Sunday, February 15, 2015

Whale Falls

Every once in a while, a whale dies way out in the ocean and falls to the bottom where nothing supposedly lives...and something miraculous happens. A pile of garden scraps and fish heads has a similar effect, and what happens inside our intestines is no less amazing.

Where do whales go when they die?  Down!

'Whale fall ecologies' have been studied for at least 150 years. When a whale dies and falls to the lifeless bottom of the ocean, something amazing happens. Within a few days, animals that are not known to live at these depths begin to appear. First eels, worms, then lobsters, crabs, and even sharks. These are known as 'mobile scavengers,' and can spend up to two years eating a whale.

10,000 year old whale bone at 15,000 feet (cite)
When all of the big food has been eaten, a second phase of  "enrichment opportunists" appear. These are the worms and crustaceans that can live on the scattered debris left behind by the larger scavengers.

Years later, the whale fall ecology is inhabited by bacteria which further degrade the whales fat and bones in the near-freezing, lightless ocean depths. And later still, a "reef stage" commences. And when I say "years later" think in the scale of millions of years!  They are finding dinosaurs from the Jurassic as whale falls. Some even estimated at 20 million years old. 

The amazing thing about these whale fall ecosystems (nice pics in this link!) is that they happen in a place that is supposedly lifeless. If you went looking for the eels and hagfish that initially scavenge the corpse, or the mussels and bacteria that later colonize these whale carcasses, you wouldn't find them...there's nothing there for them to eat and the environment is just all wrong for life.  Yet, once a food source is introduced, opportunists appear.

Fish Heads and Chicken Poop

I keep a nice compost pile going in my backyard. It's been there, in the same spot for about 10 years now. I am still amazed every time I turn the contents with a pitchfork. Beetles, millipedes, spiders, worms, and larvae of unknown origin squiggle and squirm trying to get out of reach of the robins that keep a watchful eye. If I throw something new in the compost pile, like a bucket of fish heads, within minutes I'm seeing birds, fox, dogs, cats, and even a bear once, sniffling through and running off with scraps. After a couple hours, flies have completely covered the fish heads in eggs and within days they are a pile of writhing maggots. Weeks later, the fish heads are piles of bones filled with the insects of your nightmares. Whole ecosystems appear and disappear in a matter of days, but the microbial action seems to go one forever.  What signals do they get that tells them this new food source is here?  Smells, sounds, seeing other animals, and even tasting it in the air for the larger creatures. The microbes rely on signalling molecules and possibly just dumb luck to end up at the right spot.

Just 5 feet away from my compost pile, I could dig and search for days and find nothing more than a passing ant or maybe a grasshopper. But the compost pile, it's teeming with life. The things I can see with my eyes are amazing enough, I can only imagine what microscopic wonders exist.

Every spring, I take big scoops of the well-rotted plants, chicken manure, and animal remains and spread them throughout my garden where I intend to plant seeds. When the plants appear, it's very obvious which rows did not get a compost treatment, and they may require some extra fertilizer that comes from the garden supply store. Much of this magic is due to the bacterial or fungal component of the compost and others from the converted nutrients now available to the plants.

The Microbiome

One of the most common questions I see when reading gut microbe articles is, "where do I get X bacteria?" Most times the reader will be directed to an online catalog filled with wonderful probiotics to take, but is that really required?

I do think there is value to taking probiotics, but not for rebuilding gut flora, at least not directly. The bacteria that populate your gut will appear as if by magic, just like at the whale falls and in my compost pile. But first there has to be some food for them.

Babies have it made. They get fed copious amounts of fresh breast milk and the bacteria from Mom and everyone standing around just jumps straight into baby's gut. The food babies require is a favorite food of several species of gut bacteria and these keep the baby nice and healthy while still quite helpless.

As soon as a baby is weaned is when the trouble starts. Most modern baby food contains very little fiber and is most certainly void of bacteria thanks to the wonders of modern canning methods. In the old days, Mom would chew up some roots and give the baby its first foods complete with bacteria and fiber. It's amazing, really, how we've gotten completely away from eating close to the Earth. But still, our guts adapt.


I think if we just focus on eating healthy, fresh, fruit and veggies we will get just exactly the right mix of gut bacteria we need. Add to this an attitude of not excessively sterilizing everything we touch or eat, and playing in the dirt from time to time, and those microbes will appear just like on the whale falls and compost heaps.



  1. @Tim,
    One of my favourite books is called 'The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light' . It's about the power and prevalence in all human mythologies of the archetypal 'fall from grace' - usually we call it 'The Fall".
    There's something very peaceful and at the same time powerful about the idea of such a majestic animal perishing, to sink down to the murky depths, thus bringing teeming life to a hitherto lifeless place.
    There's nothing mythological about a big mammal dying and being taken apart by opportunists of course. But the term 'whale falls' is quite beautiful.

    1. I've been meaning to write something about whale falls for a long time. I saw parallels to the gut biome immediately. Then I stumbled across the 2015 paper linked and was blown away.

      Nothing really Earth-shattering, but drives home that nature has this all figured out while we are mere amateurs.

    2. "Nothing really Earth-shattering, but drives home that nature has this all figured out while we are mere amateurs."

      Indeed, and yet we continue to have the arrogance to think that we can do all these things better than nature (and the evolutionary process). And this has gotten us into so much trouble over the last 100 yrs or so. I'm starting to refer to it as the Human Arrogance of the 20th Century.

      It certainly didn't start then, and it's not over, but I think it hit it's peak then and am hopeful that we're just starting to recognize that we should be humble about doing anything that tampers with the natural processes. We've done so much damage in many areas, such as, nutrition, with the ultimate being the idea that we could formulate a better baby food than mother's milk; agriculture, etc.

      And there's a lot I don't know about vaccines and immunology, for sure, but I can't help thinking that we've made a major error there that is manifesting in the longer run after appearing to be good in the short run. The lack of humility and the absolute certainty of proponents in that discussion really sets my radar off.

      I could go on (and on). :-)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here.

  2. Replies
    1. It takes a special kinda person to see beauty in dead whales and rotten fish heads!

      You should see my chickens go crazy when I am working in the compost pile, they love all those juicy bugs.


    2. A farm-hand I knew once gave me a big bag of stinking, polled horns from calves that he'd saved for me for some days. You should have seen the reaction from the local wildlife when I emptied that on the compost!

  3. Did you see today's NYT magazine article about how microorganisms might affect the weather?

    1. @ Tim.
      Is it just whale falls. No fish or turtle falls. If those various scavengers can survive at those depths to dipose of the whales why do you think those mega deep ocean floors aren't littered with various sea creatures who fall just like the dead whales? And rich pickings for when there are no whales falling.
      Surely it can't just be whales.I do admit that I haven't read your link yet. Maybe it's explained there.

    2. Wilbur - I did not see that article, but already knew about the microbes found in rain. They are also found similarly in forest fire smoke and dust storms. There are some theories that certain microbes can actually survive in outerspace and may have been what initially colonized Earth, or that they can escape Earth and colonize other planets...Panspermia Fun to read about!

      Stu - I wondered that, too. From what I gather, whales are unique to this phenomenon due to their size. Smaller animals don't live out where it gets so deep, and if they are out there, when they die, they drift around and don't sink to the bottom. Apparently only whales and dinosaurs like icthyosaurus. How to Recycle an Ichthyosaur, Sep 2014

      I still get shudders a bit when I compare these whale falls to the Gut Microbe Keystone and Co-feeder Studies (awesome collection of essays at this link...hope some of you click and scroll through. What else is there to do now that football season is over?

    3. Ah, but rugby season has just begun!

    4. @Lauren,
      Did you know that the U.S does actually have a national rugby team. They're pretty good too.

    5. @ Stuart...Did you watch the game last year at Soldier Field - USA vs All Blacks. "Pretty good" isn't how I'd describe that US performance. Then again, that's often how the Wallabies look against the mighty men in black :)

  4. I love this metaphor! With my awfully screwed up guts, I do see the benefit in using SBOs to help replace what years of aggressive abx destroyed, but it's kind of like...just priming the pump. Once the environment *created* by a healthy eco system is up and running, it should take care of itself - attracting what it needs ("Human! Go eat that potato!") and starving anything unneeded that comes along.

    Whale falls - such a simple metaphor for such a complicated concept :)

    1. There are some good bacteria in PrescriptAssist that can help rebuild the gut. Several of the strains are known to break up biofilms and others produce some low-level antibiotics that can chase off the pathogens.

      It's probably a really good replacement for eating fruit found laying on the ground and dirty carrots. If I were taking them, I'd also add in Saccharomyces Boulardii, a fruit-based yeast that has a good reputation for chasing off nasties...have you tried?

    2. Tim, what can you tell me about that yeast in its natural state? Is it on fruit on the vine, so to speak, or does it prefer fallen fruit or?

      Gee, I wonder, is it in wine?? Red wine was definitely part of my miraculous candida cure.

  5. Of course I will break the moment with a question. If bacteria will appear if there is food for them - I thought that was "feeding empty cages."

    1. lol, and there is even something called "deep sea viperfish"

    2. The "Empty Cages" theory only sells probiotics, it doesn't refill the 'cages' with bacteria. While it is true that many people have poor gut biomes, due to antibiotics and sterile lives, the only way that the cages will ever fill themselves is to eat the foods that bacteria needs.

      I think probiotics have their place in all this, but more in their ability to boost the immune system by their mere presence in the digestive system. I've yet to see compelling evidence that any probiotic supplement forms lasting colonies in the gut.

      The emptiest cage is a baby's gut, and that gets filled even before the baby is born! Within hours of birth, the microbiome begins to shift and change based on bacteria from the midwife's hands, the other babies, the nursery, and everywhere. The microbes we need are all around us. Nature will get them where they need to be.

      Oh, here...just got today. (Thanks, Barney!) Please read!

      Mothers can pass traits to offspring through bacteria's DNA

      This should probably be a whole post of its own.

    3. Ah, interesting link! It reminds me of this (long but I think fascinating) article, just insert the words "and bacteria" every time he mentions plant material.

  6. Very interesting - I think I'm starting to get it - and it's encouraging. Looking forward to that post.

  7. Amazingly beautiful. Nature's poetry. Thanks Tim.

  8. Several of the strains in Prescript Assist can help break up biofilms? Had not heard that before. Good to know.

    1. I had not read that either - I certainly hope it may be so! One thing's for sure - since starting PA I have had a really bad sweet tooth, where up till that point potato starch + AOR Probiotic 3 had all but eliminated my sweet tooth.

