Category Archives: Drink

Quick and Dirty Antiviral

ingredientsI’ve been sick for literally two weeks, and it’s mostly my own fault. I broke the golden rule about being sick, which is to stay home and rest. Instead I hosted huge dinner parties, went to drunken costume benders, partied in Aspen for 5 nights, flew internationally for work and internationally for a wedding. All in two weeks. So obviously I am not recovering, and it’s a miracle that I don’t have something worse. On top of all that, I have probably spread my viral infection across the globe. But enough about me.

THE COLD AND FLU

Do you feel achy? Shivering? Alternating with sweating? Runny nose? Congested? Exhausted? Headache? Angry? Depressed? Coughing? Ticklish or burning throat? You have a viral infection!

There is a very, very small chance that you have a bacterial infection unless you ate a five-day old lobster salad which travelled to many hot sunny picnics, or if you have some other kind of food-borne illness, but most sicknesses are viral – meaning that you contracted a virus from somewhere.

Technically, a virus is not really an organism since it lacks a nucleus and cell wall. A virus is basically just a strand of DNA or RNA surrounded by a fancy polyhedron which is specific to each virus and studded with sensory receptors. A virus is like a seed, in that it is dormant until its receptors find the right conditions to grow and replicate. The most famous viral epidemic was the Spanish flu in 1918, which globally infected more than 500 million people, and killed at least 130 million. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

When you’re sick, you need to support your recovery with bed rest and easily digestible foods like chicken broth and coconut oil. The last thing you want to do is run around to pharmacies and herbal stores finding preparations, although you probably should.

If the best you can do is make it down to your kitchen to blend up a concoction of what you already have in your cupboard, then this Quick and Dirty Antiviral preparation is for you.

IMG_0730INGREDIENTS

  • At least a thumb size knob of fresh ginger
  • 5 good shakes of dried cayenne, or as much as you can handle
  • 1 TBS of coconut oil
  • 1 Tsp of royal jelly honey or just raw honey (Manuka honey would be a great option)
  • boiling water

You really need a vitamix or powerful blender to shred the ginger and liquefy it so that you can drink it down. I run the vitamix for at least 30 seconds. The concoction turns a lovely yellow opaque color, and I pour it into a clear glass so that I can really appreciate it.

This is a very hot! And spicy! medicine. It’s not something you want to drink every day, nor should you. However, you should drink this at least three times a day when you have a viral infection, which is basically what most cold/flu sickness are.

POURINGWHY IT WORKS: GINGER

Ginger is a hemagglutinin inhibitor, which means it stops viruses from attaching to the surface of airway epithelial cells (in the lungs). Once a virus does attach, it softens the cell’s surface and sneaks inside to hide from the immune system. The virus performs this “softening” technique by using an enzyme called neuraminidase. The good news is that ginger is also a neuraminidase-inhibitor, so ginger prevents any breaches to the cell wall.

However if a virus has managed to latch onto a cell wall and alter its structure and sneak inside, it will stimulate the cell to create a vacuole of protection around itself inside the cell. The vacuole needs to stick itself to the inside of the cell wall, which it does with hemagglutinin (a “gluey” substance) – but of course it can’t in the presence of ginger, a hemagglutinin inhibitor.

The chain of events that brings about viral illnesses is called a cytokine cascade – as cytokines are the signaling molecules of the immune system. Ginger prevents some of the early parts of the cascade as well as some of the later parts. However ginger does not prevent all of them. (The full blown cure for severe cytokine storms could require Chinese skullcap, lomatium, elder, licorice, inmortal, pleurisy root, Chinese senega root, boneset, cordyceps, Japanese knotweed, kudzu, astragalus, angelica, salvia, green tea and zinc; but at that point you are heading to a pretty special international herb shop and not just down to your kitchen for a Down and Dirty Antiviral potion).

Ginger is also good at thinning your mucus, which helps you to expel it, and will help to lower your fever during infection.

WHY IT WORKS: COCONUT OIL

Many viruses have a lipid coating, such as influenza, herpes, HIV, and cytomegalovirus. This lipid coating can be destroyed by monolaurin, a monoglyceride which is formed in the human body from lauric acid, which we get from human breast milk and coconut oil, and a little bit from pasture-raised ruminant butter. Coconut oil has more lauric acid in it than any other food outside of human breast milk. Its derivative, monolaurin, is not just antiviral, but also antibacterial, anitprotozoal and antimicrobial.

WHY IT WORKS: CAYENNE

At a general level, cayenne raises body temperatures, makes you sweat, and increases activity of the immune system. It is also high in vitamin C and helps create more white blood cells for your lymphatic system, which troll the body looking for infected cells. Cayenne also increases mucus, which allows you to trap and expel virally infected cells through coughing up phlegm and blowing your nose.

WHY IT WORKS: HONEY AND ROYAL JELLY

You could write books and books on all the things that honey, royal jelly and propolis can do for human health. In fact, those books have been written and were first written thousands of years ago. The way it works is that bees pick up pollen from medicinal plants in their ecosystem and then concentrate the pollens and ferment them (which increases and changes their medicinal properties) and then expel them as honey, royal jelly, wax and propolis for the benefit of their hive. The medicine they create is complex, and also depends on the ecosystem they are inhabiting. You can pay $50 for mono-crop Manuka honey from Australia, or you can get a $5 jar of your own local regional honey from a farmer’s market. They are both incredible products for healing, and the list of what they can do and can cure is too long for this blog. Beware of pasteurized honey, honey from China (diluted with HFCS), or any large commercial honey which just cannot be trusted in this day and age. Also beware of honey where bees could have been exposed to pesticides and neurotoxins, because those poisons are also concentrated in your honey. If you know of a place where no pesticides are used in a 50 acre radius, consider installing some bee hives and habitats.

HONEY VS SUGAR

Just because honey is basically magic doesn’t mean sugar and carbohydrates are suddenly okay when you have a viral infection. In fact, the opposite is true. When you have the flu (or any viral infection), glucose significantly increases viral load. So when you are sick, the ONLY carbohydrate you should be consuming is a tiny bit of honey. Not gallons of orange juice, not tubs of jello: Just a little bit of honey because of its profound antiviral, antibacterial, anti-etc properties.  Conversely, insulin reduces illness parameters and viral load – however obviously I don’t think you should inject yourself with insulin just to beat a fever. But you should be very, very wary about being hospitalized with a viral infection and immediately put on a glucose drip or offered sugary Pedialyte-type drinks in order to keep your nutrient levels adequate. Sugar feeds your virus, not your immune system. Is that something you want to do?

FURTHER OPTIONS

That oscilloccoccinum homeopathic remedy available at most stores is also great, if you can remember to take it as frequently as required, and at the very first sign of flu.

If you can get to a herbal “pharmacy” or someplace that can make you a custom tincture or tea, ask for something with all or most of the following ingredients: Chinese skullcap, licorice, lomatium, cordyceps, isatis, astragalus, boneset, elder, houttuynia. 

Zinc and vitamin C are also helpful, but watch out for glucose or fake sweeteners in their formulations.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Stephen Harrod Buhner is the consummate authority on natural remedies for emerging and resistant viral infections and bacterial infections. He has written these two books that absolutely deserve shelf space in your Armageddon cupboard:

Herbal Antivirals, by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Herbal Antibiotics, by Stephen Harrod Buhner

GET WELL SOON AND STAY AWAY FROM ME!

ginger drink

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Michael Schmidt’s Appeal Matters

michaelschmidtMichael Schmidt is an Ontario farmer who was targeted in 2006 by the Province of Ontario (through the Grey-Bruce Health Unit and the Ministry of Natural Resources) for making unpasteurized milk available to his small buying group of customers who owned shares in his milking herd. We are talking less than 150 customers over a number of years, and less than 30 cows.

When the judgement for this case came down in 2010, Michael Schmidt was found not guilty and acquitted of all charges. This should have been the end of the story.

But the province appealed the decision! And won! Who let the province waste taxpayer money on an appeal like this? Was anyone injured? Was anyone dissatisfied with Michael Schmidt’s milk? Was there any offense whatsoever that would justify taking this action? No, there was not. Was the spirit of the law being followed when the Province appealed His Worship P. Kowarsky’s judgement? No, it was not.

THE MILK ACT

The Milk Act of Ontario was originally put into place in the 1930s. At the time, milk had become a dangerous commodity due to the unmanaged population growth in cities, the lack of refrigerated trucks to transport milk, a shortage of inspections or regulations in dairy farms pertaining to their cleanliness and standards, among other things (like corporate corruption). There were frequent outbreaks of “bad bacteria” in milk, causing sicknesses and death from tuberculosis and typhoid. In 1927 in fact, over 500 Montrealers died from a typhoid epidemic that was attributed to drinking contaminated milk.

By 1938 it was put into law through the Milk Act that all milk had to be pasteurized to destroy almost all bacteria (there has always been a small amount of allowable bacteria in milk). The spirit of the law was to protect consumers from a lack of standards and unsanitary conditions that were leading to sickness and death.

The cheapest way to do this at the time was to pasteurize. The concept of pasteurization (essentially: boiling) was discovered by Louis Pasteur in 1862. He realized that if he boiled a product – milk, wine, beer, bread dough, vegetables, fruits – the product would stop its natural tendency to ferment and instead become sterile. Boiling would kill all the bacteria, and the product would become benign and any possible disease would be eliminated before it could start reproducing.

Pasteur’s discoveries saved millions of people from untimely deaths by bacterial infection. This is the whole Germ Theory of disease: Kill all bacteria and the bad bacteria will go with it.

This is also known as throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

INTRODUCING THE MICROBIOME

A lot has changed in our understanding of bacteria since Louis Pasteur’s day. Now we know that our own cells are outnumbered by bacterial cells by a factor of 10, making us more bacteria than human by every measurement. Our bacteria live on our skin, our eyelashes, our hairs, our sex organs, our mouths and noses, throughout our entire body and especially along the digestive tract and the epithelium of our intestines.

