Tuesday, November 11, 2014

GAPS-Friendly Coconut Pecan Frosting

After searching for a recipe for coconut pecan frosting, I realized that  many of them called for a can of sweetened condensed milk.  At that point, I decided I could do better than that!  Here is my GAPS-friendly version.

1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup ghee (see below)
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup honey 
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Heat coconut milk, ghee, egg yolks, and honey in pot over medium heat.  Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, for about ten minutes.

Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans.  Allow to cool before spreading on cake or brownies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Summary: Gut And Psychology Syndrome, Chapters 1-10

I have written a summary of the first ten chapters in the GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) book.  I am hoping you will find it useful for sharing with others when you have difficulty explaining what this diet is about.  Enjoy!

Autism, ADD, ADHD, allergies, asthma, eczema, dyspraxia, dyslexia, depression, schizophrenia, and various other psychological problems are inter-related and overlap in occurrence.  Patients with these symptoms all have one thing in common:  poor digestion/malabsorption.   French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinell concluded, “The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.”

CHAPTER ONE:  What is going on?
Autistic children suffer from a variety of digestive symptoms.  The lymph nodes in the ileal area (small intestine) are inflamed & enlarged, revealing a fight with infection in the gut.  The children also have non-specific colitis, or inflammation of the colon, which is in various stages of abscesses, pus, ulcers & erosions of the membranes, and fecal compaction.
Research also links schizophrenic patients with Celiac’s disease (intolerance to gluten).

CHAPTER TWO: The roots of a tree
The roots of a tree are the source of all health in a tree.  The gut is the source of health in humans.
The gut has 3 types of flora:  essential (beneficial), opportunistic, and transitional (temporary, taken in by diet).  The essential bacteria neutralize toxic substances, inactivates histamines (allergic reactions), controls the opportunistic bacteria, absorbs carcinogens, and chelates heavy metals.   Normal gut flora also protects the gut wall and provides the nourishment for the cells there.  Without the healthy flora, the gut wall degenerates.  Food is no longer digested and absorbed properly, causing “malabsorption, nutritional deficiencies, and food intolerances.”  Without the proper digestive enzymes, the proteins from milk and wheat enter the blood stream unchanged instead of being broken down, and they interfere “with brain function and immune system function.”  Fiber and milk sugar (lactose) cannot be broken down in the body without digestive enzymes either.
Healthy gut flora also ensures proper absorption of vitamins and nutrients.  Patients with unhealthy guts tend to be anemic.  They are not absorbing nutrients properly, and the opportunistic bacteria feed off the available iron, creating further deficiency.

CHAPTER THREE:  Immune system
GAP people have a compromised immune system.  “Deficiencies in various immunoglobulins are found” in GAP patients.  Their immune system starts to produce antibodies which attack their own tissues, “including the brain and the rest of the nervous system.”  Their gut wall “has poor ability to defend itself from fungi, viruses from vaccinations or the environment, bacteria and parasites.”  It is estimated that “80-85% of our immunity is located in the gut wall.”

CHAPTER FOUR:  What can damage gut flora?
Antibiotics  -- from food and from prescriptions.  Antibiotics kill of beneficial bacteria.  Antibiotics alter bacteria from benign to pathogenic.  Antibiotics cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria, creating a need for more powerful antibiotics.
Other drugs – long-term analgesics, steroids, contraceptives, sleeping pills, heartburn meds, and others
Diet –processed food, sugary foods, high grain intake, baby formula, fasting, overeating.
Other factors – disease, stress, surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiotherapy, alcoholism, extreme climates.

CHAPTER FIVE:  The opportunistic flora
Opportunistic flora are a “large group of various microbes” which grow out of control in the state of diminished beneficial flora.   Bacteroids, Peptococci, Staphylococci, Streptococci, Bacilli, Clostridia, Yeasts, Enterobacteira, various viruses, and many other microbes are examples of opportunistic flora.  Some of these damage the gut wall, making it “leaky”, then they leak out the gut wall and into the blood stream.   Partially digested foods also get out of the gut wall into the blood stream, “where the immune system recognizes them as foreign and attacks them.”   Some of these microbes produce toxic substances or beneficial substances in toxic quantities, like excess histamines which produce, allergies, constantly low blood pressure, hormonal changes, emotional instability, sleep disturbances, addictions, etc.   This abundance of histamines is often seen  in patients with depression, autism, schizophrenia, and addictions.
Bacteroids are most routinely found in GAPS stools samples – bacteroids like to eat sugar, starch, and lactose, which is the standard Western diet.  These bacteria are almost always found in infected tissues “of the digestive tract, abcesses, ulcers, urinary tract infections, lung infections, peritonitis, infected heart valves, blood infections, mouth infections, teeth and gum disease, gangrene, and post-operative infections.”
The Clostridia family members are also almost always found in the stools of autistic children. One member is the Clostridium tetani,  which is normally in the gut but controlled.  When out of control, it’s toxins invade the body and are neurotoxic, causing photosensitivity and difficulty with muscle tone.  Broad spectrum antibiotics do not kill off clostridia, but in killing off the beneficial bacteria of the gut, colostridia is allowed to grow unchecked.

