Posts Tagged ‘Kefir’

Come Forth July

IMG_1917 (2)Today, July began and the skies clouded over, the temperatures decreased and the winds picked up. Rain is promised but so far today it is dry as a bone and for once I actually need some water on my garden.

This is so 2014. Thus far this year, if we need rain it doesn’t. If we are drowning with rain, it does. Should we need a calm day, the winds howl and if you aren’t sleeping well it storms all night long with great flashes of white-hot lightning and thunderous boomers. July may well continue this contradictory pattern. 2014, so far, has been full of mixed up crazy weather, so why change now?

Experiments ongoing

This past month of June has been one of experimentation and I thought I would share the results with you but first explain why I was experimenting at all.

Over this past winter I developed eczema on my lower legs. Nowhere else but each leg has several patches of dry itchy skin that was diagnosed as eczema by my homeopathic doctor, Kim Lane, M.D.. Overall, this past year has been one of good but unsettling changes and I have never been one for feeling out of control. I understand that at least one cause of eczema is stress and I feel like stress has been a constant friend for about the last 9 months.

At first I just scratched the itch but once I realized what I was dealing with I asked my health oriented group on Facebook (Krisinsight) if they had any proven remedies. Dr. Lane had offered one bit of advice, use Vitamin A&D ointment but that really didn’t appeal to me, thus I asked the group. One person came forth with something that had worked for everyone who had tried it, so you know me, I had to give it a try.

Treatment for eczema

The magical ingredient is Lecithin. I am not fond of soy (often not non-GMO and bad for thyroid), so I purchased NOW Brand Sunflower Lecithin at iHerb.com (if you use the coupon code YAN884 you can get a discount for being a first time buyer and I get a few pennies as well). It comes in 1200 mg capsules which are big enough to choke a horse but if you have yogurt to help them down it is really quite easy.

For one month, my group member stated, you take 2 capsules in the morning and 2 capsules in the evening. After the month is up you take 2 capsules once a day. I was all over that one and started my 4 capsules every day. Immediately(within days) my spots started to dry up. The itch decreased dramatically and I was a believer.

Setbacks are inevitable

I don’t really think that setbacks are inevitable but I did have a huge setback after two weeks of taking my sunflower lecithin. I took my Big Guy to his doctor because he was having problems with his anal glands. Imagining he just had plugged anal glands I, without any dire thoughts, took him in to see what was bothering him.

Sidney’s vet is the same vet who put my 10-year-old poodle, Fitzy, down in December (something I still am not completely over), so as he examined Sidney I could tell he was not anxious to tell me what he thought. Poor ol’ Sidney had someone doing a digital rectal exam and my heart bled for him already but when Dr. Winter told me he could feel a mass on one anal gland and pulled his finger out covered with blood, my heart sank.

Whether or not Dr. Winter is a prognosticator  is up for debate but he recommended surgery to remove the offending tumor and he is a good veterinary doctor, so Sidney had surgery almost three weeks ago as I write. Keith has predicted that Sidney has perhaps 6 months to live because, it is his experience that these type of tumors tend to metastasize. I like to think Sidney will be with us longer than that.

Here is what I know today, Sidney is going to be 13 (82 in human years) in October and he is a large dog (71 pounds of bouncing poodle), so both my spousal unit and I already knew he wasn’t here forever. His blood panel showed everything within normal limits, his eyes are clear and his gregariousness has returned after major surgery. We have vowed that whatever the time we have with the Big Guy we are going to enjoy every minute.

No matter how I look at it now, this was a huge upset for me and guess what? My itch returned with a vengeance.

Now what?

Even though the itch and redness was back I carried on with my 4 capsules a day of Sunflower Lecithin for one month. I also treated the spots directly with Peaceful Mountain Eczema Rescue homeopathic cream (also available at iHerb.com). This virtually took the itch away while the lecithin did its healing and I am working on regaining my composure and positive attitude.

Now that the month is up I am on 2 capsules a day and if it were to really flare up I would return, as was recommended, to 4 capsules a day. I truly believe that the lecithin would have healed the eczema had it not been for this new upset in my life because the areas are greatly reduced and what is left is drying up.

Krisinsight

We all know that emotions play a huge role in our health. Negative energy is so harmful and I do what I can to eliminate negative energy but when one’s furkid is given a short period of time to be with you it is like someone cut off one arm and then asked you to floss your teeth. You can do it, you will do it but you really have to deal with the initial disappointment  (or in the case of your arm, total devastation) and see the good in the situation.

I found that happy spot within 24 hours but the emotional damage had been done, the eczema returned. I credit my Reiki training for turning me around but I have to admit to you that at first my Reiki training was forgotten. I shed tears of grief and frustration from the moment Keith uttered his terrible news until I got home where I fell in to the spousal unit’s arms and wept until I was totally spent. The idea of losing two dogs in less than  year was almost too much to bear.