Our bacteria protect our skin, create a living and fighting barrier against “bad bacteria”, ferment unusable fibers into nutritious fatty acids and other metabolites, and are part of every single thing we do. The name for this set of 100 trillion microbes within us is the Microbiome.

Not all of our microbiome is helpful bacteria. E. coli, despite its deadly reputation, is always present in benign quantities in our intestine. At any moment, we may have a little bit of Streptococcus Progenies, Listeria or Salmonella inside of us as well. The reason these bacterial strains don’t kill us is because we are so full of “beneficial” bacteria that essentially balance the conditions (through acidification or temperature control) to keep the “bad” bacteria in check.

All we have to do to suppress our bad bacteria is support our good bacteria. They will fight it out on their own without further ado.

SIDE NOTE: YOUR FETUS

One important thing to note is that the entire time a fetus is growing inside of you, it is in a completely sterile environment: No bacteria, no microbiome. The reason your gyno is so hell-bent on making you avoid deli meats, sushi and French cheese isn’t because she hates you – it’s because if Listeria or Salmonella makes its way into the fetus, the fetus doesn’t have any “good bacteria” to fight it off. This can result in miscarriage or birth defects.

However, the greatest risk of food-borne infection comes from agricultural produce – most recently lettuce, spinach, celery, cantaloupes, tomatoes and sprouts like mung beans and alfalfa. In particular, most outbreaks from produce have been from large, industrial farms (plant factories, let’s call them) that tend to be near feedlots (animal factories, let’s call them) and then irrigate with contaminated water.

However despite the fact that the greatest risk of bacterial contamination comes from produce, I have never, every heard any doctors advising pregnant women not to eat fruits and vegetables. In fact, we tend to hear the opposite.

The next greatest cause for concern for bacterial contamination is “deli meat”, which is just low quality factory meat processed in the cheapest possible way. Industrial food is a business, not an art form after all. You have to have a tough microbiome at the best of times to survive cheap deli meat, so skip it when you are pregnant.

The next worries – French cheese and sushi – are tricky because somehow the population of France exists even though pregnant women have been consuming raw milk and cheese for thousands of years; somehow the population of Japan exists even though pregnant women have been consuming raw fish for thousands of years (at least). If this was not the case, you would expect those countries to be depopulated. It is possible that French women and Japanese women have evolved a very specific microbiome to fight off any contamination before it can reach their fetuses, but that has not been studied. I just don’t know what to say about that.

Raw milk falls into the same category as French cheese and sushi. It is totally possible that raw milk can contain a small amount of Listeria (in fact even pasteurized milk is allowed to have a small quantity of it, and often does), and that while a healthy person with a robust microbiome can fight off the Listeria, a sterile fetus cannot.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) database shows that while some cases of Listeria have been documented from ingesting raw milk, there are more cases of Listeria documented from ingesting pasteurized milk. This is because although pasteurized milk has been sterilized, it is easily contaminated with “bad bacteria” like Listeria, but doesn’t have any “good bacteria” to fight back with.

Based on the “facts”, it would be more rational to advise pregnant women to avoid ALL dairy products, ALL raw fruits and vegetables, deli meats, ALL fermented foods, as well as undercooked meats and fish. Not sure what would be left for pregnant women to eat except grains and pulses, sugar, rancid fats (processed and oxidized rather than raw), and overcooked (inflammatory) meats – and I think you know where I stand on all of those items.

HOW TO SUPPORT THE MICROBIOME

The best way to keep pathogens at bay is not to sterilize yourself, but to strengthen your microbiome. I’m talking quantity and quality. Our Western diet and propensity for antibiotics and antibacterial sprays and soaps have wiped out the microbial diversity of our guts, and we need to cultivate and develop them back into the equivalent of beautiful rainforests. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Avoid antibiotics, when you can. Don’t go dying just to make a point. I was literally on a course of antibiotics for four straight years and somehow I am still here. It’s not the end of the world to go on antibiotics or put your children on antibiotics; just do your best to save them for when you really, really need them.
  2. Don’t eat industrial meat, so that you can avoid antibiotics. The majority of antibiotic use is to promote the swift growth of livestock and to keep them alive through both conditions and feed that would otherwise kill them. Most provinces, states and countries have laws that don’t allow antibiotics to be used in the last two weeks of an animal’s life before slaughter; this is neither closely regulated nor effective at keeping antibiotics out of the meat you buy. Organic meat is technically meant to be free from antibiotics. Best bet is to buy your meat from a small biodynamic farm, or from a butcher that personally knows where the meat comes from and what the conditions are like. Lots of supermarkets have people dressed up as butchers behind the “butcher counter”; this is just a costume.
  3. Don’t drink water that is contaminated with antibiotics. That means water that is downstream from a livestock operation, or water that goes through a city’s sewer filtration system. City water has famously high levels of antibiotics in it because antibiotics do not break down easily. You take them, you pee them out, someone else drinks them in, the concentrations continue to build up. Our city’s filtration systems are designed to remove hormones and antibiotics from our water, but it doesn’t seem to be working that way. The independent companies that provide water filtration (Pur, Brita and the like) claim to remove hormones, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals from the water they filter, but it’s hard to say how effective any of this is. Your best bet is to get water from an isolated mountaintop well or spring. Next bet: do your research, ask some questions and invest in the best water filtration system you can rationalize.
  4. Don’t drink water that is full of chlorine. Chlorine is put into water to kill bacteria. You are made up of bacteria. So don’t drink something that is trying to sterilize you. City water is chlorinated. See the previous instruction about what to do about it.
  5. Don’t use antibacterial wipes, soaps, sprays or mouthwashes. If you need to sterilize something, try using boiling water. If you just need to clean something, use hot water and soap, or vinegar and baking soda.
  6. Eat a wide variety of bacteria: from the skin of raw organic fruits and vegetables, to the wide assortment of crafted fermented products like cheese, kefir, kvass, sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, natto, real pickles, aged meats, to some extent wine, and anything else we have dreamed up. It is more effective to eat a single serving of fermented vegetables than to take an entire bottle of probiotics, so consider how you want to spend your time and money. Drinking raw milk is one way to get the the bacteria of “the barnyard” into your system without having to actually milk the cow yourself. In my review of “Epidemic of Absence”, I talk about how mothers who were exposed to milking sheds during their pregnancy consistently produce children who are free from auto-immune diseases. I will provide a link below.
  7. Shake hands with people you know and trust, who look healthy. Don’t shake hands with strangers, especially if they look sick. Your flora is your genetic wealth. Share it through touch with those who you care about and want to thrive. Use your eyes, your sense of smell (and taste where applicable), and your “gut sense” to determine if people you might have to have contact with are healthy or if they are carrying a bacterial infection that you don’t want to deal with.  On the flip side, when you are feeling particularly strong, what’s the big deal in exposing yourself to some risk? Every bacterial exposure that you successfully fight off makes you stronger. We are only here today because our ancestors faced infections and pandemics and survived, not because they steered clear.
  8. Keep pets, garden, spend time in the soil, get dirty, visit animals and farms, climb trees, touch the great outdoors. You are not going to grow your rainforest sitting at your desk. There is bacteria all around us, all it takes is for you to go out and sample it.

BACK TO MICHAEL SCHMIDT AND HIS APPEAL

The Province of Ontario won its appeal against Michael Schmidt in 2012. He was fined more than $9000 and put on probation. At which point he became even more political and staged a hunger strike for more than 30 days. (However Schmidt continued to drink his own raw milk during the strike, so didn’t seem to suffer whatsoever.) I know that his milk operation was put on hold, because when I went through my back-alley contacts and tried to buy into his herd-share, I could not get access.

doorscourtroom

Ontario Court of Appeals photo from “Doors Open”

Finally on February 5th, 2014, Michael Schmidt was invited to the Ontario Court of Appeals to present his appeal of the Province’s appeal. This was just last week, and I attended the trial.

What struck me the most was how rigidly the judges seemed to be interpreting the outdated law, which is their prerogative, and how the only way to change the system would be to change the law rather than try to work within it.

Schmidt built a bridge between farmers and consumers by creating a cow-share or herd-share program, where carefully chosen consumers (read: not narks) could buy a “share” in his herd, and then buy milk from their share of the herd when available. In exchange, Schmidt would keep his herd on pasture when possible and practice traditional farming techniques which exclude antibiotic and hormone use. There is a small but growing demand for this kind of milk, but there is no real money to be made in providing it – in that it can’t be “scaled” up. A farmer willing to provide for and milk a small herd of dairy cows in this way is doing it partly as a labor of love, partly out of nostalgia, and partly to protect a vision of farming that once was – so that it can be again one day. 

As it stands, and how the present law seems to be interpreted, nobody in Canada has the right to sell unpasteurized milk. However farmers on their own farms can drink unpasteurized milk from their own cows.

If unpasteurized milk was truly a health threat, the government would make it illegal for everyone including farmers to drink unpasteurized milk. The fact that farmers have been drinking unpasteurized milk and have not started a massive typhoid epidemic speaks to the safety of drinking raw milk when it is produced by careful farmers and small herds of cows. (In fact there are a handful of states in America, and countries in Europe where raw milk is legal and even available in stores and vending machines – and yet the typhoid epidemic has not panned out).

The problem is that the people who create and amend our laws, whether they like it or know it or not, are heavily influenced by the large corporations of this world, and their laws and amendments tend to favor industrial production over small-craft production. And these laws build on each other and create conditions where it is no longer possible or affordable to continue small-craft production, either because the licensing has become too expensive, the compliance and bureaucracy too onerous, or the inspections and redundancies too inefficient. And big business likes it that way.

HAS ANYONE BEEN SICK FROM MICHAEL SCHMIDT’S MILK?

What I find so interesting is that the Province went after Michael Schmidt so aggressively (undercover agents, multiple surveillances) despite the fact that there was not a single consumer complaint.

In fact, all of Schmidt’s customers had willingly sought him out, paid him a huge fee to join his cow-share, and then become repeat orderers of his milk. This is a high level of loyalty and repeat business that most companies would envy.

