Monday, April 24, 2017

Take Advantage of the Latest Research

Parabiosis: Implement Current Research in Science and Health 

Parabiosis "refers to the natural or surgical union of two organisms." It has been in the science news over the last few years because some researchers have discovered that if they sew an old, fat mouse to a young slim one, the old fat one derives certain benefits from the youth and slenderness of the other rodent. Researchers say this process does not seem to trouble the mice all that much once they get used to it. And in fact that their lives are more interesting than those of the usual bored lab rodent.

Naked Mole Rats are a topic of study because they seem to have certain remarkable talents when it comes to longevity and handling oxidative stress.  Headlines like, "Do Naked Mole Rats Hold the Key to Immortality?" were out there a couple of years ago.

If one is paying attention to medical research news and the alternative health and wellness conversation, one hears often of the very long time that it takes even very clear and established research to filter into standard clinical practice.

Sometimes one is tempted to implement something from rodent trials because it sounds good and it works so well for the mice, so it might work for humans also. 

Or not.

(Naked Mole Rats are a bit smaller... and maybe a bit better looking in real life.)

Try Fasting

Increase Your Energy by Fasting! 

....Or possibly not.

I started fasting almost a year ago as a way to get my disturbingly gross psoriasis under control. (I was willing to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts for the rest of my life, but needing oversize dark glasses and a scarf in order to avoid scaring people on the subway was a bit much)

Apparently, the fasting worked better than I could have hoped. After three 5 day fasts, I was 100% clear and not testing as auto immune. Perhaps it was something else, or a combination of many things, or purely psychosomatic...but the clearing of my skin always happened a couple of days after the fast, so there's that to consider.

While the psoriasis is still gone, I have some other mild health concerns...and the lingering question of why I became psoriatic in the first place. So I have continued fasting every once in a while to bring down inflammation and to annoy my family.

And while my first fast was pretty apocalyptic- my immediate family may have been convinced that I was going to die- it has a bit gotten easier every time.

That is not to say easy. While I hear and read about people who claim to have amazing mental focus and physical energy while fasting, that has definitely not been my experience. 
About 22 hours after my last meal, I always am suddenly cold and tired and so, so, so completely unmotivated. Like the frozen asylum patients in Dr. Oliver Sacks' "Awakenings," I can respond briskly to stimulus- "Got to take the kids to school? Ok!"- but otherwise, I am prone to total mental and physical torpor. And floppiness. And I'm cold. Very cold.

But strangely enough, today, almost 6 days in on my 6th fast, I am suddenly feeling better. Maybe even good.

I am still looking forward to eating some dinner tonight. 
Even though, now, ironically, I am completely not hungry.

Don't Stand Too Close to the Microwave

But I still always told my kids not to stand close to our microwave while it was running.

While I am not presently necessarily convinced that the microwave is just a toxic box for killing food and increasing cancer... after spending a good bit of time in the "alternative" health world on the way to dealing with my psoriasis, I suspect that the holes in what we officially understand might be bigger that I previously believed. 

So I'm trying not to put my food...or my the microwave these days.

But about that wifi....

Consume Turmeric

You can never consume too much turmeric.


I am considering starting a new series of drawings, based on a series of health promoting suggestions, like "try to add some turmeric to your diet." These suggestions can be very easy and reasonable...and/or can be pushed to the point of potential derangement....(deranged at least in the perspective of the innocent bystanders who don't share my health fixations)

But sometimes I think the situation is a bit deranged myself.

We can easily escalate to, "you can never eat too much turmeric," because if a little is good...well, we all know where that goes.

I eat a lot of turmeric. Some might say a bit too much. I like to think it gives me a healthy glow. My arthritic joints are much improved, and I don't seem to have psoriasis any more. 
But in strong sunlight, standing next to my alabaster pale, bagel-eating children, I look distinctly yellow. 
Yes, quite yellow.

Consume Collagen

Consume collagen in your golden milk for healthy growth:

I am a relatively recent import from the land of vegan eating and I continue to suffer from cognitive dissonance.

I'm still operating on a plant based situation, but given our various health issues and my swiftly advancing decrepitude, I tried adding in bone broth, collagen and fish. I had been taking my methylated B12 vitamins and my algal DHA and had taught myself to eat natto. But things still were quite working the way they should.

It did feel good philosophically to not eat any animal products. And now I am still trying to get my mind around the concept of happy, grass-fed cows who are contentedly sending me their glycine, lysine and proline to put in my menopausal skin and joints. (And in my kids' non menopausal skin and joints)

I have absorbed the messages that it is all much more morally complex than just condemning CAFO meat production. Bunnies die during the mechanical harvesting of vegetation and it seems that grazing ruminant provide essential materials to the larger biosphere when they are not incarcerated in hellish conditions. 
And, yes, every living organism dies eventually, and most likely in an unpleasant way, even if it doesn't become food.

Or even if it posts on Instagram about how it eats a Paleo diet replete with collagen.

