Chicken talk of yolks

The recent government rules on keeping chickens in / away from migrating birds which might be carrying H5N8 bird flu –  has made me do something I have intended to do ever since we stopped keeping goats.

When you mainly cook from scratch and grow a lot of your own veg, and buy the rest from local sources, you end up with a lot of peelings. Especially when you like to have a lot of different types of vegetables with each meal!wp_20170226_12_56_25_proNow this was never a problem when we had goats – there was always the bucket for the edible scraps for the goats and the bucket for the compost heap. The latter generally only had onion skins, citrus skins and teabags in – judiciously mixed with torn cardboard loo-roll tubes and such stuff.

When we sold the goats, prior to putting our beautiful house on the market, the vegetable peelings joined the compost bin . . . even though I kept saying to myself that I ought to prepare them for the chickens.

With the chickens compulsorily being kept in closed-off quarters I eventually did something about it!

I first found that if you just give raw peelings, toppings ‘n’ tailings, outside leaves etc to the chickens they will peck at it … but they will not clear it up efficiently … for that you need to give it a light cooking.

So, after I have cooked and served-up our meal I now drop the whole pile of peelings into the largest pyrex bowl I have already used (in cooking the meal) and pop it in the Microwave for 10 minutes. wp_20170226_14_47_25_pro

When it is cool I put it back into an old bowl (or a re-purposed sweet tub even) to take out to the chickens.

They love it – especially with the odd soft apple, from the apple store, sliced up in it too.

AND as a bonus, now they are back out on the grass and getting the extra veg-peelings regularly too, we now have the deepest yellow yolks going – yes even darker than usual – and that was pretty good anyway – and yes – this is the actual colour  – it is not a trick of the light.wp_20170301_07_06_42_proSo we get to eat tasty, rich, healthy eggs and I get to feel even better now that the peelings are being used properly again.

What do your do with your veg peelings?

Are you a chicken keeper?

You know I love to hear from you – do share

🙂  Ann

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Lichen sclerosus and Why Borax is my new best friend

It’s difficult to talk about this – and this is why it has taken me two weeks to write one blog! After just telling my husband the diagnosis, lichen sclerosus, and that I had been prescribed ‘a cream’ for it I hadn’t mentioned it again even to him – and even though, over the course of four or five years, the symptoms got worse and worse.

Back at the end of October, the symptoms had become excruciating – and the ‘cream’ useless. I had been told that as an auto-immune condition there was nothing else medicine could offer apart from suppression of the symptoms by the ‘cream’ – a corticosteroid – classified as a ‘potent steroid’.

So, what is Lichen sclerosus? It is an auto-immune condition that affects mainly children and post-menopausal women. (Yep, tick that last box)  As I am sure you know, and auto-immune condition is one in which your own body turns on itself, destroying cells, and in this case making the skin thinner, prone to blistering, swelling, soreness, irritation and inflammation.

Lichen sclerosus also has a favourite location for this disruption of the skin – and this is why I (and many other people) don’t generally like to talk about it. It affects the skin between the buttocks and reaching forward to include the skin around the vulva. In people who have had it for decades it can even result in atrophy of the flesh.

By the end of October I was in pain all the time, especially when sitting, and every time I needed to use the toilet I faced the agony of cleaning and drying myself, and the area affected seemed to be extending. Now Corticosteroid must be used sparingly – frequent reapplication is not acceptable – not desirable – as Corticosteroid also THINS the skin!

I positioned a mirror to look – the skin was red, shiny, swollen, cracked and blistered – no wonder it stung to blazes!

This is where I am surprised at, and ashamed of, myself. I have been looking into natural ways of supporting the body and brain by supporting the health of your whole system – but I hadn’t looked for a natural way of dealing with Lichen sclerosus. I had been ambushed by the fact that it was considered an Auto-immune condition  – and, therefore, I knew that meant it wasn’t curable.

…  or did I?

 After all, hadn’t I been reading about other auto-immune conditions that had been helped by natural means – by a rebalancing of the gut-bacteria, specifically. However, I have already gone down this route for the sake of my brain, and I hope my gut-bacteria are now in a good balance and are being ‘fed’ the food-stuffs to keep them happy. I would say that in other ways my body was feeling better tuned and functioning well.

So it was, that feeling desperate, I began to research whether there was a natural way to help the condition . . .  and there was!

