Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fermented Mixed Vegetables

We’ve been eating a lot of fermented vegetables lately. We started with kimchi (Homemade Kimchi, Jun 26, 2011), but lately we’ve been fermenting our vegetables in a less spicy style that is normally used for sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut” means “sour cabbage.” We are not huge cabbage fans, so we often substitute other vegetables. We’ve had good results from Daikon radish, red radish, carrot, celery, and cabbage; the only vegetable we didn’t care for was parsnip.

This is a really simple procedure – mix salt, water, and vegetables with a few spices; leave in a cool, dark sealed container for 7-10 days; eat.

For safety, the key is to give enough time for the water to become acidic. Wikipedia explains the evolution of the bacterial population:

The fermentation process has three phases. In the first phase, anaerobic bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter lead the fermentation, and begin producing an acidic environment that favours later bacteria. The second phase starts as the acid levels become too high for many bacteria, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. take dominance. In the third phase, various Lactobacillus species, including L. brevis and L. plantarum, ferment any remaining sugars, further lowering the pH. There are unpasteurized sauerkrauts on the market. Properly cured sauerkraut is sufficiently acidic to prevent a favorable environment for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the toxins of which cause botulism.

Klebsiella and Enterobacter are potentially pathogenic bacteria, but the later Leuconostoc and Lactobacillus species are probiotic. So the more acidic the water, the better the mix of bacteria.

Another good tactic is use predominantly low-calorie vegetables. Keeping sugar levels low will help keep the yeast population down.

First Batch: Daikon radish, celery, carrot

Here were the raw materials for one batch:

We could have cut the white Daikon radish pieces smaller, but this size did fine: by day 7 they were softened all the way through.

Sea salt, ginger, garlic, and peppercorn are seasonings we consider essential; green onion and red pepper have worked for us as well.

You’ll need a large glass or ceramic container that seals. If it is glass, keep it in a dark cabinet while fermenting to avoid light exposure. We like to look at ours in progress, so we bought glass containers.

Fill the glass container about 80% full with diced vegetables, then cover with water so the container is 90% full. Add enough sea salt that the water tastes salty, but not undrinkably so. Also add the other seasonings – ginger, garlic, peppercorn, and any others you choose.

The container will now look like this:

Now it has to be covered with an air-tight seal. We placed plastic wrap over the top, wrapped a rubber band around the jar, and then sealed the lid over the wrap:

After a week it will look like this:

Note how cloudy the water has become.

After a week you should be able to start removing vegetables to eat. Here are some vegetables:

It’s also a good idea to remove the cloudy fluid and drink it. This makes a great “soup” or beverage along with your meal.

As you remove fluid, add water and sea salt to replace what you took. When you run out of vegetables, add a new batch of diced vegetables to the old fluid and let it ferment for a week.

Second Batch: Daikon radish, green onion, and red radish

This first try was so successful we bought a larger glass container and made another batch, this time including red radish. Ingredients:

Here it is ready to go into a dark cabinet for fermentation:

And here it is a week later:

All the red skin pigment has come off the radishes and into the fluid. Here is a bowl of vegetables and fluid:

We’ve been eating two bowls a day, one at dinner and the other at breakfast or lunch.

Other Tips

Try to keep the fermentation jar sterile. We replace the wrap every time we open the container, and keep the lid region dry at all times: if any fluid spills on it as we take vegetables out, we dry the top of the jar with a paper towel. (Bacteria need moisture to thrive.)

If you have concerns about the bacteria on your vegetables, sprinkle salt over them and let them sit for a bit, then rinse the vegetables before dicing them and adding them to the container. This salting will help sterilize the surface a bit.

Conclusion

Even if you don’t like vegetables, you’ll probably like this. Fermented vegetables are surprisingly tasty. Moreover, the fluid is also very tasty. It makes a healthful hydrating beverage, and a great accompaniment to a meal; the acidic fluid helps clear the palate and improve the taste of foods.

We couldn’t be happier with our vegetable fermentation. It makes vegetables taste great, provides us with helpful probiotic flora and lactic acid, and is exceptionally easy to prepare. No cooking necessary!

Around the Web; Home for the Holiday Edition

The last three weeks have been busy with traveling:

We’re delighted to be home.

A few events are upcoming. First, I’ll be recording a video interview with Dr. Mercola on Thursday; I don’t know when the video will go up on the web, but in my experience Dr Mercola doesn’t waste time. Second, Shou-Ching and I will give a casual talk, question-and-answer session, and book signing at Green Meadows Farm in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, on Sunday Dec 4. (We blogged about Diana and Andrew Rodgers and Green Meadows Farm on Oct 25; the farmstand is a great place to buy organic food.)

