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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Ok…so I’m a little hot under the collar.  Hot enough that while I’ve barely kept up with working 4 part-time jobs and homeschooling my children this week, I am still squeezing out time to blog in rebuttal.  Or shall we say rebottomal?  I’d like to keep this nice. :)

I wasn’t going to link the blog in question because I didn’t want to make it seem I had a personal vendetta.  I don’t know this lady.  I have only read a few of her blogs.  I’m sure she’s perfectly nice and knowledgeable and caring.  That is not where my beef is.  I’m looking strictly at the arguments she posted for avoiding almond flour and I disagree.  It is as simple as that.  I decided that if I *didn’t* link the blog I’d be doing the author a disservice by not allowing her words to speak for themselves.  So…because it is late and I’d like to sleep sometime tonight, I’ll dive right in.  I’ll be posting her reasons for avoiding almond flour, followed by my rebuttal.

Reason #1: Almond flour skews perception about quantity.  The author of this blog says she has calculated the number of almonds per cup of almond flour, and that that number is around 90 almonds.

Rebuttal #1: If your argument against almond flour centers on the amount consumed, you might want to weigh it to be sure.  I weighed a cup of almond flour, scooped into my measuring cup with a spoon as I always do.  It was 2.4 ounces.  I weighed 90 almonds.  They were 3.4 ounces.  That would be about 25-30 almonds per ounce.  A half-ounce to an ounce of almonds is considered to be one serving size, depending on your source of data.  Using these numbers, I looked at a few of the recipes I use on a regular basis.  The blueberry streusel muffins I’ve been making lately use 2 cups of almond flour per dozen muffins.  That would be 4.8 ounces per 12 muffins; if each person ate one muffin (which is typical for one serving in our household), each person would ingest .4 ounces of almond flour per muffin.  That is less than the lowest recommendation I’ve seen for a serving size by 20% and would be the equivalent of 10-12 almonds.  I don’t see anything excessive about that.  And really, I don’t feel that eating 2 or even 3 muffins would be excessive at that quantity.

Reason #2: Almond flour is very high in inflammatory PUFAs.  The author of this blog highlights why PUFAs are bad, and then says that they’re only harmful when consumed in excess.

Rebuttal #2: I don’t argue that excessive PUFAs can have negative health consequences, but I think I established above that the levels in an average serving of almond flour are not excessive.  From my personal experience, I can say that I experienced a clinically significant drop in inflammation markers (double the referenced norms to practically zero, per my rheumatologist a few months ago) while consuming almond flour nearly daily over almost two years.  Clearly the PUFAs did not cause an increase in inflammation in my body.

Reason #3: The fats in almond flour aren’t heat stable.  And here she has a valid argument.  Oxidation IS a bad thing, and almond oil will oxidize when exposed to heat.  But her main point is that consuming excessive amounts of almond flour is going to increase this risk to dangerous levels.

Rebuttal #3: This is my purely personal opinion: I don’t think the average person consuming almond flour is consuming enough to make this a serious issue.  And I think any oxidation during the baking process can easily be offset by increasing antioxidant-rich foods in the diet.  I don’t claim to be an expert but I am going to pull the “grad certificate in nutrition right here!” card.  Eating a varied diet is going to go a long way towards keeping balance in the cells of your body.

Reason #4: Almond flour is high in oxalates.  And here she just basically says that almonds have tons of oxalates.

Rebuttal #4: I guess I just got annoyed with this one because it is a generalization.  And again, I’m going to go back to my original rebuttal: the amount of almond flour in a serving of baked goods is not likely to be excessive.  Is the author advocating avoiding spinach, which also contains high levels of oxalates? No.  In fact, she says here that spinach can be part of a balanced diet.  *If* excessive amounts of almond flour and other oxalate-rich foods are being consumed regularly, you might see an issue here.  In the amounts I’ve shown that my family consumes, I’m going to say it is not an issue.

