Monday, October 5, 2015

Veggies: Cooked or Raw?

Following the theme of Vegetable Pharm, which is best for us: cooked or raw veggies?

Photo Credit

There seem to be just as many opinions as there are ways of preparing our veggies. I have always enjoyed both raw and cooked vegetables, feeling that each has something to offer. But is there a best way to eat your veggies?

A review paper from 2004 showed that when examined, some cancers were higher in people who ate cooked veggies over raw and others were higher in people who ate raw veggies more often, but the consensus seems to be that for most cancers, the risk is lowest in people who eat more raw veggies:

Raw versus cooked vegetables and cancer risk (2004):

 It is clear from this review that both raw and cooked vegetables are inversely related to several epithelial cancers, particularly those of the upper gastrointestinal tract, and possibly to breast cancer. Although more of the studies showed a statistically significant inverse relationship between raw vegetables and cancer than either cooked or total vegetables, the literature is too varied to compare definitively. Studies on diet and cancer need to differentiate between raw and cooked vegetables in their methods of food recall and in their analyses. In addition, more consistency is needed regarding the types of vegetables assessed in each category. In the meantime, the public should be encouraged to increase their vegetable intake and to consider eating some of them raw

The underlying theme of this and other studies is that we simply need to eat more vegetables. Period.

There are, however, good reasons to cook certain veggies:

Some tubers and legumes contain enzyme inhibitors which can lead to gastric disturbances. Most of these are destroyed by cooking (and also sprouting, fermenting, or soaking).

β-carotene in plants (a precursor to Vit. A) becomes more bioavailable when cooked. Carrots in particular. And also a substance called "lycopene" found largely in tomatoes, is a similar Vit A precursor which is more available after cooking.

Yet, cooking also destroys some vitamins, Vitamin C, for instance, as it's water soluble.


Raw Veggies as Antibiotics


Recently a Dr. Peter Turnbaugh from Harvard gave a presentation, Gut Microbial Promotion of Energy Gain on Processed Diets, in his discussion, he brings up the valid point that when we eat raw veggies, we also ingest the plant's antimicrobial defenses.

In an experiment, Dr. Turnbaugh looked at the gut microbes of rats after eating raw sweet potato.

Diets of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) fed raw versus cooked produced dramatic changes in the composition of the distal gut microbiota, as indicated by 16S rRNA gene sequencing of fecal samples. Raw diets led to lower proportions of bacteria from the Firmicutes versus Bacteroidetes phyla, a microbial phenotype consistent with the weight loss observed in raw-fed hosts. Flow cytometry employing physiological stains indicated that raw diets were associated with increased rates of cell damage and lower proportions of highly active cells, a finding consistent with our observation of profoundly lower mRNA yields from gut microbial communities sampled from raw-fed versus cooked-fed hosts. To assess whether these effects were specifically attributable to food-derived compounds, we recently repeated the study with standard chow diets and water administered with or without one of two key antimicrobial compounds present in sweet potato: caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. Our results suggest that such food-derived compounds can indeed promote bacterial cell damage within the gut, a result confirmed by in vitro assays of the effects of these compounds on gut microbial isolates. Our emerging results encourage a view beyond therapeutics in considering the role of xenobiotic compounds on host-microbial interactions in human health.

"Bacterial cell damage" is his way of saying that bacteria were harmed in the completion of this study. What we don't know, and I assume Dr. Turnbaugh is studying, is whether or not this antibacterial effect of raw veggies is in any way damaging to a healthy human. Since humans are omnivores that evolved alongside plants, bacteria, and fungus, I assume it's all part of the "grand plan" for us to ingest the antimicrobial component of plants.


Also note that Dr. Turnbaugh does not mention the fungal component of the gut microbiome, which we all know, also responds to a plant's antimicrobial defense. This type of study will be interesting to follow.

Raw Veggies as Probiotics


The ever-vigilant Gemma shared this one with me:  The Edible Plant Microbiome: Importance and Health Issues (2014).

Here we see that the bacteria living freely inside, and helping protect plants from harm, may also convey the same benefits to whomever eats that plant!

However, even though plants are a substantial part of a balanced diet including raw-eaten vegetables, fruits and herbs, the plant-associated microbial diversity has been largely ignored in this context. We hypothesize that the edible plant microbiome and its diversity can be important for humans as (i) an additional contributor to the diversity of our gut microbiome, and (ii) as a stimulus for the human immune system.

