Monday, September 30, 2019

The Healing Benefits of... Kudzu??? (including Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease)

Kudzu takes over everything.
Kudzu. That pest of a plant that takes over anything it touches - roadsides, trees, forests, even buildings. An invasive species first brought to the US in 1876, then intentionally planted in the 1930s to prevent soil erosion. Now widely hated by farmers, property owners, and environmental activists. But, did you know that kudzu has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine for its healing properties? And, did you know that recent scientific medical studies have backed up this belief in its healing abilities, espeically in regards to treating diabetes and for cardiovascular health?

Although it is primarily the kudzu root that is used in traditional  medicine, and what the recent medical studies have focused on, the leaves and flowers of the kudzu plant are edible, too, and are being increasingly used in alternative medicine.

Nutritional Value of Kudzu Root 

Kudzu roots are rich in antioxidents, including quercetin, isoflavones, geninstein, daidzin, and puerarin. It also contains some protein, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Kudzu is naturally cholesterol-free and gluten-free, and is a good source of fiber.

Uses in Traditional and Alternative Medicine

Kudzu, especially the root, is used in traditional Asian medicine and modern alternative medicine for the following health benefits:
  • To treat alcoholism
  • To aid digestion & reduce stomach problems
  • To improve heart and cardiovascular health
  • To relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • To reduce fever associated with respiratory illnesses
  • To treat headaches
  • To improve blood sugar control in diabetics
  • To reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of inflammation-related diseases

Recent Scientific Medical Studies

Recent peer-reviewed and published scientific medical studies are supporting the traditional health benefits of kudzu root, especially in regards to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and alcoholism.  

From the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (a peer-reviewed medical journal):

"Over seventy phytochemicals have been identified in kudzu root, with isoflavonoids and triterpenoids as the major constituents. Isoflavonoids, in particular puerarin, have been used in most of the pharmacological studies. Animal and cellular studies have provided support for the traditional uses of kudzu root on cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and endocrine systems, including diabetes and its complications. Further studies to define the active phytochemical compositions, quality standards and clinical efficacy are warranted." --- Wong KH, Li GQ, Li KM, Razmovski-Naumovski V, Chan K., Kudzu root: traditional uses and potential medicinal benefits in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases., Journal of Ethnopharmacology, April 12, 2011. (see abstract on

A 2017 study published in the medical journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity reported on the positive "anti-inflammatory effects" of kudzu root, and that it "also exhibits potent antioxidant properties.

Chronic inflammation is linked to several types of arthritis and cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, among other diseases. The anti-inflammatory effect of kudzu root, therefore, is especially interesting.

Final Thoughts

Kudzu Root Tea
Kudzu root supplements are available on Amazon as pills, powder, and even teas. 

I am not a doctor, and cannot give medical advice. This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, but rather to summarize published information and to give you "food for thought" and a starting point for your further investigation. You should always consult a doctor or other medical professional before taking supplements or attempting self-treatment. 

As with all foods, food allergies are a possibility, so use caution when first consuming kudzu. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should consult a doctor before use.

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Intermediate Prepping - Your next steps after covering the basics.

You've been prepping for some time now. You're no longer a newbie, and you have the basics covered. Now what?

No Longer a Newbie

Those new to prepping should concentrate on preparing for short-term emergencies, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. This will mostly consist of stockpiling maybe a month's worth of food, water & other supplies, acquiring some basic gear such as first aid kits, fire extinguishers, emergency radios & flashlights, and acquiring a few skills such as first aid and a self-reliant mindset. You should have also developed a family communications plan and a short-term bug-out plan, including where to go and how to get there. This is a great start, better than 90% of the general population. (To make sure you've covered these basics, see my articles New to prepping? Here are your next steps and A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End.)

Now its time to turn your attention to longer-term emergencies, which may last months instead of just days or weeks. This next level of prepping & survivalism is what many folks call Intermediate Prepping. There are no hard and fast rules on what exactly constitutes intermediate prepping, other than it builds on the basics that you (hopefully) covered in the beginning of your prepper journey. 

My take on intermediate prepping is:
  • to expand your preparedness stockpile
  • to develop the plans & skills needed for a longer-term emergency 
  • to develop a survival mindset that you incorporate into your everyday life
Expand your preparedness stockpile.  