Reason #5: Coconut flour is healthier than almond flour.  Bam!  The author notes that coconut flour has plenty of saturated fats (no argument there) and that you can use less of it than almond flour.  And…that’s it.

Rebuttal #5: I admit it.  This is the one that really got me.  I weighed the coconut flour I would use for 3 of my Cinnamon Bun Muffins  (1/4 cup) and it came out to 1.2 ounces.  Per muffin, that would be .4 ounces…which is the same weight as the almond flour in one of my favorite almond flour muffins.  So let’s compare them, shall we?  You can input the weight of almonds in this calculator and the weight of dry unsweetened coconut here.  Per .4 ounce, almond flour has 3 times the protein, 9 times the calcium, and 3 times the magnesium in this comparison.  You can look at the rest of the nutrients and judge for yourself which flour is healthier.

Conclusion:  The main reason I felt a strong need to rebut the above blog is that I see so much confusion in GAPS/SCD circles about whether or not certain foods are going to kill them or set back their recovery.  Most of the information that is floating around is not based on science – it is based on opinion.  Please, please, please…do some legwork of your own.  Listen to your body.  Use common sense.  Eat as many different types of foods as you can.  Ask questions.  Make sure you are eating enough food to encourage recovery (another of my pet peeves!).  Realize that what is working for someone else may not be best for you.  And if you notice misinformation, do your best to make it right.  GAPS/SCD does work when done correctly and we as a community are doing ourselves a disservice if we let misinformation define us.

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Since we had the peppermint oil out yesterday, I mixed up a new batch of the tooth powder we’ve been using for about 5 years now.  Our dental hygienist always comments on how clean our teeth are (and sometimes, I admit, we are lucky make it in once a year for cleanings).  I can tell a huge difference in my teeth when we go on vacation and use regular toothpaste.  I think the glycerin in regular toothpaste is what makes my teeth so tacky and plaque-y, but I’m not sure.  Anyway, my teeth always feel very clean after I brush with this powder and even though the taste takes some getting used to I would never go back to regular toothpaste.  My kids also prefer this tooth powder to regular toothpaste, and choose to brush with plain water at their dad’s rather than use his toothpaste.  In theory, you could add dried stevia to give the powder a sweeter taste, but I’ve never tried it.

These are rough estimates, as I never measure when mixing:

  • 3 parts bentonite clay
  • 2 parts baking soda
  • 1 part sea salt (finely ground)
  • peppermint oil to taste (I usually use about 10 drops per 8-ounce batch)

The peppermint will clump up in the clay, so you’ll need to mix it well.  I like to use the back of a spoon and mash the mixture for about 3 minutes, until all lumps are smoothed out and the mixture looks uniform.  Since I dislike dipping wet toothbrushes into the powder, I put our tooth powder into an old (but clean, heehee) plastic ReaLemon bottle.  The small opening and the squeezeable plastic work really well for dispensing the tooth powder without much waste.  A sifter jar or powder container like the one here would work well if it was left mostly closed, too.

This tooth powder lasts a long time (partly because no one is tempted to over-do, heehee) and I think I mix up 8-ounce batches no more than twice a year.  The clay and peppermint oil require a bit of an initial investment but since they last for several batches it is much more cost-effective than buying toothpaste.

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Sick babies

My kids came home sick for the weekend.  My daughter said she had vomited Thursday.  My son said the daycare their dad took them to had sent him home with a temp over 102 degrees Friday afternoon, and both kids had upset tummies.  I had about 60 hours to revamp their immune systems before they left again for their dad’s, and I definitely felt the crunch.