Somehow the next day I remembered one line of my Reiki affirmation. “Just for today, I will not worry.” I repeated it and repeated it and then, much to my relief, I found my inner Reiki healer. I started doing Reiki on Sidney from the minute I found out until today. I do as much as he will allow and sometimes that isn’t very much. Other times, he is very receptive. He wears crystals for immunity and calm around his neck. His diet is anti-inflammatory with turmeric and probiotics and herbs that might benefit his ability to destroy cancerous cells or the tendency for cells to divide in an insane manner creating tumors.

This take charge attitude changed my emotional state. I had an inner sense of calm and acceptance. I accept that he will not be here forever. I accept that I can make whatever remains of his life a good experience. I also accept that I may need my Reiki skills to make his end of life comfortable and peaceful. In the end, end of life transition was a big impetus for becoming a Reiki healer. No one wants to talk about end of life but it happens to all living things and if we humans can ease the passage we should. I will.

After all that, I also accept that I still have patches of eczema on both legs. I don’t particularly like that they are still there but with sunflower lecithin, Peaceful Mountain eczema cream and wait for it, my cream kefir (cream fermented with kefir grains and spread lightly over the area) I control the itch and the patches are drying up and disappearing.

This experience did make me wonder if anyone else has experienced a healing “miracle” using a method that is not allopathic. If you have, feel free to share it. I would love to hear about non-standard and successful ways of treating an otherwise bothersome health matter. I am sure others would as well.

I send you all Reiki,  prayers and healing energy and wish you all a very happy Fourth of July.

Santé,

Kris

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A Skeptic’s Dessert

I don’t know about you but when the days cry out “August” but the calendar clearly states “July” I get a taste for something slightly sweet/tart and cold. Cold, like an ice-cream mountain. Icy as a strawberry sorbet iceberg. I am not an ice-cream lover under normal circumstances (more like a bar of dark as night organic chocolate) but the other night I suddenly had one of those strange cravings and there was nothing in Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards, so I became creative.

I had some frozen avocado halves for smoothies, so I took 4 halves and thawed them slightly. I reached in the freezer again and pulled out a bag of organic frozen strawberries. I took out a few cups of those and let them thaw slightly with the avocados. From the refrigerator came about a cup of coconut milk kefir, my thinking being it would be close to cream and might have a better texture. I put the kefir in the processor and since I wanted something sweet I added some of my Mercola Miracle Whey powder. Now the avocados and strawberries were slightly thawed, so I added them and popped on the top and whizzed it all together until it was smooth.

I put a spoon in this light and fluffy creation and scooped a bit in to my mouth. I was amazed at how refreshing it tasted and how creamy it was (thanks to the avocados, my favorite fruit) but I needed a taste tester, so I took a small dish of my “sorbet” in to the spousal unit. He somewhat reluctantly took a taste but then with a sparkle in his eyes he took the proffered dish. Okay, okay it didn’t taste like an M&M Blizzard (his favorite once a year treat) but it hit the spot and had far fewer calories and sugar.

The spousal unit has been my reliable taste tester for almost 32 years but he also is the most skeptical having had his share of what he calls my “but it’s good for you” creations. When something actually hits the spot and is good for him I would say it is skeptic approved.

Skeptic’s Approved Sorbet Cream

  • 4 frozen avocado halves, slightly thawed and sliced
  • 3 cups frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
  • 1 cup coconut milk kefir (traditional kefir made with canned coconut milk)
  • 2 scoops Mercola Strawberry Whey Protein
  • Lo Han if more sweetness is desired

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. You may need to add more kefir to make a smooth sorbet cream and the whey protein powder could be added to taste.

Scoop in to old fashioned ice cream dishes, sprinkle with assorted seeds like sunflower, hemp, pumpkin and sesame and serve.

*Note: I froze the leftovers and it required 30 minutes or more of thawing time before we could eat it. I think it would be best to make it and serve it right away but if there are leftovers it should be frozen slightly then processed again to remove ice crystals and make the resultant sorbet creamier.

Have a wonderfully cool week,

Kris

Balancing Act

Imagine my glee last night when I really wanted to post something about the wonderful taste of coconut milk kefir but I knew I still had three more blogs to write about your digestive health, so I went to check my agenda and realized that this week’s blog was about the importance of a healthy gut flora. I almost got out of bed and started right away as there is little that is better to increase the good bacteria in your digestive tract than coconut milk kefir. Alas sleepiness overcame my compunction to create. Here I am at almost noon on Monday finally gearing up to share what I know about this balancing act called healthy gut flora.