One of the first things you probably did early in your prepper journey was to build a prepper stockpile. You acquired at least a couple of weeks' worth of food, water, and other supplies. This should carry you through a short-term event, such as a winter storm, when you can't get to a store for a brief period of time. But, what if the emergency lasts longer than a few weeks? Now is the time to expand your prepper stockpile from a few weeks', or even a couple of months', worth of supplies, to at least six month's worth. A year's worth is even better.

This is typically the easiest part of prepping, as it usually amounts to just buying more stuff (but coming up with the money to do so can certainly be challenging). But as you move beyond just a few weeks' worth of stuff, you are going to start to encounter some problems. Here are a few ideas on how to handle those challenges:
  • Frozen and refrigerated foods don't count for long-term food storage. This is because once the power goes out, they will quickly go bad. Instead, you will have to depend on foods that don't require electricity to store, such as canned and dried foods.
  • Perishable items, such as milk, cheese, butter, and eggs are problematic for long-term storage. Your best bet is powdered, dehydrated or freeze-dried products, but this option an be expensive. For my money, Augason Farms has the best selection, good quality, and are reasonably priced. 
  • Its easy to get caught up in food & water storage and forget about other supplies. Make sure to stock up on cleaning & hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, medicine & medical supplies, batteries, sturdy clothes & shoes, ammo, and repair supplies (tools, nails, screws, duct tape, gorilla tape, sewing supplies, etc.), and other supplies you may need.
  • Don't forget about your vehicles. Learn how to safely store gasoline, and be sure to stock up oil, filters, transmission fluid, brake fluid, spare wipers, and other supplies to keep your vehicle running as long as possible.  
  • Water, being very bulky and heavy, is difficult to store in large quantities. You can buy and install large water tanks, but most folks will need to learn how to collect and treat water for a long term solution. Make sure you have the supplies to do so.
Check out my article Emergency Water Storage for more on water storage.

Develop the plans & skills needed for a longer-term emergency.

Intermediate preppers need to understand and plan for the potential consequences of a "grid down" situation, particularly one that lasts for months or longer before things even begin to return to normal.

A disaster usually will result in the temporary or permanent loss of many of the “comforts of civilization” we are used to enjoying. Comforts of civilization are those things that are provided to us by modern civilization that we tend to take for granted. It would be difficult for most modern people to provide many of these things for themselves, especially without learning new skills, stockpiling tools and supplies, and preparing well in advance for their loss.

These comforts of civilization we may lose include:

   * Readily available running water that is safe to drink.
   * Readily available food from stores and restaurants.
   * “Flush and forget” human waste disposal.
   * Modern medicine and health care.
   * Readily available electricity for lighting, heating, cooling, cooking and hot water.
   * Readily available natural gas for heating, cooking and hot water.
   * Readily available liquid fuel for cars, trucks, tractors and planes.
   * Instant long distance communication (phones, email, etc.).
   * Ready access to education.
   * Ready access to emergency services such as fire, police, and paramedics.
   * Most modern luxuries (television, IPods, computers & the Internet, etc.)
   * Ability to spend money without having it (credit cards, mortgages, installment plans, etc.)

How will the loss of these modern luxuries affect you and your family? When the tap water stops running, and your water storage is used up, what will you do then? (Answer: Before it happens, learn various ways to collect and treat water.) When your food storage runs out, and the grocery store shelves are still bare, how will you feed your family? (Possible answers: Before it happens, learn how to garden, hunt, fish, forage for wild edibles, raise chickens for eggs & meat...) 

How will you stay warm and heat your home without electricity or natural gas? How will you buy things when cash is worthless and the credit card and banking system is down? These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself, and start making contingency plans now before it happens. These contingency plans will likely require learning new skills, making attitude adjustments, and acquiring special gear and supplies.
Develop a survival mindset.

Sure, part of developing a survival mindset is simply realizing that you do need to be prepared for future emergencies, but there is so much more to it. Survivalism is, at its heart, about rejecting the modern way of thinking - dependency, entitlement, selfishness, obliviousness, and a "sheep mentality" - and embracing a mentality of self-reliance, personal responsibility, industriousness, awareness, and perseverance. It is also about incorporating this new mindset into your everyday life, not just during an emergency.  