Another thing I find so interesting is that in 2008, Canadian corporation Maple Leaf Foods cut some corners at their meat processing plant which led to an outbreak of Listeriosis which killed 22 people. At no point did the government step in and demand that Maple Leaf Foods cease operations, pay a fine, or do anything at all. The company issued a voluntary recall of their meats that came from the sloppy plant, a recall that was only loosely followed. The company also voluntarily shut down its plant because it could not identify the source of the outbreak – it could have been anywhere in the plant, and there were not enough checks and balances to know.

A lot of mistakes were made, and as a result, 22 Canadians died.

You would think, perhaps, that Maple Leaf Foods president Michael McCain would be persecuted for these mistakes, and that the government would hound him down making him pay for what he had done. However this was not the case.

Instead, McCain cleverly got himself on television and issued a very sincere apology where he looked genuinely contrite. That contrition earned him instant forgiveness, and in fact he was named Business Newsmaker of the Year for how well he “handled” killing 22 people, in that the company’s stock dip and then recovery offered investors a stellar return.

The message is clear to other giant food processing companies: A heart-felt apology is worth more to investors and business strategists than money wasted on sanitation and standards any day. Profits before people. I really don’t have anything personal against Michael McCain, and his apology video (available on Youtube – I will post a link below), while not necessarily moving is at least serious and sobering.

However it doesn’t change the fact that the government turned a blind eye to the big corporate Michael, while persecuting the small dairy farmer Michael. It has occurred to me that if the government could have pulled some resources off of the “raw milk beat” and instead gotten more inspectors in the big processing plants, our citizens might have been a lot safer, and a lot less dead.

THE FARMING AND FOOD PRODUCTION ACT

The Farming and Food Production Act sounds like a good idea – maybe it’s something that protects small farmers and their rights to farm in a traditional, ecological, biodynamic system.

So is it? No way!

The Farming and Food Production Act is there to promote and push intensive industrial farming at all costs.

Like at what costs, you might ask? Well, how about this: the main tenet of the Act is that “Agricultural activities may include intensive operations that may cause discomfort and inconveniences to those on adjacent lands.” The kind of intensive, industrial farming that causes “discomfort and inconvenience” to neighbors is not the kind of farming that is sustainable and desirable!

What is discomfort, you ask? Discomfort is diarrhea caused by drinking water that is contaminated by feedlot effluent. Discomfort is not being able to sleep at night because a loud diesel generator on your property line is pumping water out of a stream 24/7 for irrigation.

What is inconvenience, you ask? Inconvenience is watching your well dry up because your potato farmer neighbor has used it all up for irrigation, which has leached all the nutrients from his soil so that he has to purchase greater and greater quantities of industrial fertilizer. Inconvenience is losing your streams and wetlands and their accompanying life due to dropping water tables.

This “discomfort” and “inconvenience” has been stamped into law so that you can have access to cheap, nutritionally-empty produce. Actually most of the industrial produce and meat protected in this Act is sent out of the country, and the profits are raked in by foreign multi-nationals rather than by your dear neighbor.

Is this an Act protecting farmers? Nope.

Is this an Act protecting consumers? Nope.

This is an Act protecting multi-national corporations who use “farmers” as their day-laborers and patsies.

THE VERDICT

In the “internet age” we read about things online and surmise that everybody is reading the same thing, and acting against wrongdoing on our behalf. We can “text” a vote about our disapproval about certain policies; we can sign petitions at Avaz.org and Change.org, and we tend to assume that these things matter and make a difference.

When I read about Michael Schmidt’s upcoming trial, I assumed it would get a lot of media coverage. I also assumed the trial would be well-attended by people who support Michael Schmidt, and people who care about our food system. I actually thought that it would be a waste of time to attend the trial because there wouldn’t be any room for me. I also assumed the trial would take place in a giant courtroom with hundreds of seats like I always see on television.

In fact the courtroom (Courtroom 1) was very small and only had  room for 45 people including all the lawyers and press. I showed up an hour early “to get a seat”, but I didn’t need to. By the time the trial started at 10:30am, there weren’t more than 50 people there. I volunteered to watch in a second “viewing courtroom” (Courtroom 2) so that there would be ample seats for journalists, and also because I had a 6-year-old with me who might get bored and fidgety during the trial (I also brought a 14-year-old with me but I was not worried about her ability to pay attention!).

By about 11am, the viewing courtroom had also filled up – I would estimate nearly 100 people turned out in total, including lawyers and journalists. This is much, much less than I expected. And not really enough to make a difference. The judges will take up to six months to deliberate on their verdict. I’m not sure if that’s because the case is so complicated or if it’s a measure to make sure media attention has no chance to gain momentum.

There were three small pieces of online coverage after the trial – from CTV, CBC and the Toronto Sun. All three short reports contained the classic journalism style of seeking out both sides of the story without submitting any further research. So when the Sun concludes their article with this comment from the Province’s legal team, “We don’t need to wait for a widespread outbreak or epidemic to take action,” the Sun is clearly framing the story in a certain way. The Sun thinks raw milk is going to kill us all and has to be stopped. You can bet that Sun readers will take that message home to the dinner table.

In accredited journalism, the journalist has an obligation to report statements where available from “both sides” or all sides of any story; but it should never stop there. A journalist also has a responsibility to research those statements and provide evidence about their legitimacy, otherwise outlandish statements carry weight that they do not deserve (like that raw milk consumption will lead to “an epidemic”). I don’t see any of that supporting research happening in this raw milk story, or really in many reports at all. (This blog is obviously not accredited journalism – I can just write whatever I want to write, which is how I like it).

WHY DOES MICHAEL SCHMIDT’S APPEAL MATTER?

Because food matters. Because your right to traditionally raised and farmed food matters. Because farmers matter. Because what you put in your mouth matters. Because the health of your children and their children matter. Because if you don’t care about these small things now, your rights will continue to erode until it’s too late.

The big companies, supported by the government, want you to subsist on fast food, convenience packaging, reconstituted “meat” products, and pasteurized and irradiated “food products”. Then they want to shove you into the medical system and “cure” you of all your nutritional degeneration with on-patent medications and expensive treatments. All you have to do is study Economics 101 to know that this is the best path for our economy and the best policy for growth.

What you have to ask yourself, every time you go to the market, read the newspaper, or walk in the country – is whether growth and economic prosperity are the correct model for our food system and food security? Is food the same as a microchip or a running shoe? I am arguing here that food does not fit into our existing economic models, and needs to be protected in a new category.

I think it’s time to start caring about where our food comes from, because no one else is going to do it for us.

_______________

LATER UPDATE: WHAT HAPPENED

Michael Schmidt lost his appeal. There was no media coverage.

_______________

FURTHER READING

Here is the transcript from Michael Schmidt’s original trial in 2010 where he was acquitted of all charges.

The Milk Act of Ontario.

Read the Farming and Food Protection Act, which should be called the Industrial Food Promotion Act instead.

Three different databases showing higher incidence of Listeria in pasteurized milk than raw milk: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Outbreak Database, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest

News coverage of the February 5th appeal: the Toronto Sun, CTV online, CBC online

My review of Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Auto-Immune Disease  by Moses Velasquez

What you need to know about all the scare-mongering headlines you may read about raw milk, elegantly written by Chris Kessler in “Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Really Dangerous?”

Michael McCain’s apology video made after killing 22 people with a lapse in processing standards

How to write a letter to your Minister of Parliament, and a list of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly (MPPs)

Print out this petition, get signatures and return it to the Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group so that they can present it to Premier Wynne at the right strategic time.

Link to The Bovine, which covers issues about raw milk in Ontario

canada-and-united-states-1000

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beet Kvass NBD

IMG_0442Seriously, let’s not make a big deal about this. A couple organic beets, some water, some salt and an air-lock jar. It’s like 5 minutes and then you forget about it for 3 weeks.

Beet Kvass is a 10th century Ukranian probiotic sports drink, essentially, in that it’s full of electrolytes and is super hydrating. It also claims to be an anti-inflammatory blood tonic, to cleanse the liver, lower blood pressure, to oxygenate the blood and spare oxygen when exercising. The Ukranians call it a “Cure All”, and there’s a rumor that the only people who didn’t develop blood poisoning after the radioactive Chernobyll explosion are those that religiously consumed beet kvass. As such, beet kvass and juice are frequently recommended for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

beets

There are complicated ways to make it, and then there is THE EASIEST, most traditional method which is obviously my preference.

BEET KVASS DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil your kettle or whatever.
  2. Wash 2 BIG BEETS or 3 medium beets to get any major mud off of them. Don’t go nuts scrubbing because what we are looking for here is the Lactobacillus bacteria that is on the surface of the beets. Some recipes call for peeling the beets and then adding a whey starter culture. But in this recipe, we are acknowledging that the beet skin already contains the exact starter culture we want (isn’t nature cool?) and so we are going to work with the beets and not against them. Again it’s important to use raw, organic beets here because conventionally farmed root vegetables absorb all the toxic fertilizers and neuro-toxin pesticides that are needed to grow them – furthermore, conventional root vegetables are grown in mineral-starved and mostly dead soil so there’s really no point in eating them anyway.
  3. cut up beetsCut up the beets, LEAVING THE SKIN AND SKETCHY HAIRS on, into rough cubes – smaller than an ice cube but much larger than dice. If you make the beet cubes too small, they will release too much juice and sugar and you will get a different type of bacteria involved that works too quickly, creating more alcohol than lactic acid, and the whole thing will be wrecked. Bigger cubes mean the work will be slow and encourage the right kind of bacteria.
  4. Add 1 heaping TBS of good SEA SALT (or Himalayan salt) into the bottom of a large (say a quart) jar that has an air-lock, or those clamps that compress a rubber seal. The jar is important because a lot of carbon dioxide is going to be created and it needs to escape; at the same time you don’t want to let any oxygen in. (Oxygen will encourage the wrong type of bacteria, which will then “spoil” your kvass).
  5. saltPour about half a cup to a cup of boiling water from your kettle into your salted jar, and swirl it around until it dissolves. The only reason you boiled the water is to help the salt dissolve.
  6. Fill up half of the jar with cold FILTERED WATER. You don’t want the water to be hot anymore or else it will “cook” the beets and their bacteria and enzymes. We need a lot of live action for this process.
  7. Shove in all the cut up beets you have just prepared. Hopefully they will all fit. If you need to add more cold water to cover the beets, do it. Try to leave an inch of airspace at the top of the jar. I’m lousy at leaving space, and usually pay for it a few weeks in when my kvass seeps out of the jar all over my marble countertop. Major fail.salty jar
  8. Seal the jar up, leave it out of direct sunlight at room temperature or slightly warmer and forget about it for 3 weeks. Lactobacillus prefers temperatures between 70-75 degrees F, and likes just this amount of salt, no less and not much more. You could add another 1/2 TBS of salt if you don’t mind the salty flavor, but that’s the limit for a quart jar and 2-3 beets.

