I did not expect to become such a hippie. Having spent most of my life growing up in Santa Cruz, CA - it would seem natural. My lovely momma fed us very well - we ate lots of fresh veggies - but you wouldn't have spotted any sprouting grains on the countertop or kefir fermenting away. I had lots of friends in Santa Cruz who grew up this way ... they were the 'interesting' ones.
I am now, fully embracing these 'interesting' foods. I make yogurt and kefir regularly, we've become huge fans of sauerkraut of late, as well. My new obsession is sourdough - and I've even started making my own home-brewed kombucha tea. (though I'm learning as I go)
All of these foods are VERY rich in natural probiotics, which we need to foster a healthy immune system. I didn't start making these foods because they were hip. I didn't go on a quest to eat more healthfully, and I didn't necessarily feel the need to get more in touch with natural food.
My kid got sick.
4 years ago, my daughter Emma ended up with a case of MRSA when she was almost 8. What looked like an infected spider bite - ended up being this nasty strain of antibiotic-resistant Staph. These infections are EXTREMELY painful. (the dime sized sore on her shin was so painful that she was limping). At this point, I had no idea about the harmful side-effects of antibiotics - which is the reason (in my opinion) why she, out of my four girls - contracted MRSA to begin with.
Her being my first born - I didn't know how to handle common childhood sickness (like ear infections) in any other way than to visit my pediatrician. Although he was a kind and knowledgeable man - he prescribed my baby girl with antibiotics every time I took her in with symptoms of an infection. Even if it was the day after she complained of symptoms. When I would ask my doctor if it was too soon to have brought her in , he would always say "No, it's good you brought her in now". This re-enforced the idea that if you 'catch it early' the antibiotics would stop it sooner.
Unfortunately, I now know - the antibiotics may stop the infection sooner - but they also weaken the body's natural immune response, making it harder for the body to heal itself on it's own. The antibiotics do kill the bad bacteria causing the infection, but they also destroy all of the healthy bacteria in the gut, which is the key to the body's overall immune system function.
MRSA used to be found only in hospitals. It is a mutated strain of staph that developed a resistance to our common antibiotics, because of the over-prescription of them today. (insert: my previous, common experience of being prescribed with a drug to treat common infections instead of allowing the body to fight them first) This scary 'superbug' is now found widely among the general public. There is good and bad bacteria everywhere, but it's the good bacteria on and in our bodies, that keeps the BAD in check.
Out of all of my girls, Emma had the weakest immune system, because she'd had so many rounds of antibiotics. There was one winter that the pediatrician said "one more ear infection for her this season, and we need to consider tubes in her ears". Though we thankfully, never made that leap - (we later saw a naturopathic doctor, who recommended eliminating milk, and limiting grains - never had another ear infection since) - the damage to her immunity had been done.
We (once again) trusted the doctors in the ER when they gave her antibiotics for the staph. The first round didn't work (they then realized it was MRSA) so we had to take her in every 8 hours to be put on an IV drip of a much stronger antibiotic. When this had been done - and a week later, another sore emerged... I was extremely worried.
Then I read that more people are currently dying from MRSA infections than AIDS in the US (it can become fatal) ...I was panicked.
I had bleached down my house, washed every article of clothing, thrown out or washed every stuffed animal and toy - and yet her infection came back! I HAD to figure out what else we could do.
My research led me to a man in the UK who had treated hundreds of people with MRSA naturally, using a type of colloidal silver called SilverSol. I was SUPER skeptical at first - but after much research - we felt it was safe, and definitely worth the try. The entire family went on a 30 day 'eradication course' to rid the bacteria from our home. We all took the Silver by mouth, sprayed it in bacteria-prone areas (armpits and groin) daily, put some in the laundry loads, sprayed her sheets - and she has been MRSA free ever since. (note: It is VERY common for someone who's had a MRSA outbreak to battle it again and again.)
It turns out, silver has a long history of use throughout the ages as a powerful antibacterial agent. During the plagues of Europe, the wealthy families would have their children suck on the silverware to prevent disease (this did, keep many of them alive) - hence the phrase - "born with a silver spoon in your mouth". The pioneers often would put a silver coin in their water buckets to keep the water potable for the journey - and silver bandages are, to this day used in burn units around the country (no bacteria can live in the presence of silver).