It is difficult to develop and practice these traits in a modern world that seems geared to the opposite. Here are some articles that may help:
Fernando "FerFAL" Aguirre, author of the best seller The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse and a long-time advocate for preparedness & survivalism, has a new book out. Street Survival Skills: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Modern Survival is based on his experiences during and after the economic collapse of Argentina. In it, he explains practical urban survival skills such as Situational awareness, home and street security, everyday carry, dealing with blackouts, survival kits and weapons, how to fight with a gun, knife, bare hands or improvised weapons, how to respond against a terrorist or mass shooter, barricade doors or how to breach them, how to stop a bleeding and carry a casualty, defensive driving, home remedies and many others practical skills. 

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Friday, September 13, 2019

New to prepping? Here are your next steps.

If you are relatively new to prepping, or just now considering the prepping lifestyle, things can seem overwhelming. There is so much to do, to buy, to stockpile, to learn... Where do you even begin? Here are some ideas to get you started:

1) Think for yourself. Let me start by stating what should be obvious - there is no "one size fits all" preparedness plan. There is no "one way and only one way" to do preparedness. Be wary of anyone who insists their way is the only right way. Everyone faces different circumstances and has different concerns. Everyone has different skills and abilities. Everyone has different challenges, different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, your survival plan will be at least somewhat different than my survival plan, which in turn will be different from someone else. That is a good thing. 

2) Prioritize health and fitness.  No, I'm not saying that you have to become a world-class athlete. For most of us, that isn't going to happen. But we all can do more to improve our health and fitness, regardless of our age or circumstances. Work on eating a healthier diet and being more physically active. Start out slow, make steady progress, and you'll be surprised how quickly you notice positive changes. 

You may be interested in my articles Fitness and the Aging Prepper and Ways to Improve Your Health and Fitness for Free! for more on this topic.

3) Develop self-reliance. Supplies are nice, and skills are even better. But, when an emergency hits, survival is often more about attitude than anything else. Developing an attitude of self-reliance is crucial. To that end, I've identified seven foundational points of self-reliance:
  1. Assume responsibility for your own life.
  2. Take the blame for your own life.
  3. Be informed.
  4. Know where your going.
  5. Make your own decisions.
  6. Learn skills.
  7. Gain experience.
Want more details on developing self-reliance? Check out my article What Exactly is Self-Reliance? where I discuss each of these points in more detail.

4) Develop a communications plan. This starts with gathering a list of emergency contacts, but it doesn't stop there. A good communications plan let's everyone know how and when to get in touch with each other, and what to do if they cannot. After all, an emergency is unlikely to happen at a convenient and predictable time when everyone is together. The situation will be chaotic and confused. 

See my article Do you have a Family Communications Plan? for an in-depth discussion of this topic.

5) Develop your financial fitness. Living within your means, building an emergency fund, and paying off debt are the basics of financial fitness, and you probably already know you should be doing these things. But are you? Please read my article from last week, Financial Preparedness: Get Back to Basics, for lots of ideas for financial preparedness! 

6) Acquire a basic stockpile of food and water, as well another supplies, such as cleaning & hygiene supplies, batteries, and so forth. An emergency, be it a winter storm or something longer lasting, will mean a massive disruption in the supply chain for goods and services. In other words, the shelves at Wal-mart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, and your local grocery, hardware, and clothing stores will quickly be emptied, and may not be restocked quickly. Stock up now for an extended period of time in which you will not be able to buy what you need.

Of course, the more you have, the better.  But if you're just starting out, strive for a week's supply. Then bump that up to two weeks. Once you have that, then you can build a month's supply, and so forth. The point is to do a little at a time, making slow but steady progress. This will feel less overwhelming than trying to acquire an entire year's worth, or two, all at once. 

My article Emergency Water Storage is a fairly complete guide to water storage, including guides to how much water to store, so check it out. 

The best resource on food storage, in my opinion is Peggy Layton's book Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook.  It has detailed information for building stockpiles of food, water, medicine and other necessities. I consider this a CORE BOOK for most preppers.

7) Learn first aid and survival medicine. Everyone, prepper or not, should learn first aid. Even young kids should start learning the basics. And every serious prepper should learn survival medicine. By survival medicine, I mean what to do when a doctor isn't available, and help isn't own the way.

For first aid, I suggest the ACEP First Aid Manual, 5th Edition. This first aid manual of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is much more up-to-date (2014) than the American Red Cross manual, which hasn't been updated since 1992.