I have some obligations to fulfill this week to my business consulting clients and to the Ancestral Health Society, but once those are past I will catch up on the Q&A thread. My apologies to those who are waiting for answers; thank you for your patience.

[1] Faces therapy:

Via Govardhan Gerhard Ziegler on Facebook.

[2] Welcome to the blogosphere, Dr. Rosedale!: Dr. Ron Rosedale has added a blog to his site, and continues the “safe starches” debate with a long post, “Is the term ‘safe starches’ an oxymoron?” This was in response to my previous installment in the debate, “Safe Starches Symposium: Dr Ron Rosedale.”

Concerning the safety of glucose, I am going to let Ron have the last word, as it seems we are beginning to repeat ourselves and I am eager to move on to other topics. I don’t find Ron’s arguments persuasive, and I recommend reading Dr. Emily Deans who has boiled the issue down to essentials.

One issue Ron brought up, however, does deserve further discussion: the relation between carbohydrate intake, thyroid hormone levels, and longevity. I’ve touched on this before (Carbohydrates and the Thyroid, Aug 24, 2011; High LDL on Paleo Revisited: Low Carb & the Thyroid, Sep 1, 2011), but it is a fascinating topic, and a good way to begin the important topic of longevity. Ron’s discussion and a post by Ambimorph on PaleoHacks will make excellent starting points.

But that is for the future.

Ron and I were not the only ones having a conversation about carbs and obesity. Gary Taubes has posted a 5-part series on food reward, and Stephan Guyenet replied. The sentences that struck me most strongly were offered by Gary, in this comment:

[A]fter I first went very low carb I added back toasted pumpernickel and other low GI breads to my diet. My problem was postural hypotension and the added carbs took care of that immediately. My weight is stable also. But not with starches; with low GI wheat.

To me this illustrates both the health benefits of modest starch consumption, and how difficult it can be to make sense of arguments against starch.

[3] Music to read by:

[4] Interesting posts:

Russ Farris, author of The Potbelly Syndrome, and an excellent writer working along the same lines as us relating chronic diseases to chronic infections, is coming out with a new book, Falling Apart Syndrome. He has created a web site and is making some appendices available for download. Highly recommended.

Jamie Scott mines the literature on grains, and strikes gold. Jamie goes on to treat WGA.

Chris Masterjohn reports that the lard diet commonly used to indict “high-fat diets” is much higher in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats than previously thought. This is good for me; it makes the data fit my obesity theory better.

Melissa McEwen brainstorms about acid reflux. Emily Deans discusses how stress affects your gut.

Aetiology investigates an “Urgent Warning” from Men’s Health magazine: “Sex with Animals Causes Cancer.”

Richard Fernandez discusses the evolution of cutlery in the West.

Dr Briffa believes that the way to protect yourself against a deadly flu is to catch a mild flu.

Via Seth Roberts, the trouble with lab mice. “We’ve had thousands of mouse studies of tuberculosis, yet not one of them has ever been used to pick a new drug regimen that succeeded in clinical trials. ‘This isn’t just true for TB; it’s true for virtually every disease,’ he tells me.”

Beth Mazur employs Martin Berkhan’s “cheat day” strategies for the holidays.

GettingStronger.org offers the “Hypothalamic Hypothesis of Obesity.” Dan’s Plan notes that eating saturated fat helps weight loss and appetite control.

I am pro-salt, and so is evolutionary selection, but the FDA wants it removed from foods. A new Cochrane review finds no clear benefit from reducing salt, and reports that no long-term studies on the effects of salt intake have yet been performed.

Speaking of governments, the European Union has outlawed claims that water relieves dehydration; this reminds Dr Briffa of an anecdote.

Michael A Smith takes high-intensity training outdoors.

Dennis Mangan argues for exercise as the fountain of youth.

Stargazey discusses mitochondrial dysfunction.

Lucas Tafur discusses how gut bacteria affect ketone production, and the relation between gut bacteria and obesity.

John Hawks reports that ApoE4, the ancestral allele of ApoE, raises Alzheimer’s risk in Europeans but not Africans. There must be a European-specific mutation in another gene which interacts badly with ApoE4.

Deacon Patrick, who we’ve mentioned here before, continues to recover from his brain injury.