OTHER FLAVORING OPTIONS

Maybe add a clove, a cardamom pod, a star anise, a bit of orange peel, a knob of ginger or anything you think will go nicely with the earthy flavor of fermented beet juice. The lactic acid will also work its magic on these ingredients, unlocking beneficial polyphenols.

IN THREE WEEKS TIME

During this time the Lactobacillus have been converting the carbohydrates in the beets into lactic acid, carbon dioxide and small amounts of acetic acid and ethyl alcohol. The carbon dioxide displaces any oxygen in the jar, creating an anaerobic environment suitable for subsequent species of Lactobacillus to propagate.

After three weeks, strain out the pink liquid and put it in a serving bottle, preferably with a flip-top airlock style lid, and keep in the fridge. Drink at your leisure – but start slow. Just half a cup a day is all you really need to get the benefits. You might not dig it at first, but you’ll get used to it. Like all the other weird stuff, you’ll end up craving this earthy, salty elixir too.

beet kvass jar

BONUS PROJECT

Leave about a cup of the liquid in the bottom of the beets, fill again with water and another TBS of salt, and ferment the same beets again for another three weeks.

After that point, you can strain out a second batch of kvass and also eat the slightly tangy beets on their own or in a salad. These 6 week old beets will have much less sugar in them, a slightly tangy taste and will be teeming with beneficial bacteria.

While beets are a pretty starchy, high carbohydrate vegetable for anyone on an LCHF (Low Carbohydrate High Fat) diet or similar – fermented beets are much lower in carbohydrates so totally acceptable.  (Whereas if you just “pickle” beets the conventional way by boiling and dumping them into sugary vinegar, they will actually have a much higher level of carbohydrates and sugars. Don’t do that, silly!).

YOU’RE SO WILD, GIRL

When you ferment vegetables (or anything) without adding a starter culture, it’s called doing a “Wild Ferment”. You’re getting your starter culture from the very thing you are culturing. You can use wild yeasts when making bread and beer; you can use wild bacteria when fermenting vegetables and fruits – and cheeses, wines and meats etc. And that’s just way cooler and more natural. Let’s always do it wild. Less fuss, less muss: more WOW factor. Got it?

BODACIOUS BACTERIA

The bacteria in our body outnumber our own cells by a factor of ten, which has to make your jaw drop.

What that essentially means is that over the last couple billion years, Earth bacteria has been co-evolving with us – you might even say “designing us” – in ways to make itself more mobile, virulent and imaginative. Consider that bacteria used to be stuck to a rock underwater; now it can walk around, drive, fly airplanes and be exposed to all manner of exciting cuisines and experiences.

It’s not like we are just the hapless host; we have benefitted immensely from bacteria. Bacteria protects our skin membranes, gives us immunity to diseases, helps digest our food and even creates essential nutrients for us out of food that would otherwise be useless to us. Although there are hundreds of bacteria that are on our side, there are also bacteria that totally suck for us. By encouraging and cultivating the bacteria on our team, they will keep the bad bacteria at bay. It is totally heavy-handed for a human to go after bacteria in general, by means of anti-bacterial wipes and sprays. It’s not our job to try to target bad bacteria – we are too big and clumsy to figure it out. Our job is to promote the health and propagation of our good bacteria so that it can take care of the bad bacteria on our behalf. This is symbiosis, baby! Our good bacteria has been engaged in this dance for billions of years, so there no point presuming we can do it better just because Louis Pasteur figured out how to boil stuff. 

Lactobacillus bacteria in particular inhibits the growth of diarrhea-related bacteria such as Shigella, Salmonella and E. Coli. In addition, Lactobacillus competes with pathogens for receptor sites at the mucosal cell surfaces (nose, mouth, underpants region and entire digestive tract), making it more difficult for us to get sick. What this means is that our body is meant to be teeming with Lactobacilli, and has evolved to thrive in its presence. However our modern, sanitized environments and dead, overly fibrous or rancid foods create conditions that deplete Lactobacillus along with other beneficial bacteria. So stop doing that.

Making and drinking beet kvass is too easy not to do. I know you have a couple beets down there in your fridge drawer that you have been too lazy to cook. So just spare five minutes of your time and get on with it. This is a great winter project, and much needed in this season of flu and cold.

FURTHER READING

Article on beet juice lowering blood pressure and sparing oxygen while exercising.

More detailed information about the different Lactobacillus bacterias and their products and by-products, including a table showing all the major lactic acid bacteria involved in fermented fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Mercola’s site claims one serving of fermented vegetables has more probiotics than an entire bottle of commercial probiotic supplements. In other words, don’t bother wasting your money on proprietarily limited commercial strains when making fermented vegetables is dead easy and way more useful.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Toast To Your Health: Hot Buttered Rum

hot buttered rumOkay I’m actually going to do this. While everyone else – including those in my own family – are pushing for a “dry January”, I’m going to be contrarian and promote the Devil’s water, also known as alcohol. Specifically, I am going to try to seduce you into drinking hot, buttered rum.

For starters, let’s look at the fact that drinking alcohol is not a new thing for humans. It’s probably pretty close to the oldest thing. In other words, we have evolved alongside drinking alcohol since the beginning. Ingesting fermented fruits and honey were an early window into the spirit world. Archeologists have found evidence of honey fermentation as long as 40,000 years ago. That’s not to say we haven’t been doing it for longer – just that’s all we can find hard evidence for. It is possible and largely speculated that humans settled down to farm in the cradle of civilization not primarily to grow food but to grow grains specifically for fermenting into alcohol. Have you ever noticed that humans are not entirely practical? (Ever seen Easter Island?) We don’t change our ways just for a bland food choice like sprouted grains. Nope, we dream bigger than that. Humans put to rest our nomadic ways in order to grow ancient barley to ferment into beer – a product that brought us closer to the gods and delivered us untold status. In other words, there would be no civilization without the promise of beer.

Now beer isn’t for everybody, and certainly not for celiacs or anyone with gluten/gut sensitivities, which includes anyone with auto-immune issues. Alcohol and wine isn’t for everyone either – particularly not anyone with addiction issues or possibly chronic, debilitating illness. No, alcohol is mostly for healthy people – and believe it or not – in moderation it actually promotes health.

In moderation, alcohol seems to prevent osteoporosis, various cancers (kidney, thyroid, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and pancreatic cancers have been studied so far), gallbladder disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, metabolic syndrome (the blanket pre-cursor to type II diabetes, obesity and heart disease), arthritis, enlarged prostate, macular degeneration, kidney stones, stress and depression, tremors and among other things, the common cold.

Now I’m not just talking about the resveratrol darling, red wine. A glass of red wine a day seems to be unequivocally better than not having a glass a day: for heart health, longevity, etc. But the benefits are not just from the antioxidant resveratrol (which is in pretty small amounts in a glass of wine); the benefits are mostly from the ethanol content itself.

SOME ETHANOL A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

Again let me be very clear: I am not talking about binge drinking, or even drinking the way I have always known it. I’m only talking about moderate drinking which means from 1 – 2 alcoholic drinks per day, but mostly landing on one drink per day if you are a small woman and two drinks a day if you are a large man. One drink is a 5oz glass of wine or a 12oz can of beer or an ounce and a half shot of alcohol spirits. Period!

So before I go any further you are probably going to want some bullet points and some studies. I could do this all day, but here is a short selection:

  • A study that examined nearly 10,000 men and women at age 23 and again at age 33 found that the moderate drinkers experience lower levels of poor general health, long-term illness, and psychological distress when compared to abstainers and heavy drinkers.(1)
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks each day.(2)
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks per day for women and 2-4 for men) was found to reduce risk of mortality significantly according to meta-analysis of 34 studies of alcohol and total mortality among 1,015,835 men and women around the world.(3)
  • A Harvard study found the risk of death from all causes to be 21% to 28% lower among men who drank alcohol moderately, compared with abstainers. (4)
  • Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study of over 85,000 women found reduced mortality among moderate drinkers. (5)
  • A study of more than 40,000 people by the Cancer Research Center in Honolulu found that “persons with moderate alcohol intake appear to have a significantly lower risk of dying than nondrinkers.” (6)
  • A review of the research reports that moderate drinking appears to reduce the risk of numerous diseases. “These include duodenal ulcer, gallstones, enteric infections, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and diabetes mellitus (type II). Compared with abstainers, moderate drinkers exhibit improved mental status characterized by decreased stress and depression, lower absenteeism from work, and decreased dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).” (7)
  • Researchers examined the evidence from 33 studies and found that alcohol consumption increased neck bone density for each drink per day over the range of 0-3 drinks per day; reduced the risk for hip fracture with increasing quantities consumed; and was generally associated with reduced bone loss over time, compared with abstention from alcohol. (8)
  • The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment followed over 200,000 postmenopausal women in the U.S. with no previous diagnosis of osteoporosis who were seen at doctors’ offices, with no previous diagnosis of osteoporosis. As a result of screening, the study found that 39.6% had osteopenia or low bone density and 7% had osteoporosis. The study found that drinking alcohol reduced the chances of developing osteoporosis. (9)
  • Scientists at the University of London concluded that light and moderate drinking saves more lives in England and Wales than are lost through the abuse of alcohol. If everyone abstained from alcohol, death rates would be significantly higher. (10)

Like I said, I could go on all day – but I’m going to stop there, and pause, to reflect on that last statement: “If everyone abstained from alcohol, death rates would be significantly higher.” In fact, that’s such a big deal that I’m going to make it a heading:

IF EVERYONE ABSTAINED FROM ALCOHOL, DEATH RATES WOULD BE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER

I know this seems shocking, but we have to step back and look at the cultural bias that we have all been raised under. We are a product of the pious Protestants, the people who burned witches (women, basically) and anyone who threatened the church’s power. We have a belief system that holds on dearly to the idea that alcohol is bad and leads to immoral acts (like enjoying sex, and having fun!). So let’s step back and take the long view. Biologically, we are not the product of the last 400 years. We are the product of millions of years – and for at least tens to hundreds of thousands of those years, our biology has adapted to drinking (or eating) some version or another of ethanol.