I will note that I DO NOT recommend taking colloidal silver unless it is Silver Sol. There is a difference. "Typical" colloidal silver (while effective at killing bacteria) does remain in your body as a free radical. Silver Sol technology (patented) passes through your system in approx. 24 hours.
The most fabulous thing about silver is that it destroys bacteria and fungus at the cellular level - without damaging the body's natural bacteria! It works to boost your immune system - and it has had wonderful results for our family. We use it for so many things.
Besides taking 1-2 tsp. a day as an immune-system booster,
- We swish daily, after we brush to kill bacteria in the mouth - (then swallow!) (Listerine-type mouth wash kills good bacteria in your mouth - but silver doesn't!)
- We've used it successfully to stop tooth, ear and eye infections
- I keep a small spray bottle in my purse to use as a natural germ-killer to spray on our hands after being in the grocery store. (Did you know that using hand sanitizer or antibacterial soaps do the same thing to your skin, that antibiotics do to your gut? They kill all of the good bacteria with the bad, thus making you more succeptible to skin infections. Simple natural soap and water is the best way to stay 'clean'.)
- I put a few drops in my sink when rinsing salad greens in the summer to be confident in it's cleanliness
- Use it to spray countertops or cutting boards after working with raw meat
- I use the silver gel on cuts and scrapes in place of the antibacterial creams
If you're a researcher like me, you might want to check out the link (HERE) for more safety information and details on how and why it is so effective.
Back to probiotic foods.
I had started this post with the desire to share a simple home made yogurt recipe. (I've done so, since - see it HERE) But I realized I had so much to share about the way that I discovered all of the rich probiotic foods - and that started with my understanding of gut health and the dangers of antibiotics.
Here is a list of some things that I have found to help strengthen our immune systems:
- Avoid processed foods. Spend some quality time in the kitchen with your family. Anyone can cook healthfully - even on a limited budget. Cooking with whole foods is more affordable and satisfying.
- Begin to replace 'antibacterial' soap with all natural soap in your home. Pharmaceutical drugs are not necessary to keep your body or home "clean". (as I've said - they end up doing the body harm when used reguarly). Begin to replace cleaning products, body and skin care products with chemical and perfume-free ones. You can find many home made cleaning recipes that work well HERE.
- When hit with an infection (sinus, ear, eye, bladder, yeast) treat it with SilverSol. Although nothing has had the same effectiveness for us as Silver, I also will take oil of oregano and garlic (allicilin pill form is very effective), to help combat infection. (I'm sure there are many more herbal supplements, but these are what I use.)
- Make antibiotics your LAST RESORT. Although I never recommend taking them (and we haven't had to take any in the four years since we learned of SilverSol). If you do end up taking them - make sure that you replace the gut bacteria you've lost with a probiotic supplement and/or eating lots of probiotic rich foods.
- DIET - Drink lots of water and get plenty of rest - while avoiding sugar and carbs as best you can. Make yourself home made bone broths, (Here's a link that will show you how) eat lots of leafy greens, natural meats from well-raised animals, and see how powerful the body is (when given the right tools and environment) to fight off infection, naturally!
- Regularly incorporate probiotic/fermented foods into your diet like: home made yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut (and other fermented vegetables) and kombucha. The gut makes up 80% of your immune system. Making sure you have a good diversity of beneficial gut bacteria (probiotics) will ensure that bad bacteria can't flourish. Read more about a healthy gut HERE and Here's a post of mine on how to make sauerkraut.
- Avoid pesticide-laden foods - Buying from a local CSA and eating food that's in season is best. Organic produce does not contain dangerous pesticides which take a toll on your immune system. To avoid the most toxic pesticides, consult the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list: HERE.
- Virgin Coconut Oil is another miracle food. It is naturally antibacterial & antifungal. Read more HERE about coconut oil.
- Get sufficient vitamin D - Part of why we often get sick more in the winter, is probably because we get less vitamin D sun exposure. Read this interesting article about how Vitamin D is essential: HERE. And click HERE if you want a great home made sunscreen recipe.
Thank you for reading about our journey and taking the time to research and take charge of your health!
I welcome your thoughts or comments!