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Friday, October 19, 2018

Life's Cherished Gifts

"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future but today is a gift. That's why its called the present." ~Bill Keane, American cartoonist, 1922-2011

   It's been a busy two weeks here in my world. I've been writing every day with punctuations for a walk to stretch my body. I've cleaned out a ton of old paperwork, said goodbye to Les' three ring binder from the visiting nurses with all of their notes on the last six months of his care, and organized several drawers. I've also dug out file folders of family documents, pictures, and items I used to have pinned to my bulletin board at Cloudhouse. I bought a clear polyvinyl desk protector to lay on the dinette table and I slipped pictures and mementos underneath to help me with my writing.
My new memorabilia collage which lives under a desk protector on the dinette table. Each item represents some aspect of the things I am writing about now in my book rough drafts. 
My favorite oldest daughter Jesse, left with her favorite oldest son Micheal as a baby. The cartoon below is one I found over three decades ago and saved because it encapsulates my Jesse girl as a child in terms of her relationship with her sister. My favorite youngest daughter Sparky on the right as a teenager and far right a few years ago. Her cartoon also encapsulates a little of what she was like as a child too.  
The card top left came with a dozen roses from Les the day my spouse visa was accepted. I've had the Pinups on Writing for over thirty years. The picture of Les was taken in 2011 and is one of my favorites of my Best Beloved. I bought the post card of the Bison and the bird when I was thirty. Many times I've reminded myself to be like the Bison: develop a tough hide and call on persistence while turning my back to the wind. Some days all one can do is stand knee deep in the snow and wait...for spring.

This is one of my favorite poems, The Bus of Questions. It was written by my dear friend and member of The Wednesday Women,  Lisa Conger. 
The other poem which I couldn't get a clean picture of, is one I found years ago somewhere and it is so evocative of my life I have held on to it as a reminder of where I came from and how far I've traveled.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters--Anon.

I walk down the street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 
I pretend I don't see it. 
I fall in.
I am lost...I am helpless.
It isn't my fault. 

I walk down the same street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it. 
I fall in again. 
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault. 
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there. 
I still fall's a habit...but
My eyes are open.
I know where I am. 
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

