The Fermentation Series: Kefir

Kefir is a powerful, fermented probiotic beverage that has been around for centuries, originating in the extreme South Eastern Europe known as Caucasus. Originally the name Kefir represented a fermented, probiotic dairy product but there are also non dairy versions of kefir available. This super food is filled with friendly, health giving micro-organisms that help balance your gut flora. The kefir strains of bacteria are unique and superior to yogurt strains as the bacteria can colonise the intestinal tract, kill and displace unfriendly bacteria and are also directly toxic to yeast. Kefir is anti-inflammatory to the gut, immune enhancing and anti-aging. Kefir contains an abundance of lactobacilli bacteria, streptococci/lactococci bacteria, beneficial yeasts and acetobacter.

Traditionally made dairy kefir is rich in amino acids, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and B vitamins. Kefir means “feel good” in Turkish, which correlates with the way it has made people feel for thousands of years.

There are quite a few options when it comes to how you prepare your kefir and the kind of kefir you make. Traditional, live, real kefir grains look like gelatinous, cauliflower florets in a way and come in two varieties milk kefir grains and water kefir grains. The grains are made up of a complex bio-matrix structure of soluble gel-polysaccharide, organic acids, yeasts and bacteria. This polysaccharide called Kefiran is made from two mono-saccharides, Glucose and Galactose in almost equal proportions with the milk grains based on milk and the water grains based on water and sugar. You can purchase live milk and water kefir grains from here and here. And you can look out for free live grains here. Another option is to begin your culture with a freeze dried isolated kefir starter such as the Body Ecology Kefir starter which is dairy free. An Australian company Kefir Culture Natural produces a kefir starter which can be re-used for 2 months. Their kefir starter culture contains a much wider variety of bacteria and yeast strains than the Body Ecology starter but is not dairy free.

After you have decided on what culture you will use you then need to decide what you will ferment. The live milk kefir grains can ferment milk and cream and some find it also cultures coconut cream. The water kefir grains ferment young coconut water, water and organic sugar, some have success with juice or adding in flavourings such as ginger and fruits. The Body Ecology kefir starter cultures all dairy (cow, sheep, goat) products, coconut water, coconut milk, young coconut meat and other alternative milks.

I have previously used live kefir grains but am currently using Donna Gates Body Ecology Kefir starter. I either buy bottled young coconut water or young coconuts from the supermarket and culture that. After I have the finished product I then use a small amount to culture some coconut cream or young coconut flesh to make a kind of kefir yogurt.

Recipe: Young Coconut Kefir

What you need

A jar with a secure lid

1 sachet of kefir culture starter or 2 tablespoons of fresh water kefir grains

2 young coconuts worth of young coconut water or 900ml of bottled coconut water

Method

Warm young coconut water in a pot until it is body temperature, check with your finger. Pour into fermenting jar.

Add kefir starter or grains to the luke warm coconut water. If you are using a starter mix this into the coconut water thoroughly.

Secure lid and leave in a warm place to ferment for 24 – 72 hours depending on the temperature. After it has fermented it will taste sour but slightly sweet. Place in the fridge.

Recipe: Young Coconut Kefir Yogurt

What you will need

A jar with a secure lid

2 young coconuts

Young coconut water kefir

extra water or young coconut water

Method

After opening a fresh young coconut scrape out the young coconut flesh.

Place in blender with 6 tablespoons of young coconut kefir and any extra water or coconut water to make a thick yogurt consistency.

Place in a fermenting jar and leave in a warm place for 12 hours, refrigerate, then consume.

You can also ferment pre-made coconut cream with this recipe. I use Ayam 100% coconut cream. All you need to do is warm the coconut cream, add the 6 tablespoons of coconut kefir and ferment for around 12 hours.

Have you tried kefir before?

Have you reaped the benefits?

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My current treatment and healing regime

Hello there.

I previously shared with you the practitioners I am currently seeing, the tests I have recently undergone (still waiting for some results) and so it is time to provide a run down of what I do exactly when it comes to treatment, healing and management! What I do for my condition has developed over a couple of years and was not introduced overnight.