I read so many pages, so many personal responses. I read of people with this condition who were in a much worse state than I was – whose body had suffered permanent changes that were life-affecting. I also read of those who had found the answer – or an answer. And it involved my new friend Borax – also known as Sodium Tetraborate. I read around the subject – finding out lots more about Borax (especially about uses here) and it’s uses, trawling sites for negatives as well as positives – until, convinced it was worth a try, I sent off for some, it was only £5.95  a kilo.

First it said, once you have obtained your borax have a bath – with one tablespoon or borax and one of bicarbonate of soda – just for relief. OH MY! That was SO GOOD, just in itself! That alone was enough to convince me to take the course.

Then there was the taking of borax in solution every day for a fortnight. This was in a specific high dose: One eighth of a level teaspoon of borax to be taken everyday, dissolved in one litre of (warm) spring water – consumed over the day.  Followed by a life-time of a much lower dose of borax –  every day – forever. AND the mandatory taking of a magnesium supplement always – as the borax needs that to work effectively. Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed but can also act as a laxative so I researched and decided on magnesium glycinate – which is also easily absorbed but does not have that side effect. (magnesium oxide – often sold in supermarkets – is very poorly absorbed)

(NB. The site I looked at also advised adding one eighth of a teaspoon of ground Himalayan Pink Salt to the Borax – so I did this too … to begin with, until I had the odd reaction of tingling in my face – that seemed to be caused by an overdose of sodium – so I dropped the pink salt and continued with the borax – the odd reaction faded away.
Himalayan pink salt is often recommended by natural health bloggers for ailments – and I wonder if someone was trying a belt and braces solution that worked for them – but overloaded my system with sodium? My verdict – I believe this works just as well with Borax only)

ANYWAY…. On day 5 – when I was drying myself I thought ‘Oh! What? My skin has gone numb in one small place.’ So I checked with the mirror to see where this numb area was. It turned out it wasn’t numb at all – just healed-up and looking normally pink, surrounded by skin that was still screaming at me – it only seemed numb in comparison.

Over the remaining time of the fortnight this small normal area grew – until all the skin looked pink and healthy and did not hurt any more. The swelling had gone down too – and it was only then I realised how bad that aspect had actually been.

One other thing I used over that fortnight was a simple ‘cream’ I made-up myself. Without the corticosteroid cream there was no slippery barrier to each inner cheek rubbing against the other and causing pain. So I used one rounded tablespoon of coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) and mixed into it one level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, one level teaspoon of Borax and 3 drops of lavender oil (essential oil) The dry ingredients are dissolved into the warmed oil and constantly stirred – even as it begins to solidify. The essential oil added before it solidifies but after the oil has cooled a bit.  This then sets to a hard ‘cream’ – so I would scrape off a little and it would melt on my skin providing the lubrication on the sore skin with the soothing qualities of the other ingredients.

Three months down the line and there has been no more pain, I still take the 3mg dose of borax each day [1 tsp of borax dissolved in 1 litre of water – kept in fridge and only 1 – 2 teaspoons of this solution taken each day in water] and use a little of my own ‘cream’ especially after showers or baths.

This borax treatment is such a blessing that, despite the embarrassment, I have to share it – even if only one other person with Lichen sclerosus gets some relief from the symptoms – then it would be worth it.

 

Comments welcome as always – but …

If you wish to keep it private and just contact me then just reply to the email this arrived on – otherwise go to the actual page and click comments to add yours

Best – Ann

 

ps weight stayed the same last week, down 1 lb this … and still happy with the new borax and bicarb hair treatment – and my hairdresser said that my hair felt thicker!

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Cold Turkey Shampoo

No, Not a new ‘flavour’ of shampoo, but the first new attempt to use fewer nasty chemicals on my body.

Let’s face it – our skin is our largest organ AND it absorbs anything we put on it. Despite the long-held belief – which I occasionally still hear someone spout that ‘our skin is waterproof, sealing our flesh in and protecting it from everything’ – IT ISN’T.

Just think ‘nicotine patches’ – if our skin were truly impermeable these wouldn’t work – would they? They don’t contain a magic key to open the skin door.

I was reading around this when I read “shampoo and conditioners are applied to the whole body if used in either the shower or the bath” Oh! Come to think about it – so they are – and especially if you have washed your body while waiting for the shampoo or the conditioner to work and therefore rinsing those off is the the last bit you do – leaving them clinging to your skin.

