Thursday, July 30, 2015

Limit starch for fibro diet; kefir iced coffee

Bailey, the cat, enjoys a new lounging spot---an old car seat

Do you experience stomach distress after consuming starchy foods, such as grains or potatoes? You may have starch intolerance which is the body’s inability to completely process carbohydrates (sugars and starches) due to inadequate or absent enzymes needed for their digestion.

Fibro sufferers usually have insufficient enzyme production because of damaged digestive systems due to bowel infections, including candida and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Starch intolerance goes hand in hand with these problems.

You may be familiar with lactose intolerance. It is the inability to break down lactose in milk products because the enzyme lactase is lacking.  Starch intolerance is the same and produces similar symptoms including gas, cramps, bloating and diarrhea and/or constipation.

Sixty percent of fibromyalgia sufferers have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and 70 percent have symptoms of IBS. These IBS-symptoms are usually triggered by bowel infections, such as an overgrowth of candida or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Both of these conditons result in an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Studies show that SIBO occurs in 90 to 100 percent of fibromyalgia patients.

Ingredients for kefir iced coffe

Carbohydrates (sugar and starches) are our body’s primary source of energy. There are three types of carbohydrates: monosaccharides (single sugars), disaccharides (made up of two sugar units) and polysaccharides (made up of complex multiple sugar units). The more complex carbohydrates require specific enzymes to break them down for digestion while simple sugars (monosaccharides) are absorbed directly from the intestine into your blood.

There are two types of starches including amylose (a polysaccharide) and amylopectin (a more complex polysaccharide). Most starchy vegetables (including corn, wheat, oats, barley, many varieties of rice and potatoes) contains 20 -30 percent amylase and 70-80 percent amylopectin. Legumes and some potatoes contain higher percentages (up to 65 percent or more) of amylase. 

Lack of the required enzymes to break down these starches will leave them in the digestive system to cause symptoms of food intolerance. The severity of the symptoms depends on the extent of the enzyme deficiency, and range from a feeling of mild bloating to severe diarrhea. 

Undigested sugars remain in the intestine, which is then fermented by the bacteria normally present in the large intestine. These bacteria produce gas, cramping, bloating, a "gurgly" feeling in the abdomen and flatulence. The distress normally begins about 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods containing the offending sugar, such as lactose in the case of lactose intolerance. Food intolerance can be confused with food allergies, since the symptoms of nausea, cramps, bloating, and diarrhea are similar.

There is no cure for carbohydrate intolerance. However, one may follow a healing diet where the offending starches and/or sugars are avoided. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was one of the first eating plans to address carbohydrate intolerance.

 High quality digestive enzymes also may be purchased. They may help with the break down of starches and sugars, and reduce symptoms when used in conjunction with a healing diet.

Mocha iced kefir coffee
We seem to be programmed to want something starchy/sugary so what do you do to curb your craving? I reach for kefir iced coffee. Either plain or mocha does the trick to curb my carb craving.

Plain iced kefir coffee
It's so easy and quick to make and no lactose, if you choose the lactose-free kefir or alternative dairy beverage of your choice.

 Here's the basic recipe:

  • Use extra brewed coffee to make iced coffee cubes. Simply freeze the coffee in an ice cube tray. 
  • When ready to make your iced coffee, pour about 1 cup of plain kefir over the coffee cubes, added to a glass. Sweetened with desired sweetener.
  • For mocha kefir iced coffee, you will need an add-in of 1 T. cocoa powder. 
  • Here's a trick for getting the cocoa to dissolve. Pour about 1/8 cup of heated water into your glass before adding other ingredients. Stir in the cocoa powder. Then, add in the coffee cubes and kefir.
  • Now, sit back and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Get busy healing your stomach; chocolate modified paleo pancakes


Eeyore, if you don’t know, is the melancholic donkey from “Winnie ...
 I've really been feeling like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh with this black cloud hanging over his head. Things just haven't been going my way. It started with 100+ degree heat and our air conditioners going out. Yes, that was air conditioners (plural). First, the air conditioner in our car decided to give up the ghost.  Then, the air conditioner in our home decided it too had had enough.

cloud from my large collection of inspirational quotes and sayings
Five weeks later we are getting to know our air conditioner repairmen like family because they visit us so often. We invested in a new system that turned out to be defective from the manufacturer. Then, to top it all off, I got dive bombed in the back of my head by a territorial hawk.The hawk hit with such force I got whiplash and a slight concussion.