For survival medicine, start with The Survival Medicine Handbook: THE essential guide for when medical help is NOT on the way, by Dr. Joe Alton and Nurse Amy Alton.  

8) Get ready to bug-out!  Even most non-preppers have heard of "bugging out" and "bug-out bags."  Its probably the topic most associated with prepping, besides food storage. No matter how safe a location you currently live in, there may come a time when you have to evacuate to a better, safer location. When this happens, it likely will happen quickly, without much warning or time to plan and pack. That why you need to plan ahead of time for such a possibility. Decide where you might go in an emergency and how you'll get there. Be ready with a packed bug-out bag that you can quickly grab on your way out the door.

I should say that bugging-out in an emergency should not be your Plan A. The best advice for most people in most situations is to stay put. Bug-in (hunker down) where you are, unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. You don't want to face the open road during a highly chaotic and dangerous time unless you absolutely have no other choice. Bugging-out is a measure of last resort. Also, consider that a bug-out location isn't necessarily somewhere you'll move to permanently. You may only need it for a few days or a few weeks.

I go into a lot of details about bugging out in my previous articles But, bug-out to where, exactly??? and Eight Tips for Bugging Out

Final Thought: There is a lot more to emergency preparedness and survival than the items listed in this article. There is so much that can be done that it can seem overwhelming. Don't let it overwhelm you. Its like the joke about how you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Follow this list if you're new to prepping, and you'll be better off than the 95% of the population who have done nothing.


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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Financial Preparedness: Get Back to Basics

During times of great change and chaos, one of the safest and most effective strategies is to simply "get back to basics" - to do all those things you know you should be doing but which are so easy to get away from during the good times. But, when it comes to finances, what exactly do I mean by the basics? And how do we get back to them?

Get back to the basics of personal finance. Make sure you are spending less than you earn. Avoid taking own any new debt - don't use credit cards, payday loans or installment payment plans of any type. Pay cash or make do without. Pay off credit cards, auto loans, and other installment loans. Get on a budget or spending plan and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases. Scale back your lifestyle sharply. Find the best bargains by using shopping lists, clipping coupons and doing comparison shopping. Start an emergency fund. These are the basics of personal finance, and you probably already know you should be doing these things. But are you? 

Eliminate debt and build savings. I don't know when exactly, but I do know that at some point we will be  facing difficult economic times once again.. It will be especially difficult for the folks who are living paycheck to paycheck, in debt up to their eyeballs and with little or no savings. Debt – whether personal, business or government – is bad. It creates stress, entraps us in jobs we hate and makes us much more vulnerable to economic downturns.

In your personal life, work quickly towards eliminating consumer debt – credit cards, car loans, payday loans, personal loans and installment plans. This will mean you have to put yourself on a budget and stick with it. It will mean putting off major purchases, avoiding impulse purchases and denying yourself luxury items. It may mean taking bag lunches to work. It may mean selling your car to get out of the loan. It may mean having a major yard sale to raise some money. It may even mean taking on a second job. It will take sacrifice to eliminate debt in your life, but the benefits will be more than worth it.

Debt Busting Idea #1 - Making payments on your vehicle?  Sell it and buy a more affordable vehicle with cash. Downsizing your vehicle to get out from under the loan is an idea Dave Ramsey often suggests to his listeners. If you can't get enough for your vehicle to pay off the entire loan, you will need to raise some extra cash using other ideas from this article. 

Debt Busting Idea #2 - If you own any "adult toys" such as ATVs, boats, sports cars, RVs, pool tables, dune buggies, hot tubs, motorcycles, or other big ticket items that you use only for recreation and entertainment, consider selling them and dedicating the proceeds to debt repayment. Same goes for any home gyms and exercise equipment that you don't really use. Depending on what you have to sell, you may be able to raise anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. That's a lot of debt you can pay off.

Why pay off debt if we are headed towards high inflation? It may be true that by waiting to pay off debt, you will be paying it off with cheaper dollars. However, there are other considerations. For one, debt puts you, your family and your assets at risk. Pay off your debts now while you are employed and you run less risk of losing your home or other assets if you become unemployed later.

Also, debt can be very stressful, especially in difficult times, which can be a real detriment to your health, and to your ability to make calm decisions, at a time when you most need both.

Another reason to pay off debt now is that debt can shackle you to your current job and circumstances, when what is really needed is freedom and flexibility.