What we are NOT adapted to: abstaining from alcohol. It is literally unhealthy to abstain from alcohol, unless you have contraindications (like being an infant or in a growth stage, being pregnant or nursing, being on certain medications etc) or you are performing some kind of specific fasting period. So I’m going to give the “dry January” folks a green light since their teetotaling has an end date. Possibly taking a month off of alcohol also helps you to reset your tolerance and habits, and to better appreciate and respect alcohol once you reintroduce it.

WHY IS ETHANOL SO AWESOME

Alcohol, in moderation, appears to improve cholesterol particle size, while increasing HDL and decreasing LDL; it decreases thrombosis (blood clotting) and also helps make existing clots dissolve; it reduces blood pressure and reduces blood insulin levels; it increases blood flow to the brain which increases brain function; it increases coronary blood flow while decreasing coronary spasm reactions in response to stress (abstainers from alcohol have DOUBLE the stroke risk of moderate drinkers).

AN EXCEPTION: CERTAIN CANCERS

Alcohol seems to slightly increase levels of endogenous estrogen in the body, which is a risk factor for breast cancer and other estrogen-receptor positive tumors. So: if you have breast cancer or are already in a high-risk category for breast cancer – no booze for you! No sugar either, friend.

Possibly by another mechanism altogether, alcohol is positively associated with greater morbidity from colorectal cancer. So this doesn’t mean alcohol will put you at greater risk of getting colorectal cancer, just that if you already have it then get on the wagon and get out of here.

And obviously if you have cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer or Hepatitis C or something similar, you shouldn’t drink any form of alcohol at all. But I didn’t have to tell you that. Like, duh.

HOW TO DRINK FOR BEST HEALTH

Now we are going to run into a problem pretty quickly because a lot of alcoholic drinks are also full of carbohydrates, and as we have explored previously, excessive carbohydrates are a menace leading to metabolic disorders like diabetes, heart disease and dementia; causing dysbiosis of the gut flora which presents as auto-immune diseases; as well as promoting and feeding cancer cells.

For example, a 12oz can of regular beer has about 13g of carbohydrates. If you drank two in a day, you would use up at least half, if not all, of the carbohydrate amount that I think you should be consuming in a day for optimum health (as recommended by the LCHF – Low Carbohydrate High Fat – loving Swedes and a long tradition of Northern Europeans). Now beer does have some nutrients to recommend it – a can has almost 13% of your RDA for Vitamin B6 and B3, and almost 2g of protein. It also has decent amounts of trace metals and minerals. However beer has negligible amounts of anything else. All those carbohydrates for such slim nutritional benefits is just not acceptable, in my opinion. Better to eat carbohydrates as broccoli, salad or tomato sauce.

Now a 5oz glass of wine has about 5g of carbohydrates. Actually it has 4g, but let’s face facts and recognize that you’re never going to pour yourself a measly 5oz glass of wine. For all of wine’s resveratrol and other anti-oxidant potential, a serving has less B vitamins than beer (by half), a little bit of iron and negligible protein. So it’s not a bad option by any means, but it is still a source of largely empty carbohydrates.

Now let’s talk spirits. A serving of spirits such as vodka, gin, whiskey, rum and tequila has no carbohydrates to speak of (and no protein, vitamins, minerals or otherwise). All of the sugars have been converted by fermentation into ethanol. The health problem with consuming spirits in moderation arises when you add margarita mix, cola and other cocktail blends. For example, an 8oz vodka tonic has 22g of carbohydrates, whereas vodka on its own has no carbohydrates.

Now there are all sorts of industries popping up creating low carb cocktails (hello, Skinny Girl) and even bartenders mixing up drinks with Splenda and Truvia. And while this is a possibility (but please try not to use nasty artificial sweeteners very often), it would be nice to find an alcoholic drink that is full of bona-fide nutrition.

WELCOME TO HOT, BUTTERED RUM

I’m choosing old-fashioned dark rum, distilled from cane sugar or molasses, because it was the first commercially produced spirit, and one of the oldest spirits humans have experimented with. Which means we might be pretty well adapted to it, all things considered. In its day, rum was considered medicinal and necessary. Again, there is a difference between a daily ration of rum and getting drunk on rum. In the 1600s, the sailor’s rum ration was “half a pint” or about 8oz per day, to be drunk at noon, but it is not known if that ration was pure or diluted with water by thrifty sea captains. A large and active sailor of yore could probably have metabolized a safe 4oz of rum per day and reaped the health benefits. However 8oz per day is NOT what I am suggesting; I am only suggesting between 1oz and 3oz per day, depending on body size.

1.5oz of rum is 80% “proof” or 80% full of health-promoting ethanol. On its own, rum has a pretty harsh kick to it, and burns going down.

To perfect this drink, add 1 Tbsp of pastured butter (Kerrygold, Organic Valley Pasture Butter etc), and top off with boiling water to melt the butter. The butter will give you 12g of fat (7g saturated) – remember that this is a good thing so long as we are not going to add any sugar. Saturated fat from appropriate sources (biodynamically pastured ruminants, for example) is the good fat! Saturated fat is made up of stable molecules, unlike polyunsaturated fats which have unstable electrons which easily oxidize and create damaging free radicals in the body. If you are looking for a safe, stable fat – butter and coconut oil are the bombs. The butter  in this drink also has 8% of your vitamin A for the day and some CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega-3 fatty acids. Pasture butter’s vitamin A is perfectly balanced with vitamin D and vitamin K2 – the golden triad of vitamins for bone, heart and general health.

Now all you have to do is sip this concoction in front of a roaring fire and you are drinking hot, buttered rum.

LET’S KEEP GOING

Your basic hot, buttered rum is still a bit harsh for me.

So I like to add some spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and the tiniest bit of cloves. Maybe a bit of vanilla. Hey, why not some ginger – or add hot ginger tea instead of boiling water!? You could add up to a teaspoon of cinnamon, which contains 28 mg of calcium, 1 mg iron, 1 g fiber, and considerable vitamin C, K and manganese. Cinnamon improves insulin resistance, digestion and is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

And then for extra sweetness (and fat!) I add another tablespoon of coconut oil. There are no carbohydrates in coconut oil, but it has a sort of “sweet” mouthfeel to me. The coconut oil will add more CLA along with antimicrobial and antiviral properties. I don’t know HOW you could ever get a cold if you drink one of these every night.

The coconut oil will add 14g of fat (12g saturated). It will also essentially compete with the rum’s ethanol to enter brain cells, possibly protecting against brain cell tolerance to drinking – so that you can keep getting the same “feeling” of mild intoxication at the same level of alcohol. (This is complicated, but when an alcoholic gives up drinking booze cold turkey, her brain is barely able to function because it has sort of been adapted to run on ethanol instead of glucose. Take away the ethanol and the ethanol-adapted brain cells need time to adapt back to glucose, resulting in impaired brain function and withdrawal symptoms – but use coconut oil and the transition is easier and smoother. Short story: coconut oil is awesome for alcoholics too! Both for withdrawal, and for continued abuse!)

MY HOT, BUTTERED RUM RECIPE

I must be really healthy because I've almost finished my bottle of Mount Gay

I must be really healthy because I’ve almost finished my bottle of Mount Gay

  • 1.5 oz dark rum
  • 1 Tbsp pastured butter
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • up to a tsp cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla, nutmeg and cloves
  • mugful of boiling water or ginger tea

Now I throw it all in a blender, Vitamix or Magic Bullet and emulsify it until it turns a frothy caramel color. Pull up a chair to the roaring fire, lean into your knitting and drink up.

Happy New Year!

_____________________

REFERENCES CITED ABOVE

(1) Power, C., et al. U-shaped relation for alcohol consumption and health in early adulthood and implications for mortality. The Lancet, 1998, 352, 9131.

(2) Highlights of the NIAAA position paper on moderate alcohol consumption. Press release from the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, July 14, 2004.

(3)  Di Castelnuovo, Augusto, et al. Alcohol dosing and total mortality in men and women: An updated meta-analysis of 34 prospective studies. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2006, 166, 2437-2445.

(4) Camargo, C. A., et al. Prospective study of moderate alcohol consumption and mortality in US male physicians. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1997, 157, 79-85.

(5)  Fuchs, C. S., et al. Alcohol consumption and mortality among women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1995, 332(19), 1245-1250.

(6) Maskarinec, G., et al. Alcohol intake, body weight, and mortality in a multiethnic prospective cohort. Epidemiology, 1998, 9(6), 654-661.

(7) Power, C., et al. Goldberg, D. M., et al. Moderate alcohol consumption: the gentle face of Janus. Clinical Biochemistry, 1999, 32(7), 505-518.

(8) Karina M. Berg, Hillary V. Kunins, Jeffrey L. Jackson, Shadi Nahvi, Amina Chaudhry, Kenneth A. Harris, Rubina Malik & Julia H. Arnsten. Association Between Alcohol Consumption and Both Osteoporotic Fracture and Bone Density
The American Journal of Medicine, 2008 (May), 121(5), 406-418.

(9) Siris, E.S. Identification and fracture outcomes of undiagnosed low bone density in postmenopausal women: Results from the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001, 286(22), 2815-2822.