What is gut flora all about? I am going to give you a very simplistic view but it you would like to read more on the subject I think Jemima Stockton’s information is presented in a thoroughly entertaining format.  A healthy gut flora is composed of bacteria with great names like lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, E. Coli and Enteroccoccus and these bacteria help to protects us from disease. Even as we come through the birth canal we ingest fluids from our mother’s body full of these bacteria, so they are literally with us from the beginning hanging around in our digestive tract. “Our normal flora produces essential nutrients and generates by-products that reduce the risks of developing certain cancers, digestive disorders, and heart disease. It serves our bodies from the cradle to the grave.”

What disrupts this normal flora? Antibiotics, aging and a diet full of processed foods and sodas can have a profound effect on your gut flora allowing bacterial warriors like Clostridium Difficile to wage war and cause diarrhea for instance. If normal gut flora is disrupted and/or altered it has a deleterious effect on your body’s ability to win battles with heart disease, cancers and allergies to name but a few.

Let’s consider a particular scenario for learning purposes. This morning when you got up your stomach felt queasy and within minutes you found your self on the “throne” gushing out noxious fluids. The best action at that point is to try and balance your out of kilter gut. While not pleasant, if the bad guys have taken up residence you really must allow them to occupy the space and then move out. It can be very cleansing to empty your bowels but then it is time to repopulate the gut with the good guys. Often probiotics in heavy doses taken at first sign of diarrhea will have an immediate effect and the healing can begin. But how do you get the probiotics and which ones are the best?

Now it gets fun for me because one of the best ways to increase your probiotic intake is to make your own kefir (pronounced Keh- fear). Kefir made with raw milk or my new favorite coconut milk is so rich in all the good bacteria and so easy and cheap to make that any other choice seems foolish. Dr. Mercola says kefir is the best way to take your probiotics and it is so simple and the results so good you will be amazed.

 

kefir grains

 

You start with “grains” of kefir which can be easily ordered from eBay or Cultures for Health. I often have extra grains to share with friends and co-workers and I love getting them started on the road to health.

They are odd little mushroom like organisms as you can see by the photo to the right but they are amazing when added to milk. The amount you see will ferment an entire quart of raw milk or two cans of coconut milk (yes you can ferment rice and nut milk but you will need to recharge the grains in milk or they will die). You place them in a quart jar add your “milk” of choice, mix it with a wooden spoon (it is better to not expose the grains to metals) cover lightly and put away in your microwave ( I use my microwave to store things not to cook things) or pantry where it will be out of direct light overnight or 24 hours. The longer they ferment the more tart the taste and also the warmer it is the faster the process.

The coconut milk kefir after 24 hours looks a lot like a whipped cream and it tastes wonderful. (You need to know that coconut kefir will bubble and ferment rather voraciously, so put it in a much larger jar to allow for growth). Admittedly if you don’t like coconut you may not like the taste but I have no such problem and I love the creamy texture and the mildly tart taste. Last night I put a dollop on my Avocado-Chocolate mousse and it was a tongue tingling addition.

Are there other ways to balance the gut flora? Yes, fermenting vegetables like cucumber, cabbage, turnips, eggplant, etc. is a simple and good way to get gut flora normalized as is kombucha (especially kombucha with ginger) and yogurt made with live cultures. Dr. Joe Mercola suggests eating one to two crushed garlic cloves every day as it will support the good guys and kill off the bad ones and of course, he is a raw milk  advocate and it, and its by-products, contain lots of probiotics (despite the media palaver). Also cleaning up your diet is a great help. Just restricting your intake of sugar and white foods, like white flour and white rice is a step in the right direction on the tightrope to good health.

Gosh  I think it is time for a break and some coconut kefir served atop my sprouted buckwheat groats sounds a treat.

Here’s to a healthy gut,

Kris

 

The finished coconut kefir

 

Boning Up on the Facts

I hope my friend Carla won’t mind if I take a cue from her for today’s blog but she was pondering osteoporosis and its affects on her aging mother. I have osteopenia which means when I had my Dexa scan done there was some thinning of my bone but not enough for my functional medicine doctor to concern himself with. To quote him ” it is a normal thinning of bone”. My mother had osteoporosis and this was evidenced by the change in her general height. That said, she really never did break a bone until she was 90, and she fell more than any other person I know. When she did tumble from her walker at the nursing home she fell right on her left elbow and it did break. It was surgically corrected, and once they took the darned pin out it healed and she acted like she had never had a break. Mother started taking one of the Pharma drugs in her 80’s and it may have helped but it also may have contributed to some wasting in her jaw bone that caused her to lose some teeth. I guess we will never know and that is what the Pharma world counts on. I am left pondering my mother’s osteoporosis thanks to Carla and here are my ruminations.

