Minus ten on Monday warming up to almost forty degrees by Tuesday night and then a high of forty on Wednesday, followed by temperatures in the teens for the following ten days. Gotta love Indiana weather!
The tractor still sits silently next to the garage, "sounds like your float is stuck" is the latest advice, so there she will sit until spring, and next year the Princess Ann will live in the garage over the winter or I'll just give up on the idea of using the tractor for a plow and if the snow blower wont clear the snow I guess I'm meant to stay home.
I'm finally starting to ease into my new work schedule, or I should say lack of a schedule. When I changed jobs it was mainly for two reasons, one was to work four days instead of five and the other was to live a life where I could ignore time. I think at the half way point of life you have to start rewarding yourself for making it this far and my reward to myself is time. I gave myself and entire 24 hours a week just for me, well for me and a little bit to my loyal readers...lol. For me I'm noticing that I'm a lot less stressed. During the week I focus on work and just the daily chores at home, Friday and Saturday are bigger projects that I've been wanting to get done for years and Sunday is a lazy day to recover. I'm really looking forward to summer time when we have more daylight hours to be outside and play in the dirt (the garden will be the topic of my blog, sorry in advance)
I have a confession to make, I am a nutrition and health nerd. I read books and blogs and medical journals like normal people read Harry Potter. Since my health awakening three years ago, its been almost like a game to me to see how my body reacts to certain foods. I don't want to jump on any bandwagon but when I did the keto diet for a month I was very strict. There were times I wouldn't have any carbs for a few days at a time and I never went over twenty. Since that time if I eat anything that I shouldn't I know right away, my body tells me. That's were I am a fan of keto, but I think its too strict to use for a life time, just my opinion though. I was doing my weekly nerd reading this weekend and I came across and article on probiotics, and then another popped up randomly the next day so I decided that could be a topic for a blog especially this time of year with the weather and sickness that seems to come with it.
Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, said " Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food" and he also said all illness begins in the stomach. He didn't say some or most, he said all. So we can agree that stomach health is pretty important and probiotics play a huge roll in stomach health. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially helpful in digestion. A very basic way to explain them is if you have enough good bacteria then the bad bacteria can't over populate and make you sick. That is a very simplified way to explain because there are studies that show certain ones control the movement of foods in your body and help to digest foods but for my purposes I'll just keep it simple. So, where do these probiotics come from and how do we get them in our system? There are foods you can eat, supplements, and you can get them from just being outside playing in the dirt.
Before the invention of the refrigerator fermenting was a way to preserve food, you add a salt brine to your vegetables, put a cover and a weight so the vegetables stay under the salt water and you have a fermented vegetable that wont spoil and you have a food full of probiotics. The brine creates an environment that the good bacteria can survive but the bad can't, its kind of like the environment that you want to create in you stomach to stay healthy and keep from getting sick. This process is ancient technology, every country is known for a certain ferment. Korea has kimchi and doenjang, Japan has natto and misso, tempeh from Indonesia, nem chua from Vietnam, and we all know about the more common sauerkraut from Germany. Another interesting thing about fermenting grains is that the process breaks down the anti-nutrients that makes the nutrients unavailable to us and cause inflammation. I always grow a row of cabbage in my garden to make sauerkraut, and I also have been making kombucha tea for the past couple years, its a good way to get probiotics in your system and its really kind of fun. There are a lot of foods available at the grocery store now too for people that aren't quite as adventurous, just make sure you read the labels and look for "live cultures", because the typical process we use to kill the bacteria in processed foods and dairy also kills the good bacteria, and also go organic as much as possible.
One of the benefits of this new trend towards healthy living is the market is full of supplements, some good and some not so good but it makes getting your vitamins and minerals and even probiotics as easy as taking a pill. When I was vegan for a few months I was anemic and had a b12 deficiency which are a common side effect of that diet however if I would have done research and supplemented I probably could have done it. My biggest problem with supplements is eating something made in a lab, and who do you trust to make your food and supplements for you. When it comes to probiotics in a pill do your research and don't buy the cheapest one you can find.
Play outside and get dirty!! Moms and Dads, do me a favor and stop freaking out over your kids playing in the dirt! Throw away that antibacterial soap that you carry in your pocket and live! The media is painting this picture in your head that every bacteria that lives is bad for you and it just isn't true. Getting your hands dirty isn't going to make you sick and if it does that tells me your gut is full of the bad bacteria and you need to get dirty more often. Have you ever looked at a grape and noticed the white powdery looking stuff on the outside? Well that's wild yeast and a grape left too long will ferment and this is how wine is made, my point is the yeast wont hurt you. When you ferment foods the process works because there are good yeasts and bacteria on the vegetable when you put it in the brine. One of the biggest reasons I have a garden is because I can go out pick a tomato and eat it without washing it because I don't use chemicals in my garden. So not only am I not eating carcinogens but I am eating healthy probiotics that live on the skin of the fruit. I just read a study this morning (nerd alert) before finishing my blog about dogs and probiotics. Your dog goes outside and rolls around in the grass and then comes in with probiotics on their fur, you pet your dog and now you have the probiotics on your hand. The study showed that children who grow up in a household with a dog are less likely to develop autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies. Interesting, right!
I should also mention things that destroy your gut flora, to get an idea if your helping keep yourself healthy. The first and most obvious one is antibiotics. Yes there are certain instances where you need them, however so many people now are so quick to take a pill to cure a runny nose and don't even realize that they are doing more harm than good. If your doctor recommends and gives you them, when your are over your illness you need to rebuild your gut bugs! Another common problem that your probably not aware of is drinking chlorinated water can make it almost impossible for your gut to stay in balance. Chlorine is non discriminate, it kills all bacteria good and bad. To be honest I have always been a "water is water" type of person until recently. The next one is sugar, not in the sense that sugar kills good bacteria but it feeds the bad that already exists giving it an upper hand over the good bacteria. There is also a fear in some people about fermented foods and yeast. Yeast doesn't eat yeast it eats sugar. Yeast is part of a good gut health but the addition of sugar can cause a problem. Stress!! Seems to be a common thread but stress is bad in every way possible and that includes your gut health. Meditate, relax, or read a book, what ever you do to reduce your stress do it. I"m sure there are a lot more but I'll give one more example and that is alcohol. I was a little reluctant to mention it because the study I read said that a group of alcoholics and people that only drank occasionally were studied and 27% of the alcoholics showed a lower level of gut flora and drinking a moderate amount of red wine actually raised the level of good bacteria. My problem is, what else were the alcoholics doing that could contribute, but I do agree that moderation is the key to everything so I added it to the list.
In my opinion diversity is important when your trying to build up your gut biome. I use a probiotic supplement, I eat sauerkraut, kimchi, goat milk yogurt, kiefer, and kombucha, and when the weather is nice you will find me digging in my garden on a daily basis. It might be wrong to even mention but from the time the snow melts until half way through December my feet are never clean because I hate shoes and my feet pay the price. I think that each food has its own strain of bacteria and its important to get as many different ones as possible. Also getting a variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet to feed the bacteria is also important. the little buggers gotta eat after all. Are you someone that seems to always get colds in the winter? Maybe you need more bugs, try to eat more live food and live a happy hippie life.