The topic of exactly where our microbiome originates comes up often. When I wrote about irradiated foods we broached the topic that modern processing destroys lots of the value in foods, such as the clinging microbes. Cooking can also destroy the probiotic value of foods, but also the pathogenic load, so it may be a toss-up. Commercially raised and manually harvested vegetables have been implicated in numerous outbreaks of deadly infections, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. Even more reason to start your own vegetable plot, no matter how small!

Raw Veggies as Prebiotics


Much of a plant's fiber is made more digestible by cooking.  This can have both beneficial and negative aspects on one's diet. Cooking can also reduce "antinutrients" often found in beans and legumes.

Resistant starch is nearly completely destroyed by cooking, although cooling and reheating forms a new type of RS (RS3).

Inulin and Beta-glucans, however, are not destroyed by conventional cooking methods, so enjoy your hot oatmeal and dandelion or chicory coffee

Conclusion


As humans have been eating a combination of raw and cooked (and also soaked, sprouted, and fermented) veggies since time immemorial, there is no reason to think we should do otherwise. Some foods are never seemingly eaten raw, ie. kidney beans, but most veggies can be eaten raw if you like, and it may even be beneficial to eat some types of foods, ie. potato, raw from time-to-time.

Mix it up!  It's the veggies that are important. But for best results, learn to prepare them in a variety of ways.

Thoughts?

Later,
Tim


69 comments:

  1. I think this is a nice post. I've learned a lot from the discussions in the comments, particularly when Gemma gets involved. I think it is nice to organize the material for those just joining or not following the comments.

    FWIW, I mostly eat as you suggest. I think I prefer my stuff raw, but I have no real issues with cooking when it tastes better, like broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, some squashes, etc.

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    1. Wilbur, anyway raw green beans are toxic. One or two, okay, but noshing on them is not a good idea.

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    2. Years ago I used to eat a lot of home grown raw young runner beans (are they known as string beans in the US?) because I loved the taste of them. I stopped when I found out that they are meant to be toxic but I had never suffered any ill effects. I wonder if it is only the mature seeds that are toxic raw. Does anyone know if there has been any research done on this?

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    3. Gabriella - does this mean I shouldn't be snacking on the dried whole green beans I get from my farmer's market guy? I'm gonna be a bit bummed out if that's true. How about the dried okra? Can I eat that one? (grin)

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    4. Chris, what are 'whole dried green beans'? All beans need to be cooked. One or two green beans are not a big deal but eating raw beans is toxic.

      Okra can be eaten raw. It's a mallow.

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    5. Gabriella - I just meant it's the whole pod, dried and with a little sea salt on it. There's a guy here who sells several types of dried veggies like green beans, okra, plantains, carrots, and mixed root vegetables (tubers), etc. I've been using them as an afternoon snack at work when everyone else is hitting the vending machine. But, I guess I'm gonna have to skip the green beans from now on huh? Thanks for the info.

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    7. Chris - I used to be able to get those and oh did I love them. The beans were the best ones!

      In my experience, beans and other "dried" vegetables are picked while very young and tender and then they are blanched before dehydrating. (Otherwise they're tough as nails.) I'd say they're perfectly safe to eat that way. If you get a tummy ache, then reconsider.

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  2. Another value-add of cooking comes in the form of time. We're able to eat so much more plant matter in a fraction of the time. Anyone whose eaten a kale salad at their favorite hippie establishment knows this very well. :) Even my own nightly dinner salads take a good 20 minutes to chomp through.

    Until I see 150-yr old raw foodists running around, I'll stick with the Blue-Zone mixed approach, which lines up nicely with what you're recommending here.

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    1. What's the deal with kale? Cooked, sort of okay. Raw? fehhhh. Collard greens cooked are better than cooked kale any day. Kholrabi leaves cooked are even better. Kale is tougher than cabbage. Why do people eat this stuff? Because some idiot nutrition guru recommended it? Dr. Oz?

      Red chard, and collard greens, mustard greens...... all better than kale.

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    2. Now see...kale is one of my favorites. Especially raw. It's all good, but I love lacinato. What kills me is that many people do not eat the stems. Just throw them away. Yes, 20 minutes to chew through the stuff sounds good! Raw collard greens are good too.

      I don't like chard. I don't understand why. I like beet greens, and I understand they are essentially the same. I like mustard greens but can't eat as many because of spiciness.

