Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Until Told to Shut the Fuck Up About It

OK, I'm getting obsessed.

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Fermentation!

Left to right:

  1. Dill pickles (fresh dill weed, garlic, sea salt).
  2. Sauerkraut (with caraway seeds, sea salt).
  3. Second ferment of raw cow milk kefir with a sliced tangerine & peel, and 4 oz fresh raw orange juice (see here about 2nd fermenting kefir).
  4. Raw goat milk kefir, just getting started.

I got the jars yesterday, Le Parfait. I'll probably have to get more, seeing as how the pickles and cabbage are a 2-4 week process. I added a bit of raw sauerkraut juice I had on hand to each, hoping that will speed the process a bit so's the little buggers get to munching and multiplying right away.

IMG 1610
 

For right now, I have the pickle and cabbage jars clamped, with a soy sauce bowl to hold stuff submerged. I'll see if there's any pressure buildup daily. The 2nd ferment of the kefir is supposed to be clamped off for a day. The fresh kefir is open.

Ha! I guess Ann Marie Michaels and Kelly the Kitchen Kop get the last laugh on me.

The Brain Gut Connection – New Controlled Study in Humans

Bigger brain, smaller gut, but still critical

This post contains science!

Oh, my. I began drafting this last night and immediately diverged into philosophical issues of free will and determinism. It was already long enough before I'd even got started on the sciency and practical. So I decided to save that as a draft for a later post on that topic alone, and just get right to the brief point.

Here's the deal. I began a dietary intervention almost 6 weeks ago, now, where I consume mostly, exclusively, whole raw milk & kefir I ferment myself from same. The 5 weeks of updates are available only to newsletter subscribers (free) for now. Sign up here and after confirming, you should get a "welcome" email within a hour with links to all the issues.

I guess it was sometime during week 2 that I began to notice bizarre behavior changes, automatic emotional reactions, that sort of thing. Bizarre because these changes seemed to all be "positive" ones from a social context. I just became nicer to people, for lack of a better description (when deserved—there's a few out there who don't, especially when they crap on my friends). I stopped automatically spooling up my own comment threads into a frenzy, cut down on some of the invective in posts, and most weirdly of all, found myself initiating conversations with strangers over at the swim club—even for, GASP! banal small talk. You could ask my wife. She laughs at how I will typically just go into a catatonic trance at some party where people start talking boring shit. I can hear noise, but I have no idea what anyone is saying.

I chalked it up to what I consider the whole, integrated nutrition of the quintessential mammalian perfect whole food: milk. Whole, good, complete nutrition, your brain is getting everything it needs and behaves as your neural network got set up to behave in general. Yes, there's what I call a "range of free will" (that's what I immediately jumped on in the last draft) but behavior and emotional reactions also have a deterministic "component," or, starting point. For example, you behave and react differently—automatically—when tired and fatigued vs. when alert and chipper. Or, when you've just had a major success in life vs. a disappointment  or important loss (such as a friend or family death).

Then Dr. Greg Venning sent me this new study, in humans: Consumption of Fermented Milk Product with Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity.

Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS:

Changes in gut microbiota have been reported to alter signaling mechanisms, emotional behavior, and visceral nociceptive reflexes in rodents. However, alteration of the intestinal microbiota with antibiotics or probiotics has not been shown to produce these changes in humans. We investigated whether consumption of a fermented milk product with probiotic (FMPP) for 4 weeks by healthy women altered brain intrinsic connectivity or responses to emotional attention tasks.

METHODS:

Healthy women with no gastrointestinal or psychiatric symptoms were randomly assigned to groups given FMPP (n=12), a non-fermented milk product (n=11, controls), or no intervention (n=13) twice daily for 4 weeks. The FMPP contained Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactococcus lactis subsp. Lactis. Participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after the intervention, to measure brain response to an emotional faces attention task and resting brain activity. Multivariate and region of interest analyses were performed.

RESULTS:

FMPP intake was associated with reduced task-related response of a distributed functional network (49% crossblock covariance; P =.004) containing affective, viscerosensory, and somatosensory cortices. Alterations in intrinsic activity of resting brain indicated that ingestion of FMPP was associated with changes in midbrain connectivity, which could explain the observed differences in activity during the task.

