Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Hodge Podge Post

I know that I promised you some pictures and I'm sorry to say that I'm not quite done with either project.  I ran into something that I can't talk about and can't explain but it is causing quite a mental hurdle for me and will continue to do so until next year.  I wish I could say more...but I hope that you can understand that sometimes you just can't control life...the most one can hope is to find a way to cope and go forward.

Speaking of coping...we found this amazing map.  It is called Sky Elements and is full of something for everyone.  Be warned...there are monster spawners...everywhere.  They are in trees and in boxes and under the ground.  We spent a good two days just blowing up every two steps trying to clear out the jungle.  But now we have it under control.

I tried to find a path into the heart of what I wanted to say and couldn't find one.  So shifting gears...

In the old days, the well of the community was it's heart.  Water is necessary for survival.  Everything would spiral out from that water source and without it a town would surely become a ghost town.

The "well" in our body is our gut.  The human body houses about 100 trillion microorganisms in the gut.  Good gut bacteria take energy from the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates and the product of the absorption of fatty acids.  Many of these bacteria act like organs in the way they perform metabolic jobs around our body.

Bacteria line our intestines and help us digest food, they make vitamins that are vital for life, they send signals to the immune system and they make small molecules that help our brain to work.

Over the years we have learned that these symbiotic bacteria help keep many functions of our body running smoothly.  The numbers are constantly changing as science starts to really look at the bacterial in our gut.  A study I read in 2013 said that on average the people they tested had 200 strains from 100 different species.  Another that I read said that there are somewhere between 5,600 different strains of gut bacteria; but about 99% come from the same 30 to 40 species.

The point is this is a new frontier and we are just on the cusp of understanding how important these gut flora are to our well being.  The helpful bacteria in our gut outweigh our own cells by a factor of 10.  We only know what a fraction of these good bacteria do; there are still so many unknowns.

The most well known of these is Lactobacillus.  This bacteria that resides in the small intestine is responsible for producing lactase, the enzyme required to break down lactose.  Lactose is the sugar found in milk.  It also ferments carbohydrates in the gut to produce lactic acid.  Your gut is acidic so that it can discourage the growth of bad bacteria which thrives in an alkaline environment.  Lactic acid also helps to absorb some important minerals like copper, calcium, magnesium and iron.

If you break it down further by strain you can see how involved this bacteria is in our well being. Some of the many strains are:

L. acidophilus - helps to maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall, ensure proper nutrient absorption and supports healthy overall digestive function.

L. plantarum - produces hydrogen peroxide to defend against bacteria consumed in food it also supports immune function

L. rhamnosus - can survive in the GI tract, is excellent for female health organs, eczema and depression

L. salivarius - can survive in less then ideal conditions and is found in the mouth, throat and sinuses, intestines and female organs.  It also helps to prevent the colonization of the bad bacteria

The Bifidobacterium species lines the walls of the large intestine.  It helps to ward off invasive bad bacteria, including yeast.  It also produces lactic acid which provides up to 70 percent of the energy required by cells that line the intestinal wall, this helps to strengthen the protective barrier in the gut. It also helps to keep the pH for the large intestine acidic to discourage growth of harmful bacteria. The lower pH helps the absorption of minerals.  Bifidobacterium also produces B-complex vitamins and vitamin K.

Some of the strains of this bacteria are:

B. bifidum - this strain is one of the first that we receive as babies and travels our life with us as one of our good flora that is found in the large intestine sometimes the small intestine as well.  It promotes bacterial balance, prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria, molds and yeasts

B. longum - is very common and has an ability to break down carbohydrates and to scavenge and neutralize toxins.  There is research being done right now that suggests this bacteria also practices chelation of metal ions and the scavenging of free radicals.  Regardless, this bacteria supports immune health.