    A week ago Britain caught the tale end of the hurricane that ravaged the Southeast coast of America. Over here is was named Callum. As it swept in from the west, passing over North Wales and into the borders I hunkered down for three days and nights and wind gusts up to 65 mph. Moored at Hurleston Junction just before the bridge, I had a front row seat watching boats coming off the Llangollen canal and out of Hurleston bottom lock where they have to turn right and cruise through the bridge towards Nantwich and NBV, or turn left and head towards Barbridge, Calveley and Chester. While the canal is wide enough to comfortably turn a boat at the junction, the towpath curves around to the right and the winds sweep down the lock flight, pinning boats to the side. Even on a mildly windy day the winds swoop down the hill across from the moorings before the bridge. More than once I have helped boaters who come slowly through the bridge to pick up a partner who was working the locks, only to find their boat pinned to the side. I am grateful to Ken Deveson for showing me how to pin the boat using spring lines. What a difference this makes in a storm! Yes the boat did rock side to side with the wind generated waves but she stayed secure and didn't slide vertically back and forth. Passing boats had no choice but to give their engine some welly to keep the high winds from shoving them into moored boats, but the spring lines kept NB Val secure and stable. Below are two videos from the wind storm.
   After the winds let up it was time to head back in to Nantwich. I had a leisurely cruise in lush and lovely afternoon sunshine. It took just under an hour to fill the 144 gallon water tank which was pretty low, dump the rubbish, and pick up three packages from the Laundrette. When I arrived at the Nantwich service point there was one boat moored on the 48 hour visitor moorings. I had hopes I might actually be able to moor up at the end of the moorings just up from the service point. By the time I finished filling up there were only two spaces left! Fifteen boats had come from both directions, quickly filling the empty mooring spots but I was lucky to get in where I wanted, just behind NB Bessie Surtees.
   We've passed each other throughout the past nine months, coming and going on the Middlewich arm and the Shroppie. She called to me once that she followed my blog so it was a pleasure to finally have an opportunity to stop and meet Phil and Barb and have a chin wag. They've been boating for years, and have lived aboard NB Bessie Surtees for four years now, cruising. Phil followed the blog from the beginning when Les first started it. Did I take a picture of them and their boat??? By the time I remembered the camera they had been to town and the chandlers and cruised off. Next time!!
   Yesterday my phone rang and Elsie Fletcher's lovely Welsh accent said, "Hi Jaq it's Elsie. We thought we would come for a visit this afternoon." Lovely!! It's always a treat to spend time with Elsie and Eric (NB Bendigedig). I cleaned up, popped a Betty Crocker gluten free Devil's Food Cake in the oven and finished putting together a Venison stew for dinner later. They came bearing flowers and cwtches (special Welsh hugs) and we spent several lovely hours setting the world to rights. Thank you Eric and Elsie for blessing me with your company.
The bijou Aloha Island Grill hut on Monroe Street in Spokane,Washington. There is just enough room inside for five people to stand and order at the counter. I've eaten many a Hawaiian plate lunch at the outside tables or in my car.
   I have been searching for recipes that are gluten free and still tasty. I find I still cannot fix most of the things I used to cook for Les. As everyone knows food is a potent means of stirring memories. I take no joy in cooking food for myself that Les and I enjoyed, without him here to share it, and most of those recipes need tweaking and substitutions to remove gluten, lactose, etc. For some reason I found myself thinking about one of my favorite Spokane take-aways from Aloha Island Grill on Monroe Street. 
Their Hawaiian plate lunches of Teriyaki chicken, macaroni salad, and sticky rice with Katsu sauce is food for the weary soul. This set me on an Internet search for recipes that might be close and I am happy to say I've found several I am going to test out soon.
   The other cuisine that has grabbed me by the gut is Middle Eastern--I finally found a Tzaziki sauce recipe I like and I cannot get enough of Chicken Souvlaki in gluten free pita bread. I am also jonesing for (craving) Dolmathes which are stuffed grape leaves.
   As a kid my parents hung out a couple they met through work. The Schei's had a daughter named Jeri who was close to my age and we hung out quite a bit. Her parents had been world travelers before settling in Anchorage and having children. They had ties to Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Lowell was a fabulous cook. I still remember everyone gathered around their table filling and rolling grape leaves. I wish I would've had the presence of mind to ask for some of his recipes but of course when one young, that isn't what is on one's mind. I've searched off and on for decades for a Dolmathe recipe close to Schei's and I've finally found one that I have adapted. I made a batch last week and they were so good! Now if I could just get Schei's recipe for salad dressing life would be darned near fabulous!
These Dolmathes are stuffed with a mixture of rice, organic lamb mince, finely diced onion, finely diced fresh mint and parsley, ground cumin and dash of Tobasco sauce, fresh lemon zest, olive oil, salt & pepper. Layered in an enamel cast iron pan, six cloves of peeled garlic are tucked down in between the layers which are topped with tomato passata (tomato sauce), olive oil and water, then cooked for 40 minutes after which the juice from a fresh lemon is squeezed over the top. These little rolls of love are addictive!
   My cold nose woke me this morning at 4:40 am. The coals had gone out in the stove and the boat was COLD.  I had planned to back up to the service point yesterday to top up the water tank but I woke to such thick fog and it didn't dissipate until noon, so I decided today was the day. At 8:00 am I started the engine, pulled the fenders up, folded down the TV antenna, slipped the tiller in place, untied the mooring lines and pushed NB Valerie out stern first, backing her up beyond the boat moored right behind me, past the permanent moored boats and over on to the service point landing. I topped up the tank, cleaned out the loo and the bathroom, dumped the rubbish, picked up the mail, and cruised slowly in the sunny chill of the morning wearing Les' green down Jacket for warmth.
Yellow roses from Elsie and Eric Fletcher, pink flowers and the birthday card from Ken and Sue Deveson, and pictures of loved ones. On the far left is Jesse with her favorite oldest son (and my favorite oldest grandson) who is now nineteen!
   Moored up now by the playground at the other end of Nantwich, I have a grocery order sorted for delivery tomorrow. The rest of today is one of leisure as it is my 61st birthday. I splurged and bought three books to read: two are Man Booker award winners and one is a BBC 4 book of the week: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (2017 winner), Milkman by Anna Burns (2018 winner), and Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History. I am filled with a fine sense of satisfaction today as I completed all those chores and moored up again by 10 am, and I've received a lovely birthday card in the mail from friends, emails and e-cards from friends, and cell phone texts from friends and family. Today Life is good. xxx 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Ordinary Life

"Even the most ordinary life is a mystery if you look close enough. " ~Ingrid Bengis, American author, Fullbright Scholar, University Professor, Seafood purveyor to America's greatest chefs, and creator of the Island culinary and Ecological Center in Maine, USA, 1945-2017.