Supplementation

I do not take all of my supplements at the same time, some I alternate and some are temporary. My minerals, vitamin D, vitamin C and digestive support are a constant in my regime.

I am very careful when it comes to supplement selection. The majority contain unnecessary fillers, binders, sweeteners, magnesium stearate which is included to make the machines run faster, not for the consumers benefit. The source of the supplement is important as well, I opt for naturally derived not synthetically made. Certain types of vitamins and minerals are more bioavailable than others so it is worth doing the research. From my experience you get what you pay for. The brands I trust: Thorne Research, Quantum Nutrition Labs, Arthur Andrew Medical, Global Healing Centre and other independent companies.

Minerals

Concentrace Mineral Drops By Trace Minerals Research I drop 4 – 6 drops in every glass of water I have

Magnesium citramate, aspartate By Thorne Research

Magnesium oil By Ancient Minerals or Echo Life

Zinc Picolinate By Metabolic maintenance

Germanium By Intensive Nutrition

Potassium Citrate By Thorne Research

Iodine By Bioceuticals and Nascent Iodine I alternate

Selenium By Bioceuticals

Coral Calcium By Quantum Nutrition Labs

Vitamin C

Lipsomal Vitamin C by LivOn

Ascorbic acid and buffered Vitamin C By Thorne Research

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 By Carlson labs

B Vitamins

B Complex By Thorne Research

Detoxification and Energy

R – Lipoic Acid By Thorne Research the most bioavailable form of lipoic acid

Lipsomal Glutathione By LivOn

Liquid SAM-e By Cellfood highly absorbable liquid SAM-e for liver and mood

N – Acetyl Carnitine powder

CoQ10 Live source by Quantum Nutrition Labs

Vitamin E By Thorne Research or Vitamin E Complex by A.C Grace

Digestive Support

Digestive Enzymes Devigest By Arthur Andrew Medical

Saccerimides Boullardi By Thorne Research

Beet derived Hydrochloric Acid By Quantum Nutrition Labs

also previously taking Dr Ohirras OMX – 100 probiotics, Syntol By Arthur Andrew Medical and Symbion

Kefir made using Donna Gates Kefir starter or live fresh water grains. If you are in Australia it is cheapest to buy from here.

L – Glutamine

Oxypowder By Global Healing Centre

Compounded medicine

Progesterone cream  I get from Complementary medicine. They do not use any toxic chemicals in their creams or unnecessary binders and fillers.

Compounded, low dose. slow release T3 (thyroid hormone) I also get from Complementary medicine

Environmental

Organic, natural skin care, body care, toothpaste, shampoo, cleanser, dishwashing liquid, general house cleaner (bi-carb and vinegar does the trick.)

Quality water filters for the tap and my own personal filter

Avoidance of chemicals and EMF radiation when possible

Safe cookware

Himalayan Salt lamps for negative ions and negative ionisers

Nutrition

Organic whole food, unprocessed, biologically correct diet

Avoiding all type 3, IgG allergens (delayed reaction) and sensitivities/intolerances and sticking to safe foods.

For me, my main allergies and sensitivities are most grains (gluten and lectins), legumes, dairy (casein and lactose), sugar and soy.

I have tested using various techniques to find what exactly I am reacting to but unfortunately no test is completely accurate.  Below are some options, some of which I have tried including: Healthscope Pathology IgG Food Sensitivity Profile; Imupro IgG testing; US BioTek; ALCAT; NAET, Biomeridian, and the gold standard of sensitivity testing elimination diets. Pulse testing yourself some believe gives a good indication of IgG allergies as well.

A huge emphasis on anti-inflammatory foods. Low in omega 6 (inflammatory) and high in omega 3 (anti-inflammatory).

I consume food low in food toxins such as phytates, phytic acid, oxalates, lectins which aggravate my gut, and inhibit the absorption of important minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese etc which I tend to be badly deficient in. When it comes to nuts, seeds and pseudo grains I soak them for 12-24 hours and/or ferment them prior to cooking or consumption.