CHAPTER SIX: The gut-brain connection
Specialization in medicine has resulted in thinking of the body as separate systems (cardiovascular, neurological, etc.), but the body is one entire unit, with each system inter-related and inter-dependent on the others.  The neurological/psychiatric component of our bodies relies on the gut.

There are more toxins at work in the GAP syndrome.  ETHANOL AND ACETALDEHYDE --  yeast overgrowth causes glucose to be converted into alcohol and acetaldehyde.   This is also passed to infants by the parents before birth and by breast milk afterward.  This causes: decreased stomach acid, pancreas degeneration, gut lining damage, malabsorption, immune system compromise, poor detoxification, poor detox of old neurotransmitters & hormones, brain damage, peripheral nerve damage, muscle weakness, and destruction of myelin which can result in MS.  Alcohol and acetaldehyde also cause functional deficiencies – inability of the body to utilize substances that it has in proper quantities, such as thyroid hormones, vitamin B6, etc.

GLUTEN AND CASEIN --  GAPS people lack the ability to digest gluten (from grains) and casein (from milk).  These improperly digested proteins turn into chemicals similar to opiates like morphine and heroin.  They block some areas of the brain just like morphine and heroin do.   Unbroken-down proteins also inhibit neurotransmitters and hormone function.
DELTORPHIN AND DERMORPHIN – neuro-paralyzers found in autistic children.  Deltorphin  and dermorphin are from a fungus which has been used in S. America to make poison darts.  Quite possibly this is a fungus growing in the gut of GAPS people.

CHAPTER SEVEN:  The families
Unborn babies have no bacteria, viruses, or fungi living in them.  As they pass through the birth canal, they pick up whatever’s living in the mother’s vagina.  The flora of the vagina is influenced by what’s in the mother’s gut and what’s in the father’s gut (via sexual intercourse with the mother).  The mother’s vaginal flora & gut are influenced by antibiotics, antibacterials, the contraceptive pill, poor diet, infections, personal care products, and stress. 
GAPS children’s parents usually suffer from digestive disorders, asthma, allergies, PMS, migraines, arthritis, or cystitis, etc.
Nursing the baby also transfers poor gut health & toxins, but the antibodies which are present in the milk, protect the baby until nursing ends and solid foods begin. At that time, there is an “explosion” of abnormal microbial growth.   However, nursing is a much better alternative than bottle-feeding.
Parental toxic load directly influences the toxic load of the babies.  A baby with a high toxic load creates a vulnerability to environmental toxins, including vaccines.
Siblings of GAPS children also display a variety of symptoms of compromised immune & digestive systems.

CHAPTER EIGHT:  Does MMR cause autism?
There is a preservative in many vaccines called Thimerosal, which is a Mercury compound.  Some countries have banned its use.
Vaccines are produced for children with normal immune function.  GAPS children do not have a normal immune system.  While MMR may not cause autism spectrum disorders, it may be the trigger which starts it. 
Vaccines should be withheld until the infant is proven clear of a compromised immunity, and then vaccines should be given individually, not in clusters.

CHAPTER NINE:  Schizophrenia
Modern psychiatric treatment controls symptoms, not causes.  No cure is available.  Psychiatrists of the past have known that schizophrenics are poorly nourished.  Areas such as Ireland and the South Pacific did not see schizophrenia in their citizens until heavy grain diets were instituted.  A large percentage of schizophrenics were bottle fed, compromising their digestive flora.
Schizophrenic symptoms usually appear at puberty. The hormonal changes may interact with the toxins present.
Psychotic patients on medication may undergo significant brain changes.  The medication should be taken until nutritional detoxification is completed, and then the anti-psychotic drug removed slowly and carefully.
Some "schizophrenics" may not be schizophrenic but have pellagra, a vitamin B3 deficiency which causes hallucinations, confusion, headaches, anxiety, depression, and a host of physical symptoms.  It used to be attributed to poorer people on corn-based diet.  In addition to nutritional detoxing, these patients may need additional B vitamin supplementation.
Thousands of patients around the world are successfully cured of psychiatric disorders through nutrition.