I was trying to find the silver lining in this cloud.
One of two nice hawks living in my backyard---not the dive bomber hawk
Then, I realized how fortunate I am to have a nice pair of hawks living in my backyard (not related to the divebomber). They are a beautiful site to see and hear every morning. And they don't dive bomb anyone.

Modified paleo chocolate crepes
Finding the silver lining when you have fibromyalgia also can be challenging. But finding the right healing diet  for you can be a pretty important step in getting your life back on track if you have fibromyalgia or other chronic conditions.

I have tried numerous healing diets thinking that I had to follow them exactly as written or I wouldn't get the good results I sought. I have found that healing diets (such as paleo, paleo autoimmune protocol, specific carbohydrate, etc) all need tweaking to suit the individual because there is no one way to eat that is perfect for everyone. After all, we humans are 99.9 percent similar but that 1/10th of one percent makes a huge difference. 

I call my diet a modified paleo diet, most of the time.Why did I pick the paleo diet? The paleo diet focuses on whole foods and has a good track record for helping to reverse auto-immune symptoms. In a nutshell, the diet includes plenty of meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit and nuts, and avoidance of toxic foods like sugar, processed foods and hard to digest foods like legumes, dairy and grains.

For me and others with fibro, some problems would immediately emerge if this diet were followed exactly as written. Most individuals with fibro have bacterial infections in their guts like candida and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and resulting IBS symptoms.

We can't or shouldn't eat much fruit and hardly any nuts/seeds because of digestion problems. Starchy vegetables also are a problem because they also are hard to digest. We want to eat foods that digest easily and don't stick around and cause more bacterial overgrowth problems.

That's where "gray-area" foods come into the picture. Contrary to the paleo diet, I incorporate safe starches like white rice and certain types of potatoes in small amounts. Rice actually has existed for 130 million years (127 million years before humans). Wild rice also was eaten by paleo people. 

Jasmine rice is a good rice for people with SIBO like myself and others with fibro because it digests quickly and prohibits bacterial overgrowth. I always serve it as part of a nutrient-packed meal.

Mixing the eggs, cocoa, farmer's cheese and other ingredients.
Another "gray-area" food is dairy. The major problem with dairy for most people is lactose because many folks lack the digestive enzyme, lactase. Only 40 percent of humans keep this enzyme past childhood largely because of ancestry. But why give up dairy if you can keep the benefits without the problems? Dairy is an excellent source of calcium and Vitamins A, D and K2, the later which are difficult to find in other foods. Serve lactose-free dairy in the form of ghee, cheese, yogurt and kefir.

Preparing the pancakes (crepes) for the oven.
I incorporate dairy in my modified paleo. I use lots of homemade yogurt, kefir and farmer's cheese. I used some of these ingredients in these Chocolate Modified Paleo Pancakes.
Or cook them in a skillet
Here's what you need for 3 large pancakes or four small:

2 whole organic eggs
1 T. farmer's cheese (substitute almond flour if can tolerate)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of sea salt
2 T. cocoa powder
powdered stevia
 2 T. water
1 tsp. grassfed gelatin

2-3 T. coconut oil
optional filling such as homemade frozen yogurt
optional chocolate topping
Pancakes fresh from the oven
 Prepare the pancakes this way.

Mix the first seven ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and allow to absorb.  In the meantime, heat your oven to 400 degrees if doing the oven route. The crepes take about 12 minutes to bake. For the skillet method, melt about 1 T. of coconut oil in the pan before cooking each crepe.

Fill the crepes with "ice cream"or yogurt or whatever you want. I make frozen yogurt by semi-freezing some of my homemade lactose-free yogurt. Or sometimes I pop it into the ice cream freezer.