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    3. Chard from the store is watery. Wimpy. We got some chard from our farmer friend and it had some real heft to it. Wonderful. More like collards.We eat kale cooked mostly but the way I really like it is in mixed ferments, in fact I love it that way. I agree with you on the stems Willard, I eat them while I'm making supper. And when I get good broccoli I grate the stems into a slaw type salad.

      I wish I could grow these things but it's a losing battle with the cabbage moths.

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  3. The problem is we don't chew enough, we gobble our food. Digestion starts in the mouth with our saliva doing the first bit of digestion. When we don't chew enough the digestion doesn't get underway enough. I know I don't chew enough (the recommendation is 15 times) and I find that eating foods raw makes me chew more, which is better down the line. It takes me about 45 minutes to eat a salad whereas cooked vegetables I can eat in about 5 minutes. We need the saliva to do its work. Everything is there for a reason.

    Jo tB

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    1. I agree. I must admit I'd heard it numerous times - digestion starts in the mouth - chew your food. I thought - it was just one of those nice to haves but not essential. Then as I've been trying all sorts of new things to help - I did take my time chewing and eating slower and I'm convinced it helped with bloating. Also finishing when I'm full, instead of eating out of habit.

      I think a big problem, where I've worked at least is lunches at work are seen as not really required. You can simply throw something down whilst continuing with your work (when deadlines are looming at least). This makes you want to get it down fast so you can continue with the task at hand. The French seem to have it better in this regard - 2 hour lunches and very little gets in the way!

      I'm sure its not a magic cure all, but part of the overall puzzle to better guts. I've recently found apple cider vinegar and digestive enzymes helpful.

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  4. I've started sprouting and it's great fun to see the sprouts coming. I just make small batches, enough to eat every day. The first one I tried was Alfalfa seeds. I took 2 tablespoons to sprout and got a humungous amount of sprouts!! Mornings and afternoons I give them a "warm bath" which apparently they love and after a minute pour off the water. On average it takes about 4 days for the edible sprouts to be ready.
    I'm doing green peas, lentels, brocolli, mung beans, mixed greens.
    I bought them online from a certified organic source.

    Jo tB

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  5. I'm glad you highlighted the importance of cooking legumes. Recently I soaked chickpeas for 2 days. I didn't think they would require cooking - I'd soaked them long enough and could see they had begun to ferment a little. Plus I eat raw potatoes no problem.

    How wrong was I - severe troubles - took a good 3 days to get back to normal - never again!

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    1. Here is a comment from the owner of Rancho Gordo, great selection of heirloom beans that have not been sitting aound in warehouses for years. It seems that how long to soak can vay depending on not only the kind of bean, but its age:

      Technique: The Never Ending Soaking Discussion
      You can imagine how much fun the soaking discussion is for me. Some people insist on it, others don't care. I say as long as you're cooking good beans and not opening a can, you're way ahead of the pack. I tend not to soak.

      Eric in Customer Service received a call recently about our Royal Corona beans not cooking. This confused us as we know exactly how old these are (we keep the lot numbers handy and we haven't had this bean for long). The caller cooked the beans for hours and they weren't softening. No salts, no acids, no reason! Then she said, "And I soaked them for 24 hours so they really should have cooked fast!" Bingo! There's the culprit. Whenever we hear about cooking problems, they always seem to stem from oversoaking. It's not intuitive but it seems to be the reality with our beans.

      If you want to soak, I would suggest from 4 to 6 hours.


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    2. It's my understanding that the longer you soak beans the more acidic they get. Try adding a little baking soda if your soaked beans don't soften when you cook them. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes. Is it bad for your digestion, nutritionally speaking? I don't know. I always drain my beans and freeze them before I eat them and I usually have them cold in salads or hummus. I imagine the bean broth might taste a little odd if you don't drain them but doesn't the liquid desolve the resistant starch if you reheat them in the broth anyway?
      Anne

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    3. Anne, you can also just cook soaked beans in plain water, no salt. Add the salt after you've cooked them.

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    4. Elliebelly - thanks for the heads up. I'd always read it was better to soak for longer (removes phytic acid etc.). So when I'm brave enough to try again - whats the consensus - to soak or not to soak?

      Also how long will cooked beans/ legumes last? Seems like quite an effort for 1 meal...