      *Something* about PA kicked off the sugar cravings - if it was breaking up biofilms of the constant low-grade yeast situation and endangering their little yeasty lives, that would be an explanation that makes sense. (the intense irritability PA gave me made me suspect big yeast die-off as well)

    2. Hmmm. Biofilms are not all bad though. And they are everywhere inside us, I think. So how exactly does this work? Can you give us anymore info Tim?

    3. No, not all biofilms are bad. Some probably good! PA is a crazy is filled with tons of bacteria. I doubt even its makers know if or how it really works. We looked at the ingredients as while back and saw some really cool stuff in it and thought maybe they were part of the effectiveness people say they see when taking PA.

      I'd think for people who have 'tried everything' it's worth a shot, but I wouldn't recommend it as a daily supplement long term, especially of you see no benefits. But going through a bottle as directed to see if it helps for a specific problem shouldn't be so bad.

      In the end, I think the goal is to not rely on probiotics, but just use them to help 'get over the hump' when starting a gut-friendly approach to eating and living.

      These are PA ingredients:

      Arthrobacter agilis, Arthrobacter citreus, Arthrobacter globiformis, Arthrobacter luteus, Arthrobacter simplex, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, Azotobacter chroococcum, Azotobacter paspali, Azospirillum brasiliense, Azospirillum lipoferum, Bacillus brevis, Bacillus marcerans, Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus polymyxa, Bacillus subtilis, Bacteroides lipolyticum, Bacteriodes succinogenes, Brevibacterium lipolyticum, Brevibacterium stationis, Kurthia zopfii, Myrothecium verrucaria, Pseudomonas calcis, Pseudomonas dentrificans, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas glathei, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Streptomyces fradiae, Streptomyces cellulosae, Streptomyces griseoflavus. -

      Antibiofilm activity of Streptomyces

      The Streptomyces is from the actinomyces family, and where many of today's antibiotics were first discovered. But getting your antibiotics like this is nothing like taking antibiotic pills. These kind should work to only kill pathogens giving off signals that they are in a virulent mood (QSMs).

      But then, another of the bacteria present in PA, Pseudomonas fluorescens, is known to create biofilms: Biofilm formation by Pseudomonas fluorescens so who knows?

      It's possible it's just the huge party happening, or the immune response to all the newly ingested bacteria that helps people out.

      Really, about the only claim the FDA allows probiotic manufacturers to make is that they, "strengthen your immune system." Maybe that's enough!

  9. A question for those of you out there who take daily fiber smoothies! I've been adding inulin, acacia, psyllium husk and GOS to my morning smoothie. The morning smoothie usually consists of half a banan, an orange some lemon (including skin), spinach or kale and berries (usually blueberries or raspberries). This weekend we went travelling and I could only bring the GOS as all else are in rather large containers, hence I missed three days of the fiber cocktail. When I took it again yesterday morning, I noticed increased gas and bloating like the first days of taking the mixture. My questions is: when being off the cocktail for a few days, will the gut flora return to its previous state? Have you noticed similar tendencies when not taking the fiber for a few days?

    Granted, I've only been doing this for a small amount of time and am still ramping up, so perhaps this has an impact.


    1. Bo, your gut changes very quickly in response to what you eat (maybe assuming that it is healthy). So if you are eating healthy, and then start eating the usual travel foods, then it will adapt, in my experience, quite comfortably. When you return to eating healthy stuff, it will have adapt again. I suspect this requires more drama (gas).

      The hard part is eating good food on the road. At some chains, you can cobble together a decent meal (Panera Bread). At others it is hopeless. I try to find a grocery store and eat in the hotel room.

    2. Thanks Wilbur! By the way, have you (or anyone else for that matter) ever had pain and diarrhea from increasing your fiber intake? Woke up last night after some pain and have been really loose and gassy this morning (oh joy!). Increased my inulin and acacia yesterday morning quite a lot and felt fine all day, but wondered if it hit me during the night/morning instead.

    3. Bo, yes, I've experienced that. It should be unusual though. It could be that you increased too many fibers too fast, pushed a fiber beyond your tolerance, or combined it with food that conflicts.

  10. Hi Tim, What do you think about Paul Jaminet's take on fibre. In his book on page 163 (in my version) he says that having too much just means more endotoxins and then the body reduces biology populations to keep endotoxin levels down.

    1. I'd have to read what you are reading. If I remember, in the version I have, he simply says that the RDA of 25-38g/day is 'probably OK' but not to worry as the PHD provides all the fiber you need.

      In the version you have, am I in there? He put nearly a full-page "reader's input" box of me talking about RS and Potato Starch in the most recent version. I know for sure it's in the most recent e-version, not sure about print.

      I've had quite a few email exchanges with Paul discussing fiber and daily needs. If you follow PHD to the letter, you are probably getting just enough 'fiber' to keep your gut happy. Note, though, his daily use of leftover rice dishes and a full pound of starchy foods per day and a pound of fruit and veggies.

      The actual fiber content of his diet is probably understated when you examine the RS contained in it, as RS usually isn't included on published fiber labels or calculators.

      I think from Paul's earliest versions of PHD, he was still fighting with the view that fiber 'scours the colon' and we don't need insoluble fiber.

    2. @ Tim,
      Wasn't Paul Jaminet a little sympathetic to KonMon ?
      I wonder if every mammalian infant who's ever lived has suffered from 'endotoxicity' from consuming (weight adjusted) at least 200 g of fermentable fiber in breast milk every day of their pre-weaning life ?

    3. HI Tim, Its the 2013 Australia & New Zealand version I have.

      In the fibre chapter it includes:
      There Is a'Goldilocks' Amount of Fibre
      Biology indicates that our bodies function optimally with a 'Goldilocks' amount of fibre -- neither too much nor too little.
      Fibre is food for gut bacteria, and consumption of more fibre means the creation of more gut bacteria.
      There are some downsides to having more gut bacteria, however. In addition to generating beneficial short-chain fatty acids, they generate endotoxins -- lipopolysaccharides that excite an immune response.

      The Human Body Regulates Bacterial Populations and Endotoxin Levels
      Endotoxins are fat-soluble and are carried into the body with dietary fats. The immune system monitors endotoxin levels and tries to keep them - and the bacterial populations that produce them - at an appropriate level.
      When endotoxins are high, the immune system attacks gut bacteria with antimicrobial peptides to reduce their population.
      When endotoxin levels are low, the immune system relaxes to let gut bacteria proliferate.
      If the immune system is targeting a certain level of bacteria, too much fibre will not lead to more gut bacteria; it will lead to more bacterial 'births' as they feed on the fibre, but also more 'deaths' as the immune system works to keep bacterial populations down. This means that with high fibre intake, the gut will be exposed to more bacterial endotoxins and also to INFLAMMATION generated by immune activity.

    4. @Wilbur,
      Noticed any signs of inflammation ? You've been doing this much longer than me, so you should be riddled with it.
      Jeff Leach never mentions that the Hadza are plagued by inflammation. He must have missed it.
      And I just never hear Mother's commenting that their breast feeding infants who probably consume the most fermentable fiber relative to their body weight of all complaining of inflammation. I would have thought that evolution would ensure that breast milk was not inflammatory.
      But Paul Jaminet's dietary theories do have a lot of followers after all.

    5. ROFL :D The snark is strong with this one! (we do have a delightfully funny and smart bunch of sass-masters around here :D)

    6. @stuart

      I was thinking along the same lines, but then realized that maybe I am not taking enough fiber to see the inflammation. Maybe I'm not at the Goldilock's point yet. I'm trying though. I've got to be pushing 150-180 now. I had beans twice today. The dandelion roots are kicking my *ss. I wish I knew why. I feel great, except for the occasional huge fart!

      No, no inflammation here. There's something wrong with Jaminet's theory.

    7. Hey Wilbur and Stuart - Your dandelion hacks interest me greatly, will you keep us posted?

    8. Jjust reading my copy of PHD. Yes, Paul missed the mark in his 2012 edition.

      Funny, throughout the book, he relies on the composition of human milk to define an adult diet, but when it comes to fiber, he divided it by 3!

      "However it seems unlikely the oligosaccharide fraction of milk is an indicator of adult fiber needs. Most plant foods contain 8-10g of fiber per pound...they would have to eat 7 or 8 pounds of plant food per day. That's a lot!"

      Then he also uses a lot of KonMon's scare tactics:

      "When you eat high fiber foods, they bang up against the cells lining the GI tract, rupturing their outer covering..."

      Damn, are you pooping blood yet, Wilbur????

      And also, he implies that we don't need any fiber:

      "B. bifidum, are able to eat mucus. This raises the intriguing possibility we may not need fiber at all..."

      And his idea that too much fiber will cause endotoxemia, well, He lists cite "23," and you have to go to his website to see I went there.

      His whole 'endotoxin' argument has to do with taking antibiotics, not eating 'too much fiber.'

      [23] Brandl K et al. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci exploit antibiotic-induced innate immune deficits. Nature 2008 Oct 9;455(7214):804–7, Hat tip to Peter Dobromylskyj: Fats and absorbing endotoxin, February 23, 2009,

      Here's where it gets weird!

      That last note on cite 23, is a link to Peter the Keto Hyperlipid guy's blog:

      Fats and absorbing endotoxin

      Now, Peter hates fiber as he does ALL carbs, but the blog is about a study that says a HIGH FAT diet causes endotoxemia, to which he quips:

      "OK, so the prediction from this research is that eating a diet which generates chylomicrons will produce all sorts of nasty changes in your body. Hmmmmm, well maybe, but I've not noticed.'

      Well, in the end, to his redemption (even though he completely blew it), Paul says:

      "...a pound of safe starches and 1-2 pounds of fruits and veggies daily, probably provides the optimal fiber for gut health" (emphasis mine).

      I'd need to look at the updated version of the fiber chapter before I fully indict Paul.

    9. OK. Looking at the brand new 2014 e-version of PHD...Paul is getting better!

      Wish I could cut and paste but it comes across all garbled...

      He cleaned up the section a bit, now the last line is:

      "The Perfect Health Diet probably provides sufficient fiber for outstanding gut health. It's possible that gut health may be improved a bit further with a bit of resistant starch from raw potatoes or green plantains."