     I apologize for being absent for so long. I've been ill with a wretched cold. sore throat, and fighting the virus' attempt to colonize my lungs. I am over the worst of it now but I still feel a bit weak and wonky. I also damaged my left upper arm tendons and elbow tendons about six and a half weeks ago and this injury is healing very slowly, making things like typing, picking up the tea kettle and carrying a bag of groceries rather painful.
     I have a bit of catching up to do! First of all Irene and Ian on NB Free Spirit were in the area a few weeks back and they were kind enough to stop for a couple of hours to share a rainy morning nattering with me. their boat is aptly named, as this couple really embody the free spirit of cruising on the canals. Irene is known for her amazing and breathtaking wild life pictures which she shares on their blog and Ian is a stalwart cancer survivor and man with enough life experience and wisdom to laugh at life's absurdities while plundering it for the choice bits. A visit with them is always a joy; my only sadness comes from the fact that Les never had a chance to meet them.
Irene and Ian--two truly lovely souls, and our boats below, bow-to-bow. 

     I have been dawdling along between Audlem and Calveley, mooring up 10 days at a time, enjoying the end of the cruising season at last.  I was moored up at Hurleston Junction on double mooring pins fore and aft when I injured my arm. A count by Canal & river Trust (CRT) indicated that 100 boats made use of the Hurleston Lock flight over three days on one weekend. That gives you dear reader, an idea of just how many boats were passing by each day and sadly too many of them don't give a fig about observing good manners and slowing down while passing moored boats. The main offenders are Chas Hardern hire boaters, Midway Boats day boat hires, and private boat owners coming off long term moorings and out of marinas.  Day boats for those unfamiliar with the hire companies, are small boats of about 22-34 feet long with a lot of windows and seats. Groups hire them for a few hours or one day to cruise the canals and have a birthday or anniversary party.  For some reason day boat hirers seem to think the objective is crack on at the speed of light to get to wherever they are going and they are unaware of the wash they make. I even had a day boat attempt to cut around my bow when I was half way through turning around at a winding hole.  I had to warn him off. Then he decided he would go around the stern and had to yell at him to wait his turn as the fuel boat was breasted up to a moored boat just off the winding hole. This guy road my stern button past a long line of permanent moored boats until I found a place I could pull over and let him pass. Cheshire Cat hire boats seem to receive instructions on the issue and they almost always slow down.
     One old git on a private boat kept in a marina and visited throughout the summer, delights in passing moored boats at absolutely top speed, ignoring shouts and rude hand signs. He has passed me many times this summer and always left NB Valerie rocking heavily from side to side in his wake. Anyway, a boater passing to fast pulled my double mooring pins out and I had to quickly jump the fifteen inch gap caused by the Shroppie Shelf, and hammer them back in place. I was so angry I hammered the living daylights out of the pins and injured my arm. Act in anger (and haste) and repent in leisure. Since then I've also had a lovely visit from Ken and Sue Deveson (NB Cleddau), and Ken showed me exactly how to moor using spring lines on my boat. What a difference! While she still rocks from side to side when a boat passes at top speed and creates a large, frothy wake due mainly to the fifteen inch side gap caused by the Shroppie shelf, my boat isn't sliding vertically back and forth anymore. In the six years Les and I cruised he never once used a spring line, but he also had far more upper body strength than I do so perhaps he was better able to hammer the pins to China!
     It is true that if one hangs out on the canals long enough, one will see just about everything.  I was amazed one overcast and drizzly morning several weeks back to see a man walk by my windows leading a donkey! By the time I dug out Les' camera and slipped on some shoes the donkey-ish duo had passed NBV and the boat moored behind me, but I still managed to catch them as they headed for the bridge near Barbridge Junction. This still left me with puzzling questions, such as why walk along the canals with a donkey in the rain? The answer to my questions arrived a week later with the Towpath Talk newspaper.
