Probiotics Getting More Positive Attention

I came across this article from Mother Jones this morning. I’ve been learning a lot about probiotics, prebiotics, and inflammation in a number of books I’ve been reading lately, but it’s reassuring to see an article about them in a slightly more mainstream publication.

Some of the books I’ve been reading (which have already been around for years), if you’re interested in learning more about the subject, include:

1. The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World by Sandor Ellix Katz
2. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon
3. Bacteria for Breakfast: Probiotics for Good Health by Dr. Kelly Dowhower Karpa
4. The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity by Donna Gates

Like I said, it’s reassuring to start seeing this information in other sources (even Mother Jones). I only hope that scientists are not just looking for a way to sell us another “supplement,” when we should just be getting these little life-giving critters in our food, everyday. On the other hand, if enough scientific studies prove the efficacy of a healthy and balanced microbiome (gut), perhaps our doctors will finally find value in reembracing the idea of letting food be our medicine. What a shocking concept!

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Mean Green Juice Machine

Yesterday I watched two fantastic documentaries. The first was “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead,” and the second was “Hungry for Change.”

“Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” was about an Australian man named Joe Cross, who went on a 60 day juice fast, while traveling across America. Joe was overweight and had an auto-immune condition called Urticaria (basically, chronic and uncontrollable hives–I can’t even imagine it). After the 60 days, he had dropped a lot of weight and was able to reduce or go off of a lot of the steroid medications he had been taking to manage his Urticaria. Along the way, he shared his message about juicing and getting off of processed foods, and he actually helped an overweight trucker named Phil Staples, who experienced a remarkable transformation, by going on a juice fast. The film is available for streaming on Netflix. I highly recommend it.

Once I finished watching FS&ND, Netflix wanted to recommend a number of similar movies (of course). I had heard of “Hungry for Change” and decided to watch it next. I heard about this movie through Jon Gabriel, who is one of the featured interviewees in the film. His evening visualization/meditation is something I listen to every night, without fail. I fall asleep to it, and I am convinced that it is helping me to realign my emotional and mental attachments to foods and to being overweight.

The gist of “Hungry for Change” is that the American food supply is toxic and filled with chemicals that our bodies have never evolved to thrive on. So, instead of going on one diet after another to lose weight, we should be focusing on feeding our bodies what they genuinely need; then, they will heal themselves and find a healthy balance.

This is what I have been striving for. One of the best recommendations in the film is not to allow yourself to get into the mindset of “I want it, but I CAN’T have it,” but instead, to maintain the mindset of “I can have it, but I don’t WANT it.” One way to move toward a healthier relationship with food, and to properly feed our bodies is to find ways to get the “good” foods (real, organic, whole, etc.) into our bodies, and crowd out the “bad” foods (fast food, junk food, sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc.). So, they also recommend adding fresh vegetable juices.

I’d like to point out that they aren’t suggesting that we should drink high-glycemic fruit juices, like orange juice (particularly if it’s been packaged and pasteurized), but that we should drink fresh juices from lots of leafy green vegetables and from a broad spectrum of vegetables (think, every color of the rainbow). Several years ago, I had gotten a Jack LaLanne juicer, because I was going to try a juice fast. Ha! That lasted all of about one morning, but I kept the juicer; I’m glad I did.

I don’t plan on going on a 60 day juice fast, because I know that I am likely to feel deprived and unlikely to stick with it, especially since I am cooking most of Lauren’s meals. I still believe I need to eat a variety of foods, from all 3 macronutrient groups (protein, fat, and carbs), but I also know I need to be better about getting vitally important micronutrients (which I can get in abundance from a variety of vegetable juices).

Yesterday, I went out and got a bunch of organic vegetables, with the intention of drinking a Mean Green Juice this morning. Here’s what went into it:

photo 1 (Kale, celery, parsley, cucumber, 1/2 lemon, 2 granny smith apples, and some ginger.)

And, here’s what it looked like:

photo 2

It was quite tasty. About 30 minutes after drinking it, I had my goat milk kefir and a cup of coffee. It’s now been a couple of hours, and I still feel great. I feel like I have energy, but I don’t feel stuffed. It’s the perfect feeling to have before doing some yoga.

Namaste.

Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss

I saw this in the New York Times this morning:  Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss

It reminded me about why I’m doing all of this.