    10. @ wildcucumber
      Wilbur just commented that the root was rocket fuel (my word. I can't remember the exact words). I'm using both root and leaf. One tbs leaf as an infusion which all goes into the fiber smoothie. And about 1 tsp of root powder straight into the smoothie. Haven't noticed anything yet. But it's only been 3 days. And the dandelion only a very small player. I must admit that I don't often notice anything specific for new additions. Except perhaps for the Orafti HP, which I think is probably quite a remarkable improvement on normal inulin. In fact I think that in addition to PS long chain inulin (and of course copious amounts of non fermentable fibre would probably be enough to get all the microbiome benefits you'd ever need. PS is cheap, and Orafti HP isn't, so there would be financial balance in your life as well as microbiome balance.
      But trying the whole range is certainly interesting.

      Do you think I should decoct the dandelion root powder first?
      The herbal supply house I bought the burdock root, ashwagandha, and mucuna pruriens (remember me mentioning this to you?) stuffed up the courier documentation, so I won't get them till early next week. Sigh!

      Also, just curious, you commented earlier that wine had figured in your 'miraculous' Candida cure. How much wine/ day, and how long did it take? And what else contributed do you think? I'm endlessly curious about people's Candida tales. Yeast overgrowth is, I think, THE biggest factor in human health/neuropharmacology.. It's got a free pass from the ruined microbiomes thousands of years of underconsumption of fermentable fiber has produced, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a big factor even in ancestral health.
      Shut up Stuart, you're about to have another whinge about sugar.

    11. @ Tim
      "When you eat high fiber foods, they bang up against the cells lining the GI tract, rupturing their outer covering..."

      You know, way before I happened on you lot unravelling the mysteries of the microbiome, I used to read similar comments to KonMon's about fiber 'scratching' the lining of the digestive tract, and realize that the author was completely clueless about health and diet. It was like an immediate red flag for ignorance.
      For all its 'Smackdown' faults, at least Dr. Ballantyne's Fiber Treatise knocked that one squarely on the head.

    12. Let me preface my candida story by saying I never had an "official" diagnosis. I live in Canada, where up until recently most MD's denied its existence. This was 15 years ago, so I'd have been laughed out of the doc's office. But hey, when you've got it, you know it, right?

      The short version is that I was so thin but bloated, ill and hungry from the candida plus the restrictive diets (which weren't helping) that I was pretty certain my health was ruined. Around the same time I met an Italian/French Canadian man, and he encouraged me to adopt his diet. Suddenly I was eating exotic tasting olives, drinking a couple of glasses of red wine every evening, many different cheeses, plain yoghurt, gorgeous tomato sauces and more garlic than I'd ever eaten before. I hadn't eaten sweets for a long time but he convinced me to reintroduce good chocolate and to eat some honey. I gained weight, my appetite normalized and all the yuck and brain fog gradually faded away.

      So no, I can't show labs to prove it was candida, and I suppose it might not have been, although I don't know what else it could have been. And maybe it wasn't the essentially mediterranean diet that helped, maybe it was falling in love, or maybe we swapped enough microbes that his good overpowered my lousy or all of the above. It wasn't an overnight thing, it was several months, at least. I married him, of course.

      BTW, I used a lot of herbal products "as directed" in those days for candida which were about as hard on my system as an antibiotic would have been. Looking back I did a lot of stupid things with very strong herbs under the direction of (ahem) professional herbalists that likely added to my misery.

      Back to dandelion, you're obviously healthy anyway, and as those amounts are pretty moderate, no changes makes sense. Medicinally we use the root for the liver, leaf for the kidneys. The root can be laxative, maybe it's the water soluble parts that have that action? If you decoct it you might notice something - perhaps better not to then! ;-)

    13. @wildcucumber,
      Sounds like a clear case of the medicinal effects of falling in love to me (lol)
      Chocolate too. Even more endorphins!

      Talking about the possible laxative effects of dandelion root decoction,you might remember me mentioning adding white mulberry leaves to my smoothie, because I heard about its 'superfood' status (which amused you - 'so even the invasives are becoming superfoods now are they? ' you reacted) Well I started to notice that my stools were becoming looser and looser. At the time I thought it might have been some new fiber addition and just powered on. But after a couple of weeks, I just dropped the white mulberry leaves on a whim. And within 2 days, normal poop. No other changes,so that was it.
      I might try decocting the dandelion root first. And I might not.

    14. Thank you for clearing up the PHD stuff. I wonder why he decided to divide the baby's fibre requirement by 3?

    15. @Stuart

      Wild cucumber made it quite clear: red wine cured her. Yes, is comes from fruits and yes, it has some sugar in, what a horror. And you only cheery pick the falling in love and endorphin effect.

    16. @ Gemma & Stuart

      I'm not discounting the falling in love part entirely. Didn't Tim say somewhere that candida thrives where it seems we are dying? Having a new lease on life, so to speak, may have kicked my immune system in a new direction. Hopelessness and fear are not states of mind that are conducive to healing. Fear, especially, which is why I don't think restrictive diets are healthy or helpful.

    17. @wildcucumber. Great story. I'm very happy for you.

      There's a little back story to the dandelion root. Since I started all of this, dandelion, sunchoke, and yacon root have been my nemeses. I am determined to conquer them. They fight back with gas and such, but I am going to power through. It's nothing painful, just a bit raucous at times. It doesn't take a lot, maybe 2/3 of a tsp of dandelion root powder will set me off.

      I like your statement above about hopelessness, fear, and restrictive diets. I was once fearful and hopeless about traveling down the same road "caused" by genetics. Diet restrictions changed nothing, except for making me feel worse about myself. Now, I have no restrictions (except no preservatives, which is not hard) I feel great, and I am healed of nearly everything. Maybe everything I've done is a big placebo. I don't believe so, but that's what makes placebos work, right?!

      Being free from worrying about eating is a wonderful thing.

    18. @Stuart

      Yes on your comment about Orafti HP! There is something incredible about it. If I had to pick only two fibers, it would probably be PS and the HP. Even if the HP is expensive, it doesn't take a lot in my case, maybe 1.5 tsp per day? But the effect is huge in terms of well-being. It is the only fiber that, if I forget it, I will go back and make another drink just to get it. But I've only forgotten a couple of times at the beginning.

      I wish I could say what makes it better - actually, I think it is its effect on the distal colon. Those bugs might be signaling their pleasure.

    19. @ Wilbur

      Have you ever tried eating your nemesis right out of the ground? I've never had trouble with sunchokes, but that may be because the first time I ate them was raw & dirty while trying to weed out a patch (I changed my mind about that and now let them go nuts). In so doing maybe I got some of the bacteria necessary for their easy digestion? I'd suggest you try nibbling raw dandelion root, tiny amounts, not too clean. Or if that's not possible, get hold of some wildcrafted dandy root tincture and take 3 or 4 drops in water a few times a day. It's just a hunch, but I think it might help. That they are fighting back might be your body trying to tell you something's missing.

      A wholehearted amen on being able to eat without worry. I confess to you all - I eat sugar and flour. I love to bake and my specialty this winter is breads and pastries (gasp!). But I eat so much dirt in summer and wild foods all year maybe it balances out my few "guilty pleasures". I also eat according to season, appetite and craving, so there are entire seasons that are pastry-free.

    20. @wildcucumber - Thank you for posting your candida story :) What a wonderful way to have surmounted the malignant-form of the little yeasties! Beat the hell out of my multiple angry approaches, let me tell you :D Yay for wine and cheese - and love! I agree, love is an incredibly healing force - life affirming at the most fundamental level.

    21. @wildcucumber - aaa ha ha ha ha! Just saw your comment on baking :D I too love to bake, though I've had to do it mostly GF for the past 17 years :P Thank god I came to paleo eating when I was nursing and was saved from the scourge of LC/VLC (since dropping carbs while nursing would be crazy!). So rather than cherry picking 'paleo - my way!' from online trends, I went to as much of a whole foods diet as I could - taking into account the last 15k years of animal husbandry (I would love to have had a source for wild-caught meats and rendered fats, man! that would have been AWESOME while nursing!). Clearly, for my body, grains were indeed poison - going GF and corn free drastically affected my health and the health of my sons. Apparently our European genes never got with the 'agrarian revolution digestion' :P

      Trial and error showed me brown rice flour was out, white rice was in (interesting, in light of the current 'safe starches' concept), all tuber flours were in, non-grass grain flours were in. So, since I loved to bake and was at pains to put BODYFAT on these string-bean boys, I baked non-stop - GF/corn free/soy free/casein free/nut free/gum free (and eventually egg free, augh! GF egg free baking gum-free baking? tough, man). Rice/non-grass grains + tuber-starch based baked goods slathered in butter were a staple in our house. So were root veggies of every kind.

      The idea that paleo=no carbs is a narrative that ignores the food gathering contributions of women and children - and our study of currently-living stone-aged peoples even 20 years ago clearly showed that the foraging of the women supplied the majority of calories consumed on average. Since I was following stone-aged baby-care practices, I had access to this data and acted on it. Baking is a bit of an extrapolation, but it's something our ancestors have done since they had fire and rocks to stick their grains on :)

      If your 'agrarian revolution' genes let you eat grass grains without getting ill, and you thrive on the diet - don't let the paleo 'rulez' bug you! Your genes adapted and you thrive post-agrarian food rules! Eating whole foods is really where the buck stops for any argument of "eating for health." Beyond that, it's "eating for my particular genetic (and gut bug) adaptation," - and ignoring all the people out there who tell you you are Doing It Wrong...while your health is thriving :)

    22. @ Terra

      "String-bean boys" - I had those too! Interestingly, one of them went through a chubby stage, then puberty hit and up he went. Ever hear of poutine? It's Canada's national dish - french fries, smothered in cheese curds, smothered in gravy :-). Even that didn't fatten them up, time did. Now in their 20's and 30's they're both (if I may say so?), perfect.

      Nothing like mothering to teach us about food, eh? Especially the cravings of nursing, learning to listen to those is eye opening. And then, as you and I seem to both have done, learning to feed our kids on what they want/need. My kids were very free range compared to the scheduled childhoods I see today, and I think that meant their appetites were more natural. We did a lot of quasi-vegetarian meals in those days, but after a while one or the other son would look me in the eye and say I NEED MEAT. I remember giving them steak & egg for breakfast. I thank my lucky stars neither of them had allergies or intolerances, we were dirt poor and had to eat cheap, nor was gluten free a thing then anyway.