     Adam Less is walking the length of Western Britain from Cape Wrath Lighthouse on Scotland's Northwest coast to Isle of Portland Lighthouse on the south coast of England. Less has undertaken this journey on foot to raise money for Centrepoint Charity which serving the needs of homeless young people in Liverpool where Adam lives. This is not Adam's first footloose trek. On his crowd funding site he says:
     "I am an experienced traveller and walker. Since 2004 I have completed long
term, rough travels in South East Asia; travelled overland from New York to
Tierra del Fuego and back again and in 2016 I walked 600 miles along the
Pamir Highway from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan. Most recently, in 2017, I
walked 200 miles from Liverpool to Stranraer. From these journeys I have
been developing a philosophy of slow and rough travel, using these as ways to
experience places more deeply and have chance encounters with people I
meet along the way. I have been documenting these journeys, through writing
and photography, on my blog Adam Walks."
Adam Lee and his sidekick Martin the Donkey. 
     While I was filling up with water and dumping my rubbish at the Calvely service point, fuel boat Halsall was loading up with coal.  I had caught them on their way down to Ellesmere Port a few day previously and topped up the diesel, bought four bags of coal and three bags of kindling. I have twelve bags of coal on the roof now, ready for winter. Of course as the following pictures show, we've had a few cold nights recently. I've cleaned the chimney, checked the fire bricks for cracks, and re-pointed the fire concrete around the outside of the chimney where it joins the stove. I've also replaced the battery in the carbon monoxide alarm.  A warm, glowing fire on a cold night is a simple and deeply satisfying blessing.
Brrrr! A sign of things to come: ground frost.
Lee and Roberta fill the hold of Fuel boat Halsall with bags of coal for delivery to the likes of me and other boaters who live along the cut. It always lifts my heart to see them both as they bring their big working boat alongside NB Valerie. 
     As the seasons change the canals change too. Not just the foliage of the plants and the wildlife but the actual water in the cut. In the evenings when it cools suddenly, the water is warmer than the air and mist rises in columns, water souls rising into the evening air. Early morning on the cut sees the same phenomena repeat itself with misty clouds obscuring the crisp lines of the canal, towpath, and the hedges, lending a mysterious quality to the start of the day.
Evening mist forming on the Shropshire Union canal at Calveley. 
Morning mist near Barbridge after a very chilly night.
The full moon on a cold evening recently with the bow garden still growing in the short Autumn days and cooler nights.  
     I am moored in the basin at Nantwich Canal Centre. I've been having some issues with the engine and I couldn't put things off anymore so I arrived yesterday. Back in February after changing the oil, I noticed a black drip of oil from the back of the engine about half way down. I kept an eye on it and the absorbent pads I placed under the engine were soaked with dirty oil after about a month. I've been religious about changing the oil and filter every 350 hours.  In April a good local engineer gave the entire engine a good service, replacing fuel filters, etc. He commented at the time that engine oil was quite low before he changed it, so I became obsessed with worry about this issue. A couple of changes back I noticed a great deal of clean engine oil had totally soaked two absorbent pads, and it seemed to me there had to be an oil leak somewhere!
     The engine was smoking quite badly with blue-gray smoke upon starting as well so with some moral support from dear ones, I bit the bullet and brought NBV in for a look-see. The engineer found a cracked and leaking diesel return hose which had been leaking quite a bit into the engine bay. The good news is there is no engine oil leak as I had thought. The engine was full of carbon and coke and he blew it all out with a good run on high revs for some time. Black grit coated the surface of the water. He shut off the engine, let it cool down, looked for leaks again and then started it up and let it run for three or so hours repeatedly over a 24 hour period. She barely smokes at all now on a cold start, and there is no oil leak! the relief I feel is HUGE. My deepest thanks to Margaret, Linda, Mike and the rest of the Nantwich Canal Centre/Chandlers crew for looking after me and NB Valerie.
The view, starting from the right, inside Nantwich canal basin, of the back side of the businesses at Nantwich Canal Centre. The Chandlers is in the middle and the cafe is on the far left.  Below, the view continues on across the basin to the tunnel on the left where boats are painted.  