CHAPTER TEN:  Epilepsy
The more severe the autism, the greater the incidence of epilepsy.  Anti-seizure medication has many side effects, including depleting the body of folic acid.  Long ago, doctors treated epilepsy with a fast and then a low carbohydrate diet.  In the 1920s, the Mayo Clinic developed a “ketogenic” diet which severely restricted carbs.  Later, though, when anti-convulsants were discovered, the diet was dropped.  Other diets which seem successful in treating seizures are the Atkins diet and the Low Glycemic Index diet.
The author’s experience in her clinic is that when patients start the GAPS protocol diet, most find a cessation of seizures, tics, spasms, and involuntary movements.  She believes that seizures are the result of a combination of damaged gut wall and nutritional deficiencies.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spreadable Butter

You want to use butter on your toast, but it's so firm that it tears your bread.  You quit using those unhealthy "buttery spreads", but you sure do miss how spreadable they were.  Here is your new best friend:  spreadable butter!

    One cup butter, set out at room temperature to soften
    3/4 cup of your favorite oil (avoid canola since it's              mostly GMO)

Whisk the two together then pour into your favorite container and store in the refrigerator.  The thrift store is an excellent resource for small butter crocks such as the one in the photo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yogurt Makers Compared

 I began making yogurt about twenty years ago.  My first attempts were with the Salton yogurt maker, pictured to the right. I loved that this maker consistently produced yogurt that is perfect in texture.  I believe it has to do with the fact that the jars are nestled inside the cup holders in a way that keeps the heat relatively uniform throughout the yogurt.  However, the company has redesigned their maker, and now it's more of a flat warming tray under the cups.   This maker sells for approximately $30 and can often be found in thrift stores.  The only reason I quit using mine was that I started making yogurt in bulk, and these jars only produce about one quart together.

Then I switched to the Yogotherm yogurt maker.  It costs about $50 and makes two quarts at a time, which I love.  It does not use electricity (added bonus).  However (and this is HUGE for me), the container is plastic.  Yup, plastic.  The warm milk/starter solution is poured into a PLASTIC container which is then lowered into the Styrofoam holder.  I actually wrote to the manufacturer and begged them to produce a glass insert to replace the plastic one.  I'm waiting for a response.  I think I hear crickets chirping in the background while I wait.  :)
ANYway, it makes yogurt of a perfect consistency, but I cannot keep using it due to my horror of putting warm liquids in plastic. . . for hours on end.  Another negative aspect is that the plastic lid is fragile and breaks apart from the pressure build-up of the warm liquid.  Then the warm milk solution dribbles down between the Styrofoam and plastic.  Have you ever tried to clean up sour milk from Styrofoam?  Don't bother.

Now I'm using the YoLife yogurt maker.  It costs about $45-60 for the maker and a set of the small jars.  You'll have to shell out more money if you want the 64 oz jar, or you can use canning jars.  It makes fairly consistent yogurt.  I find that I have to begin over with new starter once a month.  On the plus side, it holds a lot of yogurt.  On the negative side, it's only heating the very bottom of the jars, which tends to overheat the bottom of the jars and create more of a chewy yogurt curd in whey if you incubate the yogurt for more than 12 hours.  What I've done to combat that is to place a thick piece of wool under the jars to minimize the over-heating of the bottom of the mixture.  Also, the maker emits quite a bit of heat beneath it, so if you're placing this on a wood surface, be sure to use an oven trivet.

So what if you don't have a yogurt maker?  You can always use a dehydrator.  I recommend using a thermometer to test the temperature in the dehydrator -- don't trust the dial on the dehydrator to tell you what the temperature will be.  The temperature should not go over 110 degrees.  On the plus side, you can use canning jars for your yogurt -- a lot of them!

My daughter places her yogurt canning jars on an electric heating pad, set on low.  She then wraps a towel around the jars and covers with an upside-down pot.  I have not mastered this technique.  I think my heating pad runs too hot, so I might try using wool fabric to separate the jars from the heating pad.