      I find today's food trends interesting but I've never been one for following anything other than my appetite (well, since I learned my lesson trying to beat candida the hard way). My idea of ancestral eating is to eat what my grandparents ate, hence the baking :-) The wild foods (greens, more than meat) came about because of living up north and having a Native woman as my nanny. She taught me quite a bit on the sly when my parents weren't looking. But just recently someone gifted us with a whack of moose meat. Man, that is some clean meat!

      I don't like the Western approach to things like candida, or indeed anything that our bodies get up to that we consider "bad". I'm convinced our bodies know far more than our best science can figure out. The angry battle mentality sets us up to be in conflict with our own bodies, how can that be good? We're on the same team after all. That's an oversimplification, I know, but this is getting too long as it is...we're going to break the comments section again!

    23. @wildcucumber - aw yay! :D Lets see - in the interest of not breaking the comments (poor Tim - we're going to force him to start up a forum :P):
      1)YES on unstructured childhoods! We've been unschooling/alternative schooling with mostly free time. As a result, they know what the need - in eating, in sleeping, in's a 'whole foods' approach to childhood, really, and I very much treat it as an extension of 'health habits.' "Eat good food, live a crappy stressed out, anger-filled life"...? Crazy disconnect!
      2)How excellent that you had your sneaky nanny :D What great info to be gifted with!
      3)10000% agreed on angry approaches to health. I was completely sincere in my word choice about candida - I was at war with my body. And I'm absolutely sure that that delayed any healing by years and years. Coming from an SAD diet childhood in a house hold with full blown eating disorders modeled by the adults, it took me a long time to stop viewing my body, my health and especially *food* as a battle to be won. Even when I changed my habits, my attitude remained that of an angry victim, yk? It wasn't until I got pregnant and could see the evidence of my body functioning beautifully as it should, that I started to make the paradigm shift. It's still ongoing - detente has been my holding pattern WRT food, and I'm shocked to see how much of that has been governed by the gut bugs. Flora restoration and feeding has changed everything about eating for me - on an emotional level, an instinctive level, a behavioural level and a nutrition level.

      The instincts of pregnancy, nursing and following the signals of babies and children to young too have learned food/sleep/habits programming - these things shouldn't be an aside to discussions of health & diet. They are one of the few times modern industrialized people have access to deeper instincts (if we cultivate stillness, if we listen) and they can be extremely informative. I know a lot of families whose dietary health was forever changed by the instincts that appeared like a Loony Toons mallet and hit the pregnant/nursing mom on the head. Children teach us that control is an illusion and that internal rhythms are ignored at our peril. Good little sages, all of them! (I'm eckaterin at gmail dot com if you want to talk further afield!)

    24. @wild cucumber

      "The angry battle mentality sets us up to be in conflict with our own bodies, how can that be good? We're on the same team after all."

      Very nicely expressed, I couldn't say it better.

    25. @ Terra

      Looney Toons mallet - you have a great way with words. I'll be in touch :-)

      @ Gemma

      Thank you so much.

    26. @ Terra

      Looney Toons mallet - you have a great way with words. I'll be in touch :-)

      @ Gemma

      Thank you so much.

    27. @wildcucumber

      Thanks for the suggestions. Over the summer, I grew dandelions and ate them out of the ground just rinsed. My problem was that I was not consistent about it. While I wish I could consistently eat ones straight from the ground, finding the powder has been great because I can add it twice daily to my fiber regimen.

      I've finally turned the corner on the gas. The last couple of days have been pretty calm.

    28. Wilbur - I find your take and experiences interesting. Thanks for keeping me updated. You'd likely have to grow a lot of dandies to have enough to store for the off season. Are you one of the Australians? I can't keep everyone straight.

    29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. "I firmly believe that if the whole material medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes."

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1860

    From Oliver Wendell Holmes MD 1809–94 and the logic of medicine

    1. There are quite a few things I can think of that would be much better at the bottom of the sea!

  12. Katherine Pollard (that one who showed that genes and not species in the gut matter) mentioned in this interesting piece by Ed Yong:

    Fast-Evolving Human DNA Leads to Bigger-Brained Mice

    There must be something about those genes, lol

    1. So, in this class I'm taking, I'm reading all about recombinant DNA and all that. They have ways of copying DNA, slicing out little pieces, amplifying it, and splicing it back in...but what no one can explain is how gene expression works. I thought I was just not 'getting' it, and whenever I ask about it, really smart people just give a text book answer that really makes no sense.

      I read this yesterday, will make fun classroom discussion when someone tells me they understand gene expression!

      "DNA strands in every cell are tightly wound and folded into chromosomes. Yet chromosomal structures, and how they influence gene expression, are not well understood. In this study, Ren and team mapped chromosomal structures in stem cells and several different differentiated cell types derived from stem cells. First, they induced differentiation in the stem cells. Then they used molecular tools to examine how the structure of the cells' chromosomes changed and how that change is associated with gene activity."


      "While genomics is the study of all of the genes in a cell or organism, epigenomics is the study of all the genomic add-ons and changes that influence gene expression but aren't encoded in the DNA sequence."

      So, people might have a good grasp of ACT and G, but how these genes express themselves is still a mystery.

    2. "how these genes express themselves is still a mystery."

      I am glad you stopped there and did not start talking on hairpin RNAs, or stem-loops, and that Central Dogma was never meant to be a dogma, lol

      The dear reader would fall asleep...

    3. It's a balancing act, eh? Some people get so focused on the science, they miss the world around them. The further you go into that black box of DNA, the harder it is to get out.

      Still, I love that there are things that are as yet unexplained by science.

  13. How do you handle living in Alaska? We're freezing here in New York in 16 degrees!

    1. I love it here, but January makes me want to move to a tropical island and never miss a timely sunrise ever again. Last night the Northern Lights were out in a dazzling display, my wood stove crackled merrily, and I snacked on caribou jerky as I tended the herbs in my Aerogarden (basil, cilantro! not those 'other herbs' lol).

      But summers here are the best. The day is 3 months long, fish jump into your boat, and Winter is a long-lost memory.

      Seems I'm not alone in my happiness:

      Alaska is Happiest State

    2. I have neighbors from Alaska and they are the loveliest, happiest people. She's perplexed by how cranky and miserable New Yorkers generally are. Now, it's snowing lightly today and people are freaking out. We're a bunch of whiners, for sure!

  14. @wild cucumber

    A very impressive list of herbalist you follow (from your previous comment).

    I was wondering: do some procedures (alcohol tinctures, decocting etc.) mimic the action of a plant pathogen, and therefore force the plant tissue to express / release their defensive compounds? Alcohol, for instance, is used by fungal pathogens when attacking plants, and the plants "know it" and react, and the fungi "know" that the plants "know"... :-)

    But in general, plants seem to be winning, as:"Despite the large variety of bacterial and fungal pathogens present in nature, disease is rare and resistance is prevalent as an outcome of plant–pathogen interaction." Source

    1. Very interesting thoughts Gemma! No wonder tinctures & vinegars are best made with fresh plant material, the plant is still alive and reacts "defensively"..? Hmmm. So would it follow that stomach acid is doing the same thing when we take a tea/decoction?

      The quote makes me think of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Plants in my garden do better when slightly challenged than coddled, which is why I don't weed or water my medicinals or try to protect them from pathogens. Letting them grow in mixed colonies provides stronger plants & therefore better medicine too.

    2. @ Gemma,

      "But in general, plants seem to be winning, as:"Despite the large variety of bacterial and fungal pathogens present in nature, disease is rare and resistance is prevalent as an outcome of plant–pathogen interaction."

      Isn't natural selection amazing? Organisms whose inherited traits don;t equip them well for the current best that the pathogens/predators can throw at them don't get to make as big a contribution to the gene pool, because they are slightly more likely to die/die younger than other individuals of that species.
      Such a simple powerful algorithm.
      Unfortunately, humans have become so good at displacing other species that we have become an incredibly destructive force on this fragile little world - just by being good decent people who fall in love and have a family. All individually engrossed in the indescribably powerful energies of loving and breeding, and loving our kids, as nature has programmed us to do. I have absolutely no idea how the problem of 'finite world/ not nearly enough room left for the non human inhabitants' will be solved mind you.
      But it does seem kind of sad that the genetic programming that leads us to have children takes us inevitably to a world those kids would surely rather not inherit. Quite possibly, the bravest thing a female human can do is just to decide not to have children. It's a VERY big call, of course, and I certainly don't begrudge any woman the evolutionary call of her ovaries. But if we truly love our kids, maybe it would be better not to have them at all

      I wonder though if dysbiotic guts just make kids crave the foods the bugs want rather than the ones their bodies need. As always, going with your gut only works if you have the gut bugs you deserve. Not just with food choices either.

    3. @Stuart

      Nature and evolution is amazing, really. If they were winning, there would be nothing to eat for them very soon. Clever fungi.

      There is too much sunshine and the feeling of coming spring around me just now, I am simply not able to address the other part of your comment. Maybe later.

      Wasn't it strange, so much interest to win a one-way ticket to Mars?

    4. @Gemma,
      Yes, that 'can't wait to get off this rock' mentality is a bit strange. Quite apart from the fact that technically, it won't even be remotely feasible for at least 50 years - and that;s even assuming Moores Law etc about projected increases in the RATE of technological change, the human species evolved for earth gravity. And I find it immensely interesting that some people would rather spend the prodigious sums of money it would cost on this rather than cleaning up our impact on this planet - the most pressing (and the most intractable, given how wonderful it is to have kids) being that we humans just take up too much ROOM.
      I've always liked the idea of just shrinking the human race. Think of how many bugs live in just one human gut. It would solve the overcrowding/habitat loss problem in an instant (note that I didn't say overpopulation - but every human being takes up a certain amount of room on a finite planet. And pretty soon, a lot more of them will be able to afford electric cars.
      I jest of course about being shrunk. At the present rate of species extinction,anthropogenic climate change (whether or not you believe it's real) is going to be the least of our problems.

    5. @Stewart
      Agreed on all the population issues and the world it's leaving the next generation. Women (and men! though the stigma is less for them, the personal decision is just as considered and important) choosing not to have bio children or not to raise children at all get so much crap for it. Incredibly brave. It's so shortsighted - a non-parenting member of the tribe has tremendous energy free to give, to create, to problem solve!