So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you like the idea of parabens and petrochemicals left on your skin.

Parabens are there more for the producer than for you – they are a type of preservative. They also happen to be a exonoestrogen and as such are able to mimic oestrogen in the body, and it is this factor that has shown a link to breast cancer.

Petrochemicals –  well, I don’t know about you, but I just really don’t like the idea of putting a petrochemical derivative all over my body (not now I think about it) This may not be rational – there are some studies out there that say the 1.4 dioxine is cancer linked – and others that say the exposure is minimal – you get more driving your car. What sort of concerns me is that if all these minimals in our lives are put together they they turn out to be maximal – to have those undesired effects within our body.

Now, I figure, if I can cut down on those that I CAN avoid – the ones I can’t may just remain at minimal levels.

There are also lots of other nasties in shampoo and conditioner – some to make the foam, some to coat the hair after the foaming chemicals have raised all the scales and made it tangly.

And apparently we do not need either of them – our hair and scalp was made to be self-cleaning … only it takes a while – anything from four weeks to 3 months to achieve its new equilibrium.

However, this doesn’t mean you do not clean your hair – you can go completely cold-turkey on any cleaning product and just wash with warm water – this may take the longest to transition, depending on hair type, or you can go the simple solution way – using Bicarbonate of soda and / or borax then vinegar or ascorbic acid (vitamin c) as the neutraliser/conditioner.

I looked to my friend Krissi – a long-time advocate of No Shampoo – for advice and she favoured the bicarb solution and just rinse. However this can lighten hair and as my hair is darker [and the grey coloured with a temporary colour two shades lighter than my hair – so the coloured grey looks like highlights 😉 ] I didn’t want to just do that. (If I had blonde/ going grey hair I’d definitely do that!) [Incidentally, Krissi used to make all organic, no nasties cosmetics – and this part of her life I borrowed for the character Marian Wood in A Respectable Life – with her knowledge 🙂 ]

hair
Ready for fourth wash today

Now, my new friend, Borax, (more about this when I get the courage up to tell you*) in a combination with Bicarb is also recommended by various No Shampoo (also called, unpleasantly, No Poo) websites, and as I am very happy to rinse my body in borax* (you will understand when I do get to tell you, honest) I went for this.

Having made up the mixture of 1 tablespoon of borax and 1 tablespoon of Bicarb in a litre of water I doused all my hair in it. Massaged it in*, then rinsed with 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid (you can use apple-cider vinegar) in another litre of warm water. Again I massaged it in a bit then thoroughly rinsed it out.

My hair is very fine, and there is not as much of it as I would like! Usually, for the first day after I wash it it is all fly-away and won’t stay up in a clip, but irritates and tickles my face if down … but by day three it gets greasy and hangs limply and separates into ‘strands’! I also have to give it a good condition too, other wise I can’t get a comb through it for the tangles. Generally I am only happy with my hair on day two.

What happened with the borax bicarb solution?

The first time I think I left the borax and bicarb on too long* (ten minutes) as I was concerned that my hair wouldn’t get clean! And my hair came out like straw! Not the desired effect. However, it didn’t take long for it to ‘calm down’.

The second time, five days later, my hair was much better as I’d reduced the time the borax/bicarb was on my hair to about 2mins – and though my hair started out feeling heavier (less fly-away) than it would after a shampoo wash, it did not change and get any greasier for days. And, I realised it wasn’t tangly after washing – which, if I ever used just a shampoo, my hair definitely would be!

hair-2crop
After washing this morning 🙂 And it doesn’t tickle!

The third time (six days along) my hair was even more manageable again and I’ve left it a whole week before I felt like it needed washing. Today I’m going to wash it again … and though it has not quite been three weeks I think it is beginning to find its equilibrium.

I’ll continue to fill you in on this experiment as it goes along …

Anyone already transitioned to No Shampoo?

Any good advice / thoughts about ditching the commercial products?

You know I love to hear from you, do share 🙂 – Ann

 

ps. weight report: another 1lb off this week – only 4 to go lose that December stodge

 

 

 

 

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The perfect (weight-gain) storm

Ever since I came to you in 2012 to be my unseen cheer-leaders in my quest to lose my menopause weight-gain, I feel honour-bound to tell you what happens, good or … bad and make my confession.