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    5. Rob, you can cook enough beans for several meals. Make a big salad from them or a stew or soup. Put it in the fridge and heat up a serving when you want. Probably if you are wanting to introduce beans slowly, then making a soup with many other vegetable ingredients will provide you a 'sampling' of beans per bowl as opposed to something like black eye pea salad in a vinaigrette dressing. Amy's Organic Lentil vegetable soup is made the way I make soup. It's in a can but it's correctly made. A bit expensive but saves you from investing a lot of ingredients and time if you are wanting to find out how pulses affect you.

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    6. And beans freeze nicely in portion sizes once they're cooked; it makes them easier to put into more dishes, just toss them in at the last minute.

      Now that I've found a source of beans that haven't been on the store shelves since the Flood, I don't soak.

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    7. cooking beans
      http://www.thekitchn.com/think-salt-is-the-enemy-of-perfect-beans-think-again-196470

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    8. Gabriela, I don't salt my beans at all because I eat them usually in salad and I make my salad dressing out of the brine from my fermented veggies (along with some lemon juice and olive oil) and that is all the salt it needs. I've heard that a little oil a little acid and a little salt helps us digest and get the vitamins out of raw veggies. Is this true? Plus my lactoferment brine salad dressing is delicious and full of probiotics!
      Anne

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    9. I do not soak. I salt while cooking, but using a salt available from Ranch Gordo that naturally has the same ingredient as baking soda. Just a bit. I then salt to taste after the beans are mostly cooked with regular salt.

      Somebody famous said that not salting beans while cooking just gives salty broth and bland beans. It's probably especially acute for big beans.

      From NYT

      "Harold McGee replies: Salt does slow the softening of dried beans, but adding it early also gets salt into the bean interior, while adding late leaves most of the salt on or near the surface. If you’re thinking ahead early enough to presoak the beans, salt in the presoaking water actually speeds the cooking, in addition to salting the beans evenly."

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    10. Anne - yes! Brine from fermented veggies is best salad dressing base ever. I like to use any leftovers of brine on a grated carrot/raisin salad too, the longer it sits in the fridge the tastier it gets, especially the raisins.

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    11. I would soak, especially since this is a new food your are trying to introduce. Perhaps overnight for packaged off the shelf beans. If they are reliably young then you could try 4 to 6 hours. i have been soaking my Rancho Gordo beans for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours and sometimes they did seem not to get completely cooked. I never understood why. But the comment I posted had just come in their newsletter and was fresh in my mind when you wrote of your bean experience. I am going to try a shorter soak next time and try to keep track of what works for me.

      Also I have heard that your altitude makes a difference in cooking beans. And I suspect your water does too!

      And definitely freeze some in small batches. Makes life much easier. And does increase the RS a bit.

      Oy! So much to think about for the humble bean.

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    12. "altitude" LOL, I first misread as "attitude" and wondered - that's esoteric indeed. Talk to your beans before you cook them :-)

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    13. If your beans won' soften, it's the acid. Really, try the baking soda. Don't toss them or eat tough beans! Add. baking soda and cook 5 minutes more. It's chemestry.
      Anne

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    14. There was nothing to do but sit huddled in coats and shawls, close to the stove.
      “I’m glad I put beans to soak last night,” said Ma. She lifted the lid of the bubbling kettle and quickly popped in a spoonful of soda. The boiling beans roared, foaming up, but did not quite run over.
      “There’s a little bit of salt pork to put in them too,” Ma said.
      Now and then she spooned up a few beans and blew on them. When their skins split and curled, she drained the soda-water from the kettle and filled it again with hot water. She put in the bit of fat pork.
      “There’s nothing like good hot bean soup on a cold day,” said Pa.”

      —Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter
      Anne

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    15. Anne, adding acid to foods like beans slows down digestion. I don't know if that increases digestibility longterm or if it increases absorption of nutrients. Just it reduces the rate at which glucose entering the bloodstream.

      If you take a glucosemeter and test every 15 minutes for a couple of hours after eating cooked beans, cooked and cooled and warmed beans, or bean salad with a vinaigrette dressing, you will see a difference.

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    16. Elliebelly

      I had a similar issue with Rancho Gordo beans seemingly not getting fully cooked. Except I didn't soak. It was uneven cooking, like half the bean was cooked and half not while most of the other beans were fine.