My doctor advises me to consume a diet high in cholesterol, yes high. All hormones are made from cholesterol. It is a healing substance and is not to be feared. If you don’t consume it, your liver will just make more.

I consume an abundance of non-rancid, stable, healthy fats such as coconut oil, ghee, raw olive oil, red palm oil, animal fats, avocado.

Chemical free, organic, free range meats.

I consume plenty of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, homemade coconut yogurt.

Organic vegetables and low sugar fruits such as coconut and berries.

Line caught, high selenium, oily fish.

Detoxification/Extras

I do not do all of these at the same time (apart from the tongue scrape), I do alternate them.

Scrape tongue daily after waking an Ayurvedic practise

Netty pot to flush sinuses with salty water

Massage

Light yoga

Dry body brushing

Enemas when I am desperate

infrared sauna

Ionic foots spas/epsom salt and magnesium chloride footspa

Mind

Mindfulness meditation

Yoga Nidra

Positivity, affirmations, acceptance

Books by Eckart Tolle

Pacing

Only as much mental and physical exertion as I can tolerate

Small amounts of computer usage and television

Avoid stressful situations when I can

I find converation and long hangouts difficult, but it is important not to be totally socially isolated I feel so I just deal with it.

Exercise

This is a new one for me, I have tried to do light yoga mainly lying down over the past couple of years and have tried to walk but I end up crashing further. I have devised a new schedule which sees me doing a small walk and some light weights daily. I have just begun so I will let you know how it goes.

So there you have it! My regime is ever-changing and evolving if I feel something is a waste of time or money and is not effective then I will stop, assess my situation and find more answers!


The Fermentation series: Lacto-Fermention + Sauerkraut recipe

When I used to hear the word sauerkraut I would think cabbage, sugar and vinegar in a jar.  In our modern fast food times, traditional whole foods and preparation techniques have been exchanged for fast, convenient look a likes.  Even the real lacto-fermented vegetables I am finding in health food stores have been pasteurised, destroying the beneficial probiotic bacteria and enzymes within them.

Lacto-fermentation is the process of preserving vegetables using simple, traditional techniques, which proliferate probiotic lactobacilli bacteria. You have probably heard of probiotic supplements you can buy containing isolated freeze dried lactobacilli bacteria. This lacto-fermenting process also produces beneficial enzymes and increases vitamin levels of the vegetables being preserved.

Lactobacilli bacteria is present on all living things, but especially in large quantities on leaves and roots in contact with the earth.  During the lacto-fermenting process the probiotic bacteria feed and multiply on the sugars and starches of the vegetable you are preserving and produce lactic acid.  Lactic acid preserves the vegetable and inhibits putrefying bacteria.  Lactic acid also produces hydrogen peroxide and benzoic acid.

Almost any country you look at there is a history of fermentation and still today, especially in countries still following their traditional diets there are lacto-fermented foods present such as sauerkraut, kimchi, relishes, beet kavas, natto and other preserves.

This lacto-fermentation process not only preserved food when there were no fridges available, but it promoted health and longevity in those who consumed it.  The balance of good and bad bacteria, yeast, fungi and protozoa in ones gut is crucial to good health. Our gut flora aids digestion, absorbs nutrients, prevents the assimilation of toxins and the growth of harmful bacteria, they even produce vitamins, hormones, deodorise the colon and promote the formation of stools and regular bowel movements.

Lacto-fermented vegetables boast some very amazing health benefits including

  • Promoting the growth of health bacteria in the small intestine feeding the good bacteria in the gut
  • Boasts anti-cancer and antibiotic properties
  • Aids and improves digestion
  • Enhances immune function, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
  • The active cultures have stimulating effects on cellular immunity
  • Help control inflammation
  • Help increase NK cells, immunity
  • Increase antibodies when suffering infection.