Silly Pictures of Food with Text: April 2017

If you are interested in the blow by blow, day by day of this sort of thing, check out the_good_rash on Instagram. I am now sure that this sort of thing will should be posted here in the future, but here it is for now....

Gratuitously Bright Foods:
I am trying to move away from the exclusively brown and dark red palette, so this bowl features some colorful foods for the purpose of Instagram variety. Could they also provide nutritional variety? I bought the Kumquats purely because they were an attractive orange, but they were pretty tasty.
I've consumed very little citrus fruit  over the last year since they are so high in sugar, and why eat a orange when you can get your vitamin C from brussel sprouts or kale? (well, lots of reasons...)
But the kumquats are small as well as decorative.

The green stuff is sprouted pistachio butter and the yellow is bee pollen. The dried fruit is elderberry and pomegranate. The brown stuff is the usual brown stuff

Excremental Flax Slurry with lots of Red Stuff on top: 

(I heard a rumor that brightly hued food might be nutritious.) And then there's some brownish paste underneath that looks pretty much the same going in as it does going out.

The paste has the usual flax, chia, maca, collagen, cinnamon and mushroom powder and the really exciting part, @madrelabs Cococardio powder with beet and hibiscus.

The red stuff includes dried dragonfruit and pomegranate seeds.

Back when I was dealing with psoriasis, I took dried fruit completely out of my diet to reduce potential inflammation from histamine and excess sugar. 
And I took it out because I really liked dried fruit a lot. Maybe too much. It was pretty much my one remaining vice at the time. 
In the land of health driven dietary restriction, one can often operate on the theory that the food you really enjoy eating often is probably the root of all evil...or at least not helping.

A year later, I have been cautiously adding a little dried fruit back in... Elderberries, chokeberries, dragonfruit. Stuff that isn't too overwhelmingly delicious, but still pretty delicious.

How to not to make friends on a crowded subway train: 

(I have to point out that I have seen people do much worse things on the MTA than eat fermented food)

As my younger son attends a school that is far away in Manhattan, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on the NYc subway, and I often end up eating lunch on the train.

After more than 3 hours of transit time per day, there just are not enough hours left in my day to accomplish anything. 

....Let alone make something that might pass as a healthy lunch.

....Or eat it "mindfully."

(Or arrange it decoratively and post a picture of it. Ha!) 

I know eating in the train is rude, and I try to be really careful: staying as far away from other people as possible. Definitely not sitting next to anyone Not eating at all if I can't find a spot with a generous margin of empty space between my fellow passengers and my lunch.

And cracking opening the lid of my tupperware really slowly so that the smell of my fermented food laced lunch does not bother anyone too much.

But I have still managed to offend more than once. I changed cars after one woman tugged her scarf up over her nose and glared at me and my natto containing lunch. She had been sitting a good 10 feet away from me.

On another trip, a man kept furtively sniffing himself, looking really concerned until he finally figured out that the sour smell was emanating from my container. 
Now, I of course think these lunches are pretty good tasting...but I would be the first to admit that they do not smell like angel food cake or cotton candy.

This particular lunch pictured here at least didn't seem to offend anyone.

The fermented stuff was a bit of a probiotic "Gut Shot"  and some kraut... and bone broth, and powdered dulse, and salmon roe and turmeric root and a whole mess of unbranded submerged greens.

Delicious Wallpaper Paste With Toppings: 

After extended fasting, you might be able to enjoy things you previously found disgusting.

 (In the picture: gruel made with  slippery elm back powder, collagen, flax, chaga, and maca, topped with freeze dried pomegranate seeds, cranberries, milk thistle, brazil nuts, walnuts, cinnamon and coconut yogurt.)

My digestive system came out of my most recent fast a bit aggravated. I tried a little senna tea during the fast...and perhaps a little senna was actually too much senna. 
Now that I am back to eating again, I have been trying to be conservative. 

My first meal last night was a thoroughly visually unappetizing gruel of mostly warm water, slippery elm powder, and chia seeds. My kids and husband got a lot of mileage out of their wallpaper paste jokes. (I have to point out that if did look less like wallpaper paste after I added the chia.) 

We've tried to eat slippery elm in various consistencies before as one of my sons has some persistent digestive distress which might be blamed on what everyone now likes to call "leaky gut." Or not. I am not a medical professional, nor an alternative health practitioner, although I do like to play one at home when I am called upon to immediately fix every upset tummy, bruise or hangnail.

Initially, I had high hopes that slippery elm might help my son's situation. But there was no way he was going to drink the snot-like beverage. Even when it was prepared in a lovely paste with copious amounts of honey and cinnamon, he considered it too unpalatable to eat.

And I had trouble demonstrating its edibility myself. I found the texture slightly yucky, and the scent reminded me very much of freshly cut Masonite, a substance that I spent a lot of time slicing up back in my days as an aspiring painter. (Lots of cheap little surfaces for cheap little paintings) 

But after a six day fast, wallpaper paste is now amazingly delicious.