So when my weight remained off a long-time past reaching my goal (in comparison to many ‘quick-fix’ weight-loss programmes) I told you. Well, it was good news, you’d expect me to.shocked-face

But now – today – I’m going to tell you how I put ON 8lbs over December… and Why – and How – I mean – that’s two pounds a week – on!  So how did I achieve this???

Firstly I didn’t do my weights exercises for all of December. I had a good reason for that – in the context of a minor catastrophe – whereby I was carrying a pyrex container of six pints of very hot milk from the microwave to the utility room (to cool it in a sink of cold water – half way stage of making yoghurt) when it started a wave motion and began to splash out of the covered bowl onto the floor – then I slipped on this as I stepped up into the utility room – the pyrex dish flew and smashed and six pints of milk sprayed itself liberally everywhere! The pyrex, as it exploded – which pyrex does when thrown on a tile floor – managed to send a piece up to slice through the flesh of my middle finger, on the top just above the first joint. I’ll draw a veil over the dripping blood and the clearing up – suffice to say – six pints of milk go a long way and broken pyrex is vicious!

Result – however, was that I couldn’t do my weights exercises as gripping anything caused the semi-circular cut of pop open [maybe it needed a stitch or two? I’d used butterfly strips to hold it together as my skin doesn’t likes stitches – usually swelling and going sore and red around them…] but the scar is very neat now – so my way was probably ok after all.christmas-food

So – no exercises = less muscle – so I didn’t even notice a weight gain the the first couple of weeks as fat on, was balanced by muscle lost… and secondly – then it was Christmas – and my total failure to stick to my usual careful watching of those SS (sugar and starch) carbs. Yes – I ate the second mincepie – the slice of cake each evening, the roast potatoes, the chocolates (an open tub of chocolates is the devil in disguise) AND even too much of the healthy foods, of which I cooked plenty

Lastly, I’d also been experimenting with gluten-free recipes through December, trying some out and making-up others, as a preparation for going gluten-lite (more about these another time) but what with having to taste (when you try or make a new recipe) and falling into the ‘Health Halo trap’ (just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean its not fattening) I was already eating more that my usual amount of carbs (even non-wheat grain carbs are still carbs!)

All of which, oddly enough, tends to prove that the weights programme and the sensible low carb eating works … and, as exercises are done at home in less than 15 minutes and as no food is banned (just kept a close eye on) it is sustainable – barring accidents!

Confession over – so what am I doing about it?

January the first, like many people, I was making my New Year resolution – of which I spoke last week – now here’s a bit of the detail:
1, return to my weight exercises,
2, return to watching the SS carbs carefully,
3, to SLOW it all down – to eat with more consciousness – slowing down the consumption, tasting the food more – chewing more. (difficult when the other half is a very fast eater and seems impatient for his pud – AND frustratingly – is one of those people who can eat what they like and stay slim!!)
4, Only eating if I feel hungry. (the first couple of days after a New Year’s Eve and Day over-eating I hardly felt like eating anything – so I ate minimally just for those days {frowned upon by the other-half} until my body started telling me it was ready) And it has begun to work – for as of Monday this week I had lost 3lbs of that gain – and hope the rest follows … I will keep you posted.

Any other confessions out there?

Did you take your eye off the (weight) ball over Christmas?

Do share, confession is good for the soul  😉

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Is it Monday?

Hi All, and yes, I’ve got to that stage when in the Christmas – New Year break when I am confused over what day it is. I’m sure I lost a day somewhere. Am I the only one feeling like this?

However, I am assured it is – and now offer my belated New Year’s greetings – and do wish everyone a peaceful 2017. Peace – in all parts of the world, but also peace within ourselves.

Perhaps this is why we try to set new targets for the coming year – we have ideas about what we want to be that we are sure would help complete ourselves, let us be happier in our own skin or boost our self-esteem. diet 1

However, it seems to me that, unless we make our goals very realistic, we are instead setting ourselves up for a fall. I now set targets that allow for the fact that I am human – and I offer this – as I find it works for me.

I allow myself a lapse within each week, for each resolution, as long as I can keep it for five days I allow myself the other two. I do not have to give up on the resolution on those two – but if I do, I do not have to beat myself up about it… AND as I’ve not ‘broken my resolution’ I do not have to ‘give up on it’.