I believe that my osteopenia and my mother’s osteoporosis were primarily caused by undiagnosed Celiac’s disease. We were a family of bread eaters and cereals, you name it there wasn’t a grain that wasn’t eaten at our house all in the name of healthy eating. Mother had the ability to clear her colon in seconds as her doctor told her “with any kind of stress”. I think we would now call that IBS and mother had it her entire life but not one person thought to alter her diet. I think of all the nutrients she didn’t absorb and I am no longer in wonder at her osteoporosis or for that matter her dementia. I have blamed my similar issues on anything and everything, that is until I started reading and then took to heart everything that Joe Mercola and others were putting out there about grain consumption. Once I eliminated grain from my diet, allowing for the occasional treat, my digestive issues all but disappeared.

Calcium is supposed to build strong bones. Well milk was huge at our house and mother dutifully drank her glass of milk at almost every meal ostensibly “for her bones”. Mother also took her tums. Pasteurized milk is truly useless and that “healthy” drink, skim milk, is just pure sugar and does little more than cause insulin resistance in the individuals who drink it (my father drank gallons of the stuff but ate no sweets and little bread and died with undiagnosed diabetes). In other words, calcium is not the only answer and most of us get plenty of calcium in our diet from various vegetables and if not lactose intolerant from cheese, cottage cheese, etc. What is often is missing is Magnesium to balance the calcium intake and Ionic Fizz and Peter Gilham’s Calm both easily add magnesium to your diet. I love my raw milk kefir and have some most mornings in my smoothie. By the way, there is no pasteurized milk in my house if I can help it but that is a recent revelation (last 10 years) and pasteurized skim milk used to be a constant in our refrigerator and I, too, took Tums regularly.

Mother exercised in her fifties but only then and it was always walking. She worked harder than anyone I know and had more energy than anyone I know but she didn’t actually do weight lifting or any kind of exercise that would cause percussion of the bone and a pulling of muscle on the bones. Lesson learned is exercise your muscles and pound a little on your bones with exercise like running, walking, climbing stairs, etc. T-Tapp actually does it all and also improves your mirror image.

Mom ate a lot of fish especially in her later years as they lived on the shores of Lake Superior but fish is notoriously high in mercury and she was still eating her oatmeal and bread, so whatever goodness she was supposed to get from her fish was washed down the loo. Omega 3 oils are vital to healthy bones and the best kind of fish oil I know of is Vital Choice Salmon Oil. It is a deep orange it is so rich in astaxanthan from krill, has a pure taste and is undistilled and has undetectable levels of mercury.  Omega 6 oils need to be minimized at least in the summer (we may have increased need for some if we live in the northern climes).

Mother judiciously avoided sunshine. She slathered on sunscreen, put a large brimmed hat on her head and covered every inch of her body with thick fabric. In her last years she was seldom exposed to sunshine and when she was she squinted and asked to go back inside. I never had her Vitamin D levels checked but I wish I would have as it is easy to do and is so important. Vitamin D levels should be at least 50-60 ng/ml and even higher if you have any health challenges like cancer or even a virus. My functional medicine doctor ordered the test for me originally but now you can order your own online at the Vitamin D Council site. It is so cool that at my local Healtheast hospital (Woodwinds) you can walk in to the hospital lab and ask for a Vitamin D3 test without doctor’s orders and for $40 find out for yourself. It may be true of a lab near you and it pays to ask. Once you know your D3 levels you may need massive amounts of D3 to get your levels up (up to 50,000 mg temporarily) but you might just need daily exposure to midday sunshine. Sunshine prescription: 15-20 minutes midday sun on as much exposed naked skin as you can decently manage. In the north our sunshine is only effective from May-September unless you live at high altitude so another option is the Sunsplash from Mercola not only will it help your body produce its own Vitamin D all year you will also walk around with a healthy glow.

Lastly, Mom took a daily multiple vitamin but we know now those really aren’t adequate and with her digestive issues it was mostly a waste of her time and money. What she really needed were a host of minerals and vitamins that would have helped her keep her bones strong. Vitamin K2 is vital, selenium, boron, copper, zinc and B12 (a vitamin many of us have unhealthily low levels of) are all necessary to build and keep bone strong. Recently, I found quite by accident a product developed by Jonathon Wright called ProBone-O by Life Enhancement. It has no fillers or magnesium stearate and is easy to use as you just drop it in the vestibule of your mouth, let it sit 20 seconds and then swallow, even the digestively challenged will absorb the nutrients.

I can’t change things for my mom as she died in March at the age of 91 but maybe my ruminations can help you or someone you love. All of the experts I mention have numerous articles about bone health on their websites and they have all proven to be quite reliable. It really is up to you to bone up on your health.