      I started using the Rancho Gordo sal mixteca when I got it as part of the bean club. I haven't had the problem since. It naturally contains the compound in baking soda that softens beans. I put about a teaspoon+ for a pound of beans. I think the beans are better formed - unbroken and plump - and they cook a little faster. I made the Ayacote Negra beans a few days ago without soaking. They were cooked in about 4 hours and nearly every bean is perfect (the imperfect ones just being broken).

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    17. Thanks for comments I'll try out the suggestions

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    18. I soak the beans and use a pressure cooker. Takes about 20 to 25 minutes. If the beans overcook, I add some apple cider vinegar afterwards and let them have an acidic bath. It firms them up a bit. Electricity is too expensive to be cooking beans for 4 hours.

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    19. I've started soaking the beans with a little liquid whey in them, which is the Weston A Price way to soak. Does it start a little fermentation? I don't know. I can't tell the difference but they cook just fine after.

      I make the liquid whey by leaving some raw milk out until it separates, around 5 or so days.

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  6. I more or less go the "ceviche" route when eating kale and cabbage raw. I use a ACV vinaigrette when making a salad of either kale or cabbage and let it rest at least 20 minutes before eating.

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  7. Hey Tim,your thoughts on WAXYBOLIC(waxy maize supplement)?

    ingredients:

    Hydrolyzed & Fractionated Waxy Maize Starch, Trehalose, Hydrolyzed Rice Syrup, Glucose Polymers, Designer Polysaccharolytic Enzyme Matrix (Invertase, Amylase)

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  8. According the Dr Edward Howell, the enzymes in raw foods contribute to our ability to digest them and a diet devoid of raw foods puts too much burden on the pancreas to produce enzymes; a diet of only cooked foods can actually cause an enlarged pancreas and a shrunken brain!

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    1. ellie, I don't understand this at all. Enzymes are proteins and the hydrochloric acid and proteolytic enzymes produced in the stomach (as opposed to the duodenum and the rest of the GI tract) break down proteins. Plant enzymes are not mammalian enzymes. (Art where art thou?)

      In other words, I call b.s. Anyone whose taken physiology courses in university will call b.s.

      But it's not a reason to not eat raw food. By all means, eat raw food.

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    2. Oh good, I was hoping someone would comment on this. It Is taken from the Nourishing Traditions (WAPF) book and I was wondering. It does say that the glands in the stomach secret hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen which initiate the process of protein digestion as well as the intrinsic facor needed for B 12 absorption, but the various enzymes needed for complete digestion of our food are not secreted till further down the line in the small intestine. however, while food is held in the stomach, the enzymes present in what we have consumed can do their work before this more or less partially digested mass passes on to the small intestine,where the enzymes that are produced in the pancreas are secreted.

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    3. 'the enzymes present in what we have consumed can do their work '

      And what exactly is this 'work'?

      Unless enzymes are packaged in enteric coated pills or capsules, they won't survive the stomach acid.

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    4. The work they were referring to seemed to be that of helping digest the food and thus preserving some of the body's own enzymes... Thanks for the input. I have always wondered if there was anything to this

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  9. Thanks, guys! Great conversation. I was hoping I wasn't going to get jumped on because Chinese Medicine says all foods must be cooked.

    I thought it was interesting the couple studies showing the differences between raw and cooked, especially in light of gut bacteria and yeast.

    I like tough raw stems and roots, too. Always have. I have 6 or 8 big gnarly beets from the garden that I have been grating into a salad lately. Makes for some interesting TMI colors, lol.

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    1. Chinese heat application is mostly to kill pathogens. The 'greens' are very green and stiill crunchy. The Chinese were smart to dunk their veggies in boiling water because it washes off the bacteria from the 'night soil' being used as fertilizer.

      You can eat your own poop. Don't eat the neighbour's.

      Now for some fun reading: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-33980904

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    2. Gab, may I ask you a totally off topic dental question?

      I am curious whether there is any info regarding saliva generated by the parasympathetic nervous system being different from the saliva produced when in the sympathetic mode, and the impact on dental enamel.

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    3. Ellie, Tim sent me an email about this. I'll email you later (tomorrow) inregards to the second concern.

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    4. Oops, I thought I had deleted this after Tim told me he sent you the email. Oh well.

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  10. I'm an acupuncturist, and in regards to eating foods raw vs. cooked, my TCM nutritional training is best summarized as "it depends" . . . each person's chronic and acute health problems, state of digestive system, season of year, et cetera are all taken into consideration. One of my Chinese teachers would sometimes bring various dishes to school, and his cooked vegetables were usually lightly cooked, not mush.