Sauerkraut Recipe

What you will need:

1 medium organic, raw cabbage, outer leaves removed and finely sliced or shredded
1 tablespoon of celtic sea salt unprocessed depending of cabbage size

Utensils:

A large bowel
A rolling pin or something to pound the cabbage
I use 2  x 500ml approx preserving jars

Method:

  • Place finely sliced or shredded cabbage in a large bowl and add salt
  • Using clean hands toss the salt through the cabbge
  • Using the end of the rolling pin or a pounder pound the cabbage for around 10 minutes or longer if you wish, until it is softening and the juices are coming out.
  • Pack the cabbage into the jars making sure it is packed tightly using the pounder to compress the cabbage. When packed tightly the cabbage juice should rise above the cabbage at the top. make sure you leave around an inch from the top of the jar as the cabbage will expand. It is important to have the cabbage covered by the brine as this protects the cabbage from going off.
  • Using left over cabbage leaves roll them up and place them on top of the cabbage to hold it down under the brine, then place the lid on.
  • Leave in a warm or the warmest place (but not in direct sunlight) in the home for 3 days or up to a week to ferment. The time really depends on the temperature. I have been leaving mine for a week as it has been winter and the fermentation process is slower.
  • Place the ferment in the fridge and this can be eaten immediately or until it has aged which some prefer.
Once you get used to fermenting you can experiment with different flavours and additions such as herbs and spices.

There are some great resources for Lacto-fermentation including Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
and even just through the old google you will find some inspiration and recipes.

Thanks to my typewriter mum.

Have you experimented with lacto-fermentation? Did you notice a difference in your health?

My current treatment and healing regime: Tests

So I have previously covered my seemingly last resort approach with energetic medicine. This is the primary treatment I have received in the past year from a naturopath as well as frequent GP checkups. My local GP still doesn’t get the fact that what I am suffering from is real. Why do I see him? Blood tests and a cheap price! I have had to become my own doctor in a way and basically go into the docs with certain demands and requests for tests. The thing is though that when I get back these tests, my doctor doesn’t know how to interpret them. There is no point in getting tests if there are no implications for management. So after about 16 months I have returned to the doctor who originally diagnosed me. He is a brain and keeps completely up to date with current CFS research and treatment. I felt it was time to do further tests and could trust him to interpret them. When I initially saw this doctor I had no knowledge of CFS and felt quite powerless. This time round I feel educated and more in control. The problem with standard pathology tests is that the normal ranges are based on sick people’s results. No the labs do not go out and test healthy people for healthy ranges they rely solely on the pathology results of people feeling unwell and getting tests done. Check this presentation out by Dr Byron Walsh. Most integrative doctors will understand this and also realise pathology results are never 100% accurate and that we are more than just numbers on a piece of paper.

I myself have found most macro-pathology tests to be of no help to me and my condition. One of the reasons being because in CFS the primary dysfunction is in the immune system and is mostly on a micro-pathological level. Macroscopical tests are designed to pick up primary organ failure but miss minor organ failure such as partial thyroid gland failure, partial adrenal gland failure, mild liver damage, poor ability to detox etc. So it seems there are only limited tests that are worth doing when it comes to standard pathology which is why I am choosing to get more accurate and sophisticated tests done, which are not covered my medicare and are rather expensive. I tried to avoid these because of the cost, but when you have been primarily house bound for over 2 years, really cost is the last thing on my mind.

So on returning to this doctor I have done the following

Standard pathological tests which I feel have helped with pinpointing problematic areas are:

  • IgE test for IgE antibodies in the blood

Typically this can point to non specific allergies but it can also suggest gut inflammation, permeability and parasites. A doctor I saw years ago used the results as part of diagnosing leaky gut. Mine are skyhigh.

  • Thyroid testing

I am not just talking TSH which is actually a pituitary hormone, it is important to asses the Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, Thyroidglobulin antibodies and TPO thyroid peroxidase. You can have a normal TSH, FT4 and even FT3 but still have significant thyroid problems. In Australia if your TSH is in range they will not test your FT3 or FT4 unless it is specified you will pay as it is not covered by medicare.

I have discovered I have high reverse FT3 and low FT3, basically hypothyroid. A high RT3 can be caused by lots of stress on the body and hormonal problems (adrenal, sex hormones etc.) RT3 looks the same as FT3 but is actually an inactive hormone which cannot be utilised meaning thyroid symptoms may be present. Here is an article on this here. It is not a cure for CFS but it may be of some help.

