Week Three Check-in — Green Smoothie Challenge

It appears that the green smoothies are having an unintended (or, at least, unexpected) consequence for both CB and me. Whenever we eat food that I haven’t made in the house, we feel sick. Have the green smoothies made us picky eaters?

My best explanation (and please let me know if you have any other information and/or theories!) is that, as our bodies are getting more good things, we are satisfying the cravings we mistake for wanting bad things. When we want sugar and are giving it full fruit sugars with the fibre with which they are meant by nature to be consumed, our bodies are sated. We give it what it wants in a more healthful form and also make it work for it. I also know that, when your body is missing or not getting enough of certain nutrients, it tells you to eat things it shouldn’t because, well, your gut is good, but it lacks a brain. This phenomenon is often cited as the main reason pregnant women crave non-edible things — a baby requires a lot of the vitamins and minerals in a woman’s body, and her body is begging her to replace them without being able to actually articulate what’s needed.

I’m getting away from myself. My point is that I’m giving my body good things, and it’s starting to forget about the bad things. Why does that means that we’re not feeling well when eating outside of the house? Well, even though I carefully police everything I eat for gluten/other allergens, not everyone has the same standards for quality food as I do. When home, I try to make as much “real food” as possible. I try to balance foods without depriving us of what we want. You can have sugar, salt, and fat as long as you use the right sugar, salt, and fat in the right amounts. Assuming that every bad thing we eat does a tiny, tiny amount of damage means that we should assume that every good thing we eat does a tiny, tiny amount of repair work. I am suddenly thinking of Wreck-It Ralph. If you have more Felixes (Felii?) than Ralphs, the building is more quickly repaired. (If you haven’t seen Wreck-It Ralph, repair that now.) A building that is in good shape requires less daily repair, and I can only imagine the same must be said about our bodies. If our bodies are in constantly better shape by all the little good things we eat, the bad things have less of a chance to wear us down, make us tired, and make us want more bad things; however, you also notice a broken window in an otherwise pristine house faster than you can count the broken things in a derelict one.  When something is wrong, it will let you know right away.  It may sound bad, but wouldn’t you want to know about the problem before it has the chance to cause more damage?

In addition to having more things like magnesium and manganese, I have also realised that eating these raw fruits and veggies provides my body with more prebiotics for my probiotics, making them that much more effective. If you think I’m just talking nonsense now, let me tell you about these -biotics. I’ve talked before about probiotics, and you’ve no doubt heard about them from countless other sources. They are helpful, good bacteria that your body often depletes in poor health. They can also be killed off when you take antibiotics because the medicine can’t differentiate between good and bad bacteria. Less talked about are prebiotics, but they are just as important as their pro- friends and come in more bright and shiny flavours. While probiotics are only found in foods with live cultures like yogurt, prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates found in some fruits, most whole grains, and foods like honey, onions, and garlic. (Bonus tip: yogurt and kefir actually contain both prebiotics and probiotics and are “complete” in that sense.)

While you can’t digest prebiotics, guess who can: probiotics. Prebiotics are used as fuel for the probiotics (are you still with me?), which allows them to grow, thrive, and repopulate your gut. We tend to eat prebiotics even when our body has depleted good bacteria, which confuses our body because it can’t do anything with it. It spends a lot of energy trying to digest the indigestible, and we can get tired just from eating food. Balancing pre- and probiotics works to your advantage because you get the fuel you need to go about your day, and your helpful bacteria get the fuel they need to help you do what you need to do.

All right, I’ll take off my teacher hat. It is summer, after all, and I know you only come here for the cute animal pictures.

She sure knows how to work an angle.

She sure knows how to work an angle.

All that up there is to say that, while I might feel poorly after eating something junky or not to the same standards as I would make at home, I feel better as soon as I have my smoothie. It’s like it magically makes everything inside me better. With all the new and varied prebiotics I have had by eating whole greens and smart fruits like bananas, my probiotics seem to have kicked into high gear and worked even harder to heal my body. I may be becoming a picky eater in the meantime, but I think it’s really just listening to what my body really wants, and that can’t be a bad thing.

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Both Chickens and Eggs are ‘Naturally Gluten-Free Foods’

Chicken egg

Don’t take my chocolate egg.

I don’t usually go sciency on my blog, but when Celiac Disease shows up in the NYTimes — and not mocking “designer illnesses” — my ears perk.  As a Celiac woman, I am aware of the possibility that I could pass my disease to my children.  I spend so much time thinking about how it affects me and how to cope with the day-to-day reality of such an illness that I don’t even know where to start when it comes to being able to safeguard, if at all possible, or how to discuss with a child that they can’t trade sandwiches with Tommy in the cafeteria.

This article, “Who Has the Guts for Gluten?”, doesn’t have the answer, but it does talk about current and past research on what causes Celiac. (Don’t read the comments.  If you suffer, you will find people who are going through the same things but moaning rather than empowering others or folks who tell you it’s all in your head; if you don’t suffer, you won’t find anything enlightening.)  The biggest take-away I got was the importance of a balanced gut.  I swear my life got a hundred times better when I found the right probiotic for my body (Bio-Kult, if you’re interested, which is gluten-free and vegetarian).

The article suggests that, with much of the research, there is a “the chicken or the egg” conundrum — namely, do poor levels of specific gut bacteria cause Celiac, or does Celiac create conditions where these bacteria die off?  They know that Celiac has genetic factors.  Having a Celiac parent raises your likelihood of also suffering from about 1% to almost 20%; two parents increases that number to 45%.  I’ve always been an egg girl, myself.  My not-a-scientist scientific knowledge suggests that a mutation has to occur in offspring.  Something near enough a chicken would have to lay an egg; the egg would hatch to a chicken, which would then produce more chicken eggs.  Even a small population of not-quite-chickens facing the same environmental conditions would produce the chicken eggs, thus insuring the new species would continue, for a while anyway.

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I don’t think the bacteria are actually chickens or eggs.  I think the bacteria are the environmental conditions which make something already in your body (the not-quite-chicken) begin to express symptoms (the egg).  When enough of the symptoms are present, it becomes diagnosed or otherwise acknowledged as Celiac (the chicken).  Once the chicken exists, it is hard to keep it from producing more eggs.  When the environmental conditions are right, lots of eggs are produced — the more eggs that hatch that look like chickens, the harder it is to say chickens don’t exist.

If you prevent the conditions, there are no eggs and no chickens.  The chicken never exists.  The not-quite-chicken is still there, but the evolution of that species just stops.  If they don’t ever lay chicken eggs, there are no symptoms.  If you know there is a genetic predisposition in a child for Celiac, work on boosting the good bacteria from birth.  Many probiotics are safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women.  I’m a firm believer that breast-feeding gives a child the best start possible, especially when considering the proteins and antibodies the mothers can pass to their children.  Keep the crap (We’re all guilty!) out of their mouths as long as possible, fuel them with good, whole foods, homemake their indulgences so you know exactly what is in them, and we can work toward wiping out the chicken population — metaphorically speaking, of course.