    I find that I do well with a variety of raw, lightly cooked and roasted vegetables. I can handle more raw fruits and vegetables in the heat of summer than I can in the middle of winter. I'm not a TCM nutrition purist, but I am thankful for the training, because it provides another layer of understanding and adaptability as I make my way through my own health challenges.

    Cheryl

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    1. " lightly cooked, not mush." I think that is key with most veggies. Vegetables in a can are always "mush." I love stirfrying fresh veggies quickly in a tiny bit of hot oil.

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    2. I agree. I don't like, for instance, broccoli and cauliflower raw. I typically roast these. But just enough to get the raw taste gone. They are still plenty chewy after cooking.

      I had an epiphany while watching a Jacques Pepin (sp?) cooking show in which he made some braised meat with lots of flavorful veggies like carrots, onions, and celery that were put in at the beginning. By the time the meat was cooked, they were mush. That's always been an objection of mine to crockpot cooking. The veggies gave up all their flavor to the broth and were mush.

      His solution was to remove the meat, strain out the the mushy veggies, and then replace with new veggies. Cook those until they were done but still firm. The result was a great broth with veggies that retained their individual tastes.

      There are variations on this. I make a chicken soup for instance, in which the veggies are cooked as above but the chicken is grilled separately. Combine just before serving. The chicken is moist and not over cooked, the veggies are firm and tasty, and the broth is fabulous. Everything has its correct taste. I learned a lot from Pepin.

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  11. Off topic for this post, but there's an interesting piece in the New York Times by Moises Velasquez-Manoff titled "Should We Bank Our Own Stool?"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/opinion/sunday/should-we-bank-our-own-stool.html

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    1. Cukey, I bet his kid was not breastfed.

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    2. Yeah no kidding. And he has a lousy pediatrician; ear infections are a 'watch and wait' deal these days, aren't they? 5 rounds, seriously??

      But I think he had a good point about banking stool before cancer treatments and the like. Unless of course is was some kind of gut issue that initiated the cancer in the first place ... ha!

      Definitely food for thought.

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    3. Cukey, I don't know. Not being a paediatrician or a grandmother. ;)

      I would figure the ideal job would be getting paid to poop. Not like that BBC article about children in India.

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    4. Anyone here with recent experience with young kids, ear infections and antibioitics?

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    5. Does 30 years ago count? Our son had terrible ear infections from birth on. Antibiotics pretty much non-stop until they put "tubes" in his ears at about 2, then no more infections for a long time.

      Have things changed?

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    6. I have an 8 yo who has had antibiotics given for ear infections two times. She also had asthma, allergies, and eczema plus lots of colds. Part of it is perhaps getting older, but the ear infections and eczema stopped and the others reduced significantly within about a month of doing my patented Wilbur mix on her. She gets probably 50g/day fermentable carbs, plus I emphasize fibrous veggies with every meal. Her snacks for school are seeds, fruits, and this healthy granola she loves. Tons of antioxidants through raw cocoa and sprouted things. She gets her treats even most days, but in moderate amounts. We are also avoiding enriched foods and preservatives.

      We live in an area that prides itself on being enlightened about nutrition. The local elementary school won recognition for its healthy cafeteria food. We won't let our daughter eat it. Everything is whole wheat and low fat. But the choice one day might be whole wheat pancakes or whole wheat French toast. With low fat yogurt. Or whole wheat chicken tacos. The kids start school at 9 (they might finish eating before 8) and then they eat after recess at maybe 1. They are given 1/2 hour to eat.

      Ok, that's one meal. But we invite people over, and we've had many of their kids that will only eat chicken nuggets. Just chicken nuggets. Maybe they'll venture out to white bread. They do not eat veggies of any kind. The parents are oddly accepting of this. that's their normal diet. These kids have lots of health issues.

      I don't mean to be sanctimonious or to pretend I have all the answers. It's confusing when, for example, the Washington Post proclaims in its health section that coconut oil, ghee, butter, and animal fat are bad for you, and then soon after has a sorry front page article claiming maybe not. Very few articles on prebiotics and immunity.

      When I was a kid, I had my share of ear infections. I had tubes put in my ears because of them. But I also spent summers with my grandparents. They were gardeners. We picked wild berries for desserts. We ate lots of vegetables from the garden, and fruits from the local orchards. There was no option. I never visited a doctor when visiting my grandparents. My mother, however, until her death had a limited view of vegetables. Iceberg lettuce was a mainstay. My view was similar until my recent transformation.