Food pile from last week:

Since I've been fasting since last week, this bowl from last Wednesday looks pretty appetizing. 
Despite not actually feeling physically hungry most of the time, I always find myself obsessed with food while fasting. I spend a good deal of time shopping for food for my kids, wandering around in the grocery store, looking at things that I can't eat. It's not masochistic, not really. 
At any rate, this meal that I fondly remember had a mixture of ground flax, maca, maqui powder, collagen, and cordyceps powder underneath and was topped by an unphotogenic assortment of pomegranate seeds, frozen cranberries, dried elderberries from @frontiercoop, sprouted pistachios, brazil nuts and walnuts from @bluemountainorganics, milk thistle seeds, cacao nibs, coconut yogurt and a little blackstrap molasses.

Seems like a lot of food right now, but I know that I will feel differently about it after I've had dinner...

Garbage disposal style salad/soup 
It looks a little suspicious, but it tasted pretty good.

With umboeshi paste and leek, kale andll nori powders from and citrus and ginger kraut.

And bone broth and turmeric root and salmon roe and a lot of green stuff like mustard greens, parsley, sea beans, scallions, and brussel sprouts.

All roughly chopped and presented in a fairly unaesthetic manner.

If you take a picture up close enough anything looks decorative, right?

Yesterday's lunch with bone broth  and salmon roe and fermented red cabbage
And a bunch of green stuff. And some dried stuff on top.

Today's flax slurry:

Smoothies seem to require too much effort for me. And perhaps they go down more quickly than they should without any chewing. Lately I've been working with the slurry concept. 
The liquid in this one is beet juice. I've arrived at the bizarre, and possible mentally unbalanced, point where I wonder whether a few ounces of beet juice contains too much sugar.

If you had told me a couple of years ago that beet juice was going to turn into a sweet indulgence, I would have told you that you were insane and went back to eating my snickers bar....maybe my clif bar...I probably would not have been eating a snickers in front of an audience.

In, or piled on top of this particular slurry, there's also maca, chaga, collagen, ceylon cinnamon, acai and amla, dried chokeberries, milk thistle seeds, brazil nuts and walnuts, cacao nibs, coconut yogurt and a few blackberries.

And a lot of chewing.

I enjoy horrifying my kids with my lunch when they are home on the weekend:

Bone broth with greens, Nyrture natto, fermented carrot and whitefish roe. There was also some pickled plum paste, broccoli sprouts, dulse flakes, spiralized turnip, chick greens, mustard greens, brussel sprouts, turmeric, leek powder. And lemon and apple cider vinegar for extra credit.

My kids had burritos. They were happy to dodge the fish eggs and fermented stuff.

Yes it is a picture of food. 
Not sure that this is path I want to go down, but I got into the sad habit of photographing my food when I was using a circadian rhythm app... While I gave up on the app...and perhaps on my circadian rhythm, or at least the virtuous project of not eating after 7 pm....I am still taking pictures of my food.

That was the important part, right?

To avoid a return to autoimmunity, I am still not eating lots of stuff, like the usual suspects: grains, legumes, nightshades, dairy, added sugar, animal products that have not been blessed by the gods of grass feeding or pasture raising.... The stuff I am eating is totally overwrought to compensate for the limitations elsewhere:

In this pile: whole and ground chia, gelatinized maca, maqui & acai powder, reishi, collagen, camu camu, ceylon cinnamon milk thistle seeds, sprouted brazil nuts, walnuts, apricot pits, and pistachios, blueberries, coconut yogurt. 
I might have forgotten a few items.

All mixed into an appetizing slurry with some warm water.

Drawings from Inktober 2016

I these drawings Inktober 2016. 
They were originally posted on, and the links will take you there.

These are the drawings that tipped me off that there might be more to this topic of dysfunctional health and wellness... for me anyway, if not for anyone else.

The sequence runs from October 31st at the top to October 1st at the bottom.
Select the images to see them enlarged, select the titles to see the original posts with discussion about the images

The concept, if I can call it that, initially was that I would use some pseudo medical terms to inspire a humorous drawing of a head with some extra elements. 

Quickly it became clear that I was drawing about some recent health issues I had over the summer, and all of the research that I had done on "Functional" or "Alternative" medicine while working on improving the situation.  I also came to the conclusion that I could only inflict these indignities on my own likeness, so they are all self portraits, kind of. And I was still hoping that they would be funny.

Keeping the stakes low, I used some paper I found in a drawer. I think it might have been 20 or more years old. Each sheet is around 15" x 11" The drawings are pencil, ink and watercolor. 

Spontaneous Remission and Adaptation
"Health Journey"
Catabalism with Debatable Adrenal Fatigue
Hyperpalatability With a Side of Gluten and Glucose Intolerance
Rebiosis with Related Immunologic Stimulants
Excessive Fermentation
Unsubstantiated Nightshade Sensitivity
Unresolved Opposing Dietary Philosophies and Macros
Challenged Oral Microbiome
Managed Negative Stress Response

Take Advantage of the Latest Research

Parabiosis: Implement Current Research in Science and Health  Parabiosis "refers to the natural or surgical union of two organ...