My dream yogurt maker is one that is under $100 and uses glass jars and a low heating method that heats evenly, not just the bottom of the jars.  If you have any other recommendations, please share in the comments section.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Obesity and Joint Pain

 Most of us are aware that carrying excess weight increases the strain on our weight-bearing joints.  The joints, like any other mechanical device, are built to hold a certain amount of weight.  To exceed their load capacity is to damage their optimal function.  For example, increasing the pressure on the cartilage (the cushion surface) wears it thin.

There is another mechanism for the destruction of joint health in the obese, and that is the change in joint position.  As a person gains weight, the increasing thigh mass forces the legs apart and moves the joints out of optimal alignment.  Not only are the joints bearing an extra load, but they are also meeting one another at improper angles, wearing down the cartilage at the point of maximum compression.

Another insult to the cartilage is the adipose (fatty) tissue itself.  Adipose tissue around joints causes inflammation which wears down cartilage and promotes osteoarthritis. 

A vicious cycle soon develops.  Due to joint pain, physical activity diminishes and weight tends to increase, causing further joint damage.  To break this cycle, the sufferer should see his or her health practitioner and health coach on ways to keep physically active and manage weight.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

GAPS-Friendly Mint Chocolate Bars

This is a bit of work, but oh, so worth it.  The first time I made this, I thought to myself never again!  But after one bite, I knew this recipe was a keeper!  It was a great success with our friends, and I'm sure you'll love it, too!

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted or softened
1/3-1/2 cup honey
1 Tb homemade vanilla
2 eggs or 4 egg whites

1 cup coconut oil
4 Tb honey
1/4 cup water or coconut milk
10 drops peppermint essential oil or 1/4 tsp peppermint extract

2/3 cup coconut milk
3-4 oz chocolate bar, coarsely chopped (see below for recipe)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 8" square pan.
Whisk dry base ingredients together in small bowl.
In medium bowl, cream almond butter & coconut oil together.  Gradually  mix in honey and then the vanilla and eggs.  Mix in the dry ingredients thoroughly.  Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes.  Let it cool completely.

While cooling, cream the coconut oil and honey together.  Slowly mix in the peppermint and the water or coconut milk.  Use electric hand mixer if necessary.  Spread over cooled base layer.

For the chocolate topping, heat the coconut milk until it simmers, then pour over chopped chocolate in heat-proof bowl.  Let it set for 2 minutes then whisk the two together.  Let it cool until it thickens.  If it doesn't thicken enough, mix in 2 Tbs coconut flour.  Spread over the mint layer.  Refrigerate bars.

adapted from the Paleo Chocolate Lovers' Cookbook by Kelly V. Brozyna

In double boiler (or heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water) melt 6 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (roughly chopped) and 2 Tb cocoa butter. Stir over low-med heat until melted.  Remove from heat and add 2 more oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, roughly chopped.  Stir until melted.  Once melted thoroughly, mix in 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 cup raw organic honey.  Spread out on parchment paper and refrigerate until firm.   Break up into pieces and store in refrigerator.  Makes great candy or can be used in recipes, as above.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Get the 411, Not the 911

Essential oils had been calling to me, and I kept saying, "Wait a bit.  I'm not ready."  I had felt that I was overwhelmed with life --  with the tyranny of the urgent.   You see, years ago, a friend told me she was using essential oils, and she gave me a sample.  I enjoyed the oil, but as I usually do, I got online and began to research the company before getting involved.  I was appalled to see the overwhelming number of websites dedicated to the poor reputation of that company and its founder, so I waited.  I knew it was inevitable that I would come across a more excellent company later, and that gave me an excuse to keep waiting and not researching.

I am happy that I finally took the plunge last November and began using pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.  I began slowly, with an oil blend of Blue Tansy, Frankincense, Ho Wood, and Spruce, and within two weeks I was off of my DHEA (adrenal hormone).  This was a huge event for me, since I had been unsuccessfully attempting to wean off of the DHEA for eight years!

I am learning what a tremendous resource essential oils are, and how they are nature's "pharmacy" for us.  I'm hooked!  Most recently, I had a severe allergic reaction to a spider bite.  That brought about the worst itching I have ever experienced, and nothing (not even hydrocortisone cream) would dull the itching except Frankincense and lavender oils, diluted with fractionated coconut oil.

Looking forward to the rest of this journey!