smart about it. When you have enough to keep your own family alive store some for the neighbors too. Hopefully they're doing the same. Don't count on relying on anyone else. I know of one family in their country of origin that couldn't leave the house for a week because of martial law. They were fine because of their food storage but their neighbors only had 1 cabbage and 1 lemon for their family for a week to live on. If you have young children you need to store diapers/formula also. Store sanitary needs--wet wipes & hand sanitizer too. Take 1 day for a Family Home Evening & live on what you have in your emergency "run kit" (a 3 day supply for 1 person to take with you if you had to get out in a hurry). Store some fun foods also. In an emergency you will be under stress! For those regular eaters out there store some candy bars/granola bars/cookies for a treat (I know there is no nutritional value in these!) There are a lot of raw/vegan bars out there that store well. Store organic soups & canned fruits, there are vegan "jerky" available at the health food store. Make your own trail mix to suit your tastes/needs. Keep dried fruits/nuts/seeds in your food storage & "run kit". Store water/& water purification capability. Store more water than you think you'll need especially if you store dried fruits. Store nut butters--store bought will store longer, and organic jams & jellies--or at the very least without high fructose corn syrup. Look at the health food section at your grocery store: they have boxed cereals, WFGF pretzels, wholegrain cookies & fruit snacks that would store well. Again, these aren't the best nutrition but it will keep you alive. Raw/vegan dehydrated cookies store for a couple of weeks in refrigerator but again, don't rely on electricity. Store vitamins & rotate them frequently. Store protein powder (my favorite is Hemp protein)--great in smoothies! Use your own dehydrated vegetables and make your own soup mixes!

I want to add growing your own sprouts! You can go online and buy seeds for sprouting in bulk too! Easy to grow, tons of nutrition and costs pennies when you grow your own. Alfalfa sprouts are a popular one with people. Living Whole Foods Inc. has a huge variety of excellent quality organic seeds & you can buy 2 oz all the way up to 50 lbs.  They also have sprouting supplies & wheat grass juicers etc. I have several sprouting apparatus that are easy to use or you can use a mason jar and some cheesecloth or cut up nylons or screening and a rubber band. Great videos on YouTube to show you how!

Emergency preparedness/food storage is hopefully something you will never need but better safe than sorry! You may not use these things  in an emergency but in times of economic hardship or helping out a neighbor/family member/friend  in need. Be prepared & it will bring you peace of mind!