  • The obvious iron studies, vitamin D, B-12. Mine are always in the normal range but my doctor says the results should be in the high normal range for optimal wellbeing. Always ask for a copy of test results from your doc so you can check them out yourself.
  • It seems appropriate to test C Reactive proteins CRP and Erythrocyte sedimentation rate ESR to look for inflammation and ANA Antinuclear antibody just to rule autoimmunity out.
  • I found a urine test for Iodine beneficial which stated I was very deficient.
  • Another cheap/free test worth doing is your homocysteine levels. High levels have been linked with the MHTFR gene which has been linked with CFS amongst many other health conditions. This gene can affect methylation, neurotransmitters etc, check out this blog post here. If your levels are high or high normal you may benefit from active folate, B6 and B12 to break down the homocysteine.
    Now for tests that I am doing which are not free but are accurate and helpful
  • Salivary hormone tests
  • Sex hormones
  • Cortisol
  • Melatonin
  • DHEA
  • testosterone
Testing hormones through saliva is accurate because the hormones present are actually active whilst the ones found in the blood are not and so are only a rough guide.
I found this test very useful. My female hormones are shocking (no surprise), My cortisol is normal in the morning then drops quickly by midday but stays high at night which is why I feel the most alert I do all day at night before bed.
My melatonin is extremely high at night and in the morning, off the charts. My DHEA is good and my testosterone is high.

    • Heavy Metal Testing
My doctor initially did a hair mineral analysis through Doctors Data which provides only a snapshot or the tip of the iceberg for many when it comes to the results. It not only shows heavy metals but all the essential minerals as well. Because mine came back positive for Lead and mercury I have gone onto do the most accurate test for heavy metals which is a urine provocation test. You are given a chelation agent and collect your urine for 6 hours after this. This test is also handy as it gives a very accurate reading of the bodies mineral status. So far I have found I am deficient in potassium, zinc, germanium and lithium but shall wait for my provocation test results to confirm this.

  • Complete Digestive Analysis
Probably one of the most worthwhile tests you can do to find out exactly what your gastrointestinal tract is up to. Many of the worlds top CFS specialists such as Kenny De Meir Leir believe CFS begins in the gut and that it is extraordinarily significant when it comes to treatment. Digestion uses a huge majority of our daily energy so it is no wonder it is so highly affected in CFS. 80 percent of our immune system is located in the gut and we all know CFS is caused by a highly dysfunctional immune system which is hyper reactive and T2 Helper cell dominant.
2 years ago I had a standard complete digestive analysis done by Healthscope pathology which was helpful at picking up microflora imbalances, pancreas insufficiency, carbohydrate malabsorption and citrobacter species. After 2 years and worsening of symptoms I believe it is time to retest. This time I am doing the granddaddy of all tests the Metametrix Gastrointestinal Function profile. Highly expensive but highly sophisticated and accurate test. Check out a sample report here. It has many implications for management. You must be prepared to scoop your poop and send it to america for a high price.

There are obviously sooo many other tests you can do but these are the ones that have helped me. Others I have had done which are worth mentioning are the IgG allergy tests to certain foods, but the IgG allergy is only picked up if you have been consuming this food in recent times and are generally not very accurate. IgE allergy testing through blood and scratch testing could be beneficial too.

So these are the most recent tests I have had and next I will share how I am treating abnormalities that showed up and my general healing and treatment regime. Hope these suggestion can help in some way with your own investigations. Adios.

What tests have been beneficial to you? Have you had any of the above?

Recipes of the week: Breakfast

Hello there.

A couple of breakfast ideas for you. My breakfasts are generally savoury, unless I make a smoothie or pancakes. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I find it so nourishing and sustaining.

Soft boiled eggs with steamed asparagus and sweet potato, raw home made sauerkraut, rocket, coconut oil and celtic sea salt.
Soft scramble eggs with extra yolks in coconut oil, sprouted and steamed buckwheat, sauerkraut and celtic sea salt.