CONCLUSIONS:

Four weeks intake of a FMPP by healthy women affected activity of brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation.

~~~

Well I'll be damned. I don't often post studies and abstracts but this was just too good to ignore, and it's new. But here was the problem. I couldn't really tell on the face of the abstract what these effects were, as in good or bad.

Thankfully, Julianne Taylor provided me with part of the answer, via a layman's article interpreting the research: Probiotics Benefit Brain Activity.

The trial lasted four weeks. After analyzing their data, researchers found that the consumption of the fermented milk product was associated with some significant changes in the brain.

They noticed that the fermented milk intervention led to activity reductions in areas of the brain that deal with sensation. In addition, the fermented milk ingestion was associated with connectivity changes when the brain was at rest. This is significant because, according to the researchers, “The resting state brain networks provide functional ‘templates’ with which the brain can rapidly respond to changes in the environment.”

Furthermore, the resting state connectivity can be predictive of pain modulation, suggesting a broader role for this part of the brain with regard to pain vulnerability. This critical information can provide new avenues for the treatment of pain and other stress responses in the body.

I'll add that near as I can tell, kefir is 10-20 times more probiotic than yogurt. Also, I have taken probiotics in pill form before and never noticed anything much, if at all. I'm sticking with kefir. Love the taste (and I mix things up by sometimes mixing it with milk in different proportions).

Anyway, there's still another dot to connect. Those who subscribe to the newsletter already know about the 1972 book I referenced the other day. While it's predominantly about adverse mental issues having to do with diets too low or two high in carbohydrate, there's also one case study about compromised gut bacteria doing the same thing. In 1972.

So that's my next post on this topic and it'll be pretty extensive, since the book is out of print and looks like, via the newsletter, I've created a bit of a run on the copies available from used sellers.

Four Weeks on the Raw Milk & Kefir Intervention

It's downright ridiculous

In this issue:

  1. Weight loss results. The bottom line
  2. The week in review
  3. What if I don't like the taste of milk?
  4. What about thyroid?
  5. About poop, without the TMI (the kind you step in)

~~~

Those are the topics of this week's Newsletter update. If you're interested in checking it out, you can subscribe over on the sidebar or just go here. Once you confirm your subscription, you'll get a welcome email within about an hour with links to all past issues, including the one published just moments ago that went out to over 3,000 subscribers.

If you're not interested in the raw milk & kefir intervention yet, I promise you will be eventually. So why not get a jump on yourself now?

Update: The enthusiasm is rather crazy. Nearly 750 new subscribers over just last week's update and this one, offset by only a few dozen unsubscribes. Thanks. And thanks for the various tips and questions and otherwise in email. Even if I can't respond to everything because I haven't figured out yet how to squeeze 48 hours out of and into a day like Jimmy Moore, I see everything.