FoodSnipps likes our diet: “I like … the Jaminets’ “Perfect Health Diet”. It is about the closest thing to a real paleo diet in my opinion. I have lost about 6 pounds and I feel more alert and rested. The addition of specific starches has ended my stall.” Joanne Nelson of Joanne’s Book Reviews liked our book. SCDKat named us her favorite talk at Wise Traditions. Brian Cormack Carr lists us among his Paleo diet heroes. Kamal Patel offers “The Paleo Guru Guide”.

The Primal Woman has a story of MS remission on Paleo.

[5] Cute animal photo:

From the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project via Gawker.

[6] Modern science: Scientists are supposed to be sophisticated thinkers, but overspecialization, lack of perspective, and the need to pursue funding often lead them astray.

The Scientist reports on a recent paper in Cell Metabolism – a high-impact journal – showing the mechanism by which neuronal starvation leads to food cravings. It turns out that autophagy – the process of “self eating” that cells utilize when resources are scarce – in hypothalamic neurons triggers hunger. When they blocked autophagy, mice ate less and were skinnier:

Kaushik and her colleagues then tested whether blocking autophagy in AgRP neurons would inhibit hunger. Mice lacking the autophagy gene atg7 in their hypothalamic neurons ate less food after fasting, and had higher levels of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), another hypothalamic neuron, and the hormone alpha-melanocyte (alpha-MSH), both of which typically suppress hunger and stimulate physical exercise. As a result, the knockout mice were leaner than their wildtype counterparts.

This is important work. What disturbs me is what the authors see as the next step:

[S]aid co-author Rajat Singh of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine[:] “If therapeutic approaches were designed to control or decrease autophagy selectively in AgRP neurons, then these could potentially prevent obesity and diabetes.”

One cause of neuronal starvation is infection by bacteria that steal energy substrates. Autophagy is part of the innate immune defense, and suppressing it will make any neuronal infection worse. Dr. Singh’s proposed therapy might exacerbate the disease.

A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, will avert neuronal starvation without inhibiting autophagy or immunity. There is no sign, however, that the researchers considered testing a ketogenic diet against autophagy-mediated food cravings.

[7] Interesting comments:

  • Tuck, in response to my New York City talk, finds some links between impaired extracellular matrix integrity and disease.
  • Adam and Mario report that H. pylori infection can raise LDL.
  • George Henderson discusses the toxicity of vitamin A combined with alcohol. Don’t drink and cod liver oil!

[8] Vaccines and “The Greater Good”: Wise Traditions 2011 included a showing of the new documentary, “The Greater Good,” by Leslie Manookian. The Greater Good examines the issue of mandatory childhood vaccination, and makes a case against laws mandating early vaccination and in support of more thorough study of the risks and benefits of vaccination.

The movie has won many prizes at film festivals, and Shou-Ching and I watched it together last night. It is excellent.

Vaccines certainly deliver benefits. However, any immunogenic intervention is going to carry risks as well. Also, the benefits may not be as large as most believe. Historically, the great decline in infectious disease rates occurred before vaccines were in wide use.

If vaccination is mandatory, then we have no way of assessing the risks from vaccination. If vaccination is optional, we will have two populations of children – the vaccinated and unvaccinated – and will have the opportunity to carefully assess health outcomes.

Early studies doing just this do not clearly indicate that the benefits of most vaccines outweigh possible harms. A large German study recently found that vaccinated children have fewer of the illnesses that they were vaccinated against, but more of other illnesses, than unvaccinated children. (Source: Schmitz R et al. Vaccination status and health in children and adolescents: findings of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS). Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011 Feb;108(7):99-104. http://pmid.us/21412506.)

Here is the trailer:

[9] Shou-Ching’s Photo-Art:

[10] Video of the week: Alexander Tsiaras of Yale Medical School takes us “From Conception to Birth”:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It is a day of gratitude, and of fellowship.

Shou-Ching and I have much to be grateful for, but most especially the fellowship on this blog.

Our book, Perfect Health Diet, was released a year ago. Many have found it helpful, as the stories on our Results page indicate. But its success in finding an audience is entirely due to readers who have recommended it to their friends and family.

We are most grateful to all those who have helped to spread the word. We firmly believe that diet, nutrition, and appropriate antimicrobial medicines are the proper path to curing most if not all disease; and that this strategy will work a revolution in medical practice. As authors, our fondest hope is that our ideas will receive a fair hearing; contribute to the triumph of truth; and help bring good health to all. Good health is and should be our birthright!

Special thanks is due to Aaron Blaisdell and the Ancestral Health Society, for organizing the Ancestral Health Symposium and an upcoming journal; Sally Fallon and the Weston A Price Foundation, for inviting Paul to Wise Traditions 2011 (DVD of Paul’s talks available here); to CrossFit NYC, for hosting our recent talk in New York City; and to Dr Mercola, for discussing us in his newsletter and an upcoming video interview.