B. infantis - this bacteria is found in babies and declines as we age.  It regulates our gut and decreases bloating and bathroom difficulties

So why is this suddenly such a a big deal.  Two big reasons:  the foods that we used to consume because fermentation was a necessary part of the diet are not being eaten as much...especially in this country.  Kimchi, sauerkraut, unpasteurized cheese, buttermilk, fermented cod liver oil, kefir, kombucha, miso, natural pickles (not the ones on the shelf), tempeh, apple cider vinegar and yogurt are a few of the foods that are full of these helpful bacteria.

The second reason is antibiotics.  Antibiotics are amazing when you need them but they kill gut flora. If you were on a broad spectrum antibiotic you might have killed off an entire strain and not even known it.  And since each of those above listed foods only have certain bacteria in them, you might not be able to repopulate your colony and may lose out on their previous contribution to your well being.

An example of this might be, say I killed off my Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain.  This strain is responsible for the GI tract which might be handled by another strain.  It is hard to know the extent of losing one strain can have on the body.  Many people with eczema and skin inflammation are found to be deficient in this bacteria.  Further study has also linked this bacteria with the happy feel good feeling that your brain needs to have to maintain good emotional balance.  Without this enzyme this balance is lacking and many times depression is present in individuals with a L. rhamnosus imbalance or deficiency.  It helps with weight loss as well.

If I would hypothesize the lack of L. rhamnosus starts a chain of events that in the beginning might not be noticeable but as time goes on would start to become apparent.  If the GI tract has lost some of it's guardian forces then maybe some bad bacteria would start to grow.  Bad bacteria eat processed food, sugar and sugar free substitutes.  It is very easy to feed them which is why you need a strong army to keep them at bay.  Bad bacteria create inflammation and encourage weight gain.  When you are craving sugar it is probably your bad bacteria needing a fix.  So during this process the scale is probably going up.

The effects of the harmful bacteria start to move through the body in this example into the skin and brain.  We know that there are bacteria which fight the brain fog that is one of the first signs that your gut is out of balance.  Anxiety which is another thing that L. rhamnosus helps to keep in check starts to spiral out of control and maybe there is trouble sleeping or focusing which both raise stress levels. Stress supports and feeds the inflammation and now there is a mental and psychical imbalance.

That is just a hypothesis but I feel it is close to the truth.   I have watched health, sometimes my own spiral out of control and if I looked back I could see the warning signs for what they are.

My gut right now is very sensitive.  I feel foggy a lot of the time.  My anxiety has gotten worse over the last year.  I have patches of eczema that just came out of no where.  So that example could be me.

I have been struggling with the sugar cravings but thankfully been able to hold my weight and I may be an anxious easily stressed mess but I am happy and thankful.  Last year I could not say that as easily but I am constantly working with myself...working towards a balance of spirit, mind and body.

When I had my spider bite I took a broad spectrum antibiotic and I never really through about it until I started researching probiotics for my family...but I think that I have compromised by gut flora and it is out of wack.

I'm going to try probiotics and see what difference they make and report back to you.

Shifting gears again...the foot scrub sales are going good, people like the product and I have repeat customers.  I have a bunch of new things in the works for fall to take people into winter.  I also had a few requests for products which, is really nice.

I find that I like putting together the herbal concoctions as much as I like writing up a pattern.  It takes the right combination of oils, and herbs and a good base to create a quality product.  I am also learning about layering scents.

A scent that really grabs you has notes of different intensities.

There is the top note: this is the one that grabs you first and then just as quickly it fades.  It is can be something like peppermint, nutmeg or frankincense.

There is the middle or heart note:  this one imparts warmth or fullness.  It can be a floral like rose, jasmine or chamomile.

There is the base or dry note:  this one is what stays after the others fade.  It can be something like sandalwood, vanilla or patchouli.

I am really excited about working with scents again.  This is something I did when I was younger and I really enjoyed it.  I have some ylang ylang which smells fruity and floral and I can't wait to see what it pares well with.

The thing I like about scents is that you can use their aromatherapy properties for healing, stimulating, invigorating, warming or cooling and many other things as well.

Anyway, this post is really long and disjointed so I should probably sign off.

Hugs to everyone!
May the seeds you planted in the spring be bearing beautiful and productive fruit.

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