Vacation (Weekend) Update

Lauren and I went to San Diego this weekend, and I found myself worrying more about my ferments than I was about our cats. (That’s probably only because we have a webcam to check in on the cats. And did, a few times over the weekend.)

Saturday morning, I replaced the goat milk in my kefir grains and left the lid loosely placed over the jar, so it wouldn’t explode while we were away. When I checked them this morning, the milk had been fermenting for about 48 hours. The flavor is not really any more sour than my first batch (after 24 hours), but it is definitely richer and thicker. I can also detect some fizziness, which is not as bizarre as I had feared. I could easily get hooked on this stuff. Oh, and no bad side effects, so far, either.

Because we were going to be away for a couple of days, and because the weather has been warmer, I unplugged the heating mats on Saturday morning. When I got home, the temperature of the kombucha batches (A3 and B1) was around 70 degrees. They were unplugged for a total of about 36 hours. After plugging them in again last night, they were back up around 78 degrees this morning.

My A3 batch has only been brewing since the 19th (6 days), but I’m going to go ahead and bottle it, harvest a daughter SCOBY, and begin batches A4 and C1 (with the daughter) today. I’m only harvesting it today, because I used heating mats, and the temperature of both batches was consistently above 78 degrees.

My First Glass of Kefir (from Goat Milk)

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I decided to be brave today and actually try drinking some of my kefir.

Because Lauren and I had plans last night, I forgot to change the milk in my new grains yesterday afternoon. This means the current batch has been “fermenting” for about 40 hours.

The taste is decidedly sour, but not overly so. The grains seem to be more plump, today, and the milk culture is definitely thicker. The jar was sealed, rather than using a cloth over the top. I’ve read information advocating either arrangement, as long as any closed container is checked regularly to prevent bursting.

I am very interested in observing the kefir’s effects on my body, so I’m drinking it on an empty stomach. I’ll let you know if I experience any adverse reactions.

Kefir!

My kefir grains arrived today! According to the enclosed instructions, I will need to put them in milk and change the milk every day for about 5 days. This should reactivate them and get them to start reproducing again.

The grains I ordered were cultivated in organic milk. I’ll be using them in goat milk for now, and once I get a healthy supply, I may experiment with other kinds of milk, or even with coconut milk/water/juice.

The first batch is in 1 cup of goat milk and is currently snuggled up next to my Kombucha.

UPDATE: I just read that I should not ferment different cultures near each other, as they may cross contaminate, so I’ll probably move the kefir back to the counter across the room from the refrigerator.

New Water, New Ice

For the longest time I have been dreaming of having a reverse osmosis system installed in the house. About 6 or 8 months ago, we had an inline filter installed that vastly improved the taste and odor (ew!) of our tap water. Bathing and showering conditions were much improved, but I still didn’t really want to drink it.

A couple years ago I had gotten an Ecolo Blue Atmospheric Water Generator. Yes, that’s really what it sounds like. The AWG removes moisture (humidity) from the air and purifies that water for drinking. Fantastic!

The problem with the Ecolo is that it rarely produces enough water to satisfy our needs. (We play football; yes, women can, and do, play full-contact tackle football.) Especially during the winter months, there is just insufficient moisture in the air to keep up with our demand for pure drinking water.

For a few months now (at least) we’ve been buying bottled water. I hate the waste and cost of having to do that. So, when it came time to replace the filters in the Ecolo, it was also about time to replace the filters in the inline house system.

Rather than go through the expense and effort of replacing the Ecolo filters, I called the plumber and inquired about installing an RO system, and subsequently feeding that water supply to the ice maker, which had never been hooked up.

This would also give me a virtually unlimited purified water source to use in all of my home fermentation projects.

Well, today I am thrilled to report that this work was finally completed yesterday. I just heard another tray of ice fall in the freezer. And smiled.

Homemade Pickles and Coconut Water Kefir… Too Much?

So, I’m thinking about branching out into homemade pickles and non-dairy kefir, using coconut water. I feel like my new hobby could possibly get out of hand, but I’m just having so darn much fun and am really passionate about restoring my body to absolute health and peak performance. I really think probiotics are something my body has been lacking and has really been craving for some time now, and I’d much rather get them from raw whole food sources than from a pill.

Part of my new journey is all about feeding my body what it genuinely needs. I’ve spent too many years abusing it and ignoring the warning signs. My body was communicating with me; I was just too stubborn to listen. So far, my body seems to be really happy with the direction I’m going.

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