      Ugh yes - healthy gut bugs, the basis of so many more good and bad decisions than we ever could have guessed! :D There are behaviours (food, social choices, the whole sheebang) that are obviously "something is amiss and/or this is a developmental stage that modern society can't deal with but that people living on the earth would be fine with" - and we adjust accordingly. Kids who choose bland 'safe' foods longer than average - trust their guts and augment their guts, yk? That's an easy accommodation! Kids who are incapable of craving anything *other* than allergens (a really really common set-up - I counseled parents for many years and it was crazy how often this came up), clearly something not functioning. The trick is diagnosing which, of course :P Learning about primal parenting blew the doors off my understanding of which behaviours/food preferences/developmental needs were innate and which were societal.

      It kills me to be getting this information now - with one kid at adulthood (autistic, bipolar, allergies) and one kid on the verge (GAD, multitude of food allergies, learning delays). How messed up were their gut bugs? VERY - without a doubt. How would their brain wiring have developed in the presence of *corrected* gut bugs? I have a certainty that it would have been very different. Unsurprisingly, correcting their gut bugs at this late date is having impressive effects - but the groundwork of their bodies is laid. Only time will show how malleable they still are.

      RE get off this rock - I loves me some scifi :D But I'd never leave the planet I love the dirt and the air and the water too much! How the heck are we going to bring our population down enough to salvage all that dirt, air & water? I don't know :( My own infertility was established for years - I never thought I'd have kids...and yet reveled in all the instincts that came along, just like most humans are wired to. How do we combat that??

    6. I am having second thoughts about supplementation also. Art has said the gut makes what we need, so I'm starting to think most of what I'm taking is a waste or could even be harmful. I'm going to continue Vitamin C, and Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil, and maybe the K2, but phase out the rest. And beans - why not? The truth is, I never liked meat, and should I really force feed myself a burger? I like fish, but can you eat salmon and tuna every day?

    7. And of course my PS every day!!!

    8. @ Terra,
      I have absolutely no idea. But for the sake of our children (even the ones we somehow decide not to have!) we must And we have to start somewhere, particularly because we are so programmed to procreate. Perhaps just recognizing that it's an important conversation to have (and this blog is not the appropriate forum obviously) is the first step. But time is running out for this planet. And importantly, as top dog in the food chain, we don't just have a binding responsibility to our own species. There's a lot of other life forms which are relying on us not to just follow our genetic programming to exchange segments of 'DNA with some other human - not meaning to detract from what is, afterall, a breathtakingly wonderful undertaking of course.
      You know, I actually realized that because having a family is so wonderful, I think humans probably won't be up to overcoming those urges.
      Which is so incredibly sad for the future of this planet isn't it?
      All those as yet unborn generations of life forms, including human, who have basically been denied a future by the love a mother of a species with an opposable thumb and a very big brain (that can and does modify its environment with increasing skill) feels for her children.

      @the non supplementers,
      I agree with Art Ayers. Once you are feeding your gut enough fermentable fiber, let it be the vitamin factory. I just use the money I save for more fermentable fiber.
      Btw, what's 'butter oil'? We don't have it in Australia. But I do eat a lot of butter.

  15. It should be noted that Paull is doing gut testing as part of the Perfect Health Retreat

    1. And should also say that he suggested daily RPS , albeit only 1teaspoon, to a friend who went to the Retreat in Autumn of 2014....

    2. I have to give Paul lots of credit for standing up for 'safe starches' when he did. It turned my life around! It still makes me shake my head when I hear people lumping potatoes, rice, and fruit in with white bread, sugar, and potato chips.

    3. But I do think he was wrong to demonize beans! His only reference to the harm caused by 'beans' is a study on rats eating raw kidney beans.

      And, I think he uses too many supplements.

      But, his holistic approach is better than endless carb restriction that the typical paleo diet relies on.

      And, he's a nice guy in real life. I talked with him 4 or 5 times on the phone, once the day after the Boston bombing as his neighborhood was being searched for the suspects. He does a really good job staying away from drama, knee jerk reactions, and mudslinging. Qualities I can respect.

    4. I agree about the beans. But I have seen him say , when questioned, they they are okay if soaked. And that lentils are probably the best choice. So maybe the next edition will have some changes with regard to legumes.

    5. re: ... too many supplements.

      There are two distinct issues there.

      One is the obvious: why aren't these micronutrients coming in as food

      Less obvious is: what else are you getting with supps that you really don't want

      I've been reviewing ours, and the inert/inactive fillers are often no such thing. There's soybean oil in the gelcaps. There are various calcium compounds in the tabs. There is rice flour in the caps. We were already on the lookout for GMOs, sugars and gluten-bearing grains. It's not clear that "gluten-free" necessarily means wheat free (wheat dextrin, for example, is typically billed as GF).

      Anyone taking a LOT of supps may be materially increasing their carb intake, n6 intake, phytoestrogen exposure, As & WGA exposure (rice) and Ca load (a cardiac risk).

    6. As I don't take any supplements, I'm curious about something...There are some kind doctors who suggest their new patients take "medication holidays". Then they retest and decide which medications really are essential.

      Do those of you who take supplements ever take breaks and reassess?
      If you take supplements based on what you believe you are missing from your diets, how do you decide what to take? How do you assess what the benefits are, is it through some sort of testing or by how you feel?

      I'm guessing there will be lots of different answers here, and I'd love to hear them. In fact it's probably important that I hear them.

      What I do partly involves helping people to transition away from "herbal" capsules to using real plant medicines. There's a leap these people want to take (which is why they come to me) but they're often very afraid to. Hearing from others about why and how they choose their supplements might help me to understand what is holding people back from changes they say they want to make.

      Anyone have any thoughts for me? If you'd rather respond privately, I can be reached by email:
      rosesjustroses AT

    7. @wildcucumber
      I am certainly someone who has been on multiple supplements. I have RA and my supplements were suggested to me by my naturopath. Before seeing her I was taking Vitamin D and fish oil tablets. She also had me taking Opticleanse for leaky gut. I was taking a probiotic because I was doing the antibiotic protocol for my RA. For me it was difficult to assess what was working and what wasn't. I was feeling pretty well so I just continued.

      Fast forward, a year ago, I stopped the protocol started fermenting more, tried PS (never had the vivid dreams etc) started PA and AOR ( nothing earth shattering to report). I decided to use the probiotics when I am out of town. I continue with vitamin D and fish oil and vitamin C. I make my own kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass and bone broth. I am not sure if this has helped.

    8. @wildcucumber
      Another 'takes regular supps' person :) I do start and stop them at irregular intervals to avoid building up a tolerance and killing their effectiveness.

      as of today:

      Multivit/mineral is currently covered by a whole-foods 'meal shake'
      Vitamin D & K (Blue Ice fermented cod + butter oil)
      Omega 3s
      AOR Probiotic 3
      Florastor (saccharomyces boulardii)
      claritin (I use this on and off as the inflammation issues wax and wane)
      and the starches cocktail, which is its own thing :)

      Some I take because, owing to allergies and aversions, my diet has been really poor in nutrient variety (the whole-foods 'meal shake' has an ingredients list that would make any paleo aficionado blush :P Really helps stabilize energy and clarity). Some I take for mental health (high dose O3s act as both a mood stabilizer and an anti-depressant - and help compensate for O6/9 imbalances difficult to weed out). Some I take for environmental health (vit D for a northern latitude climate with a lot of cloud cover). The D/K supplement and O3s both help my immune system a bunch (it's pretty crap - constant inflammation, catch every cold, every cold lasts 3x as long as it should etc.) The probiotics need no explanation :P They're reeeeally giving me results in combination with PS + lots RS.

      Over time I've been on a LOT of herbal medications - primarily TCM (I was in acupuncture school, so that was my main approach to herbals). They did what they could for me, and then I phased them out. They are drugs in their effectiveness, and I respect them as such. I've tried most of the recommended western herbs or supplements associated with adrenal support, depression relief, increased energy, reduced brain fog & improved hormones/balance...and found none of them hit whatever it is that's malfunctioning in my body to cause the issues I have. I won't burden my body with stuff that isn't helping, so I stop taking them.

      With allergies to gluten, casein, corn, soy, eggs & nuts, the supplements I take are carefully researched to be pure, allergen free, and from whole foods sources as often as they can be.

      Hope this is helpful :) Ask questions if curious!

    9. This is great guys, couple questions - Navillus, you say 'not sure if this has helped' about all the fermenting & kefiring, kimchi-ing, kvassing and brothing you've been doing (wow, by the way) but would you classify it all as a pain in the neck or do you enjoy it?
      And to be clear, you stopped antibiotics and supps from the naturopath too?

    10. Terra - holy moly that's a lot to keep track of, plus you're looking after the kids too! What a busy brain you must have :-) Did you do a lot of testing or did you figure the allergies out with the old school elimination and reintroduction method? How long would you say you try out a new supp before you can say it doesn't work for you?

    11. @wildcucumber
      I still have some aches in my wrists and minor aches in my feet which tells me my RA is still lurking. So all my diligence with ferments has most likely kept my RA at bay somewhat. I don't find it to be a pain (pun intended) as I love to cook and experiment.

      And I have been off the antibiotic protocol for a little over a year at the same time I stopped seeing my naturopath. My rheumatologist told me(June 2014) I didn't need to continue with him unless I was experiencing real pain.

      Let me know if you have other questions.

    12. Wildcucumber - I never really got into supplements, but did spend some time chasing those supposed 'missing nutrients.' I used Vit E, iron, and calcium along with others periodically, but settled into just using Vit D and Vit K in the Winter months. In Summer, I get D and K naturally.

    13. @ navillus, thanks

      Actually, a couple more q's - how much different is your pain level compared to the first day you walked into the rheumatologist's office? Was the antibiotic protocol for a set time limit? What made you decide to see a naturopath as well? Which came first?

    14. @ Tim - so did you decide you weren't missing the nutrients after all or was it change in diet that made you decide you didn't need them anymore?

      This is so much fun, picking ya'lls brains!

    15. I don't know...

      I'd hear something that said we need X vitamin, buy it, start taking it, then read something that said it can be harmful.