How does this help? Well, low-self-esteem is a driver for many ills / addictions / lows in our psyche and so keeping our self-esteem high helps. Oh, yes, and the extra pat-on-the-back we can give ourselves if we don’t use the get-out clause and manage 7 out of 7 is a boost as well.

So if my aim is to exercise more, to eat less carb-loaded and wheat-based food, write more (as an author who finds it difficult to carve the regular writing times out of busy days), sleep more (definitely related to the writing and health) then I can do this for at least five days out of seven and, oddly, achieve more than if I aimed for 7 / 7.

I have one other aim this year – that is to cut back on the number of chemicals in my life. I’ll be looking at chemicals used for cleaning around the house – and chemicals that come into contact with my skin – and, as usual, I’ll be reporting along the way and hope you’ll find it of interest.

Are you making any interesting Resolutions out there?
– do share – you know I love to hear from you!

So here’s wishing you a Healthy, Peaceful and Happy 2017tigger

best

Ann

 

 

 

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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?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

 

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Get your gut bacteria happy

At last, what you can do if you believe Dr Perlmutter and his theory in his book Brain Maker. As I said at the beginning, there are critics, but, apart from the book itself, he doesn’t point you to buying proprietary brands of anything – instead giving some recipes to make!happy bacteria

Let’s assume you want to make some change: that you want to encourage the correct balance of the bacteria that would be best for your body. How do you do it?

Firstly, the message that has run throughout this book – go gluten free. Or, at the very least, cut your gluten intake to the minimum.

Secondly, Go low carb & embrace high-quality fats. Wherever possible eat organic, grass fed, free-range.

Make sure you include plenty of leafy green vegetables, plus, mushrooms, onions ( and any in the oinion family) ginger, parsley and water-chestnuts.

Low-sugar fruits lemons, limes, and avocado, cucumber, tomato, courgettes, bell-peppers, aubergines.

Eat Fermented Foods. Yoghurt, Pickled (fermented not in vinegar) fruits and vegetables: sauerkraut, kimchi, Fermented meat, fish or eggs.

Healthy Fats: extra-virgin olive oils, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, grass-fed lard, pasture-fed butter, ghee, almond milk, avocado, coconut, olives, nuts, nut butter, cheeses (except blue cheese) and seeds.

Protein: Whole eggs, wild fish, shellfish, molluscs, grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, pork, wild game.

Herbs, seasonings and condiments: mustard, horseradish, tapenade,  and salsa – as long as they are free from gluten and sugar or soy.

Thirdly, include in your diet the foods that the right bacteria like to feed on – so that these thrive. Perlmutter recommends that you make sure you eat at least 12grams of foods that are these prebiotics a  day – this is easy.. just 12 grams each day – a mixture is fine, just one, all of them – you choose. The easiest of all of these is ONION. Cooked or raw. The others are all RAW: Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, garlic, leek, asparagus, chicory root – plus acacia-gum (gum-arabic)

What all these have in common is that they are fibre-rich non-digestible (by us) though perfect for our gut bacteria to feast on.

Fourthly, drink filtered water (Perlmutter believes that the chlorine added to the water supply to kill pathogenic bacteria – and thereby make the water safe – will also kill off our good bacteria) – so he recommends filtering the water to remove the chlorine before drinking.

Fifthly, enjoy wine, tea, coffee and chocolate.. yes – drinks without sugar or sweetners – and yes – good dark chocolate with high levels of cocoa mass

Sixthly, and lastly – Fast every season. At least four times a year – maybe on the equinox, fast for a day. Do drink water, but avoid caffeine.

Permutter suggest you do this – a one day fast – before you start your change of life-style to one that cares for your gut-biome more.

He also suggest you might like to take a one month course of probiotics (not telling you whose to buy) but listing the five core species of bacteria that need to be in them – and thereafter maintain these colonies and keep them thriving by eating the foods recommended above.

Lactobacillus planatarum – also found in sauerkraut, kimchi other fermented vegetables

Lactobacillus acidophilus – also found in  yoghurt, kefir

Lactobacillus brevis – also found in sauerkraut & fermented vegetables

Bifidobacterium lactis  – also found in yoghurt

Bifidobacterium longum – also found in some yoghurts – fermented vegetables

But as you can see – you could do it the slower way – build up the bacteria required by adding fermented foods to your diet. He lists these on his website here.