 Top with homemade chocolate sauce made by mixing 2 T. of cocoa powder in 1/4 cup melted coconut oil. Add a pinch of sea salt and stevia and vanilla.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Reconditioning critical to getting well; paleo crepes with cheesecake filling

My hiking/walking buddies--Misha and Nika
I love walking with my walking buddies, Misha (the husky, foreground) and Nika (the malamute, in rear). We walk every day for about 4-5 miles. But it wasn't always so that I loved walking with my fur kids.

Three years ago, it was a struggle to walk because of the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. I could barely walk to the mailbox and back. Our mailbox is about 1/4 mile round trip from our house. I had to let other family members take over the responsibility of walking the fur kids.

 Then, my husband made a fenced-in walking area for me and the fur kids. Yes, we are lucky to live on a small farm so this was possible. We dubbed this fenced-in area, the play area. The dogs could dig and wander around while I walked as best as possible. Sometimes, I had to sit and rest and watch them play but it worked.

During this time, I followed the SHINE protocol outlined by Dr. Teitelbaum in From Fatigued to Fantastic,  followed several healing diets and started an exercise program, which was a blend of yoga, pilates and Tai Chi. Over time, I found walking was easier and I recovered more quickly.

I purchased a pedometer (actually a Fitbit) and pretty soon I was challenging myself to go farther and farther each day with my furry hiking buddies. The Fitbit was motivating to me because I could see how far I progressed each week, month and so on. Having walking buddies counting on me each day also was motivating.

The gang ready to go walking on a cold evening

Juicing, supplemental vitamins, and healing my stomach with kefir, homemade yogurt and cultured veggies (part of my healing protocol) also played an important role in getting me out there with enough energy to walk daily. The exercise plus healing protocol were important in getting my weight back to normal. I didn't let anyone take many pictures of me when I was really sick.

Why did I push myself to exercise even when my symptoms were flaring? I know reconditioning is a critical as you are getting well from fibromyalgia. It's important though to go at a reasonable pace for how you are feeling. As I mentioned before, I walked with my dogs in an enclosed area where I could stop and rest as needed. A dog park might provide a similar environment.

Here are some other things that helped me:

  • Start slowly. Maybe go five minutes or halfway down the block and back at first. Increase by one minute every day.
  • Have a buddy---either a furry one or a human one who can either walk with you or support what you are doing. 
  • Consider a meet up with someone else or a group at least once a week as you progress. I walk several times a week with a fellow fur parent.
  • Keep increasing your distance but never beyond a point where you feel good the next day. Eventually (and I mean over a long period of time), get to one hour a day or 10,000 steps.
  • Get a pedometer or something similar to keep track of your progress.
  •  Get your exercise outside if possible because you will benefit from the Vitamin D.
Please share your stories of success with us

Shortcake crepes
I always stick with my healing diet which is kind of a modified paleo, specific carbohydrate diet (SCD). I recently made some protein-rich crepes with a yogurt filling. They can be served as a dessert or snack or breakfast.

Here's what you need (for three medium crepes):

2 grassfed eggs
1 T. farmers' cheese or sub 1 T. almond flour (I used the farmers' cheese because I found my tummy isn't really ready for almond flour yet.)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 T. water
1/4 tsp. vanilla powder or extract
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp. grassfed gelatin
For the filling: your choice but I used homemade SCD yogurt mixed with stevia, vanilla and a few strawberries

Here's what you do:

Blend all your ingredients (except for gelatin) in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on the top of the mixture and allow it to absorb before cooking the crepes.

Cook your crepes in a heavy skillet. Melt coconut oil in the pan and add 1/3 of the mixture. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side.

An easier cooking method is to line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spritz with olive oil. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Divide the mixture into three pancakes on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until done.

 Fill the crepes with your favorite filling (even a veggie filling will work).

 You can modify this basic recipe to make many different versions. Here's my chocolate version. I'll share the recipe next time.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Giving up---not gonna happen; SCD mock dove ice cream bars

 When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in ...
Dealing with fibro is not for wimps. You can feel like you're beginning to win the battle one day and the next day, forget about it. You begin to feel like your life is a "house of cards." One little change and you may feel like everything you've done was for not.