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    7. As I understand it breast fed infants don't get ear infections at nearly the same rate as bottle fed. It's not just the breast milk/vs formula, its also the sucking action, they have to work harder when at the breast and the eustachian tubes stay clear.

      I asked because it's my understanding that (if the parents co-operate), MD's are trying not to give antibiotics for these because in many cases they clear on their own. I was hoping I'd come back this morning to glowing testimonials from new parents telling me their MDs were aware of this.

      A drop of warmed oil (mineral, or better, infused mullein flower, or garlic oil) at the first sign of discomfort can nip it in the bud. Most nurse practitioners will advise that, it was even that way 30 yrs ago when my kids were small. My doc was very cautious with antibiotics even then. Same doc is now delivering my grandbabies :-)

      Wilbur - I hear you. I want to give my daughter-in-law a medal for the way she feeds my grandkids, they eat anything and everything. I think you and I had the same mother - but I roamed free and ate all kinds of wild fruit all summer. That must have saved me.

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    8. AND Wilbur, you may not have all the answers but you're looking for them! Your kid is getting a better start than her peers - good for you.


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    9. "Anyone here with recent experience with young kids, ear infections and antibioitics?"

      Standard treatment depends in part on how old the baby is and how intense the illness is. Younger babies, under 6 months, would more likely get a prescription for antibiotics, and if pain is intense or the infection looks particularly bad, a script for immediate use would be likely. And once you get into that cycle, whether it's because the child is particularly prone to EIs, or the gut disruption due to the antibiotics (or both), the cycle of repeat EIs often seems to keep going.

      As a practical matter, when the infection is really intense, watchtful waiting doesn't seem very humane. When my son was 3 or 4yo and an ear infection came on really fast (fell asleep fine at 8pm, woke up almost screaming at 10pm), I can't imagine not seeking out something to relieve the pain. (The lymph massage exercises we'd earlier gotten from our new doc worked quite well, though. Wish simple stuff like this was commonly taught--I don't have a special background and I could do it, and at 10pm, the other options are not great.)

      My daughter is 11 now (so I know that's a decade out of date) but her first EI was at 5 mos (breastfed, just starting tastes of solids), and our pedi, while a very nice man, never suggested a thing besides antibiotics. Didn't suggest anything else when the 2nd EI came along at 7 months. But I didn't like the way this was going and had sought out someone who did cranial sacral and after probably half a dozen visits, she's never had another ear infection.

      -Tanya

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    10. There are reasons why infant mortality used to be so high. Same thing that Oscar Wilde died from: Mastoid sinus infection that broke through to the brain and killed him. I think today's people are really totally out of it romanticizing the past. Babies died. Young children died. It was routine.

      We don't even know (or at least I didn't back when my kids were babies) if the environment was healthy for them or not. And who had choices? Made no difference that both kids were breastfed for 8 months. One kid got Olympian tonsils, the other didn't. Kid number one was Ms Ear Infection, the other has never had one. Kid number one got every illness on offer. Kid number two did not. Why? How do I know? Kid number one got the chicken pox. If she hadn't got it first, I'd never have noticed that Kid number two got it afterwards. She only had the poxy things in her scalp, nowhere else and no mega fever or malaise.

      There's more, but bottom line: differences in immune system competency. Neither of them went to daycare. They were cared for by nannies when I wasn't around. So how come one of them ended up with a huge Herpetic Gingivostomatitis and the other, never. Why was kid number one almost fatally allergic to red food colouring and the other kid was fine.

      Maybe if the antibiotics and whatnot would not have been available, kid number one would have died.

      My kids were into swimming and are champs (now moved on to marathon running (drive me nuts, crazy kids but they are in their 30s so Mom is on shut up mode)) But one of them managed to get a burst ear drum back in 1992. It appeared to be a sudden event because she wasn't complaining about ear pain prior to. I took her to an old geezer working out of his basement in Sudbury, Ontario. Antibiotics. Well, what am I supposed to do? Have her go deaf?

      I was a breech birth. Have no idea what all transpired during the nightmare my mother endured. She was refugee status and the hospital staff opted for 'natural' even though most women would have had a C section. I developed erysipalas shortly after being born. Without antibiotics I wouldn't be here today to bother everybody.