Finally, people tend not to realize how fast interest, late fees and other penalties can add up. You may be paying off your debt later with cheaper dollars, but still be paying more in real terms because of all the added interest and penalties.

Building some emergency savings will have to be done at the same time. Yard sales are a great way to bring in extra cash to do this. So is a second job in the evenings or on the weekends. Put the money somewhere safe, such as an insured CD or money market account in a stable bank or credit union (do your own homework or check with one of several companies that offer ratings on the soundness and safety of various financial institutions). Don't worry about getting top interest. Safety and liquidity are your goals for your emergency savings, not growth.

Once your debt is paid off and you have accumulated some emergency savings, then you can then turn your attention to savings for long-range goals such as the purchase of a car, a new home, your children's education, or your retirement. Use common sense, avoid overly-risky investments and seek professional advice of someone you can trust.

No investment is perfectly safe. Cash savings are subject to losing value to inflation. Stocks and mutual funds are subject to the ups and downs of the market. Land is subject to property taxes and eminent domain. Converting all your money to gold & silver and burying it in the backyard is subject to thieves. There are no guarantees in life. The best you can do is use reason and common sense, to remain vigilant and to take responsibility for ensuring your own future.

Reduce your entertainment expenses. We may hate denying ourselves, but entertainment is a purely optional budget expense. Eliminate it. Learn (or re-learn) how to have a good time for free or nearly free. Start a family game night. Play with your kids in the backyard. Invite friends over for a weekend cook-out or a movie night (DVD checked out from the library for free). Next week they can invite you over.

Read a book (checked out from the library for free, of course) instead of going to a movie. Libraries are a wonderful source of free entertainment. In addition to books and magazines, many libraries today also offer audio books, movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, music CDs and even board games that you can check out. Many libraries also have story times for young children and host lectures for adults.

Local parks are another source of free entertainment and exercise opportunities. Playground equipment, obstacle courses, walking & jogging trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic tables, and plenty of open spaces can be found at most parks. A local park near me even has fishing ponds that the county keeps well-stocked. They also host many events, such as an annual gem & mineral show and a summer concert series, that can be attended for free.

Give up the vacation away from home. Instead of heading for the beach or Disneyland or wherever, stay home. Spend a week visiting local museums, zoos, botanical gardens, historical sites, parks or wildlife refuges. Go on a picnic or nature hike. Go fishing at a local lake. Play frisbee with your kids in the backyard. Or just relax at home, thinking of all the money you are saving.

Eating out should be a rare treat, not a lifestyle. Taking a bag lunch of leftovers to work with you instead of buying lunch at the local fast food eatery will save you big bucks over the course of a year. How much? If you spend just five dollars a day for lunch, that is over $1,200 a year. If you are a two-income family with both of you eating out at lunch, this doubles to over $2,400 a year. Family dinners out are even more expensive. This is one area of the budget where huge savings are possible for most folks. 

Small purchases equals big money. Money spent on little things - sodas, snacks, and impulse items of all sorts - can add up really quickly. A great example is a guy I used to work with who constantly complained about not having any money. Every afternoon he would head down to the break room and buy a Pepsi and a Snickers bar from the vending machine. It was only a $1.75, but he spent that money five days a week. Over the course of a year, that inexpensive afternoon snack adds up to almost $450.

We tend to dismiss small purchases as being insignificant - its only a couple of bucks - but when we make a lot of small purchases, those couple of bucks add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over time. 

Reduce you home energy use. Turn off lights, TVs and electronics whenever you leave a room. Set your thermostat to conserve energy.  Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient models.  so be sure to consult a tax professional. Super-insulate your house. Consider installing energy efficient windows and heating with a modern wood stove. These ideas will cost you money up front, but will likely save you money over the long run. Also, certain energy-efficient upgrades may be tax deductible, so be sure to consult your tax professional.

Reduce the amount of fuel you use. Make sure your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and the engine is well-maintained (tune-ups, oil changes, a clean air filter, etc.) to maximize mileage. Drive slower and less aggressively. Drive less by walking, car pooling and using public transportation, as well as planning & combining trips. Consider replacing your old vehicle with a newer one that gets much better mileage (but not if you would have to make payments).

Energy efficiency for your home and car will become especially important if and when the progressives come back into power. Their obsession with "climate change" and their need to pay for all of their give-away programs, guarantees much higher energy and gasoline taxes in the future. 