(10) Britton, A., and McPherson, K. Mortality in England and Wales attributable to current alcohol consumption. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2001, 55(6), 383-388.

FURTHER READING

An introduction to LCHF

How to Eat More Butter

Pubmed article on alcohol as a risk factor in breast cancer. And another meta-analysis.

What sugar does for cancer (spoiler: promotes and feeds it!) and what a lack of sugar does (starves it out)

Want another weird drink that’s full of antioxidants and spices? Don’t forget to make The Crazy Hot Drink – it’s a Foundation Drink after all.

Why I don’t use hyperlinks within the body of my arguments anymore! I have also finally dug into my pockets for the $30 charge to eliminate ads from my blog. You’re welcome.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Super Matcha Fragilista

Super Matcha Fragilista

Oh brother, another drink. The thing is, I just assumed that everybody was already doing this but it turns out I need to hammer this message home:

YOU NEED TO DRINK MATCHA EVERY DAY

I’m talking tea ceremony! Fancy whisk! Drinking from a bowl!

Matcha is finely stone-ground, high quality shade-grown, steamed green tea leaves. You spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into a lovely bowl, add some water just south of boiling (60-70 degrees Celsius), and whisk it until frothy and dissolved. If it doesn’t froth well, then what you’ve got is crappy powdered green tea, not matcha. The whisk is supposed to be bamboo (called a “chasen”), and your whisking style is supposed to be in a Z pattern. Think Zen. Hey, if no one’s watching: whisk how you like.

GREEN TEA VS MATCHA

Green tea has a ton of benefits; we all know that. But see if you can get through this next paragraph without having a FOMO panic attack and brewing yourself a preventative cup:

Green tea increases the metabolism while also reducing appetite. Polyphenols work to intensify fat oxidation. Green tea regulates glucose levels, preventing high insulin spikes. It relaxes blood vessels so changes in blood pressure don’t lead to heart attacks; also, reduces high blood pressure and protects against blood clotting. It rebalances cholesterol ratios – more good, less bad. It targets cancer cells without damaging the surrounding cells. It delays Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s deterioration, protects brain cells from dying and restores damaged brain cells. Catchetin in green tea is an antioxidant which destroys bacteria and viruses that cause throat infections and cavities. L-Theanine in green tea is an amino acid that imparts tranquility and eases depression. Green tea is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, so will protect against aging and disease in general. Phew, tell me you’re drinking some already!

The problem is, you need to regularly drink at least 2 cups a day for these benefits, and probably a lot more. Drinking that much tea is so exhausting.

SO LET’S CUT TO THE MATCHA

Matcha has all the benefits of green tea (catchetins, amino acids), but possibly 137 times more. That’s kind of a huge multiple, so let me back it up with this study from the University of Colorado in 2003. To break it down, the antioxidants in a bowl of matcha tea are 137 times stronger than in a cup of the green tea specifically available at Starbucks, which is to say: stronger than low quality green tea. Most of the green tea available in the West is low quality. So if you can get your hands on some really fancy imported high quality green tea, and if you infuse the leaves at least 3 times, then possibly matcha is only 3 times richer in antioxidants than your custom import. But why go to all that trouble when high quality, organic matcha powder is readily available at health food stores, tea shops and high end groceries – and is usually sold right next to the bamboo whisk.

Matcha powder was invented by a Buddhist monk, Eisai Myoan in the late 1100’s. He introduced it to his fellow monks as an early biohack – using it helped the monks calm down and prepare for meditation. The secret weapon: L-Theanine. This is an amino acid and a glutamic acid which crosses the blood-brain barrier and induces changes in brain alpha waves and reduces mental and physical stress. Combined with caffeine, L-Theanine improves cognition, promotes faster reaction times, and increases working memory.

You only need one cup a day, and should start with a small amount of matcha powder (1/4 tsp). I’ve been using it for a pretty long time, so I tend to shovel the powder in. But I pay for it. There is A LOT of caffeine in matcha powder, and even though it is slow-release and alkalizing (rather than fast release and acidifying like coffee), you are still going to feel it. Don’t drink this at night unless you are trying to catch up on a whole season of Breaking Bad.

There are also warnings about drinking matcha with milk, as a latté, as conventional dairy milk can reduce the antioxidant effects of the tea. So try almond or cashew milk, especially homemade from soaked organic raw nuts. But I’m not terribly worried about a bit of steamed milk, especially if it gets you to start enjoying matcha. Something is better than nothing.

RITUAL NOT CONVENIENCE

Drinking matcha tea should be a ritual, not a fast-food convenience. See if you can keep a little bowl, a whisk and a small tub of matcha powder at your office or place of work, and enjoy this every morning.

When I’m out and about, I am often tempted to order a Matcha Latté from Starbucks or the Whole Foods café – but be warned that these chains use a matcha powder that is really low quality and diluted with sweeteners. Always ask for unsweetened (it will still be sweetened, just less so), and know that you are having a treat, not a healthful beverage.

Finally, a shout out to my cousin Kyra who forgot her matcha tea ceremony set at my cottage six years ago, which turned into me appropriating it and discovering a new love. THANKS!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Big Fat Coffee: Foundation Drink No. 4

So you’ve smuggled in all this grass-fed butter, now what? It’s not like you can spread it on toast, sandwiches or pancakes. Not in a dream world, anyway. (A dream world is one where you don’t eat sugar and grains, FYI. In case that wasn’t clear).

So you can bake with it (almond/coconut flour to the rescue), melt it on your vegetables, add to sauces and gravies (what a great emulsifier!) but short of just eating it, you might find yourself running out of ways to answer the age-old question: How can I get more butter in my life?

JUST ADD IT TO YOUR COFFEE

This sounds crazy, I know!  But it’s not my idea. This comes from The Bulletproof Executive and tons of people are doing it. Don’t be the last to the party.

coffee butter coconut oil

THE WAY I DRINK IT

1 TBS grass-fed butter
1 TBS quality coconut oil
espresso or coffee

And then I sometimes add a little raw milk to cool it down and make it creamier.

If you only add coconut oil, which I sometimes do, you will get a pool of oil on the surface of your coffee. It’s not the worst and you can just keep stirring it in. But when you also add butter, the butter emulsifies all the fats into a lovely homogenous drink.

Better: throw it in your Vitamix or blender, and blend until it turns a homogenous caramel colour with a beautiful latté foam on top. I mean, come on! The latté photo below is made without milk – just coconut oil and butter in black coffee. Creamy, right?

buttercoffeeTo be clear, The Bulletproof Executive has a much more refined way of doing this. He uses his own proprietary extremely high quality coffee which is guaranteed free of toxins and mould, and then he also uses his own proprietary MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil which is slightly more “fat burning” than coconut oil, in that it promotes ketosis more readily. He has really thought this out, and uses it as a “cheat” for intermittent fasting. His theory is that if you limit your solid eating to between the hours of 2pm and 8pm and fast the rest of the time, your body reaps crazy benefits in longevity, energy, metabolism, healing and whatnot. The way he “cheats” is by allowing as much grass-fed butter, MCT oil and coffee as he wants before 2pm. But he would never add milk because that would stimulate digestion and defeat his purpose. And I think he opposes dairy. It is impossible to be hungry if you are downing all your calories directly from tablespoons of pure fat; your caloric requirements are met. (Though all your other dietary requirements are not met – so if you follow his regimen you better be sure to cram nutrient dense foods into your 6 hour eating window).

I am intrigued by the intermittent fasting, and think it should probably find its way into my life for one day every week or something. It’s probably not a great regimen if you are trying to get pregnant, already pregnant, nursing etc. (Though eating high fat is a great regimen).

BUTTER COFFEE IS FOR ME

Try it. You’ll like it. But if you don’t have grass-fed butter, just use the coconut oil and deal with the oil slick on top. It’s not worth doing this with organic or conventional butter because of all the grain the dairy cows ate. If you just don’t like coffee or you think you should avoid it, you can add grass-fed butter and coconut oil to The Crazy Hot Drink, to unsweetened hot cocoa (preferably raw cacao) or just about any earthy tea – unsweetened chai would be great.

Also remember that FAT + SUGAR = sick and fat. If you’re going to embrace fat, and it’s about time you did, you’ve got to kick sugar to the curb.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Kefir: Foundation Drink No. 3

I KEEP SEEING THIS IN THE STORE

That’s right, you can now buy “kefir” at the store! Liberté Organics has a version in a plastic jug that you can drink, and it’s also flavored with strawberry or blueberry. Try this if you are new to kefir. It’s just super sweet like YOP! Enjoy, preferably last thing at night before bed.

Once you are ready to graduate to the next level, try buying a better commercial version. Here in Ontario we have Pinehedge Farms, which makes a UNHOMOGENIZED WHOLE MILK version in a glass jar. They also have a low fat version but I do not encourage low fat products.

But I put “kefir” in quotes up above for a reason. The commercial “kefir” that you buy is made from a powdered compilation of beneficial bacteria and yeast cultures – usually containing about 9 strains combined. This is “better” than yoghurt, which usually only contains one or two varieties (Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus). Just as an aside, there is a story going around that yoghurt cultures are destroyed in the stomach and never make it to the intestines to flourish, but this study suggests otherwise. The cultures in commercial “kefir” are great, and like the yoghurt cultures, they make it through the digestive tract and live to colonize the intestines. The Pinehedge “kefir” is a fantastic product, thick, creamy and great tasting, and I would be happy if you ate a 1/2 cup every night before bed so that it can colonize you in your sleep.

WHY BOTHER MAKING MY OWN KEFIR THEN?