Fermented foods were, and are, used in all parts or the world, in all cultures at one time. In many these have been forgotten, overtaken by the quicker dousing in vinegar instead of an anaerobic fermentation that both preserves and grows a community of certain bacteria.

The world of fermented foods, some only bacterial, some a symbiosis between yeasts and bacteria, is fascinating once you start and there is plenty of help to be found on the internet as interest in these old methods of preserving and keeping healthy grows.

A last word on Vitamin D – a hormone really rather than a vitamin, made by your skin when in sufficient sunlight – is required for many of your body functions. When you realise that in the UK we do not have strong enough sun from October to May to make vitamin D we may all need a vitamin D boost (simple tablets) during those months.

Go to Dr Perlmutter’s website for plenty more information…

I continue my nutrition journey – and the more I read the more I believe we need to look back to how people ate before the industrialisation of food.

Does this ring bells with you?

Are you on your own nutritional journey

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

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Mind on fire

At last – the final ailment or condition in my interpretation of Dr Perlmutter’s book ‘Brain Maker’brain on fire

I came to the study of the gut biome (and this book ‘Brain Maker’ as part of it) because I was looking for the things I can do to help prevent brain deterioration. A dysfunctional gut-biome is found in a very high proportion of people suffering from Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

Let’s start with something simple. B12. A vitamin that is found to be deficient in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimers. Though we can try to make sure we eat foods with B12, though we could take supplements, the fact is that our gut bacteria, when operating properly, MAKES the B12 our bodies require. It is well documented that a low level of B12 is a huge risk factor for dementia

In Brain Maker Dr Perlmutter leads us through the effects of gluten again in the sections relating to Dementia; even those who are not shown to be sensitive to gluten (no bloating or diarrhoea) can be affected, as the constituents of the gluten have two effects on the intestine. One is to be ‘sticky’ and prevent the uptake of some nutrients, and, two, the gliadin in the gluten causes leaky gut, causes the body’s immune system to be on high alert (producing anti-gliadin antibodies) AND allows the passage of LPS (lipopolysaccirides) into the bloodstream which, as explained previously, can pass through the blood brain barrier, (leaving the door open for other large molecules to follow) and cause changes in the way the brain sends signals to the body and inflammation there too.

gluten groupThe Anti-bodies to gliadin not only cause the release of cytokines (which are inflammatory in the brain) but they also cross-react with certain brain proteins. From many studies it is shown that this then leads to complications such as neuropathy, ataxia, seizures and neuro-behavioural changes.

Is it any wonder then that Dr Perlmutter connects the rise in dementia (over and above that expected just through living longer) to a disrupted gut-biome?

A word on fats. Omega 3 fats are essential for good brain function.

The over-use of Omega 6 oils (sunflower / corn -oil) is also brought up in this section. The demonising of saturated fats* to such an extent that Omega 6 oils now take up too much of our dietary fats is a concern as in the western diet now the ratio of Omega 6 intake to Omega 3 (Olive oil : cold-pressed rape-seed oil) intake is around 10 : 1 (or higher). The ratio of Omega 6 to the mono-unsaturated Omega 3  (shown to be required for brain health) is critical. It ought to be 1:1 or at the very most 3:1 – any more and the Omega 6 oils prevent the take-up of the Omega 3s (to the detriment of the brain!)

*Saturated fats are demonised as being Cholesterol raising. More and more evidence is being produced to show that this is not the case. Simplistically – an observation was made and the ‘result’ was viewed as the ’cause’ (arteries blocked by cholesterol plaques = therefore cholesterol causes blocked arteries) – from then on cholesterol and saturated fats have been demonised and a vast theory and business (phamacutical and dietary) has been built up around it. Why ‘saturated fats’ – well, because, though they do not contain cholesterol, they are found in the same source – animal products. When it comes down to it, our liver makes the majority of cholesterol our bodies need, if we do not eat enough of it, and it is quite hard to eat as much as is required, – it makes it.

Note however, that our brains need cholesterol (yes – even the ‘bad’ one) – to function properly, as do most of the other cells in our bodies. In one of the largest studies ever, where a very large cohort was followed over fifteen to eighteen years, those with naturally lower cholesterol in their systems as they aged were shown to perform less well in all cognitive tests.