     Since Les always serviced our engine and dealt with the mechanics, or called River Canal Rescue (RCR) when something like a drove plate went, the learning curve on the bits and bobs which live in the engine bay has been steep. I am not the least bit mechanically inclined and Les didn't have time to teach me anything about the engine before he died. I've had to absorb things as I've gone along and friends like Any Elford, Ken Deveson and Bryce Lee have counseled, consoled, and offered me the wisdom of their own experience with boat engines. I am pleased to say when I changed the oil and filter two weeks ago, it was the first time I didn't have to think the entire process through and then refer line by line to my notes. I simply grabbed a pair of latex gloves, an empty bin bag for rubbish, and a new oil filter, climbed down in the engine hole and thirty minutes later--job done! It hit me as I climbed back up out of the engine bay;  I am comfortable and knowledgeable enough now to remember the sequence of events for an oil change and clean up, and I have confidence in my abilities. Les would be proud of me. I can hear his voice telling me so.
Me and Les in 2012 on the nearby Llangollen canal.  

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Researching Autoimmune Diseases:Part II-Leaky Gut and Food Intolerances

"What we find changes who we become." ~ Peter Morville, British author and president of Semantic Studios, an information architecture and findability consulting firm

     Autoimmune diseases (AI) all begin with a dysfunction of the gut mucosa. This is now a researched and documented fact that has become solidified in research and literature in the last year and a half. 
     What is the gut mucosa?  It is the largest and most dynamic immunological environment of the body which is a clue to why all AI disease begins in our guts. It's often the first point of pathogen exposure and many microbes use it as a beachhead into the rest of the body. 
     Our intestines have a top layer of mucosa with villi--these look like fat strands of fingers which increase surface area and regulate nutrient absorption. This layer is made up of a particular type of cell called epithelium. These are some of the fastest growing cells in our body which is why they are frequently targeted in cancer treatment--even if the cancer is not in our digestive tract. The chemo drugs cause our epithelium cells which also line our mouths, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine and rectum, to slough off and die, leaving us raw and unprotected literally from mouth to anus. Often cancer patients undergoing chemo will die not from cancer but from toxic cell overload. So many cells--most of them healthy--have died and the liver and kidneys cannot process the dead cell load which causes them to shut down. (Coffee enemas can stop this from occurring.) 
     This layer of intestine forms a barrier between itself and the layer underneath where there are clusters of cells with spaces in between called junctions. In a healthy digestive tract a tight junction is regulated. Interocytes (a particular type of cell) form space between the junctions. They allow electrolytes and minerals to pass through and keep larger molecules and pathogenic bacteria from escaping. More than sixty proteins regulate this space. A tight junction is regulated so that enzymes can capture nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and hormones) from our digestive tract and deliver them wherever they are needed by our bodies. This is the act of nutrition and this process provides the fuel our bodies need to function. This is actually why we have to eat and drink. If there is a breach in its integrity we have illness. Food may remain undigested for a variety of reasons, especially if there are pancreatic issues or a lack of digestive enzymes.

The Importance of Enzymes
     These amazing proteins do more than just help remove grass and blood stains from our clothes! Yep your biological laundry detergent is called that because it has enzymes in it. Enzymes are specific amino acid proteins that act as catalysts to living cells. Enzymes are required by our bodies for every single function we undertake--blinking our eye, smacking our lips, yawning, muscle contraction, breathing, and digestion to name a few. Digestion is the single most difficult process our bodies undertake!! Think about that, because we indiscriminately pop food and drink into our mouths all day long and give it little to no thought once we swallow it.
     Enzymes are the human body's life force. They exist in all living things so of course our food has enzymes in them as well. When we are cooking a meal, that lovely smell of meat roasting or coffee brewing is caused by the enzymes dying off from exposure to heat. Raw food and food heated to a very low temperature has living enzymes in it. The safe register of temperatures seems to be 117F/47C for liquids and 150F/65C for solids. This is why we go into a food related coma after indulging in loads of food as part of a celebration like Christmas. Most of that food has been cooked and no longer has any enzymes in it. We overload our digestive system and it must literally borrow enzymes from everywhere else in our bodies in order to deal with the process of digestion. This is also why when we are seriously ill, our food should be fresh, organic and as raw as possible. Our immune system has marshaled our enzymes to go into battle and it needs a massive amount of available enzymes to do that. Fresh squeezed juices are ideal because they will literally digest themselves without using enzymes from our body functions. This allows more enzyme availability to our immune system for healing. Two thirds of our immune system is in our gut for good reason: we take in pounds and pounds of food requiring being broken down and it all has bacteria on it--probiotic (good) and pathogenic (bad).

Gut Permeability (Leaky Gut) 
   Undigested food will rot in our guts and it will present itself under the cell layer between our digestive system and the rest of us--the gut mucosa. This absorptive mechanism is as big as a tennis court and one cell thick. Food proteins cross a compromised gut mucosa into the bloodstream. These proteins are attacked by our our immune system defenses and they settle into our joints. Look at your fingers. If you have developed hard knobs at the joints of your fingers you have a leaky gut. 