As much as I love the Pinehedge “kefir” (or similar glass-bottled whole milk unhomogenized products), they probably don’t have more than 10 strains of bacteria in their makeup. Whereas homemade kefir from “grains” contains 29 strains of bacteria and 27 strains of yeast. Want to see the whole list? Though please note that this isn’t a more = better contest. Actually, change that. It most certainly IS A MORE = BETTER CONTEST as far as intestinal bacteria is concerned. I mean, you want more of the “good bacteria” certainly and less of the “bad bacteria”, but what you are especially looking for is diversity. This is like the rainforest – lots of options give you adaptability but a monoculture or fewer species of bacteria limit your immune system’s ability to deal with all the environmental factors you throw at it. But even beyond this great diversity of bacteria and yeasts, homemade kefir from “grains” derived from the Caucasus Mountains have an even more profound advantage. In fact homemade kefir from these grains is such a very special creation that no commercial enterprise has been able to replicate it, though they have certainly tried and tried. Wikipedia calls kefir a unique “symbiotic consortia of bacteria and yeasts”. And what is most special about these Caucasian grains is that when allowed to ferment on the lactose of dairy milk, they create a substance called kefiran. And it’s all about the kefiran.

KEFIRAN

Kefiran is the polysaccharide that holds the “grains” of kefir together, and is created as a result of the unique relationships between kefir’s bacteria and yeasts. Kefiran tested on rats has reduced and eliminated tumors, induced systemic anti-inflammatory response, reduced serum cholesterol levels and suppressed increased blood pressure. In human studies, kefiran had a preventative effect against breast cancer cells without harming the healthy cells,  and it stimulated body cells to produce 14 times more Interferon-beta, a vital glycoprotein excreted by body cells to combat viral infection, and possibly combat cancer cells. Nobody has compiled the research on kefiran better than Kefir Mentor Dom Anfiteatro, who has the most comprehensive guide to kefir that exists, complete with references to every existing study.

But that two-page list of studies is all there is. Are there ongoing large-scale clinical trials on kefiran? Certainly not. There is no money in it as kefiran just cannot be made commercially. It has to be tended, like a pet, and it is very susceptible to changes in temperature, humidity and the ratios of milk to grains. Is this the inexpensive low-tech answer to curing cancer? I don’t know, but it doesn’t cause any harm (unlike all cancer medicines and conventional protocols),  and costs no more than good quality milk, some cool glass jars with flip-tops and a one-time purchase of grains (under $20 unless you can get them from a friend for free).

YEAST, YUK! RIGHT…?

I get it, you just spent  months on a Candida Cleanse to get rid of your yeast overgrowth, which was characterized by sharp pangs in your stomach (intestines) every time you ate too much sugar, and also by an anti-intuitive out of control craving for that same sugar. You cut out sugar, bread, beer, brewer’s yeast, fermented products of all sorts. So how on earth can it be beneficial now to ingest more yeast?

Well the 27 yeasts in kefir are generally “the good yeasts”! And they will fight off “the bad yeasts”(Candida albicons) that are controlling your sugar appetite and leading to yeast overgrowths. For this reason, sometimes when people start taking kefir, the new yeasts cause a die-off of the old yeasts, called a Herxheimer reaction. These dying Candida albicons can produce up to 79 short-term toxins and be kind of unpleasant (headache, fatigue, bloating) until they are all eliminated. One way to avoid this is by initiating your kefir protocol slowly, like a few TBS at night, and then only over a week or two work up to 1/2 cup or more. If you get constipated, you have taken too much too soon.

stovetop kefir

WHAT WILL IT DO FOR ME? BIG PICTURE

People, let’s start with the problems you don’t know you have yet. Consider that all auto-immune diseases start in the gut. Check out the long, long list of auto-immune diseases. You don’t have any yet? Well your mom or your uncle probably does. And I’m sorry to say this but on a Western diet, they’re coming for you. And what about allergies? If your gut health isn’t optimal, meaning if you don’t have the best balance of beneficial bacteria colonizing your intestines, then the walls of your intestines are leaking partially digested foods directly into your blood where they act as toxins. These toxins affect both your psychology and your physiology. There is a name for this occurrence, it’s called the Gut and Psychology (or Physiology) Syndrome – shortened to GAPS, and coined by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

Haven’t heard of GAPS yet? Have you heard of Leaky Gut Syndrome? It’s not exactly recognized by the conventional medical establishment, but it is understood to be the pre-cursor to every auto-immune system. Leaky Gut Syndrome is not a side effect that the medical establishment can treat with commercial drugs, so it doesn’t seem very interesting to them, and nor is healing the gut. In our system, a drug comes first and then an illness is discovered and marketed to sell the drug. The economic problem here is that it is drugs themselves, especially antibiotics, that create imbalances in the gut and harm it. But all that is an aside.  I am here to tell you that healing the gut is EVERYTHING.

WHAT WILL IT DO FOR ME? SMALLER PICTURE

Kefir is high in tryptophan, so has a tranquilizing effect on the nervous system and can help you get to sleep as well as ease depression and ADHD. It is easily digested, balances and cleanses the intestines with beneficial bacteria and yeasts, and builds up the immune system. The fermentation process creates complete proteins, reduces carbohydrates by pre-digesting sugars and lactose, boosts levels of B Vitamins – especially B12 and folic acid, and in particular creates the important Vitamin K2.

When you take kefir regularly (I prefer at bedtime when it has the best chance of colonizing the intestines) it will reduce gas, promote regular bowel movements and eliminate bloating and other intestinal issues.

ALREADY CONVINCED? WELL TRY MAKING IT

There are so many great sites online that show you how to make kefir. Let me direct you to Dom’s Kefir-Making Site, where he has step by step instructions with photos. If all that info is too much to handle, look at these simpler instructions at Nourished Kitchen.

WHAT I DO

I use 2 glass flip-top jars for the first fermentation and the second fermentation. I use a steel strainer and a wooden spoon. I use raw (unhomogenized organic whole fat) milk that I get in an alley from a cow that I share (thanks for the hassle, Ontario!). I also use lemon peels and sometimes basil leaves for the second fermentation.

FIRST FERMENTATION: WITH KEFIR GRAINS

  1. Before bed, I put a small handful of kefir grains in a flip-top 1 L jar and fill about 3/4 full (3 cups of milk). This is a very high grains to milk ratio, but I have a lot of grains and not a lot of room to store milk.
  2. I put the sealed jar into a dark cupboard, because that is convenient for me. A countertop is fine. When I remember and pass the cupboard, I give the jar a gentle shake.
  3. In the morning, about 12 hours later, I check the kefir. The milk is usually still runny, and it hasn’t thickened or shown signs of “legs” on the glass when shaken.  I put it back in the cupboard.
  4. Usually between 3pm and 6pm, the kefir has started to look like it is thickening up. But I usually don’t have time to deal with it right away. So I move it to the fridge until bedtime, to slow it down.
  5. At bedtime, let’s say 9 or 10pm, I take the kefir out of the fridge and check again to make sure it is ready. Usually the fridge seems to thicken it a bit more, I think because a different form of bacteria is allowed to propagate at the cooler temperature.
  6. At this point if it is ready (has legs, is thick) I pour it through a strainer into a bowl, stirring with a spoon to separate the grains from the kefir.
  7. I put the kefir grains back into the same flip-top jar without rinsing them or the jar (I rinse the jar every 3 or 4 turns), and fill back up with milk, then put the jar back into the cupboard to repeat at step 2 above. This jar is called THE FIRST FERMENT.

THE SECOND FERMENTATION: WITHOUT KEFIR GRAINS

  1. I pour the freshly strained kefir from the bowl into a second glass 1L flip-top jar, and add about a 1/4 of a lemon peel. Sometimes I add a basil leaf as well, or bee pollen and royal jelly. This jar is called THE SECOND FERMENT.
  2. I seal up this jar and put it into the cupboard next to the first ferment. And then I go to sleep.
  3. In the morning, I check both jars and maybe shake them a bit. I am checking for thickness, legs, or separation.
  4. Usually between 3pm -6pm, both the first ferment and the second ferment are ready or almost ready, so I put them both in the fridge. Again, the fridge just makes them a little more drinkable to me, a little smoother and creamier.
  5. At bedtime, I take out the second ferment and check it for doneness. Now is a great time to drink it! It should be bubbly like champagne, slightly tart from the sourness of the milk, zesty from the lemon and/or basil, and mild (to my taste anyway). It should not taste or smell revolting or overly sour. It should definitely not taste or smell like rancid milk.
  6. At this point I usually rinse or don’t rinse the second ferment jar, and pour the strained kefir from the first ferment into it. Etc.

grainsIt’s great when it all works like this, because I like to be able to drink my kefir at night, and do all the work at the same time. However sometimes it’s just not ready in time, and I have to wait until morning. Sometimes I wait until morning and then it has gone too far – characterized by separating into curds and whey. (If this happens, you can then strain the kefir through a cheesecloth and make cream cheese from the curds and drink the whey separately). Sometimes if it has only separated a little, you can put the jar in the fridge and it will sort of “come back together”. The fridge seems to smooth out a lot of human error, I find.

A NOTE ON JARS

You can do this in mason jars, so long as you don’t make them too tight. The fermentation process produces CO2 which can cause the jar to explode. But the problem with a loose mason jar lid is that it also lets random yeasts and bacterias in, which changes the final product (can make it extra sour etc.). The best results happen in an air-lock jar where the carbon dioxide can get out but nothing can get in. You can see every method of jar tested here, on 28-day sauerkraut. Even better results happen when there is a bit of pressure on the jar, but not enough to burst it. Which means you don’t have to spend big money on a fancy Pickl-it jar, as any old Fido or European brand of glass flip-top jars will do. Ikea jars, not so sure. Let’s leave the Chinese glass in China.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lemons All The Way

We all know about squeezing lemons into water and then downing the resulting drink as an alkalizer. But as I mentioned in my post about Apple Cider Vinegar, organic lemons are expensive and it seems kind of wasteful to just squeeze out a few tablespoons of juice and then throw the rest away.

Lemon

BUT SOME PEOPLE EAT THE WHOLE LEMON!

What?  That’s impossible!

Or at least gross!

Well I am here to tell you that I have figured out a way (thank you internet) to eat a whole lemon and it is soft, yielding, delicious, invigorating and has a host of other benefits.