      Just impossible to wade through the marketing BS associated with vitamins. K and D are the only two that really made sense to me. D, for obvious reasons, living so far north. K also has a lot of support that we need a bit more than what we find in food.

      I only do them 6 months out of the year.

    16. Tim, I find the world of supplements and vitamins absolutely mind boggling. But what matters to me is how & why people choose them, that will help me understand prevailing beliefs about health and that in turn helps me understand how to teach the folks who come to me. Beliefs are powerful things!

    17. Wildcucumber,
      My pain level when I went to the rheumatologist was a 10 and now I'd say a 3.
      The antibiotic protocol is used indefinitely. I was on it for about a year and a half. I started to read more and decided I needed to go off the antibiotics. I had been previously on a couple of standard meds for RA and the more I read the more I needed to get off them. I tried for 6 months with just diet,not to the extent I am doing now, but I was still experiencing pain. That's when I started seeing the naturopath and shortly after started antibiotic protocol. I read up on the protocol and my naturopath never endorsed nor discouraged my decision.

      I started on vitamin D because I had read autoimmune diseases causes low vitamin D. I would periodically have my levels checked. My levels were on the lower side but not off the charts low. Supplementing vitamin D did help with higher levels.

    18. Navillus - It's sounds to me like you consider yourself your own primary health care provider and go to the experts strictly on an as-needed basis. Interesting, thanks for playing along :-)

    19. @wildcucumber,
      You wrote:
      "...Do those of you who take supplements ever take breaks and reassess?
      If you take supplements based on what you believe you are missing from your diets, how do you decide what to take? How do you assess what the benefits are, is it through some sort of testing or by how you feel..."

      I'm a supplement taker. It started when I was about 40 and I was feeling very run down with a 7 and 5 yo. That's when I started to read about thyroid, sex hormones, diet, and various supplements. I was battling low mood, irritability, and later heavy irregular periods. Then, arthritis. Some supplements were recommended to me by practitioners, others were hail marys.

      I still take some supplements in the spirit of "I'm probably not getting these from food". Zn, Cu, Mg, Li, Se, I, D3 (in winter). Low dose progesterone.

      And speaking of food. My appetite is not robust. Although I am not lean, I'm not very interested in eating. REALLY not interested in cooking. This might be worse since adding in 2 T. fermentable fiber per day, as I have this "full" feeling.

      I'm going through another bad spell of low mood, despite using a light box daily. And speaking of supplements, I've thought about ordering some SAM-e and seeing if that will give me a boost.

      I'm more than a little envious at the positive reports I'm reading here.


    20. @Michelle

      The more I am thinking about the potato diet/hack, the more I like it (yes, I have tried it). It think it triggers "resets" on many levels.
      Have you tried?

    21. Hi Michelle - couple of questions

      What does "I" stand for in your list of supps? Are these in a combo form?

      Any lab testing in there? has anyone offered you an explanation of what's going on to cause your issues?

      Really appreciate this, thanks

      Do your practitioners know which "hail marys" you're taking? (great expression by the way!)

      Did any of your issues show up while you were taking supps or did you start the supps after they showed up?

    22. @Gemma

      No, I have not tried the potato diet. Maybe tomorrow?


      "I" stands for iodine. The Zinc and Copper are in combo, Jarrow brand. Everything else is stand-alone.

      I have had some testing done over the last ten years. CBC, CMP, Iron, Ferritin, some infection testing (arthritis), adrenal (saliva), sex hormone (saliva), & thyroid.

      I started to investigate in 2005, did a short stint of chelation after getting my amalgams removed, went gluten free in 2007, started reading a lot of diet and health blogs/groups, got my first arthritis flare in 2008. I'm 51 now.

      I was on low dose pulsing Doxycycline since 2008 up until December of 2014 for my arthritis.

      I'm not currently working with any practitioners, although I have an MD who will renew my Doxy, if I decide to resume.

      There have just been way, way, way too many variables in the last ten years to be able to say anything intelligent about supplement use and before/after.

      One practitioner I was using before recommended quite a lot of supplements. I don't take most of those now.

      Probably the most helpful thing he did relay to me what that usually by the time seeks out his help, there are multiple things wrong. He suggested to hunt down all the weak areas you can find and just start to fix them. Eventually, it should tip and fall into place. He also emphasized testing, testing, testing to be sure what you're doing is working.

      It's just all so expensive. Who can keep it up, seeing an alternative practitioner, paying out of pocket, getting all that testing done?

      I'll confess it's just so tempting to try a new supplement when you read on blogs or list groups about it being life-changing. I would love that, you know?

      The other confounder is I'm ten years older than when I started. We've had some stressful years in there, financially, much better now, whew. I've got teenagers. I'm gliding into menopause. Who can say what's what?

      I don't feel GREAT on 1 T. PS, 1 T. inulin/FOS, and 1 t. Psyllium Husk. I'm just not seeing an improvement in sleep or energy and my mood can get very low.

      I'd say that is the worst. The low mood. It just sucks the joy out of life and it negatively affects those closest to me.

      When I have a great day, I think, now why can't I feel like this ALL of the time?!

      I use a light box from about Sept. or Oct. until March or April. (Chicagoland). It helps.


    23. Hi Michelle - you know, I don't understand why the focus always has to be on what's wrong. Why can't health care providers focus on what is right once in a while? Why don't they point out their clients' strengths and offer positive reinforcement? Of course you feel like crap, you're sliding into menopause, have teenagers and have had a stressful several years. Sheesh.

      Oops - I promised myself I was going to keep my mouth shut about such things, I'm just supposed to be looking into what makes for "typical" supplement use. Thanks for sharing your story.

      And it gets much easier. Once you get through the Change and get those kids out the door you'll feel a whole lot different. Hang in there.

    24. Thank you for your kind words, wildcucumber.


    25. I've taken supplements, not so much for "missing nutrients", but hoping to use them therapeutically.

    26. @Jin

      Can you expand on that a little for me? The more I hear other takes on this the more I'll learn.

    27. @ wildcucumber

      Sure. Speaking generally, let's say you read something about NAC (N-acetylcysteine) easing symptoms of compulsion or anxiety.

      This would be an example of using a supplement therapeutically. That is, more than you'd get from a food sources.

      I find Emily Deans blog very interesting. If you put a vitamin or mineral in the white search box in the upper left hand corner of her blog, you'll pull up a lot of interesting posts, with links to papers. Correlation is not causation of course.

      Deans is not recommending we routinely chug bottles of supplements. She is an advocate for real whole foods and exercise. But she brings up some interesting correlations.

      If someone were deficient in B12, for example, it's reasonable to think one might need a loading dose for a period of time until diet would serve as maintenance.

      Or maybe there are some minerals that are not as easy to get in food these days and therapeutic doses can be beneficial.

      If you Google "psychiatry nutritional deficients", you'll pull up lots of articles. Or "mental health nutritional deficients".

      I've used Paul Jaminet's recommendation of Magnesium for menstrual cramps to good effect.

      Does that help? It seems easier and preferential than what a medical doctor is likely to do for you.

    28. Thanks for your input Jin. I find it very interesting to learn how people decide which supplements to take.

    29. Until Jin's post, I did not know it had a name, but I do something similar. Not only with vitamin supplements but also fibers. I started this all because of cholesterol issues and hypoglycemia. Some studies indicate that some fibers have specific effects or lack some effects. I try any fiber linked to glucose control and lipid benefits, and let my body sort out which to take.

      For instance, magnesium deficiency can be associated with hypertension and poor glucose control. Improving the gut can improve magnesium absorption. In particular, a type of prebiotic called resistant maltodextrin in studies has increased magnesium absorption. So I made a point of putting it in my fiber mix, and started eating foods with more magnesium. My htpertension is now gone and I can't say that this helped, but I find little danger in it.

      Likewise with coq10 and maitake mushrooms, which I supplement. I eat copious garlic and onion, so I don't supplement with quercetin. I can't eat ginger most days, so I often take a supplement with just ginger powder (not extract, I avoid extracts). So on.

    30. I suppose in a sense I do something similar as well, but I always look for the food source and just eat. My preference, of course, is simplicity and to a large degree, cost. So in the interests of cheap (and some romantic notions) I explored the wild foods/weeds in my back yard and fell in love with them. Maybe if I'd had more money I would have stayed on the supplement track, I don't know. I trust nature to put together a better package in, say, stinging nettles more than I trust myself to supplement with the right levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium - you get my drift.

      So what we all have in common is a suspicion that modern foodstuffs just aren't real food, but we're taking our search for nutrition in different directions.

      I've had people ask if I'm afraid I might choose the wrong plant but it's as easy as grocery shopping, there's no dangerous look alikes to the wild plants I eat. I'd be bewildered in the supplement aisle.

    31. I'd love to go the plant route. I eat some wild garlic mustard when in season. But the deer eat most everything else. My landscaper (who farms and knows his plants) says he wouldn't touch anything in my surburban yard because of all the chemicals. Beautiful weeds, but poison in my area.

      I agree about the search for nutrition. Modern farming has reduced the magnesium content of many of our foods., for instance.

    32. wild cucumber writes: "...So what we all have in common is a suspicion that modern foodstuffs just aren't real food, but we're taking our search for nutrition in different directions...."

      I'm not sure that describes me. I think I'm broken somewhere. Something or multiple somethings are not working right. Maybe my mom couldn't build a healthy kid by time she got to me. Maybe it was a childhood diet of Pop Tarts and Captain Crunch and as much candy as my allowance could buy. Maybe I never had the right mix in my gut to begin with. Who knows!

      I know some things help. Getting enough sleep. Taking low dose progesterone. Moderate red wine intake. Eating simple real foods. Exercise. Light box. But nothing seems a miracle cure. Maybe this is as good as it gets?

      My position might be I'm not sure what's going on or what's wrong exactly, and I don't mind taking a kitchen sink approach, albeit a somewhat conservative kitchen sink approach.


    33. @ Michelle - Fruit loops! Don't forget the Fruit Loops! Me too, and my mom believed if you're going to cook it you may as well over-cook it. I'll be the first to admit I'm not exactly robust, at least not in winter. For me it's "well, it could be a lot worse". I remember my late 30's to mid 40's as a fog of fatigue, something that resembled fibromyalgia and, well, ugh. It started to get better as I got closer to 50. I figured it just can take a really long time of doing our best before we suddenly realize we feel pretty damn good most days.