See the pronounced knobs at the first joint of my finger? Those are caused by leaky gut syndrome and inflammation. Our blood stream seeks to dump the garbage escaping from our guts that our liver and kidneys cannot process. The spaces in our joints are available space. Inflammation of our joints is the result.  
Arthritis is often a signal of this issue as our immune system creates an inflammatory response to food particles and gram negative bacteria escaping from our guts. Our joints become inflamed as a response.
     This is why it is crucial to avoid regular or prolonged use of all NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Paracetamol/Tylenol, Motrin, Aleve. These over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers cause leaky gut, destroying sections of your gut mucosa. For this same reason we need to avoid inflammatory foods in our diet and avoid foods that activate our immune systems. If gut permeability or leaky gut syndrome lasts long enough the epithelial cells cannot repair themselves  quickly enough or the repair cannot last before the cells are destroyed by the next onslaught of NSAIDS and inflammatory food and drink. 
     When this permanent breakdown occurs malabsorption results in malnutrition. We could eat loads of food all day but our guts can no longer access and deliver the nutrients in our food to our bodies where they are needed. Some of the signs of leaky gut and malnutrition are excessive shedding of hair, gas and bloating, intolerance to fats, transit times changes in bowel movements (BMs), undigested food and change of color in BMs, and fluctuating between diarrhea and constipation. All foods from first bite to BMs should move through our systems in 24 hours and they should not smell putrid. Gut permeability is one of the causes of gut dysbiosis which is a bacterial imbalance in out gut. We don't have enough or any pre and pro-biotic bacteria and we are overloaded with pathogenic (disease producing) bacteria. Proper digestion can no longer take place.
     Digestion begins in our mouths with Amylase which is a digestive enzyme in our saliva. It continues in our stomachs which are filled with very potent acid to kill off pathogenic bacteria, then continues in our small intestines. Our large intestine breaks down fermentable and starch resistant fiber and primarily removes the water from the digested and processed waste products and stores it for a short time until we void it.

Acid Reflux 
     One of the big issues for people with digestive upset is prescription drug use. Our stomachs are high in acid and low in PH, about 1.2, 1.5, to 1.7. Often those experiencing bloating and gas will take Nexium (Esomemprazole). This purple pill brings the PH in the human stomach up to 5--from the PH of battery acid to that of vinegar! We need the high acid PH to break down proteins and when our stomach acid is too weak we can experience issues with mood swings, muscle function, lack of energy and even a mild shift in stomach acid can result in the formation of auto-immune antibodies to protein, by a factor of 10, causing gut permeability. Most of us don't produce enough acid. Clues are an insufficiency of vitamin B12 production, fatigue, headache, odor intolerance, neuropathy (tingling hands, feet and legs), insufficient magnesium and potassium causing involuntary eyebrow twitches, calf and foot cramps, and muscle fatigue.
     Aging causes us to manufacture less hydrochloric acid in our stomach and yet this is the population that ingests the most acid reflux medications. Soda pop and sugar also inhibits our ability to make adequate stomach acid.

      Crohn's and Colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases. Inflammation contributes to a host of other AI diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto's disease, Asthma, and Psoriasis and others so it is a huge issue to address in seeking good health. There has been a 25% increase in inflammatory bowel disease world wide. The main cause of inflammation in the body is a reaction to things that cause inflammation to occur. Inflammation metabolically demands our bodies use all of the available vitamins and minerals to support the anti-inflammatory process. This process also uses all of the available amino acids taurine, glutathione and glycene and our bodies do not produce these essential amino acids. They must be replaced in our food or with supplements. Also our digestive tract cannot function without enough glutathione. It is key to healing from any kind of digestive tract surgery or illness. What kind of foods cause an inflammatory response? The answer to this can vary from person to person but first and foremost is gluten.