      These days women are not giving birth to a dozen kids and expect maybe 4 to survive. Every baby is uber precious because women are waiting later and later to have children.

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    11. I don't think anyone's arguing that we shouldn't have, or shouldn't use, antibiotics sometimes. And most everybody I hear of is pretty deeply concerned that we have more and more bacteria resistant to multiple types of antibiotics.

      But surely there's a wide enough gap between avoiding antibiotics at all costs and American kids averaging 10 rounds by age 10, and roughly 20 rounds by age 20, for us to figure out how to hit that target? I know that some kids need them, I know some of those kids, but as an average, that's huge.

      And at a practical level, I think the internet has changed everything in terms of dealing with illnesses. My 2nd kid got sick a lot, a whole lot when he was little. On the order of 35-40 illnesses in his first 24 months. That's not normal, and I didn't get useful advice from our pediatrician, but I have gotten a lot of good ideas by reading online, both in terms of getting him through those illnesses uneventfully, and figuring out what he needs so he doesn't get sick unusually often. If he were born even 10 years earlier, it would've been a lot harder, maybe impossible, for me to learn what I needed to.

      But that's also part of why some people, including me, are frustrated with family doctors/pediatricians. If I, as a parent without a background in medicine, can fill a toolbox with things that prevent my kids' illnesses from turning serious, even with a kid who got sick way more than usual, and none of those ideas came from our pedi or FP, well it feels like a pretty ineffective system we've got. And if regular doctors were teaching these basic things to most of their patients' families, they'd have a lot more time to focus on the kids who have truly complex issues and who need specialized support.

      -Tanya

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    12. I lived in the Netherlands from 89-91 with my American wife and 5 year old son. He developed an ear infection one night and we called the local "huisarts" (on call doctor that makes house calls!). He examined the cranky boy and diagnosed "oor infectie". As he prepared to leave, my wife asked what he was going to prescribe as the boy had allergies to several antibiotics.

      The huisarts said he was not going to give any antibiotics as he did not believe that kids need them, better to let the body heal itself. he recommended some ear drops.

      We went and bought the ear drops that night, they may have helped a bit. Next day, we took him to see the American doctor on the air base, he promptly gave us a big pink bottle of amoxicillin. I think his only question was "grape or cherry?"

      Stupid, backwards Dutch huisarts!.

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  12. Just a note to say hi to people and I'm still around and to let people know that you can do everything as "right" as you know how and you can still blow a metaphorical health gasket. Since I have returned from the US and Canada my health has taken a downward dive that even 18 days of Elixa couldn't undo. Not sure what all the triggering factors were though high altitude plane travel must be part of it.

    I'm on the way up and now have the occasional good day, like yesterday, and that is very nice. In the meantime its back to basics.

    Harriet

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  13. Is it odd that since I found the info on potato starch and related fibers & pre/probiotics and began incorporating them into my diet, I've felt less and less like eating stuff like arugula/rocket/ruccola and other leafy greens, raw?

    Before, I could eat a whole(70-100g) bag with my meal, now I rarely have an appetite for them. I still do eat them, just not with any enthusiasm.

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    1. It's not weird to me. When I started this, I started liking foods I hadn't and not liking some I used to. I believe your gut talks to you, telling you what it needs. I'd listen unless it is telling you to sub processed cheese or something for the arugula.

      An idea is that your gut might be trying to diversify. You've eaten arugula so much and long that the bugs it feeds might dominate. It might want you to cut back so other species might grow more in proportion. It's a different thing, but early on I developed a strong aversion to sugary things likes cakes. The smell nauseated me. Now I'm fine. I can eat cake, but don't often. Maybe the gut was trying to reduce the proportion of sugar eaters?

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    2. Yes. Good point.
      I've a feeling I should listen to what my body seems to want me to eat. At this point in time it's lots and lots of nuts, things containing RS3-I cook huge batches of beans and make salads(oil/vinegar, red onions & parsley mostly...or marinated in gremolata or garlic/allspice). Not a lot of raw veggies at all, but hot, properly cooked food. Cabbage, onions and beans have become a sort of holy trinity to me.

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  14. I just came across the following interesting post:

    The Future of Dieting Is Personalized Algorithms Based on Your Gut Bacteria

    http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/10/future-of-dieting-is-personalized-algorithms.html#

    Every day our gut flora health is becoming more and more important. We are definitely heading in the right direction.

    Jo tB

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