      @Wilbur - damn that's sad, I hear it a lot. We're incredibly lucky to have a yard that's clean and nobody around here sprays. Someone else I was talking to is going to weed a friend's organic garden for them, that will net him some good stuff. Maybe you could find such a friend?

  16. In the interest of helping people source stuff - Nutribiotic makes some super clean supps. Their multi vitamin and multi mineral are the only ones the kids & I tolerate after years of searching and trying.

    But yeah, finding everything-but-main-ingredient-free supplements is something most people don't even consider...and thus they overlook contaminants, allergens and adulterations they'd never tolerate in their food. Try finding an O3 supplement not stabilized with vitamin E, for example (always soy based unless stated otherwise - and even that trace amount causes reactions in one of my kids)....and do not even talk to me about the one million ways wheat and corn are used as fillers - labeled as everything under the sun, and sometimes not even labeled (if classified as a 'non-food' aspect of the product, like corn-starch can be used to keep things from sticking...and then it's allowable *not to include it on the label* arrgh!)

    Micronutrients that are hard to get from even a carefully planned WAPF whole foods diet, now that's not hard for me to understand. Most industrialized people aren't going to eat a truly primal diet (with all the odd things that would imply - insects, larvae, minerals from soils etc etc). Added to that, our soils are depleted badly and even when cared for local soils differ widely in mineral composition. There are a lot of reasons it would be very difficult to get every health-and-vitality-enhancing micronutrient, everything from local supply to dietary preference. I have no problem with supplementing my family's diet if they aren't getting what they need. From a purely not-creating-food-disoders stance, I chose to supplement both my kids during large stretches of their younger childhood's rather than force them to eat vegies. (there's a reason kids often reject vegetables - the alkaloids that make vegetables bitter are tough to distinguish from the alkaloids that make poisonious plants bitter...thus kids are often extremely repulsed by bitter vegetables. forcing those kids to eat something they're so viscerally disgusted by is foolish when simple maturity will take care of the issue)

  17. I'm not quite sure where to put this, so here will do.
    I've been thinking about skin - as you do! Has anybody been playing around with not using soap? I've been wondering about the habit of soaping the body everyday, and what it might do to the bugs that live on skin.
    Has anyone heard of a soap with beneficial bacteria?
    Also wondering whether growing healthier communities would change body odour??

    1. I have used no soap or shampoo for over a year now and can't say I miss it. Just the thought of slathering chemicals all over my body every day just didn't seem right anymore.

      I shower and wash my hair with plain water ever day, and use soap only to clean stubborn grease and oil from my hands.

      I doubt probiotic soap would make any difference. Just walk in the woods or swim naked if you really want some microbes on your skin!

    2. With all the allergy issues I'm ridiculously sensitive to a lot of topical agents, so I have to use extremely mild natural soaps - and then it's only face and chest for acne prevention basically. As for the nethers, it's hard enough for my body to keep bacterial/fungal balance on those mucus membranes without throwing soap at the poor fragile little colonies :) So, not much soap used in my shower at all.

      One thing I did try many years ago was to stop using shampoo. They say that if you don't shampoo your hair, eventually the oil glands will adjust and you'll stop getting oily hair. My hair was not down with that program :P A YEAR of not washing with soap....and it was still drenching me with oil - so I gave up :D I bathe too frequently for most of Europe, and to infrequently for most of the US - I welcome soil but cannot stand 'sticky', I'm happy to smell sweaty but will not tolerate 'bacterial overgrowth' type body odor, yk?

    3. @ Terra.
      It took my scalp about 3 years to adjust its oil production to stopping using shampoo. Now its fine. I haven't used shampoo for about 30 years now, but I wash it with water often. I also find massaging your scalp vigorously with a rounded end hair brush is really important to scalp health. Skin health generally actually, not just the scalp.I even skin brush my face.

    4. Wow, Terra, You lasted a year--just three months here. My long hair looked awful to my eye.

      I am sparing in my soap use. My favorite mild soap is actually an old fashioned lye and lard one. Sounds harsh but is not. Too expensive to buy on a regular basis. Maybe someday I'll try my hand at making it.

    5. @Kate - lol, well I was at a hippie college at the time, so I could get away with it :P

  18. I haven't washed my whole body in years and years and years. I've always had sensitive skin and once had some kind of weird rash; the Dermatologist I saw told me the skin shouldn't be soaped unless it was literally dirty, that one need only wash and soap in "bodily creases" - as in underarms, feet and between the legs (obviously). So, I've been following that advice forever. I still have dry skin though!

    1. ok. Thanks! I'll just start. I would be interested in a beneficial bacteria soap one day. But maybe that is overthinking it all!

    2. AOBiome might be close to what you are looking for?

    3. @ Andrea.
      I too only use surfactants on my skin for things like sump oil that a scrubbing brush and water won't remove. I do think brushing your skin every day, either while bathing, or just dry skin brushing is important. But removing essential oils from your skin with surfactants just seems crazy.
      And shampooing your hair just makes your scalp produce more oil to compensate. Washing with surfactants is just a great business model for soap/shampoo companies.
      TMI alert. One of the reasons western humans feel the need to wash their 'crevices' with soap is that we have this almost ubiquitous practice of smearing excreta along our anal crevice with toilet paper.However neatly you do it there's still going to be a thin film of poo all around your bottom. Just keep a bottle of water next to the toilet and wash your bottom properly every time you poop. You'll feel SO much cleaner. Use your fingers- just wash your hands afterwards of course. It's amazing how much better it feels to wash your bottom properly when you poo. Dogs just use their tongues, and their bottoms are pretty immaculate. And poo is water soluble. It's really very easy.
      And think of all the trees you'll save, as well as not having to walk around till you next shower with poo in your bottom crevice - however thin you manage to get that film with loo paper.

    4. Ahh you make me laugh Stuart. Trying really hard to think of other things right now! ;-)
      (But, yes, bidet style is much better.)

      And thank you anon for the AOBiome suggestion. Looks like just what I was thinking of. But after all that will give it a miss for now. Am just going to not use soap at all for a bit. I'm sure it would be much better to just dry skin brush, now that I think of it.

      Terra, I'm probably similar to you, my hair would probably not adjust to not being washed. I have gone a week at a time, but I'm just naturally oily.

  19. I thought of all you guys when I just read this, from Approaches that ascertain the role of dietary compounds in colonic cancer cells

    This paper is talking mostly about Colon Cancer (CRC), but I think these wise words should be heeded. Bottom line, we need lots of fiber for the butyrate, but also need the synergy that comes from real foods and whole plants.

    "The intake of fiber (the most important source of butyrate in the colon) is usually associated with that of other bioactive ingredients; for example, many fiber-rich foods are a source of polyphenols (e.g., cereals, fruit, and vegetables).

    The drinks that accompany our meals further increase the complexity of bioactives: wine, fruit juices, cocoa, tea, and coffee are all rich in polyphenols.

    The two main classes of dietary polyphenols are the flavonoids and the phenolic acids. In in vitro experiments, the flavonoids are powerful antioxidants; however, this activity is exhibited at concentrations exceeding the levels achievable in vivo. Thus, after consumption of 10-100 mg of a single compound, the maximum plasma levels of individual flavonoids are approximately 1-3 mol.

    In addition, due to host metabolism the in vivo half-life of the precursor polyphenols is short due to their rapid conversion into metabolites, all of which exhibit diminished antioxidant activity.

    More recent studies indicate that at physiological concentrations, polyphenols and their metabolites modulate cell signaling pathways, and exhibit anti-inflammatory activity through inhibition of COX-2 protein levels, prostanoid biogenesis, or pro-inflammatory cytokine production.

    Polyphenol metabolites also exhibit anti-proliferative effect on neoplastic cells, thus, similar to butyrate, some polyphenols and their microbial metabolites exhibit a CRC protective role.

    For example, quercetin, a flavonol found in citrus fruit, buckwheat, and onions, suppresses the formation of aberrant crypt foci and induces apoptosis in preneoplastic human colonocytes.

    Caffeic acid esters present in propolis are potent inhibitors of human colon adenocarcinoma cell growth, carcinogen-induced biochemical changes, and preneoplastic lesions in the rat colon.

    A CRC-preventive role has also been reported for isoflavons, curcumin, and tea polyphenol in green tea, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)."

  20. Anyone heard of this:

    1. @navillus

      The Sonnenburgs did a lot of research on gut flora, the term Microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs) was coined by them.

      No idea what the advice in the book is about...

    2. Interesting research, yet a little scary. Wonder if Tim's study is with him.

      Engineering the Human Microbiome Shows Promise for Treating Disease

  21. @ wildcucumber:
    You asked,
    "Do those of you who take supplements ever take breaks and reassess?
    If you take supplements based on what you believe you are missing from your diets, how do you decide what to take? How do you assess what the benefits are, is it through some sort of testing or by how you feel?"

    I'm a Canadian (Ontario) who take supplements because of my yearly routine blood work which was ordered by a doctor (about 3 years now). As money is tight, I have a hard time justifying taking supplements without tangible proof.

    I supplement for vit D, K2, B12 plus I just started on thyroid meds. K2 is the only one that is not tested for but generally is highly recommended when taking vit D.

    At the time, I personally did not know that anything was wrong. I was a busy mother of two with a nursing babe. I just wanted my annual blood works, just to see if anything was wrong. Not because of any major complaint.

    What a surprise.


    1. @ Nicole

      Well isn't that interesting. Are you vegetarian? The doctor doesn't happen to sell the supplements, does he?

  22. @ wildcucumber

    Definitely not a vegetarian and no, my doctor doesn't sell supplements. In fact, I had to demand my routine blood work for a few minutes before she would order it.

    I was extremely surprised to find out that I'm low on B12 since I'm pretty close to being a carnivore. In fact, steak tare tare was an occasional treat when I was growing up. Last time I had that was in 2000.

    I don't use sunscreen and enjoy the outdoors. And supposedly, my thyroid was to 'bounce back' a year after I gave birth.

    There has been no explanations as to why my vit D, thyroid and B12 are low. And I doubt my doctor knows why either.

    As a side note, my cholesterol is normal including my triglycerides. My fasting glucose level are within normal as well.

    I do yogurt/kefir (the SCD way) and bone broth (from conventionally raised cows) and my next adventure will be fermenting veggies.