Gluten Intolerance
     Antibodies are a type of blood protein produced in response to and counteracting a specific antigen (toxins or foreign substances which produce an immune response). Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood. Lectins and glutinen/gliadin found in gluten bind to human tissue and can cause inflammation to occur if our bodies mistake the bound human tissue for the food causing an allergic reaction. Antibodies form which attack and destroy tissue--intestines, brain, bone, thyroid, heart...
     We humans are not ruminants; we did not evolve as a species to digest grass grains such as wheat, rye and barley. The thing is, it is not a case of either you suffer from gluten intolerance (GI) or you don't. The majority of humans on our planet have a response to gluten/gliadin. Patients who have removed gluten from their diets for three months and then ingested gluten again often risk their lives. It is like a switch is flipped and a six fold increase in deaths with one ingestion of gluten can occur. 
     Genetics is behind most of this. We inherit or fail to inherit from our forebears the ability or inability to manufacture certain levels of the protein heptoglobin (Hp) which binds to excess hemoglobin (another protein responsible for transporting oxygen in our blood). There are two ways we can inherit this protein depending on whether or not it is present in the DNA we inherit from each of our parents at the moment of conception: Hp1 and  Hp2. which arose in human populations as a duplicate of Hp1. Three genotypes of Hp, therefore, are found in humans: Hp1-1, Hp2-1, and Hp2-2. (If you find this confusing think of what you learned in junior high school science classes about inheritance of blue and brown eyes). If you test for Hp and are found to have Hp1:1 you will be okay eating gluten. If you have 2:2 you must never eat anything with gluten in it--not one molecule. Those with Hp 1:2 are okay for about an hour before GI kicks in and they will suffer from gut permeability for up to three hours after ingesting gluten. Research shows that individuals with AI diseases manifesting in childhood such as Asthma and Diabetes type and have inherited either Hp 1:2 or 2:2. Those with Coeliac disease always have Hp 2:2. 
     There are also other genes involved which I won't go into. This inheritance is driven by cultural factors. Populations that experience difficulty digesting gluten are Japanese, Southern Chinese, Koreans, Africans from the Western Sahara, Northern India and the Punjab, Northern Italians, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Irish for whom wheat was not grown or eaten before the 18th century, Indigenous North, Central, and South Americans, and the Balkans.
     If you live in a country like America or Australia where all of the population except indigenous peoples are immigrants or come from immigrant populations then its important to know your genealogy. Research undertaken by the NHS indicates that one in every 100 Britons has Coeliac disease. Given that this is a northern climate and wheat farming came late to the Island, combined with the large immigrant population here I am not surprised. 
     In a patient survey done for FMS offices throughout North American, ninety percent of those who cut out gluten from their diets for one month felt better and had more energy. Now if you are not GI then simply being mindful of which products include gluten and cutting back on how much gluten you ingest can make a positive difference in your health because just as we did not evolve to eat red meat every day, we didn't evolve to eat, breath, and absorb gluten very often. It is a similar thing with soy. The Japanese eat soy in tofu and sauce but not every day. In the west soy has become ubiquitous. It is yet one more ingredient in everything and ingesting as much soy as we do is not healthy. Research shows high levels of soy can induce breast cancer.  
     The symptoms of Gluten Intolerance are bloating (all human bodies contain yeast. Think about what happens when yeast, wheat, and liquid come into contact with one another), diarrhea, constipation, smelly feces, abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes, depression, unexplained weight loss, and your digestive tract shuts down.
     Wheat is in everything!! Besides the obvious items such as baked goods, it is in toothpaste, lipstick, body cream, shampoo,  spices, shredded cheese, sauces and condiments, soups, ready made meals, frozen seafood, chicken and other meats, vitamins, supplements and pharmaceutical drugs.
     One final note about the distinctions between Coeliac disease, gluten intolerance and diet fads. Coeliac disease is not simply an intolerance. It is a severe allergy to gluten and a total inability to tolerate or digest gluten. Brain damage and death can result from exposure to gluten as result. If you have a parent with Coeliac disease you have a one in then chance of developing it yourself. Some individuals are born with the disease active and some don't develop symptoms until shortly after birth or later in life. Their bodies cannot digest and synthesize any form of gluten and further, ingesting gluten can cause serious brain damage for them. So imagine for a moment you have given birth to a baby that has Coeliac disease and of course, you won't know this until months go by as your child fails to thrives, slowly starving and withering before your eyes.   
     Individuals like myself who have tolerated gluten from birth up until some point in life when an AI disease manifests with an inability to digest glutenare what is known as NCGI-Non-Coeliac Gluten Intolerant. But trust me when I tell you that the distinction for me is irrelevant. I am okay eating glutenized foods while chewing, swallowing, and my body is breaking it down in my stomach. The minute however the gluten leaves my stomach I am in a world of terrible pain--pain that makes labor pains seem by comparison, mild. My intestines and colon immediately begin swelling, feeling as though  someone has filled them with expanding foam insulation and it hurts like hell. the swelling is so sever that my liver, kidneys and ribs ache. There is no way to get comfortable or reduce the pain. I have to live with fifteen to thirty hours of excruciating pain as the glutenized food moves slowly and I do mean slowly through my intestines where a battle between the gluten and my immune system is being waged which makes digestion negligible. Peristalsis (the contraction of the intestine and colon to move food and waste products through the gut) often comes to a halt and life revolves around severe pain that radiates out in endless waves from my guts. I cannot sleep, eat, walk, sit, lay down or engage in any activities to try and take my mind off it...I am trapped in a cage of terrible pain that won't go away. For me Codeine is the only thing that removes the pain, but it has the side effect of making one constipated which can obviously cause further troubles. I will do anything not to experience this pain again--ever. I consider myself lucky that my digestive tract is not so damaged that a stoma is necessary. I can change my diet and control the disease.
     Diet fads come and go and currently going gluten free is the latest health fad with unfortunate consequences for Coeliacs and NCGI individuals who attempt to eat out in restaurants. The majority of food handlers and servers in public eating facilities don't understand the deadly consequences for people who ask for gluten free foods. Thinking of it as a fad, they don't realize that foods for Coeliacs and NCGI individuals must be prepared separate from foods with gluten in them and the prep area must be gluten free, and often food establishments will list an item on their menu as GF when it has been cross contaminated with gluten during the preparation. I experienced this first hand when I queried the owner of  Baked Onboard--the Pizza boat, I asked it he offered GF pizza. He replied cheerily "Nope but I do have a sourdough pizza and as long as you aren't Coeliac then you can eat it. NCGI people have tolerated it just fine." Well, actually no I can't and I suspect his customer that do were not NCGI but those trying out the newest diet fad for health reasons.     

