Real Health

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I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but like a squirrel I feel like I should be stocking up on the essentials. I make bulk purchases of grains, beans, and coconut oil. I buy more toilet paper than I normally would and garner funnier looks than usual from the lady behind the cash register. (I wonder what her face would look like if I told her about our “composting” toilet).

And I generally replenish our usual stash of herbal and natural remedies.

I’m really excited to be growing more of our herbal medicines. Truth be told, some of these medicinal herbs were the easiest things to grow in this harsh climate and many of them are perennials, which is always exciting to me.

Along with our homegrown oregano, mullein, and a few others I’ve been meaning to tell you about, I like to keep some immune-boosting stuff on hand. I am definitely more interested in staying healthy and keeping the immune system strong with real food, plants, and good quality supplements than heading to the doctor with sick little ones. Then again, isn’t everybody?

With all of the hype at this time of year surrounding whatever current epidemic is going around the globe, I’m happy to find a common sense approach to generally aiding your immune system against all types of illness in this article. It reiterates some things we’ve done off and on for years that I may have gotten slack on, and is a helpful reminder to me to keep things on hand.

With that in mind, here is our latest stash of immune-boosting foods, herbs, and supplements:


Herbs & Plants

  1. Lemon
  2. Lavender
  3. Tea Tree
  4. Clove (I was happy to find it 20% off this month!)
  5. Cinnamon
  6. Rosemary
  7. Eucalyptus

(Boy howdy, am I ever not interested in joining in on the big essential oils debate. I’ve used several brands, including both of the big MLM brands, and liked some and not others. We use Mountain Rose Herbs oils most frequently, mostly because I trust and respect their company, their products, and their overall mission to bring all forms of herbal medicine to folks.)


We generally like to put more emphasis on foods and plants, but we also like to be realistic about times when our diet isn’t ideal. So, this is our general list.

Did we miss something? What do you eat/make/take to keep your immune systems up?


Y’all know I’m a proponent of agrarianism – a way of life that connects us to the land, the soil that feeds us, and the direct Provision of God. So, it is interesting to me that we are finding a correlation between gut health and contact with living soil and animals. Why is this? Well, I have theories, which I’ll spare you from, but I think it’s not a stretch to say it all comes back to microorganisms and the synergy between the human gut, soil, and bacteria.

To take it further, perhaps this is just another piece of the gut-bacteria puzzle. In vegetable fermentation we talk about the naturally occurring bacteria that exist on the surface of vegetables. We utilize that bacteria from the soil almost as a starter culture in the lactic acid fermentation process. People will pay big bucks for probiotics and fermented vegetables but there it is, raw and rampant in healthy soil  all free for the taking.

Is it really possible that the missing link in our health, and that of our gut, is as simple as dirt? (Well, soil, but you get the idea.)

This is what makes me leery of over-cleaning and even sterilizing our children’s bodies and surroundings. It has become the norm to want to kill all of the bacteria. Cleaning products even boast about it and we buy it – the products and the theory behind it – because bacteria make us sick, right? Anti-bacterial gels and soaps, bleach, and other strong disinfectants make us feel like we’re killing the bad guys, but I believe we’re just creating a microbe vacuum that isn’t natural or healthy.

And this is what concerns me about the germ theory. If we believe that germs cause illness and if we do not have a more holistic understanding of immune defenses and the balance of this whole world of microorganisms that we do not fully understand, then what exactly are we trying to eradicate? And what damage are we doing in the process?

I say let them eat dirt. Let them frolic with animals. Don’t wash their hands incessantly. Don’t clean with anything stronger than real soap. Get them out of the house, off the concrete and into the garden and onto the land. And let us adults do the same.

That is the end of my dirty, healthy baby manifesto.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook

If you’re looking for some background behind how gut healing works and why gut health is related to more physical and mental problems than we think, here are those resources that I’ve found helpful:


If the GAPS book is the why behind a gut healing protocol, then the Heal Your Gut Cookbook is the how. While I am a proponent of this protocol I also want to state that it is intense. During the GAPS diet there are definite ups and downs, more of the latter than the former when first starting out, I’m afraid. Energy is low, the cook often feels weary, and the “patients” often grow tired of soup and broth.

That is where this book comes in handy. The Heal Your Gut Cookbook walks you through all of the stages of the GAPS diet from Intro to full GAPS. Within each phase you’ll find delicious and beautifully-photographed recipes to lean on. Everything from soups to condiments to meats and vegetables and ferments and treats are included – all GAPS legal.


Before all of that is an introductory section that helps you stock your pantry, shows you a bit of how all disease begins in the gut, and teaches you how to make staples like homemade yogurt and coconut flour. One section I found particularly interesting was a discussion on bone broth vs. meat stock in which the differences, applications, and benefits of each.

The recipes come from Hilary Boynton, mother to five, and you can tell that these recipes – and this book – came out of the labor of love that was nourishing her family through the GAPS protocol. While many are quite complicated and beyond what I would endeavor to experiment with here on the homestead – homemade coconut flour and marshmallows come to mind – there is inspiration for all of us within these pages.


And I think that is where this book excels. Not only does it provide you with a stage-by-stage guide along with handy lists similar to those found in GAPS, it gives you creative ideas and solutions that work. When you’re the weary cook or the tired patient, recipes like Creamy Cabbage Casserole with Chicken Thighs, Lacto-Fermented BBQ Sauce, and coconut flour tortillas may be the little bit of help you needed to continue on.

As I contemplate another round of this healing diet for my family, I am grateful to have this book to turn to for such inspiration.