The real question following the observations should have been ‘why has the cholesterol formed a blockage here?’ The answer comes back to the gut-biome (and gluten) as it seems that the arterial blockage is the result of frequent damage / inflammation repairs – and the damage is caused by the intrusion of proteins that should never have made their way in the bloodstream, (LPS – gliadin etc) and couldn’t have done, or wouldn’t have done, if the gut-biome was healthy and gluten wasn’t so prevalent in the diet to crowbar a way through the tight junctions. And if you are thinking that I have strayed from my concerns for the brain into heart-attack waters – I have not. The cause of vascular dementia is the blocking of blood vessels in the brain – resulting in brain-cell death and strokes of various sizes and effects – so if the damage to the lining of the blood vessels can be prevented, the blockages due to repairs should not happen either.

The final part of this book deals with How to keep your good bacteria happy and thriving and in balance for optimal health – and I will work on a summary of this soon.

What do you think – have saturated fats been demonised unnecessarily?

Have you ever tried a low / no gluten diet to see how you feel on it?

You know I love to hear from you – do share

Best – Ann

ps – for those interested, my Dad’s book is now also available for Kindles (from Amazon) or other ebooks from PendownPublishing

 

 

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When your body turns against itself …

When your body turns against itself … they call it an AUTO-IMMUNE disease.  autoimmune

And there are plenty of them … and they range from the uncomfortable – to the downright debilitating.

The one thing that they all have in common is inflammation. Why am I not surprised therefore, that Dr Perlmutter cites a  disrupted gut-biome as the main cause of auto-immune diseases.

We need a good immune system, it protects us from the things outside of us that will do us harm if they end up inside. However, an immune system must know what it is fighting. Without a functioning immune system then the simplest of infections can lead to trauma and even death. However, an over-active immune system can lead to other complications – allergies (some of which can also lead to death in an anaphylactic shock reaction) or to our immune system failing to recognise parts of our own body and starting to attack them. The classic auto-immune diseases (like Rhematiod Arthritis or Lupus) leave the sufferer in chronic pain – usually treated with drugs to suppress the immune system (leaving the patient open to other dangers and altering the gut-biome even further from the optimum) and strong medicines that often cause almost as much pain as the condition.  autoimmune2

So where does the gut-bacteria come into all this? The fact is of our whole immune system 80% is created by our gut bacteria and lies within our gut. This makes sense when you acknowledge that the gut is the boundary between outside our body and inside. (As I said  at the beginning of these articles – the mouth-to-anus gastrointestinal tract can be seen as being an extension of outside our body.) The gut immune system is also in touch with every cell in the remaining immune system, if it meets a problem within the gut then the message to be alert travels throughout the body. They are the body’s first responders. The right gut bacteria teach the immune system what is safe and what is not – so that the immune system become vigilant but not in full defence mode all the time. They educate the system to know that food stuffs are safe (not requiring an immune response).

It seems that pathogenic bacteria (very bad bacteria) can not just cause us upsets but they also interact with the immune system causing a release of inflammatory molecules and stress hormones. With the wrong balance of bacteria the protective layer to the inside of the ileum is not there – the tight-junctions are vulnerable to being crowbarred open by constituents found in substances such as Gluten (there are others – but gluten is by far the biggest culprit) and the pathogenic bacteria get in (along with the over-large proteins that also cause inflammation) This is called a leaky-gut.

On the other hand –  the right bacteria can actually do the opposite – turning off the stress hormones, soothing the inflammatory responses, protecting the lining of the ileum and therefore the tight junctions.

So, if this is the case then it would seem possible – that by changing the balance of the gut bacteria and preventing the leaky-gut problem –  an auto-immune disease could be reversed – or at very least made less chronic – less painful, less disruptive to the body.

I have already written about depression in an earlier blog – it is a fact that having and auto-immune disease and having depression has a very high correlation. Logically, I think if you are in chronic pain it would be depressing – however, the suggestion is not that the chronic pain causes the depression but that both the autoimmune condition and the depression my be caused by the same thing.

Because auto-immune conditions generally grow slowly in intensity (often in the run-up to being diagnosed) it is rare that anyone can pin-point when it started. If they could it would be interesting to know how often it was triggered by a life-event that required antibiotic treatment, or another treatment or experience that adversely affected the gut-biome.