Above all, we are grateful to our readers, especially those who have made our little community on this blog so pleasant by commenting and sharing your stories. We hope to get caught up answering questions on the Q&A page soon, and ask those who try our suggestions to share their outcomes. Together, with a process of experimental exploration, we can develop knowledge that helps others find perfect health.

Finally, Shou-Ching’s photo art:

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

CrossFit NYC: 20 Tips for Optimal Health & Fitness

I’d like to thank Court Wing, Hari Singh, Josh Newman, and all the folks at CrossFit NYC for a delightful visit to New York on Saturday. Court was a most gracious host. Ninety-three people attended, and many introduced themselves to us; some were familiar commenters from the blog, and it was great to put faces to names. I spoke for 2 hours, and answered questions for another hour. The questions were very interesting, and most of the audience stayed through the question session.

My talk offered 20 tips for optimal health and fitness. I promised Court I’d make the tips available, and several readers asked for them as well. Here they are.

20 Tips for Optimal Health & Fitness

  1. Eat carbs in the range 20% to 30% of energy; higher adds muscle more easily.
  2. Eat protein in the range 300 to 500 calories per day; higher adds muscle more easily.
  3. Listen to and trust your “food reward system” – if you are eating natural foods it will guide you to the best diet.
  4. Eat bone broth and gelatin for a healthy extracellular matrix tissue scaffold.
  5. Get adequate sulfur, which means not only eating sulfur-rich foods like eggs, onions, and garlic, but also obtaining additional sulfur from sources like supplemental MSM or Epsom salt baths. (Sulfur was traditionally obtained from water, but no longer.)
  6. Supplement vitamin C, 500 mg to 1 g per day.
  7. Drink plenty of water.
  8. Eat sufficient salt – at least 3 g/day sodium (1.3 teaspoons salt).
  9. Get sufficient potassium – eat some vegetables!
  10. Eat only “useful macronutrients” in the right proportions; minimize omega-6 and fructose; balance omega-3 and omega-6; keep carbs and protein in the ranges mentioned earlier.
  11. Avoid unnecessary infections:
    • Wash your hands, cook your food, practice safe sex.
    • Live in a low-infection location – ideally, one with cold winters and a dry climate, perhaps some elevation, but plenty of sunshine; in the US, the Rocky Mountain states have the lowest rates of infection.
    • Get plenty of sunshine on bare skin, and optimize vitamin D!
  12. Know your pathogens; utilize diagnostic tests, like the Metametrix stool profile, to see which pathogens have infected you.
  13. Use antimicrobial medicines when appropriate. These can make a huge difference in health and athleticism.
  14. Don’t eat toxic or immunogenic foods, such as wheat, soy, or peanuts.
  15. Protect the gut. The most important step is eating fermented vegetables and fermented dairy, plus a “Goldilocks” amount of fiber. Also, modulate the gut flora in a positive way with foods like traditional herbs and spices, antimicrobial oils, acids including vinegar and lemon juice, green leafy vegetables, and berries.
  16. Nourish your toxin removal systems. Nutrients like glutathione are essential for liver detoxification; production of bile with cholesterol, vitamin C, taurine, and glycine is also helpful. Eating sufficient fiber can help bind and excrete toxins.
  17. Promote healthy circadian rhythms:
    • Sleep in total darkness and don’t use an alarm.
    • Eat in daylight hours.
    • Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning and at mid-day. Allow ultraviolet to reach your retina; do not wear glasses or contact lenses.
    • Avoid blue light at night; install f.lux on your computer and consider adjusting the colors on your television.
    • Make an effort to talk, socialize, and view faces during the day. If your work involves staring at a computer all day, put a digital photo frame on your desk and install something on your computer that shows faces. Take regular breaks to chat with colleagues, or if that is not possible then look at videos like this one (hat tip to Kris in the comments – thanks Kris!):

  18. Engage in intermittent fasting. A good method is to restrict eating to an 8-hour window each day. This will promote immunity and longevity.
  19. Exercise with variable intensity: routine low-level activity, such as walking or working at a standing desk; regular playful and mobilizing activity, such as sports, yoga, or tai chi; and occasional intense exercise such as resistance exercise or sprinting.
  20. Be sociable, be happy, and don’t be stressed! “Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Thank you, CrossFit NYC, and thank you also to the following writers whose material appeared in the talk (with acknowledgement): J. Stanton, Russ Farris, Seth Roberts, and Pål Jåbekk.

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