Stocking up on food and other supplies is a great hedge against inflation. Canned and dry foods can last 2 -5 years or more. Wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove can be stacked up in your backyard. If you are into gardening, and you should be, composted cow manure, bone meal, hummus and other soil amendments can be used to improve your soil for future use. Most seeds have a shelf-life of 3 to 5 years. Extra shoes, clothes, toothbrushes, razors, soap, paper towels, tires and many other useful items can be stored almost indefinitely.

Needed and useful items that you stock up on (for future use or bartering) are very much a form of savings. With the debasing of the US dollar, and many other currencies worldwide, such stockpiles may be a good place to put some of your savings.

Take personal security seriously. We should expect crime to rise dramatically during the difficult times ahead. Identity theft, fraud, con games, check kiting schemes, burglary, car theft, armed robbery and even kidnapping for ransom are very likely to increase during the next economic downturn.. People who stand out as being "rich" will be very tempting targets, but even the poor can be victims. Don't flaunt your wealth. Be aware of your surroundings. Be vigilant about your protecting your financial information and identity. If you are wealthy, a gated community with private security may become a necessity. If you live in a regular neighborhood, start a community watch program. Teach your kids to be very wary of strangers and aware of their surroundings at all times. Avoid the seedier parts of town whenever possible. Try not to shop or run errands alone, especially at night.

This article only scratches the surface of financial preparedness. You may also be interested in some of the other articles I've written on financial preparedness:


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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Don't Like Being Sick? Here's What To Do.

Schools are back in session. The days are starting to get shorter and the nights cooler. Winter will be here before we know it. And we know what that means: Cold and flu season is fast approaching. Time for my annual "How Not To Get Sick" article. I hope the commonsense advice helps you avoid this year's illnesses.

Its actually not the cold weather that makes us sick, but the fact that we're all suddenly spending a lot more time indoors, in close contact with lots of other people, allowing diseases to spread like wildfire. Schools, in particular, are extremely efficient incubators of all sorts of diseases. From there, the kids pass it on to their parents, who in turn pass it on to their co-workers. Its a vicious cycle.

No one like to get sick, so the question is: What can we do to avoid getting sick? Quite a lot, actually!

The Commonsense Basics

>>> Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Hopefully, everyone realizes the importance of hand-washing, so I won't waste time trying to sell you on the idea. Instead, let's define "thoroughly" and "often." Thoroughly: wash your hands with soap and warm water, vigorously rubbing them together for at least twenty seconds. Then dry your hands completely. How often: *VERY* - when you wake up, before each meal and snack, after going to the restroom, after coughing or sneezing on your hands, after handling money, after being around sick people, after shaking hands with someone, after handling keyboards, after using door handles, and before going to bed. Make especially sure to wash your hands after handling phones - public phones, including your house phone and office phone, are among the most germ-encrusted objects you will ever encounter, worse even than public toilet seats according to several studies. 

Hand sanitizers are okay in a pinch, but are less effective than soap and water; use them until you can get to the nearest wash-basin.

>>> Get plenty of sleep. Unfortunately, modern civilization is a 24/7 event these days, and many folks now brag about how little sleep they need and still be able to get by. You might be able to "get by" with less, but research proves that adults, and their immune systems, actually need at least 8 hours of sleep to perform at optimal levels. For example, a 2009 Carnegie Mellon study found that adults who get less than seven hours of sleep are three times more likely to get sick, than adults who get at least 8 hours.

>>> Drink plenty of water. When you are dehydrated, it dries out and reduces the effectiveness of the watery, protective surfaces lining your mouth, throat, eyes, lungs, stomach, and intestines. Stay hydrated!

>>> Eat a healthy diet, including lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and other nutritious foods. Avoid overdoing sugar and alcohol, as both are known to negatively impact the immune system. Modern, processed foods are typically loaded with lots of sugar of various types, so you may likely be consuming too much sugar even if you avoid sweets - pay attention to labels. Many condiments, such as catsups and salad dressings, are often loaded with sugar AND people typically use more than one "official" serving, thus multiplying the amount of sugar they're getting without realizing it. If you drink alcohol, stick to one glass of red wine a day.

>>> Get plenty of exercise. Exercise pumps up the immune system by boosting the production of disease-fighting white blood cells. It also floods the body with stress-reducing hormones, and less stress means a more efficient immune system.