    1. I can't help but wonder what's up with all the young women with thyroid issues. Is it 2 generations of low salt (and therefore low iodine) diets?

      Nicole, I'm not clear, was the thyroid thing caught by testing or did you feel unwell/have a hunch? The B12 mystifies me as well. My sister, admittedly *much* older, had low B12 (found by testing) and she eats liver on occasion!
      It just doesn't add up.

      Can anyone reading offer up a theory/study for me about what can deplete B12 and what on earth may be messing with these young healthy women's thyroids?

      Nicole, were you taking prenatal vitamins? If so, maybe the B's were out of balance, that could mess with your levels .. now I'm speculating of course.

    2. Low B12 particularly in older adults may be an absorption issue secondary to age related decreases in IF (intrinsic factor). Consumption of modern wheat with attendant molecular mimicry to attack thyroid tissue has been offered to explain higher rates of hypothyroidism.

      WC. I have a question for you. What's your take on essential oils? They are reaching trendiness levels to the point of main stream media mention. Fad?

    3. Rudy - of course, we know about these things but both are occurring in younger people all the time. The lack of resiliency in the young troubles me.

      Essential oils? Don't get me started. Harsh things, dangerous trend. When I look at how long people have been distilling herbs and spices and how long they considered the E.O.'s to be impurities to be siphoned off, well .. I have to wonder. I think we're losing our understanding of the importance of subtlety when it comes to health/healing and go for the big guns far too easily.

      //end mini-rant ;-)

    4. From a book titled "Autoimmune The Cause and The Cure" by Annesse Brockley, she says that tests show the low B12 is from a lack of enzymes needed. Apparently it is a long process to get back to the proper levels. She does not like the use of supplementation as the IF is too low and the body cannot utilize the supplements so adding them can cause more harm. She also states that the level the US indicates is healthy is too low... Lots of studies are cited but a lot of information above my pay grade... Good book though.


    5. Gina - thanks. That sits right with me, I've always wondered about the wisdom of supplementation of anything, really, if the problem is absorption.

  23. @ wild cucumber:

    For your speculations; I was born in 1969 (46 years old this March). I did take prenatal vitamins for all three pregnancy but of course stopped after pregnancy. I thought that the companies making them were taking advantage of a situation and they were overpriced (you know, like Midol - overpriced aspirin for menstrual pains).

    As for the B vits out of wack, well we need a daily dose of them since they are water soluble. I do have to say that vegetable are not my favourite things and that my diet could improve in eating more. The one exception in the B vit group is B12 as it is only found in red meats.

    There is an area in Ontario that is known as Goiter Belt due to the low iodine in the soil which led to putting iodine in salt (since the 1920s). My parents moved to Ontario in the early 1960s. I did switch to Celtic sea salt but it does not have a sufficient amount of iodine in it. I now buy sea salt with added iodine. However, with the decrease in salt consumption now days, Health Canada suggest that we might not be consuming enough iodine.

    There were no hunches or anything. You just never know. No major complaints. That is why it is such a surprise. On retrospect, no wonder 3pm nursing led to napping and feeling refreshed when I awoke.

    On thyroid:
    My blood works show that I have no Hashimoto's. My thyrotropin (sensitiveTSH) has been consistent then decreased but stable at 4.77 mIU\L (without meds). My T3\T4 are in normal range on every test since 2011.

    Regarding B12:
    The stomach acid needs to be very acidic in order for the IF to be released into the stomach. I don't think my acid level is an issue. How one gets tested for this I'm not sure.

    As well, (if I remember correctly) B12 can be absorbed in the distal end of the small intestine. A parasite from eating raw fish can interfere with absorption (I believe the parasite consumes the B12). I have never consumed raw fish.

    Two other ideas that I play around in my head regarding low B12s. First, is the conventional farming methods somehow interfere with the B12s that is found in red meats. Like how the omega 3 to 6 ratio is altered with corn fed beef. And second, maybe something to do with the gut flora. As to what, I have no idea.

    Also, I just suspect that I drained my body's resources when I weaning my second child in Dec and gave birth 5 months later (May) and started nursing again. Being pregnant and nursing consumed a lot of calories\nutrients and I am SURE that I was not eating a nutrient dense diet.

    I know your comment is not directed at me but just consider an alternative opinion on supplements; I'm not a big fan of supplements myself but I do so because I do not want to suffer from the lack (especially long term) nor do I want my family to suffer. A lot of the symptoms from lack of B12, vit D and low thyroid has to do with mental health and energy. (Plus, for what it is worth, I'm also peri menopause.)


    1. Hi Nicole - I'm not entirely anti-supplement, just kinda prickly about how heavily they're pushed in some circles. I'm in Canada too, and I do D in deepest winter and C when I feel like scurvy is setting in (tiny town, lack of decent grocery store). I'm post menopause, as I remember peri menopause it was chock full of challenges, add that to nursing and running after little ones, it would be remarkable for you to have normal levels of anything. Can you get the odd piece of clean liver? I hate the stuff but eat it anyway and always feel amazing for quite a while after. I got into the habit of a piece of kelp cooked into all broths, too, to keep iodine and other minerals up. It sucks that eating seems so complicated, esp for those of us in goiter belts or food deserts. So yeah, I need to be less critical about supplements. I'm just frustrated that there are foods like liver and kelp, oh and stinging nettles for K, that could be doing us so much good - yet hardly anyone knows about them.

    2. @Nicole,
      One way to get liver down easily if you don't like pate, is to buy a packet of petfood liver treats (the 100% liver ones - no additives, even salt, and smash them into a fine meal in a spice mill. Then sprinkle it over any other food. On savoury foods the taste is barely noticeable.
      I don't really like the taste of liver, and I find this approach works well.
      Offal is so healthy, but we've just fallen out of the habit of eating it for so many thousands of years.
      To make sure you will beat your gag reflex, start with just a few grains (ie make it almost a homeopathic approach) and work up to a tsp/day

    3. I've also found that some animal livers are more palatable than others. Beef and lamb were fairly strong, but chicken and turkey were very mild. I'm sure there are varying health benefits between the different animals though.

    4. There is a correction need in my comments.

      I stated that B12 can only be found in RED MEATS when, in fact, B12 is found in ANIMAL SOURCES (as opposed to plant sources).


    5. Yep, eggs and dairy. That's why it has to be an absorption issue in anyone who is low, because for non vegetarians it's pretty easy to get. Liver just offers a motherload of it. Since we can store it in our livers, we don't need to stress too much about our levels from day to day (if we're absorbing it in the first place, that is).

    6. I'm don't know why my B12 is low. But in case it was an absorption issue, I choose methylcobalamin sublingual (under the tongue) tablets. I currently take 500mcg which keeps the B12 in the acceptable range. The problem I have about these acceptable ranges, is that due to my thyroid not functioning correctly, that I may need to take more than these ranges indicate to be healthy at the cellular level..


  24. @ wildcucumber

    I would grow a garden if I had the energy and motivation. LOL. Maybe something small since the kids want to garden.

    Liver is out of the question. I have a strong gag reflex even to psychological dislikes to foods. However, I would take dried beef liver capsule. LOL.

    I like the idea of kelp in my bone broth. I probably can find that in a larger town nearby.

    I think eating seems so complicated because we know better now. LOL. As well of the agriculture business is about money and politics rather than nutritious food.

    Found this (hope the link works):

    Food for thought.


    1. Thanks Nicole, that link looks helpful I really need to brush up on this stuff, it's been a long time since Adele Davis and after that I branched out into weeds, so .. yes, I'll have a look. Some people cut liver into capsule size pieces, and down them that way. I can't, that makes *me* gag, I just smother mine in bacon :-) Garden, schmarden, just stop mowing one corner, you'd be amazed the good stuff that can come up.

    2. Nicole, I meant to say, they freeze the liver bits, then swallow them as a supplement. In a hurry, sorry.

  25. All good suggestions in dealing with beef liver. I have done pastured chicken liver soaked in lemon juice overnight to get rid of that liver taste and that seems to work well. I also guess hiding organ meats in ground beef ie Sheppard's Pie would get it down the hatchet especially for my kids and husband. I'll just have to ignore my knowledge that the liver is in there. LOL

    @ wildcucumber

    Low thyroid (as I just found out through google research) can cause low stomach acid and consequently a low stomach acid will not release the IF which is needed to 'attach' to the vit B12 for absorption. This is a possibility for me.

    As for the low vit D in relation to low thyroid, that googling is for another day. LOL


    1. I went out of my way to get some organic healthy beef liver and tried to gag it down to no avail. I tried soaking. I tried hiding it in other foods. It wasn't going to work.

      Then I tried cubing it, then freezing the little cubes on a sheet pan. I would take some that way, with warm water or coffee so the frozen cubes don't "stick". Ugh. I could not get in to a routine about it. Not even a little cube. I still feel disgust and now the dog gets all the liver cubes.

      I don't mean to rain on your parade, but please don't feel like a failure if this is just something you cannot make work.

    2. LOL. I understand. The chicken liver didn't quite go over well either and the dog refused to eat it. LOL

      I'm very hesitate to take the time to find a source of grass fed beef to find it out of my price range especially if nobody is going to eat it.

      I really believe in getting all of our nutrients from food but in the case of liver, give me capsules.

      I even like the though of pet food liver to eat but just can't get over that it is for pets. LOL.


    3. Nicole do you by any chance take a PPI such as Omeprazole?This does interfere with B12 uptake and with calcium too.Probably a lot of other things too.

  26. Are there any recommended liver supplements - OR - supplements to replace what we are supposed to be getting from liver?

    1. A quick google shows that liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, folic acid and minerals like iron and copper. It truly is a superfood. Especially when sourced from grass fed beef.


    2. I'm already getting those through other supps or foods, so cool, who needs to force down liver?

  27. @ dmc

    No. I'm generally health. Rarely ever visited the doctor.

    I have been thinking a lot about my health issue and I think I went hypothyroidism when I stop eating wheat and wheat products. I think I went too low carb for me especially since I don't like veggies.

    I am just have to grow up and eat my veggies and liver plus other nutrient dense food. In the mean time, I'll keep doing my supplements and go on thyroid meds.

    @ wildcucumber.

    I think I understand your distaste for supplements. Supplement do not resolve the underlining issue as to why you have to supplement. And when you do supplement due to blood test, it might assume that everything is ok when your body is screaming for real nutrient dense food.