HERE’S WHAT YOU DO

1. Carefully wash your organic lemon to make sure there are no waxes or residues on the rind.
2. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze each side into a cup and reserve the juice.
3. In a separate cup, fill with appropriate water and drop in the two spent lemon halves. Keep these lemons soaking in the water for at least 8 hours, either on the counter or in the fridge. Overnight is best.
4. Check on your cup of soaking lemons. Pull out one half and take a tentative bite… Not as sour and bitter as you thought, right? Kind of awesome hmmm?

WHY OH WHY SHOULD I DO THIS?

  • Detoxifies the body
  • Decreases tissue acidity / alkalizes the system
  • Enhances immune function
  • Promotes liver health
  • Assists with hormonal balance
  • Nourishes and strengthens cells and cell membranes
  • Improves and normalizes digestive health

More specifically, the oils in the peel provide essential fatty acids that boost immune function, benefit cell integrity, and improve skin quality. Specifically in the peel: D-limonene has anti-cancer properties; pectin helps emulsify oils and chelate toxins from the large intestines; oligomeric proanthocyanidins are antioxidants with powerful antihistamines.

But… don’t do this every day. Lemon peels are really high in oxalates, which are great for detoxing but they can also steal and bond with calcium, magnesium and iron from the body,which form crystals that can turn into painful kidney stones. So if you already have kidney problems, this is probably not for you. Same for anyone with gout or rheumatoid arthritis, most likely.

WAIT A MINUTE WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH THE RESERVED LEMON JUICE?

Right. You might have noticed in the recipe above that I asked you to reserve the lemon juice. Why not put it in a small mason jar with a lid, fill to the top with appropriate water, and then add 1/8 teaspoon of dried cayenne pepper. Now replace the lid, shake it up, and sip it if you can! The Master Cleanse and just about every “juicing” program makes a version of this with added maple syrup or agave (no thanks) to “rev up” the metabolism. But I just don’t need the added sugar and carbohydrates, and nor do you. (However if you want to add warm water and substitute coconut oil for the maple syrup – I’m back on board).  For sure this is a next level drink, and if you can get used to it – what a rush! I love it, seriously.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Google will show you all sorts of links between cancer prevention, tumor reduction and eating whole lemons. But let’s go to Snopes to break down the myths from the research. And then also remember that there is never going to be any serious research or clinical trial that will prove that lemons can replace expensive medicines; that would be cray cray.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

ACV: Foundation Drink No. 2

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, known to the in-crowd as ACV, is my second foundation drink, after the Crazy Hot Drink. I like to take about a tablespoon (or less if you are starting out) in a glass of appropriate water.  The taste is slightly tangy, like a weak, refreshing wine. Who doesn’t want to pretend they are drinking wine all day?

I just find that drinking water can get a little monotonous. But when I add some ACV to it, all of a sudden it is a flashy beverage! It’s my diet coke.

I have tried lots of different varieties of ACV, hoping to find an organic local version that I like. But it turns out the Bragg Organic, Raw, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with the “Mother” is my favorite.

WHEN AND WHY?

We’ve all heard that the best way to start your day is with a squeeze of lemon in a glass of water. Totally! But guess what? It gets kind of expensive to buy all these organic lemons and cut them up and sometimes forget about them. So while I love lemon in water, I save it for when I have leftover lemon kicking around, or when I am in a restaurant or traveling (let them spend the money on lemons!).

IMG_3117So instead I start the day with a glass of appropriate water and some ACV. This will restore your body’s pH balance, making it just slightly alkaline. Possibly this will give your kidneys a little breathing room. The ACV will also stimulate your stomach acid, which will help digestion. Since ACV is prebiotic, it will feed probiotics, which will strengthen your body’s immunity and gut health.

ACV should also be taken with a little water before meals, especially if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD. The idea is that the acetic and malic acids in ACV increase the acidity of the stomach, which signals the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) to tighten and strengthen to protect the esophagus. Raising the acid levels actually protects the esophagus and makes digestion more efficient. This higher acidity allows your body to better absorb essential minerals that are locked in foods. By contrast, taking antacids or acid-blockers lowers the stomach pH, which sends indifferent signals to the LES causing it to weaken and allowing stomach acid to slip up through it into the esophagus in a relentless cycle of pain, discomfort, malnutrition and eventual destruction of the esophageal lining.

As well as being full of enzymes, raw organic ACV is rich in potassium (11mg/TBS), which can help relieve symptoms of the common cold, allergies, mucus and sinus congestion. Tooth decay and brittle fingernails are another sign of potassium deficiency. ACV has also been used to treat headaches, depression, joint pain, kidney and bladder issues, depression and constipation. High levels of pectin in ACV, which act like high fiber, control blood sugar and make it an ideal supplement for diabetics. Taking ACV before meals has shown to lower blood glucose in both healthy people and diabetics, reducing the need for supplementary insulin. It is also known to cleanse the organs and blood by binding with toxins and breaking them down for elimination.

HISTORY

Not only did Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, prescribe ACV for everything, but the Egyptians were into it 3000 years ago, and there are indications it was being used to treat ailments at least 10,000 years ago. That’s a much better human record than a 6 month clinical trial.

BE SMART

Don’t drink ACV straight: too hard on the tooth enamel and linings of the mouth and esophagus. Don’t drink crazy amounts like a cup a day. Don’t get an ACV pill stuck in your throat. People did these things and it didn’t work out for them.

BONUS PROJECT

Almost finished your bottle of ACV? Still see a generous helping of “the mother”, that webby brown stuff, settled on the bottom? Then just top up your bottle with your favorite tasting raw, organic apple cider – cover the opening with a cloth and an elastic, and put it in the cupboard for 4 months. Look at what you just did! You made your own ACV, girl.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Crazy Hot Drink: Foundation Drink No. 1

The Crazy Hot Drink

SERVE IT IN CRYSTAL ALREADY

This drink was inspired by my husband’s cousin, who is obsessed with anti-oxidants. Last April 2012, he literally mailed me some brown powder from British Columbia in a Ziploc baggie, and suggested I try a TBSP every day. Fishy, right? But how could I resist?

Here is the simple 5-ingredient recipe:

  • 12 parts raw cacao powder
  • 1 part cayenne
  • 1 part cinnamon
  • 1 part turmeric
  • 1 part dried ginger

Shake it up in a container of your choosing and store in the freezer. Every morning, my preference is to dissolve about 1TBSP of this “magic powder” into a small goblet of very hot water. Sometimes I add a little milk to make it creamy (try freshly made cashew milk, or raw milk).

The first morning I tried it, I thought it was painfully hot and disgusting, and I cursed my husband’s cousin and his little baggie. The next morning I was still curious, so I tried it again. Not so bad. By the third morning, I was CRAVING the magic powder! Now I make it fresh every few weeks, store it in the freezer, and enjoy 1-2 TBSP every morning. This drink makes me more alert, gives me energy, stimulates digestion (I’m talking BMs here!), and is the greatest start to the day.

Way you will not enjoy it: in a smoothie. It is so spicy and strange, why ruin a giant smoothie. This is better enjoyed in a small serving. Way you might enjoy it: cold. But it will be more difficult to dissolve the spices.

WHY BOTHER?

Consider this a FOUNDATION DRINK. This will replace so many synthetic supplements and make sure that you are getting the micro nutrients and anti-oxidants that your body and mind need. The lowdown:

RAW CACAO: the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate. Contains 54% heart-healthy fat in cacao butter: 34% oleic acid, 33% stearic acid, 26% palmitic acid, 6% other; 31% carbohydrates: 1% sugar, 16% fiber; 11% protein: arginine, glutamine, leucine; 3% polyphenols: flavonols, proanthrocyanins; 1% minerals: iron, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, manganese; and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 and E. Raw Cacao can lower blood pressure, improve circulation, promote cardiovascular function, neutralize free radicals, improve digestion and enhance physical and mental well-being by relaxing smooth muscles, dilating blood vessels, increasing circulation of serotonin and other essential neurotransmitters in the brain.

CAYENNE: the dried powder of the hot cayenne pepper. Contains alkaloids, apasaicine, capsacutin, capsaicin, capsanthine, capsico PABA, fatty acids, flavonoids, carotene, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and C. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-bacterial, anti-cold and flu, anti-fungal, anti-allergen, stimulates saliva and digestion, relieves joint pain, normalizes blood pressure, supports detox and weight loss, and prevents migraines and blood clots. Cayenne can raise the metabolism as much as 25%, and you will notice this magic powder gives you a lot of energy!

GINGER: the dried, powdered root. Contains essential oils of gingerol, zingerone, shogaol, farnesene, vitamins B5 and B6, potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium. Improves intestinal motility, soothes nerves, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, relieves pain, headaches and is the best remedy for motion sickness, nausea and morning sickness.

TURMERIC: the dried yellow roots of the turmeric plant, related to ginger. Circumin is the principal pigment, rich in antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory properties and seems to prevent Alzheimer’s in India when prepared in traditional curries combined with pepper. Contains Vitamins B3, B6, C, E, iron, potassium, manganese, zinc.

CINNAMON: the dried bark of a group of trees in the cinnamon family, though “true cinnamon” comes from Sri Lanka. A single TSP of cinnamon contains 28 mg of calcium, 1 mg iron, 1 g fiber, and considerable vitamin C, K and manganese. Cinnamon improves insulin resistance, digestion, is anti-inflammatory and slows the decomposition of food (it was used as an embalming agent in ancient Egypt). Sniffing cinnamon improves brain function, but don’t try it; stick to sprinkling it on your apples to lower the glycemic load.

As you become more accustomed to the magic powder, you can adjust the ratios. It would be more beneficial to increase the ratio of cayenne, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon: raw cacao. Consider the raw cacao the treat that makes it all go down. I am probably down to 8 parts cacao: 1 part each of the other four spices.

I have also tried adding maca powder for its fertility powers (steer clear teenagers, stay in school), but I didn’t like the resulting flavor and couldn’t really add enough maca to make it beneficial.

Sarah Britton at My New Roots has a delicious spicy “Haute Chocolate” recipe which is much more palatable, as it includes coconut sugar, honey, vanilla, maca and sea salt – which makes it more of a superfood indulgence than a daily foundation drink.

Tagged , , , , , , ,