Doing Christmas – lametta and cake

Here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas from this blog.
I have decorated the tree …

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 … and then finished it off with lametta – oh, how I love lametta – regardless of fashion – I love the way it pulls the tree decorations together and gives more sparkle than you would expect! {pictures much clearer if clicked}

And then the cake... and I left it rather late (last weekend) to make but still dropped it, well wrapped, into the freezer for three days – just to help it mature! Oh, Yes! Freezing a fruit cake helps it mature, because the ice crystals that form break the cells and releases the juices and flavours from all that fruit, and, if you had followed a recipe like the Adaptable Rich Fruit Cake recipe I use – then you’ll be releasing extra wine flavour too!wp_20161222_20_43_58_pro

My decorations this year used a large holly leaf cutter and a small heart shaped cutter and roll-out icing. Having covered the cake I mixed a little gum tragacanth, so it will harden, with the remaining icing and rolled it out. The white holly leaves and the hearts were cut out from this, the holly leaves left to dry draped over scrunched paper covered with cling-film to give them shape. (The same was done with some other remaining icing – coloured green)

The heart shapes were stuck together in fives to make the ‘Christmas Roses’ and set to rest in a piece of foil, each in a dip in a bun tin. A little icing was coloured yellow and pressed through a sieve to make the centres, ‘cut’ off the sieve and pressed onto a, dampened, centre, with a few presses of the knife tip.

One of the most useful cake decorating things I ever bought from Lakeland was the sets of letters and numbers. These have been used SO many times over the years – the letters much more than the numbers but both are useful.

With these I cut out my message to go all around the cake …

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I hope you can read it … it’s for you …

it says Merry Christmas and a Happy (2017) New Year … my wish for you All  🙂

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Parkinson’s and the gut

I know you’ll think I have a bee in my bonnet about gut bacteria – well maybe I have – but it is like the stuff I was going on about for YEARS regarding low carbs rather than low fat … gradually there is enough new evidence (and enough of the scientists who made their lives on the old science have gone) that the main-stream have to (grudgingly) accept that there is FAR more to the gut bacteria than just breaking down foods in the gut.

mitochondrion
A cross section of a mitochondrion

I am fortunate in that I do not have anyone actually affected by Parkinson’s in my family, but I have known people affected by it.

When I was regaling you all on this blog with the findings of Dr Permutter and his book Brain Maker I touched on many aspects of the way the wrong bacteria in the gut affected the brain. I did not mention Parkinsons directly (I wasn’t copying out his whole book!) – though HE DOES.

He says that many brain disorders – including Parkinson’s – have been linked to mitochondrial ‘glitches’ – and these are caused by inflammation – yes, caused by a malfunctioning gut-biome.

This review of the LATEST news of the studies into gut bacteria and Parkinson’s, on a NHS site – link here, would be better if they explained more about the function of the different types of gut bacteria and the consequent different types of short-chain fatty-acids they produce (as the wrong type of bacteria produce the wrong type of short chain fatty-acids) [nb – nothing to do with ‘fat’- by the way] BUT it does show that this idea, of the power and importance of our gut bacteria, is becoming more mainstream – more acceptable to the medical community as a whole (who were previously more sceptical than open to the idea!)

It finishes with this comment from Dr. Arthur Roach, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson’s UK : “This paper shows for the first time a way in which one of the key players in Parkinson’s, the protein alpha-synuclein, may have its actions in the brain modified by gut bacteria. It is important to note however that this study has been done in mice and we would need further studies in other model systems and in humans to confirm that this connection is real … There are still many questions to answer but we hope this will trigger more research that will ultimately revolutionise treatment options for Parkinson’s.”

Yes – well, they always start with mice… but when the ‘treatment’ could be as simple as a Faecal Microbial Transplant – as recommended by Dr Perlmutter for other certain cases (affecting the brain) where the gut bacteria are so wrong that they need more direct intervention to sort them out quickly (rather than the slower method of ingesting fermented foods and changing the diet) surely someone can start a trial soon with (relatively) little expense (compared to doing the same using new pharmaceutical drugs) and see if this works. If it were me – I’d certainly try to eat the foods that feed the right bacteria and take a course of the main beneficial bacteria recommended for good gut health (discussed previously here) as it costs relatively little and could do no harm even if it didn’t work.

(the cynic in me says – that no pharma-company will fund this further research, into sorting out the gut bacteria, as it offers no profits, though they may seek to make an alpha-synuclein modifier or blocker or similar that they can sell  – so it will be down to non-profit groups to follow this up (like Parkinson’s UK research or independent philanthropic funders etc)

I watch with interest.

and how about you … any bees in your bonnets I should know about?

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