I read with interest the reports from people who suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis, in particular, who had taken up the ‘Paleo’ life-style diet only to find that it also reversed their condition sufficiently to come off medication and to feel stronger and healthier than before. This Paleo diet would, inadvertently, have produced the same balancing of the bacteria – through the recommended foods to eat (organic veg, grass fed meats, pastured poultry, fermented foods, whole-foods) and the avoidance of gluten and many of the other inflammatory ingredients in the Paleo-diet. The aim was a different eating style – the result was a change in the gut-biome, a reduction in gut attack (leaky gut) … and a healing process.

The take- away again this week is, if you suffer from an auto-immune condition – cut out the gluten (and maybe some of the other main known irritants) and top up with the right type of bacteria and eat the fibrous fresh foods that sustain them, whilst cutting back on the carbs and sugar that encourage the wrong type of bacteria to grow. It certainly couldn’t do any harm and yet may just help your system to turn the corner and start to help itself recover to some extent.

Any experience of this out there?

Do share – I’d love to hear from you

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The gut and the Autism question

Autism is a delicate condition to talk about. autism As Dr Stephen Scherer, director of the Centre for Applied genomics at Toronto who has just completed the largest-ever autism genome study says ‘Each child with autism is like a snowflake – unique from all the others’. Contrary to what had been assumed – it turns out that even siblings who share the same genetic parents and a diagnosis of Autism don’t always have the same autism-linked genes. This has raised the suspicion that the mechanism that creates Autism is not only genetic even where it appears to run in families.

Dr Perlmutter points out that despite the many difference between people with autism, one thing is certain – they are all people whose brains function a little differently. It is suggested that during their early development something triggered changes in their physiology and neurology that led to this disorder.

One indicator of this is that individuals with Autism almost uniformly suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. (This is something that I have come across myself in children with Autism I have known. The expression of the behaviours associated with the autism increased as the child’s extreme constipation built up over four or five days and then, after the explosive expulsion of faecal matter, the behaviours lessened) 

Children with Autism are 3.5 times more likely to suffer from chronic constipation and diarrhoea than their peers without autism – and that a strong association between constipation and language impairment has been found.

When the contents of the guts of people suffering from Autism is examined it is found that they exhibit different patterns in their composition to that of people without Autism. The particular bacteria that are found in their guts in abundance are Clostridia, which are able to create a compound that adversely affect the immune system and brain, causing inflammation. This is Propionic Acid – PPA.

PPA has multiple deleterious effects. Firstly it makes the gut leaky – which, as we know, allows molecules that should never get through to the blood into the blood stream – including itself. When it gets into the blood stream it turns on inflammation and activates the immune system. It also affects  cell-to-cell signalling, and compromises the mitochondria, altering the brain’s ability to use energy. It also increases oxidative stress, which in turns harms proteins, cell-membranes and even DNA. If the brain is exposed to these chemicals, and the enhanced inflammation, at a formative stage it is quite possible for this to play a role in creating the autistic brain.

Clostridia bacteria also need to feed on carbohydrates – and may explain why children with Autism often crave carbohydrates, especially refined sugars, which feed these bacteria and thus create a vicious cycle.

autismAdd to this that scientist have also identified a multitude of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. If you read the earlier blog which mentioned epi-genetics then you may already be wondering if this effect is at work here. Though the work has not yet been completed, the indicators are that the epi-genetic effect could well be at work. That there may be many other people who have the possibility of being autistic within their DNA but they have not had the environmental exposure (internal or external ) to have switched on or off the genes that lead to the symptoms that are recognised as Autistic.

However, as complicated as this is it is still not the whole story  – it is far more complicated, as a condition such as Autism surely is, there is an interplay of timing of exposure, of the on-going effect of the PPA and of the chronic gastrointestinal problems it creates.

This is a huge and very complicated subject – and I have not been able to deal with it in depth – but hopefully I have picked out his main points.

If you are concerned with someone suffering from Autism then I can only recommend reading this chapter of his book (Ch 5) if you haven’t already considered the way a compromised gut-biome may be affecting the condition – it holds some hope for some cases in that, without drugs, it seems it is possible to try to even-out the bacterial balance and perhaps help alleviate, if not everything, at least some of the gastrointestinal problems. The quoted scientific experiments are very interesting in this respect – as is this case study of Jason he quotes in this chapter and on his webpage here.

Again, Dr Perlmutter’s advice for people with this condition is to avoid gluten and sugary and simple carbohydrates and to enhance the diet with live fermented foods to balance the bacteria in the gut – though more drastic measures are also suggested.

Does any of this ring bells with your experience of this condition?

 

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