I knew they weren’t feeling well (they had called crying Thursday night) but I didn’t know how bad it was until they got home Friday night.  I had prepared a little bit (broth, vegetable beef stew, and liver were on the menu) but I still felt like feeding them was not going to be enough.  We had the stew for dinner Friday night, and then for breakfast Saturday, Sunday, and Monday mornings.  In addition, both kids had at least two cups of broth per day so we were close to a quart of broth per day.  I felt like I really accomplished something :) but I decided to supplement as well. I gave the kids elderberry tincture twice a day while they were home and they had extra probiotics each morning.  I gave my son a cherry bark cough syrup one day but did not keep up with that.  Instead, we had Trace Minerals Research Power Paks with an extra dose of my special vitamin C powder (it contains camu-camu powder and something else that I can’t think of right now) twice daily.  I also gave the kids two doses of 20,000 IU vitamin D (think that’s too much? 50,000 IU per month is considered safe for children who are ill).  We prayed lots.  I hugged and kissed lots.  Then I made sure they went to bed early each night and got at least 10 hours sleep.

My son’s fever left the following day.  Tummies were settled within 24 hours.  When they left Monday morning, they said they felt nearly normal.  I know they still had the stress of leaving and being away to deal with, but at least their physical health was MUCH improved by the time they left.

Score one for Mom.

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Good news: my grocery bills are next to nothing right now!  Bad news: I’ve spent the extra on fabric prints.  Good news: that means I can make really cute stuff and pick up a few extra dollars to make up for it!  Bad news: that means I have to carve out time to sew, and school is just around the corner…which is good news!  But I am not ready for it, which is bad news.  Yeah, that’s pretty much how my life is going right now.

I’m working a lot extra this week, which is good news because I should get a nice fat check for it but bad news because my mad GAPS skillz are suffering and I think I’ve eaten rice and/or some form of sucrose every day this week.  And pasteurized dairy.  And probably a tone of other stuff I shouldn’t.  So much for Intro Redux while my kids are gone…

And speaking of that, the kids will be home this weekend!  They were back for a brief overnight visit earlier this week, and my son came home with a terrible cough and diarrhea.  My daughter didn’t feel well either but that seems to be nervous tummy and not actual sickness.  I made them broth and fed them stuffed peppers for dinner Tuesday night and we supplemented with vitamin D and cherry bark syrup for my son.  My daughter got vitamin D and Standard Process’s stomach supplement, which is what her naturopath had previously recommended.  Then I got them both in bed by 9pm, which is a full 2 hours earlier than their dad was getting them to bed.  They both were very upset when they left in the morning but I am hoping that they got enough sleep and extra nutrients to help them make it to the weekend.

I’ve got some beef soup bones in the slow cooker and I’ll be making a stew with pureed pumpkin, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and maybe broccoli for supper tomorrow night.  My daughter has consistently asked for soup when questioned about her meal requests and I know she needs some comfort food.  Saturday I plan to make chili and we’ll probably have a meal at my parents’ house as well.  Sunday we should be able to do leftovers and then the kids will most likely have to go back to their dad’s Monday morning.  I’ll breathe a sigh of relief when they don’t have to go back to that daycare anymore!

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I’ll give you three guesses:  Who may or may not have harvested a cayenne today and scolded her daughter about BEING SURE TO WASH HER HANDS after handling it, and proceeded to de-seed the cayenne and then take a quick run to the bathroom before finishing the meatloaf tonight and discovered that maybe she hadn’t washed her own hands well enough?  The person in question might or might not have wondered why her girly goods were on fire all of a sudden, and she might or might not have gone through several mental files of known maladies that could cause flaming nether regions before she remembered that she was an idiot.  It is possible that this person then rinsed with some diluted lavender oil and put on airier garments to allow cooling in the area, and later, after the skin between her fingers also began to melt off, she wondered if the meatloaf might end up being a little too spicy.

I hope you didn’t guess “J!” because I have no idea what you are talking about.

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Jello shots

I attempted to get caught up on email today and saw this video in my inbox.  Josh Rubin is hard to keep up with (in that I’m usually at least a sentence or two behind due to brain processing issues) but I find his videos helpful.  This particular video briefly touches on using nutrition (specifically carbs and noninflammatory proteins) to prevent muscle catabolism following exercise.  I’ve always struggled with being able to keep on weight if I exercise; in order to prevent weight loss I have to increase my caloric intake so drastically that it exceeds our budget.   In addition, no matter how much I exercised, I rarely saw any muscle mass increase.  So…that begs the question, what is the point?  And I don’t like that question.