Three Weeks on the Raw Milk & Kefir Intervention

This might read as so bright eyed

  1. Just the facts, Ma'am. Bottom line it for me
  2. How the intervention has evolved over the three weeks and what's in store for this week and next
  3. The health benefits, drinking too much alcohol, and a nutrition book recommendation
  4. The questions and answers
  5. The ridicule and scorn

~~~

Those are the topics of this week's Newsletter update. If you're interested in checking it out, you can subscribe over on the sidebar or just go here. Once you confirm your subscription, you'll get a welcome email within about an hour with links to all past issues, including the one published just moments ago.

This last one is pretty damned extensive. If you're not interested yet, I promise you will be eventually. So why not get a jump on yourself now?

I’m Crazy About Kefir and Kombucha

Alright, I admit I used to roll my eyes at all the talk in PGP circles (Pretty Good Paleo) over making and drinking Kefir, and brewing and drinking Kombucha. I probably even laffed out loud once or twice, too.

Respectively, from the Wikipedia links:

Kefir (pronounced /kəˈfɪər/ kə-feer) (or alternatively kefīrs, keefir, kephir, kewra, talai, mudu kekiya, milk kefir, búlgaros) is a fermented milk drink made with kefir grains and is believed to have its origins in the Caucasus Mountains. It is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep's milk with kefir grains. Traditional kefir was made in skin bags that were hung near a doorway; the bag would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed.

Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea that is used as a functional food.

Sometimes referred to as a "mushroom" or "mother", the kombucha culture is actually a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) [...] comprising Acetobacter (a genus of acetic acid bacteria) and one or more yeasts. These form a zoogleal mat. In Chinese, this microbial culture is called haomo, or jiaomu in Mandarin, (Chinese: 酵母; literally "yeast").

A kombucha culture may contain one or more of the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulaspora delbrueckii, and Zygosaccharomyces bailii. Alcohol production by the yeast(s) contributes to the production of acetic acid by the bacteria. Alcohol concentration also plays a role in triggering cellulose production by the bacterial symbionts.

[Note: "kefir grains" are a curdlike clump of bacteria & yeast that resembles chopped cauliflower. There's no grass seeds in it.]

I never took stock before, but something recently (another experiment I'll reveal below and then blog about in some weeks) motivated me to take a look. Turns out it may be time to chuck the yogurt because kefir has way more probiotic nutrition in terms of friendly bacteria and beneficial yeasts.  Kombucha is just plan delicious and also very probiotic. I'm referring to the plain version of both, though there are plenty of flavors available if that's your thang.

For the time being, I'm trying these commercial products from Whole Foods:

I just love the taste of both. You can't get real buttermilk anymore since forever, but plain kefir has that thick creamy consistency and sour taste of buttermilk. Kombucha is actually a bit fizzy which really surprised me, and reminds me a little bit like a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in club soda as a refreshing drink.

Anyway, I'm crazy about both and about trying funny new things. For instance, this morning I had about 6 oz of kefir and when done, quite a bit sticks to the side of the glass because it's thick (think yogurt drink). I keep fresh squeezed OJ around (Whole Foods has a machine that's fun to watch) for up to 4-6oz some mornings (the dose makes the poison). I put my 6oz right in the glass with the kefir remnants, stirred, et voilà! Instant creamy Orange Julius drink.

Owing to the slight vinegar element of Kombucha, I intend this afternoon to make a "sauce" of part kefir and part Kombucha (perhaps a bit of added malt vinegar too) in order to dip slices of previously baked potato (after cooling overnight to form resistant starch, I keep potatoes on the counter for up to a couple of weeks—no greening or sprouting).

OK, now for the slight downside. If you search around the Internet there's endless claims about how these two fermented beverages cure just about anything and everything—cancer too! Well, I'm sure it's better to have a healthy gut than a non healthy one and that's a claim I'll buy. And then whatever having a healthy gut does for you over having a not healthy one, I'll buy that too. Beyond that, it's right back to the same thing as always: how does it work for you? And in that regard, it's too soon for me to tell anything except that I love the taste and texture.

Chris Kresser has a post on Kefir that's worth a look, Kefir: the not-quite-Paleo superfood. Among the potential health benefits according to Chris: gut, bone and immune system health.

Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance. (2) Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy. (3)

...And, you know how big I am on vitamin K2.

As we know, vitamin K2 is one of the most important nutrients that is greatly lacking in the American diet. (7) Vitamin K2 is a product of bacterial fermentation, so kefir is a likely a good source of this nutrient, especially if made with milk from pastured animals. (8) Vitamin K2 plays a key role in calcium metabolism, where it is used to deposit calcium in appropriate locations, such as in the bones and teeth, and prevent it from depositing in locations where it does not belong, such as the soft tissues and the arteries. (9) Since kefir is high in calcium and phosphorus and also contains vitamin K2, drinking kefir is likely beneficial to bone health, providing the essential minerals needed for bone growth as well as the vitamin K2 needed to effectively deposit those minerals in the bone.

Very interesting, and timely because I have [yet another] post on K2 in draft.

In the meantime, what's all this about? Here's a picture that ought to give a clue.

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4 Gallons

Got an email from a reader the other day I found intriguing. It's about a farmer who went on a raw milk diet. Basically, it's a half gallon of raw milk per day with one pint of it as kefir, and a pint of kombucha. The results he reports are huge energy, great feelings of well being, and 33 pounds shed in six weeks.

I figured that was enough info to give it a try and report back. I'll probably be reporting weekly results via the newsletter, then an all-in-one post here in a month or so. So far, everything I've tried lately has worked: potato diet, safe starches (less protein portions), plain jane Paleo without tons of added fat. So this is just checking to see if another tool works too.

In terms of product, I've ordered some live (not desiccated) kefir grains that should arrive in a day or so. Those glass bottles from Saint Benoit will make perfect containers. Kefir is damn easy and quick to make and doing it with grains (not a powder starter culture) is the way to go, and they're indefinitely reusable. Also, I can make it will full fat, raw milk. All the brands I've seen on the shelves are fat free or low fat. Takes 24-48 hours to ferment. Strain, transfer grains to your next batch, you're done. Kombucha on the other hand takes 7-10 days, which means you have to make large batches. For now, that's a PITA I just don't want to undertake. GT's looks like they pay attention to their quality.