Additional Steps To Take

>>> Learn to relax. Stress, particularly long-term stress, leads to an overproduction of a class of hormones called glucocorticoids, which suppress the immune system. Exercise, yoga, meditation, listening to calming music, prayer, participating in a hobby, or just quietly reading can all be wonderful ways to relax.

>>> Sanitize the surfaces in your life - keyboards, door handles, phones, etc. - at home and at work. I personally use Lysol Disinfecting Wipes almost daily to wipe down my desk, keyboard, mouse, and house phone. They also work great for door knobs.  However, for my Samsung Galaxy, I use a screen cleaner such as Screen Mom since I'm worried about messing up the touch screen.

>>> Don't bite your nails. Think about it: the small gaps under your nails make great breeding grounds for germs, and are easy to not clean well when washing your hands.

>>> Make sure your getting enough vitamins and minerals. This is best done by eating a healthy diet, but a daily vitamin & mineral supplement may add some additional insurance. An article by the Harvard Medical School recently mentioned that deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E can negatively impact the immune system. 

The Difficult-to-Do

>>> Avoid sick people. This one is a lot easier said than done, as we have little control over people who choose to go to work, school, or shopping while sick. But, to the extent you can, avoid being around with people who are sick. This means trying to avoid large crowds whenever possible. When you do have to be around someone who is sick, take proper precautions like washing your hands frequently.>>> Wear a surgical mask in public. Taking the bus, train, subway, or otherwise hanging around a large crowd of people in tight quarters? Take a clue from the Japanese and wear a surgical mask. This will help you not spread your own germs and help you avoid the germs of other people. (They are also great dust and pollen blockers for those suffering from allergies.)  This isn't as common in America as it is in Asia, so you'll likely get a lot of strange looks. But, is it really effective? Actually, yes. According to a study published in The International Journal of Infectious Diseases (December 2008 issue, page e328), surgical masks have a protective efficacy of over 80% against respiratory illnesses like colds and influenza.

The Controversial

>>> Get a flu shot, or don't. I'm not going to tell you what to do on this one - its up to you. People on both sides of the debate have strong feelings when it comes to vaccines. Pro-vaccine people point to the success of vaccinations with wiping out diseases like polio and smallpox, and fervently believe that modern vaccines are safe. Anti-vaccine people point to a lot of anecdotal evidence that vaccines can cause various problems such as autism and infertility, and they don't trust corporations or the government to tell the truth about the safety of vaccinations. And a third set of folks believe that vaccines are generally safe, but that we are way over-medicating ourselves, which could create unintended consequences. Therefore, they are reluctant to take every recommended vaccine that comes on the market. Decide for yourself. Need more information to decide? Check out: 

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives, discusses the pros and cons of vaccinations in a fairly even-handed way.

The blurb: "Midwife, herbalist, and mother of four, Aviva Jill Romm sifts through the spate of current research on vaccine safety and efficacy and offers a sensible, balanced discussion of the pros and cons of each routine childhood vaccination. She presents the full spectrum of options available to parents: full vaccination on a standardized or individualized schedule, selective vaccination, or no vaccinations at all. Negotiating daycare and school requirements, dealing with other parents, and traveling with an unvaccinated child are covered in detail. The book also suggests ways to strengthen children's immune systems and maintain optimal health and offers herbal and homeopathic remedies for childhood ailments. Emphasizing that no single approach is appropriate for every child, the author guides parents as they make the choices that are right for their child." Available on Amazon

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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Real History Book List

History, more than any other subject, has been purposely watered-down by political correctness and corrupted by leftist ideology. Real History is no longer taught in schools. Yet, a correct and accurate understanding of history is essential. Here is a list of books that do teach Real History, without leftist ideology or political correctness.

Paul Johnson's book,  A History of the American People, is a must-read for all patriotic citizens of the Republic. In it, Johnson states: "The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures. No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind." Johnson has written numerous other history books, all well-researched and presented in a way to be both educational and enjoyable.

A Patriot's History of the United States - Over the past decade, A Patriot’s History of the United States has become the definitive conservative history of our country, correcting the biases of historians and other intellectuals who downplay the greatness of America’s patriots. Professors Schweikart and Allen have now revised, updated, and expanded their book, which covers America’s long history with an appreciation for the values that made this nation uniquely successful.