After watching this video, I thought I would experiment a little.  Mr. Rubin states that he drinks a mixture of 12 oz orange juice, 12 oz water, and 3 Tblsp gelatin after workouts to prevent muscle catabolism.  I’m not sure how he prepares it, but if the gelatin isn’t heated it is probably grainy.  Grainy=yuck in J’s world, so I knew I’d want to heat the gelatin to dissolve it.  That takes time though, and if I only have 30 minutes or so following exertion to get my carb/protein into my system I would need something ready to pull out of the fridge.  Fridge=full in J’s world, so that meant compacting the carb/protein for storage purposes.  I checked the bottle of gelatin, and it said that one tablespoon gelatin would gel one pint of liquid…and then I remembered that you use less liquid for jello jigglers…and then I was too lazy to look up the liquid:gelatin ratio for jigglers…so I just guessed.  What I ended up doing was

  • 1 cup water, brought to a boil
  • 3 Tblsp gelatin, whisked into the boiling water until dissolved
  • juice of 2 oranges (2/3 cup)
  • 1/3 cup honey

I added the orange juice and honey after the gelatin mixture had cooled a little, and then I divided the 16 oz that this recipe yields into silicone mini-muffin molds.  Then I noticed that I hadn’t put a cookie sheet under the wobbly molds before I poured in the jello stuff and so I just left them on the counter to gel for now.  I’ll try to move them to the refrigerator in a little while, but I’ve got to work up my nerve first.

Originally, I planned to add some pureed mango to this recipe to bring it closer to a 1 Tblsp gelatin:1 cup liquid ratio (effectively halving the liquid in a typical jello recipe) but due to my Thing About Opening The Freezer During Warm Weather I couldn’t find my mango puree before I panicked and slammed the freezer door shut.  So.  We’ll see how this turns out and maybe next time I will find my mango puree and give it a whirl, too.

So how am I going to use these jello shots (assuming I can get them out of the molds later)??  Since these are concentrated, I would drink plenty of water when I eat these.  I am probably half the size of Josh Rubin, so for right now I’ll start at half the above recipe after workouts (which will probably be limited to yard work until it cools off a little or we turn on the air conditioner!) and I’ll drink 12-16oz water with the shots.

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Yes, we watched Madagascar 3 today.  :)  We loved that line in the movie – my daughter especially, as she often feels digestive distresses keenly.  We were all a little stressed today…me, because I decided to confront the kids’ father about cohabiting again; and the kids, because they knew I was going to talk to their dad.  I was trying to get them to eat quickly and I was having trouble choking down my food as the clock neared 6pm.  Suddenly my daughter put her hand to her stomach and said, “My tummy is talking to me!” and for a moment I wasn’t sure if we’d be seeing her supper reappearing or not!  Luckily she kept it down.  :)  But this episode caused me to think about her digestive issues.  I thought a lot of it was food related but now I’m not sure.  Most of the time she complains is when she is getting ready to head to her dad’s or someone is talking about her dad or she is just worrying in general.  Her chronic congestion has improved a LOT in the past few months, but she still struggles with her tummy.  I haven’t gotten a good description of the problem from her; it’s usually just a “my tummy doesn’t feel good” and sometimes she gags as if she’s having a hard time getting it to stay down.  Distraction usually solves the issue so I’m not sure it’s purely physical, but she does tend to have more gas when she is complaining.  However, when she says her tummy doesn’t feel good, she usually has her hand at her stomach and not down on her abdomen.  I had thought that some of the issue might be mucus draining into her tummy and making it upset, but now that the congestion is clearing I can’t say that is the cause.

At this point, she doesn’t want to see a counselor.  I’m going to see whether she improves after her dad’s summer visitation (I think that is a big factor in how she’s felt lately) and then if things don’t ease for her we’ll have to consider our next steps.

In unrelated news, I don’t think my dog likes sauerkraut.

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