Lactose Intolerance
 The inability to digest the sugar lactose in dairy products is also inherited and interestingly enough the map of intolerance by ethnicity is nearly the opposite of the map for gluten intolerance. Cultures in which lactose intolerance is common are those countries in the south: Central and south America, Africa--especially south Africa, Southern India, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and all Indigenous peoples in most areas of the world. That's a lot of folks who cannot properly digest dairy and ignoring this issue can and does cause Leaky gut which can eventually lead to an AI disease. 
     The symptoms of lactose intolerance are abdominal bloating with pain and cramps,  diarrhea, gas, nausea, vomiting and borborygmi which is a loud on-going rumbling, gurgling sound from the stomach.

Vitamin D-the Vitamin Which is NOT a Vitamin!
    Finally, low amounts of Vitamin D puts us at risk for developing AI disease and cancer--it is just that important!! The prime level of Vitamin D is 30 nanograms or above. Vitamin D isn't actually a vitamin at all--it is a steroid hormone. If you plan to rely on absorption from the sun for your Vitamin D here is the scale of exposure: at least 15% of your body must be exposed. Fair skinned folks actually need forty minutes of exposure and that obviously cannot happen all in one go! Your exposure needs to occur over a period of days. If you are olive skinned you will need eighty minutes of exposure and if you are very dark skinned you will need an hour and twenty minutes of exposure. It should also be obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that Sunscreen inhibits the absorption of Vitamin D. Finally do it when you are dirty! Human skin creates a layer of oil called sebum. Our bodies need sebum on the surface of our skin in order to metabolize sunshine and turn it into Vitamin D so don't go out after showering and expect to manufacture anything but a tan or a sunburn
     One way of getting more D in your diet is to eat more mushrooms, but first lay them out in the sunshine for twenty minutes. Mushrooms are just like humans in that they do not internally manufacture Vitamin D but if they sit in the sun for nearly half an hour they will make Vitamin D and store it, for our bodies to use when we eat them.

     Processed sugar triggers the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. These cells are produced by our immune system so eating large amount of sugar causes our immune system to being a hunt for a culprit. It is i like the boy who cried wolf. Eat too much sugar too often and AI disease results as the immune system goes into overdrive and is never allowed to rest.
     How much sugar is too much? for a healthy person the maximum amount of sugar one should eat daily is 25 grams or 6 teaspoons. The average human in First world countries ingests at least 19.5 teaspoons of sugar daily. This includes sugar of any color, fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose and galactose. did you know that excessive amounts of sugar cane lead to early dementia? if you need a little sweetening in your life I suggest you keep it low and opt for glucose which is the only sugar our brains need to function. I learned from my local beekeeper that spring honey which is lighter and sets up quicker than summer or autumn honey which is darker and lot more fluid, that spring honey contains more glucose and the other two seasonal honeys contain more sucrose.
     Type 2 diabetes is in the process of being redefined from a metabolic disorder to an autoimmune disease. Immune cells cause inflammation if fatty tissue that protects our internal organs. As we gain more weight and develop more dense layers of fat around our organs  becoming a health threat. Our immune system kicks into overdrive and begins producing Killer T and B cells involved in antibody response, causing inflammation in the fatty tissue which over time inhibits the fat cells' ability to respond to Insulin, allowing fatty acids to leach in to the blood stream and diabetes results.
     Okay I will stop here for now and my next post will cover environmental toxins and AI disease. My fourth and final post on this subject will cover diet and supplements.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs