Thursday, April 24, 2014

Comparing autoimmune diets and lemony zucchini fettuccine

Yes, we're very photogenic!
Finding the right diet to help heal the gut and related autoimmune disease can be challenging. I must admit I have tried many diets, including the paleo diet, specific carbohydrate diet (SCD), FODMAPs, Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), anti-candida diet (ACD), vegan diet, raw diet,  the Plan and Fast Tract Digestion. I suffer from IBS symptoms related to candida and bacterial overgrowth and resulting fibromyalgia.

In the past year, I have been on the AIP, FODMAPs and SCD. Recently, I settled on the Fast Tract Digestion Diet. All of these diets were on the right track and work wonders for many people but only the Fast Tract Digestion Diet limits the known contributors to SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Here are the pros and cons of each diet when it comes to IBS and SIBO.

AIP Diet:
Pro: Removes or limits many of the difficult-to-digest carbohydrates tied to SIBO and candida, including grains and legumes, dairy.
Con: Many foods are eliminated that could be tolerated by those with SIBO and instead relies on many carbohydrates that could contribute to SIBO, such as high-starch fruits, vegetables and coconut.

Pro: This diet is on the right tract in that it only allows specific sugars and starches.
Con: Honey is used extensively and grains that might be tolerated are eliminated.

Pro:  Limits fructose, fructans, lactose, galactans and sugar alcohols, all known contributors to SIBO.

Con: Fails to restrict many starches. Leaves individual without guidance as to tolerable serving sizes for allowed carbohydrates.

Fast Tract Diet:
 Pro: Defines kinds of acceptable carbohydrates and suggested serving sizes. Provides charts listing the fermentation potential (malabsorption) of many commonly eaten carbohydrates. Helps identify and restrict difficult-to-digest carbohydrates.
Cons: Must weigh, measure and calculate fermentation potential (FP) of all carbohydrates.

Lemony zucchini fettuccine with chicken and sausage

Why Fast Tract works for me?

I don't mind weighing, measuring and calculating the FP of my meals. Unlike other diets, Fast Tract provides a full list of difficult-to-digest carbohydrates that can promote SIBO. I can create my own meals using the list of carbs with their FP and suggested serving sizes.

 I recently created Lemony Zucchini Fettuccine using the Fast Tract guidelines.

You will need:
Part of 1 green zucchini (1.4 grams)
Part of 1 yellow zucchini (1.4 grams)
Part of 1 carrot, peeled (1.4 grams)
1/4 red pepper(1.4 grams)
2 broccoli florets (1.4 grams)
6 ounces cooked chicken
1/4 cup cooked chicken sausage (free of gluten, starch and sugar/honey)
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 T. low-fat Farmers' Cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
 1 T. olive oil

Here's what you do:

Use a swivel blade or julienne vegetable peeler to cut the zucchinis and carrot into long fettuccine-like strands. Julienne slice the red pepper and broccoli with a knife. Weigh all your veggies and save the extra zucchinis and carrot for another meal.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the veggies and stir fry until partly tender. Add the broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and continue cooking with a lid in place for about 3 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add the chicken, sausage and farmers' cheese and heat.

Recipe contributed to:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gummy candies for grown-ups

Misha relaxes with Foxy, his buddy

 "I have found no convincing evidence that...caffeine contributes to IBS symptoms. I believe that any IBS symptoms...are actually caused by additives---for example, sucrose (table sugar) in coffee and tea." Norman Robillard, author Fast Tract Digestion: a Science-based Diet to Treat and Prevent IBS and SIB0 

Robillard recommends limiting your caffeinated beverage consumption to two per day until your symptoms are under control. Two cups per day also are allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, outlined by Elaine Gottschall, author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health through Diet,

I love coffee and green tea. Sadly, I've avoided the two beverages for years because numerous "authorities" said to stay away from caffeine when on an anti-fungal diet or fighting bacterial overgrowth or gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

If you search the internet, you will find numerous websites whose authors proclaim  as experts that you need to stay away from caffeine of all kinds if you are on a anti-candida diet. Others say caffeine consumption can be harmful to those with gastrointestinal disorders. I read or heard this information so many times that I began to believe it was the gospel truth. In fact, I repeated this information over and over again myself. BUT I have yet to see a scientific study backing up these claims. It seems to be based more on observational studies.

Coffee is a highly misunderstood food. It's connection to stomach issues is even more misundertood. But after many years of following so-called experts, I have learned  to take nutritional advice with a grain of salt. It all boils down to caffeine "might possibly but not necessarily" affect fungal overgrowth and gastro problems. Not hard science, you might say.

Here's what we do know. Fungi and bacteria feed on sugar as in carbohydrates. Caffeine, by itself, is not a sugar. Current research cannot support that mild caffeine consumption will exacerbate a fungal or bacterial overgrowth.(If you know of research, please let me know.) We also know that coffee/caffeine can be a gastric irritant in sensitive individuals.

Mocha gummies

Green tea or coffee gummies

Coffee and green tea contain many beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and ingredients. (My new nutritional advice: investigate these claims yourself before accepting what I or others say.)

  • A single serving of coffee contains 11 percent RDA of riboflavin (Vitamin B2); six percent RDA of pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5); three percent RDA manganese and potassium; two percent RDA magnesium and niacin.
  • Coffee and green tea drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type II diabetes.
  • Coffee and green tea drinkers have a decreased risk of getting Alzheimer's Disease or dementia.
  • Coffee and green tea lower your risk of certain types of cancers.
  • Coffee and green tea are loaded with antioxidants. In fact for some, coffee is their biggest source of antioxidants.
  • Coffee and green tea drinkers may live longer.
  • Both improve brain function and energy. 
Recently, I started drinking both coffee and green tea after a many years of abstaining. I started off slowly on both. I have not experienced any negative effects. I do limit consumption to two cups (combined) per day. 

One of my favorite fun recipes to make with leftover coffee or green tea is Green tea or Coffee Gummies.

Here's what you need:

1 cup green tea or coffee
Optional: 1/4 cup coconut milk or other milk beverage
3-4 T. grassfed gelatin
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 droppers full liquid stevia (no alcohol)

Here's what you do:

Add green tea or coffee and optional milk beverage to a pan on the stove. Warm the mixture. Add the gelatin. Whisk a little at a time until the gelatin is dissolved. Add the vanilla and stevia. Pour the mixture into molds. Regrigerate until set.

Recipe contributed to:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cookie dough yogurt

Misha  with his special buddy, Foxy
How many of you can remember having a special toy, stuffed animal, blanket or doll that you dragged around with you everywhere when you were a little kid? Mine was a doll, named Cindy. My kids had special toys too but I wasn't expecting one of my fur kids to adopt a stuffed animal.

Misha, the husky, has a special buddy, named Foxy. He takes Foxy with him wherever he goes in the house. He even takes him to bed with him at night. Most people would say it's adorable the way he watches over his furry, little pal.

Misha grabs Foxy off the shelf.
But what if Misha were a human adult and had an invisible, six-foot-plus tall bunny rabbit as his special buddy?  Every year around Easter, you can expect to see the Cadbury Easter bunny commercials, the "Sound of Music" and, on some retro TV channel, the classic movie, "Harvey." Jimmy Stewart plays Elwood P. Dowd, a wealthy eccentric, whose best friend is a 6'3 1/2" tall, invisible bunny rabbit, named Harvey.

As a kid, I loved this movie. I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool to have giant Easter bunny as your friend?" I totally missed the point of the movie which, I think, was accepting others who are different.

These days, I have my own special, invisible "friend," named SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). Doesn't really sound like a friend, does it? It's not a big bunny rabbit but it does cause big digestive problems. I don't go around introducing everyone to my invisible friend, SIBO, like Elwood did Harvey. But I do talk about SIBO in my blog in hopes of informing others who might have the problem about it.

Cookie dough yogurt
Because of SIBO, I probably won't be enjoying many Easter goodies. Maybe Harvey or the Easter bunny can bring me sugar-free, low fermentation Easter goodies. I could probably have a teeny, tiny bite.

Instead, I'll be eating a lot of homemade yogurt that I ferment for 24-hours+ to remove the lactose. Lately, for a delicious, every-now-and-then treat, I've been turning my plain yogurt into Cookie Dough Yogurt. It's sugar-free, has lots of beneficial bacteria and has fairly low fermentation potential.

Here's what you need:

1 cup of plain yogurt, dairy or dairy-free
1 T. coconut oil
1 T. sunbutter, almond butter or peanut butter, your choice, but sugar-free
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 droppers full of liquid vanilla stevia, alcohol-free
1 T. homemade, sugar-free chocolate chips

Here's what you do:

Soften the coconut oil and seed or nut butter. Mix with the yogurt and other ingredients. Put in the fridge to chill and thicken.  To serve, blend in a few chocolate chips. You can make these by blending 2 T. coconut oil, 1 T. cocoa powder and stevia. Allow this mixture to harden in a small pan. Break into chips.

Recipe contributed to:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cookie Monster want treat

Layered Reese's "Peanut Butter" Cups
I've been giving my gut a "monster" rating depending on how I'm feeling each day. Today is a Cookie Monster day which means my gut isn't talking to me much.

I have bacterial overgrowth in my small intestine (SIBO) and candida as the result of years of misdiagnosis of my stomach problems. SIBO causes IBS-like symptoms, in the severe category for me. Left unchecked, the overgrowth damages your gut resulting in leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders.

I guess that's why I have "monster" ratings for my situation. The bacteria by itself is relatively harmless but as a collective, overgrown mass, it becomes a monster to the host, which is me.

Some days, I feel like Sigourney Weaver as Lt. Ellen Ripley battling the extraterrestrial creatures in the  Alien movies. My monster seems as indestructible as the eight-foot-tall creature that burst out of a crew member's chest after using him as a host. Some days, I'm Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors feeding Audrey II, the blood-eating plant with an insatiable appetite.

Luckily, today is a Cookie Monster day. But as with any chronic illness, you never know when things might change for the worse. Your best bet is to keep a positive attitude. But on the "Alien" days when I feel like I'm battling an extraterrestrial creature, I admit to being less than positive and at times, even having an emotional meltdown.

I've been combating the "Aliens" with my own special forces. I call them the Aliens' worst nightmare, sort of like Hellboy, a demon who works for good. My Hellboy forces include probiotics, HCL-Pepsin supplements, herbal antibiotics, lactose-free yogurt and kefir, and cultured veggies.

Sometimes, I toy with the Cookie Monster, or whatever the monster of the day is, by eating a low fermentation treat. The trick is to avoid eating much that can't be easily digested. Your foods need to have low fermentation potential. Even then, you can't overdo what you eat.

Here is what you need for Layered Reese's "Peanut Butter" Cups:

For the chocolate layers:

1 T. cocoa powder
2 T. coconut oil
1 T. unsweetened sunbutter or other seed/nut butter
5-10 drops vanilla liquid stevia, alcohol free

For the "Peanut Butter" Layers:

2 T. sunbutter
2 T. coconut oil
liquid stevia
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, alcohol free

Here's what you do:

Make the chocolate mixture. Combine softened sunbutter, coconut oil, cocoa powder, stevia in a bowl. Pour a thin layer of the mixture in the bottom of mini-cupcake cells. Set the mini-cupcake pan in the freezer or fridge to hasten firming.

Next, mix up the "peanut butter" mixture. Once the bottom chocolate layer is firm, pour on a thin layer of the PB mixture. Return the cupcake pan to freezer or fridge.

Keep repeating this procedure until you have no more room in your cupcake cells for additional layers. Once the PB cups are firmed up, remove them from the pan and store in the freezer or fridge until ready to toy with your monster.

Misha grabs his pal, Foxy, off the shelf.