The Patriot's History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American - The Patriot's History Reader goes back to the original sources-the documents, speeches, and legal decisions that shaped our country into what it is today. The authors explore both oft-cited documents-the Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, and Roe v. Wade--as well as those that are less famous. Among these are George Washington's letter to Alexander Hamilton, which essentially outline America's military strategy for the next 150 years, and Herbert Hoover's speech on business ethics, which examines the government's role in regulating private enterprise.

I've been looking for a good, accurate history of the Crusades for a long time. I wanted a book that gives the #RealHistory of the Crusades, not tainted leftist historical revisionism. It hasn't been an easy task, but in Dr. Thomas Madden's book, A Concise History of the Crusades, I finally found such a book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those folks who want to understand the reality of the Crusades without the anti-Western, anti-Christian bias that marks much of the academic world over the last 50+ years. Dr. Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. Schweikart (this time with Dave Dougherty) has written a two-part history of the world to compliment the history of the United States mentioned at the top of this article. Volume one is Patriot's History of the Modern World: From America’s Exceptional Ascent to the Atomic Bomb: 1898-1945. Volume two is Patriot's History of the Modern World: From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement, 1945-2012. These are an excellent overview of world history from a perspective unbiased by political correctness and leftist idealogy. Constitution ROCKS! & Our Presidents ROCK! are excellent for middle school & high school ages, but even adults will learn from them. I've written full reviews of both, which you can find by clicking the titles above, or click the pictures to go straight to their pages on Amazon., The Last Best Hope (V. 1 - From the Age of Discovery to a World at War and V. II - From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom) is a two-volume history of America by Dr. William J. Bennett, who writes patriotic history that reflects his deep respect for America's traditions and founding values. Intended as American history text books for private high schools & homeschools. Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society's Descent into Tyranny by Michael E. Newman does an excellent job of proving that free societies throughout history lose their freedoms and end in tyranny once their populations realize they can utilize the power of government to give themselves benefits at the expense of others. Well written for the general reader, with in-depth footnotes for scholars, this is an excellent survey of the world history of freedom and tyranny. Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution, Michael E. Newman argues that the American Revolution was fought and won by two groups working together- angry mobs and founding fathers. The resulting nation (really a loose confederation of independent states) was "anarchic and chaotic" and a dismal failure, until the founding fathers disposed of the angry mob and their Confederation, creating instead the world's most successful Republic ever, through the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Wonderful, and often overlooked, history of America's founding. the Record Straight: American History in Black & White, by David Barton, tells the stories of many forgotten black heroes of American history. Forgotten largely because their stories are not politically correct, and therefore don't fit modern progressive narratives regarding race relations. This is real history that the educational establishment refuses to teach, and that you will never hear on a Black History Month public service announcement.

Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion, by David Barton, takes on one of the most covered-up aspects of American history - the role religion played in our nation's founding and the actual intent of our founders regarding Freedom of Religion, as well as the role they intended for the judicial system. Heavy on facts and actual documentation, this book is a must have for Christians wishing to defend the Freedom of Religion they enjoy.
The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, & John Jay, and the Anti-Federalist Papers, by Patrick Henry & others, were the embodiment of the debate over establishing the new Constitution, and lead directly to the Bill of Rights. This is primary source material for understanding one of the most pivotal points in American history.

Legends and Lies: The Real West is a fascinating history of many of the legendary characters of the Old West, including Kit Carson, Jesse James, Doc Holiday, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the man who was the real Lone Ranger, among many others. This history looks past the legends, revealing the real people behind them. Perfect for fans of the Old West.

The American Patriot's Bible, available in both the KJV and NKJV, contains 48 long articles (4-pages w/pictures), along with hundreds of shorter articles, notes, and quotes connecting the Bible with America's religious founding and heritage, something that is not only completely ignored in our public schools, but in fact is treated as criminal. The hardcover edition is not only nice enough to serve as a family bible, complete with pages for genealogy and family history, but is a great resource for learning the religious heritage of America that you were not taught in school.
George Washington's Sacred Fire is a fantastic biography of George Washington, which firmly settles any doubts over the depth and importance of Washington's Christian faith and values (progressives have long tried to deny this aspect of Washington). Extremely well-researched with extensive footnotes, this is also a highly readable and enjoyable biography.
Other Recommended Biographies of America's Founders
(click on the picture to go to the corresponding Amazon page for more details)


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