The thing about a fibro body is that it's not very forgiving of anything. Stress, less sleep, going off your eating plan, not stretching, working too hard or long, poor posture, sadness---just about anything can affect how you feel. Most people without fibro can recover from these things without missing a beat if they occur over a limited time frame. That's not the case for those of us with fibro. It's going to take you digging in your heels and redoubling your efforts to recover from what seems like normal life events, especially if they were ongoing.

Do you remember the "changeling" Odo in the TV series Deep Space Nine? Odo was a shapeshifter, meaning he had the ability to morph into just about anything. I think fibromyalgia is kind of like a shapeshifter. At least for awhile, you never know what to expect because you can't count on your immune system to reboot itself.

However, you can get to the point where you are feeling pretty good the majority of the time if you hang in there, stick with your plan and are willing to embrace change if needed. It's cliche but "don't give up." You can call it anything you want---willingness to change, roll with the punches, flexibility. It all boils down to you and how resilient you are each time fibro hands you a setback.

My story is like that of most fibro sufferers. I've had to bounce back so many times I've lost count. That's why I say I'm like a changeling.
am not giving up, i am just starting over.

Here are some of my all-time hardest changes I've made:

  • Eating organ meats (liver). Organ meats from grassfed animals are rich in vitamin B12 which fibro sufferers are low in. I'm still "squeamish" every time I open a package of liver but I try to eat some everyday.
  • Correcting my posture. I started working on this two years ago when I realized the connection between poor posture and my pain level. Short, tight, contracted muscles (fibro sufferers have them in abundance) make poor posture and an unbalanced body happen. You want to be lengthening those muscles constantly because contracted muscles press on nerves and joints which create pain. It's no easy task but you will feel the benefits.
  • Letting other people help me. There are some things that are just bad for me to do. e.g. lifting, hoeing the garden too long, standing in one place too long, sitting too long, staying out in the heat too much.  I'm a doer but some things I just cannot do without help.
I've made these changes and more. Some of the changes are ongoing like the posture and muscle rebalancing. It's something I do and remind myself to do everyday. It's made a huge difference in how my body feels. I don't pity myself because I have to do this. Hey, even Olympic athletes spend 1/5 of their training time working on stretching and flexibility. It's not just fibro sufferers who need to lengthen and stretch themselves out daily.

The point is I'm not gonna give up. I've wanted to give up many times but then I think, do I really have an option?  Every day presents us with a new opportunity. I had a teacher in high school who used to tell us "quit trying to blame someone else, e.g. your parents, for your problems. You are in charge of how you react to whatever life throws you way." I've never forgotten her words and they guide me every time life hands me a lemon.

Mock dove bar minus the bite I've already taken
Now, this mock dove bar is no lemon! I've had to change my way of eating to a hodgepodge of  the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), paleo and low fermentation diet. Fortunately, this way of eating does not exclude frozen dessert  bars made with low fermentation ingredients.

Here is what you need for this easy-to-make ice cream bar: (makes 4)

For the ice cream:

3 cups plain yogurt of your choice (I used 2 1/2 cups homemade, lactose-free SCD yogurt made from 2% organic milk + 1/2 cup plain Fage Greek Yogurt)
1/4 tsp. vanilla bean powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
2-3 droppersful of vanilla liquid stevia or substitute sweetener of choice
four paper cups or other containers
optional: popsicle sticks

For the hardshell topping:

2 T. cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 tsp. vanilla powder
optional: dash of cinnamon
1/8 tsp. sea salt
stevia, to taste

Here's what you do:

Blend all the ice cream ingredients in your blender. Pour into an ice cream freezer and churn into ice cream. As an alternative, you can simply freeze the mixture in four small containers such as paper cups. Once the ice cream is done churning, scoop the mixture into four paper cups. Place in the freezer to firm up the ice cream bars.

While bars are firming up, make your hardshell topping. Soften the coconut oil in a bowl in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. Stir in the other ingredients until blended.

Remove the bars from paper cups; discard the cups; dip the frozen bars one at a time into the chocolate mixture. Redip as needed to get an even coating. Return the bars to the freezer. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer up to an hour ahead of serving time.