My home made coconut cream kefir. Yum!

 

My current treatment and healing regime: Part 1

Over a year ago now I had basically seen all the doctors in my state/city who have any understanding of ME/CFS. I had put everything into following their treatment plans, but significant results were yet to be seen. Ok so at this point I could watch a little more tele, spend a bit more time on the computer researching and conversation wasn’t quite as exhausting but that was about it. I was doing quite a bit of research to decide what direction to head in next. Some of this research was looking into the GAPS diet, The Body Ecology Diet and other protocols online as previously mentioned. They promised to heal the gut, cure candida, heal autoimmune disease and ME/CFS and some amazing results were being had. But it must be stressed that, from my experience it is difficult to find success with a one size fits all protocol, particularly with complicated conditions such as ME/CFS. So trial and error is important!

My masseuse at the time had recommended a naturopath to me and explained that she practised energetic medicine and applied kinesiology amongst other things. It sounded kooky to me and I didn’t really consider it. A few weeks later though I was breaking down and felt I needed to call this woman just to see what she was all about. The naturopath answered the phone and told me about her 10 year battle with ME/CFS and how she had literally tried everything and had finally found treatment for the condition that worked. We had a great conversation and then I made an appointment. I had nothing to loose and when you have tried everything conventional, integrative, well you have to try the alternative!

What does her treatment involve

My naturopath uses energetic scanning machines from America and Europe and energetic/homeopathic medicine as a primary treatment and diagnostic tool as well as her naturopathy, nursing experience and nutritional supplementation. She uses:

The NES system

A body scanning system which reads the energetic frequencies of your body and organs. I was amazed at how well it picked up on where my pain was located.

Biomeridian

Another body scanning device which reads the energy of certain points on your body. This device also performs allergy and sensitivity testing. I have been getting a monthly scan for the past 10 months.

NAET

NAET was developed to help people overcome allergy and sensitivity. Allergy is involved in almost all modern day chronic illness. I have been receiving NAET treatments for a year now and am giving it another 2 months of FREE treatment to see results.

Scenar

The Scenar device was developed by the Russians and used in the Russian Space Program. It delivers computer-modulated, therapeutic electro-stimulation via a patient’s skin. It is designed to treat acute and chronic pain and aid the body in the healing process. I occasionally receive Scenar treatment, it most definitely relieves pain from personal experience.

Ionic Detox Footspa

Check out the link on the Ionic foot spa. It aids the body in detoxification. I have had many of these. They can wipe you out afterwards, beware!

She initially made nutritional recommendations as well as a simplified supplement regime including concentrated mineral drops, oxypowder, tissue salts, the probiotic Symbion was also taken for 6 months and copious amount of transdermal magnesium. She recommended avoiding electro magnetic radiation as much as possible and chemicals.

I have been seeing this naturopath for a year now. She has been the perfect practitioner, providing much needed emotional support and obviously amazing understanding. The past year I have made a small improvement, but it is not significant yet to say I have improved. Her treatment has at times made me feel significantly worse. Energetic/homeopathic medicine is part of her protocol which aims at healing the body as a whole and can induce quite intense healing reactions. I understand the role these reactions play in true healing, but the scary thing is it is difficult to differentiate between a healing reaction and my condition worsening. Once again I believe this naturopath has taught me alot and I will be following her protocol until the end (another couple of months.) She has so far been a valuable part of my healing journey, but it has definitely not been the one and only answer, but more complementary from my experience. Her diagnostic tools are amazingly accurate when compared to medical tests I have had which has given me some peace of mind. So basically I will have to wait until christmas to give you the verdict. Hold in there!!

This is just one component of my healing regime. Coming from different directions, covering all grounds is my motto. I also see a holistic doctor, receive acupuncture from a doctor, meditate, get plenty of sunshine and fresh air, eat a clean, organic, unprocessed, anti inflammatory diet, take necessary nutritional supplements and avoid chemicals and electro magnetic radiation when possible. I will address these in more depth in my following posts.