Friday, December 18, 2015

A plan

I realize the title of yesterday's post was a bit alarmist and the post itself seemed to come out of blue, but believe me, this has been an on-going battle for me for many years -- I simply chose not to dwell on it.

Over the last few months, I have been researching the Leaky Gut Syndrome, and trying to decide how much (if any) of the treatment protocols to try. Most of my reading has indicated that the worst cases of the syndrome are a result of what is called "The Standard American Diet". As Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride states in her book, "Gut and Psychology Syndrome" the GAPS diet is meant to be temporary though for the typical person coming off a Standard American Diet, the healing process could take upwards of 2 years to complete.

Fortunately, my own diet, especially over the last 5 years or so, has included more healthy whole foods prepared by me in my own kitchen and less pre-packaged, processed and fast food. In their book, "The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet", Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett state that folks coming off a less processed and more healthy diet to begin with may be quicker to heal.  This gives me hope and I find myself becoming enthusiastic about starting the GAPS Intro diet, although when I first read through it, I felt rather dismayed.  At first blush it seemed too much to take on.

The GAPS Intro diet is broken down into 6 stages and as Boynton and Brackett state, how long you stay in each stage is entirely up to you and how you are feeling.  Essentially, the Intro diet is an elimination diet -- you start by eliminating everything that could possibly aggravate the digestion system and you subsist solely on foods that are soothing and nourishing to it, giving it time to rest and heal. Stage by stage, you slowly re-introduce certain foods, starting with a single spoonful and working up from there, all the while monitoring your digestion and yes, your stool.

Stage one of the introduction diet consists of soups made from homemade chicken, beef and/or fish stock. Plus drinking cups of broth with meals and in between them as well as a daily spoonful of the liquid from lacto-fermented vegetables (such as sauerkraut) or the whey drained from home made yogourt.  

I know, ick, right?  The thought of all that was off-putting to me until I realized that I quite often have home made soup for both lunch and dinner and that maybe having it for breakfast too would take some getting used to, but wouldn't be totally awful. Plus, it's only for a few days as I am hoping to move through the stages fairly quickly. I make chicken and vegetable stock fairly regularly (though I did make a lot last time, so I still have some inventory in the freezer), so including beef stock is no big thing and this will be the perfect opportunity to try pressure canning as my freezer only has so much space!

Campbell-McBride states that good probiotics are necessary during the diet to help re-stock the gut with beneficial bacteria and there are a number of blog posts I have read that state that most probiotic supplements available at pharmacies and health food stores may be fine for maintaining the condition of a healthy digestive system but they either contain the wrong strains and/or simply aren't strong enough to heal a damaged gut.  Apparently, so-called soil-based probiotics (or soil-based organisms a.k.a SBO's) are the best source of probiotics strong enough to do the job.  But, they're prohibitively expensive, IMHO, especially considering how many you need to take and for how long.

The idea behind probiotic supplementation appears to be the fact that most food in the typical North American diet is not organic or free-range and therefore is likely devoid of SBO's.  However, organically raised, free-range meat and vegetables likely contain a much higher count since the soil they are raised on and in is likely rich in SBO's.  Further, the lacto-fermentation process, especially using raw, organic food as the source will produce an abundance of highly beneficial natural probiotics. I like the thought of feeding myself a wide variety of natural probiotic materials and letting my body choose and use what it needs, rather than ingest a pre-determined dose of a pre-determined mix of probiotic cultures.

Another benefit of the GAPS diet, apparently, is weight loss, or at least weight control.  According to the authors, you will initially lose weight, then recover whatever is necessary to bring you to your ideal natural weight.  In an earlier post, I mentioned that I would like to lose about 30 pounds and that I was contemplating going on the 4 Hour Body diet in the new year because it had worked for me previously.  So, instead of that, I have decided to start the GAPS Introduction Diet on Sunday, December 27, which will give me 2 weeks at home to monitor it before I return to work.

To prepare for that, over the next few days, I will:
  1. Gather equipment for lacto-fermenting vegetables.
  2. Make and pressure can chicken and beef stock as well as bone broth.
  3. Make an assortment of Stage 1 soups and freeze them.
  4. Make sauerkraut.
Look for up-coming posts on each of these as well as the launch on December 27 January 1, 2016 of my new blog, A Digestive Diary, charting my progress.


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