Sunday, April 29, 2012

the doubting Thomas story

Susie's sermon today at Peace Congregational Church was about the story that is called Doubting Thomas, because she only got half way through the reading when she preached on it the week after Easter.  What she had to say grew partly out of a story I had told her, and it moved me very deeply.

She started by saying that Doubting Thomas should really be called Brave Thomas, and with a quote from Kahlil Gilbran: "Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother."  She pointed out that Thomas was very brave not to run away or make excuses when Jesus appeared again and invited him to touch Jesus's wounds. 

Then she moved from the story to how she imagined the scene.  She imagined that Jesus reached out and took Thomas's hand, and placed it on his wounds, first each hand and then in his side.   And then Jesus lifted Thomas's chin to see his eyes and invited him to believe.

The story I had told her was about a therapist who literally touched my wound when I asked for that.  I had forgotten the detail that I reached out and placed his hand on my arm. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

raw milk yogurt

I buy from a pre-order farm market, Clemson Area Food Exchange.  For a while I bought goat milk yogurt there, but learning about a primal diet I kept reading about the advantages of raw milk (and the goat milk yogurt is pasturized).  CAFE offers raw milk from Jersey cows, which some people think has a healthier kind of protein than the more common milk from Holsteins.  I felt a bit intimidated by the raw milk both because there is so much written about the risks and because I remember not liking it as a child, so I decided to make yogurt to use in my smoothies.

After some research, I decided that I wanted to keep the advantages of the raw milk and not heat the milk to 180 degrees, as most recipes call for.  I'm currently using purchased yogurt starter.  If you use raw milk you shouldn't just start your yogurt from the last batch, as other bacteria can increase.  I didn't want to go to the trouble of making separate batches in pasturized milk to use as starter, and the purchased starter has the advantage of a wider range of live cultures than even good supermarket yogurt. 

So here's the system I have worked out.  To my surprise, it makes a nice firm yogurt even though it is low fat and from raw milk, both of which tend to make yogurt set less well.  I thought about buying a yogurt maker but I keep reading reviews that they run too hot or too cold so I decided that the cooler method would work as well.

Raw milk yogurt

Sterilize glass canning jars in boiling water (I make two quarts).  I pour off most of the cream from my half gallon of raw milk to use for other purposes.  Fill your jars (leaving at least an inch headspace) with milk and place in the pan of warm water left over from sterilizing the jars.  Let sit, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 115 degrees.  Stir in yogurt starter.  Cover loosely (I use the plastic storage lids sold for canning jars). I wrap the jars in a towel inside a cooler with a hot water bottle of hot tap water and a couple of insulated travel mugs of boiling water and let it sit on the counter for 8 to 10 hours.  Refrigerate. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

going primal and boosting my thyroid

I'm now about three month into following a primal way of eating, learning mostly from Marks Daily Apple.  I was already eating low carb, so the big change is that I have given up all grains, legumes and sugar (things I previously at in small amounts) and am trying to avoid all vegetable oils except olive and coconut oils.

My thyroid is fine according to my doctor, but my TSH has been creeping up and two of my sisters are on thyroid replacement.  I realized I was cold all the time and decided to  try supplements to help my thyroid.  For many years I took no vitamins or minerals at all, figuring I ate a very healthy diet.  I'm not entirely comfortable with the "you need these vitamins to clear the toxins from your body" line of argument, but I did see a difference from supplementing vitamin D on days when I wasn't in the sun, so I will try the whole package.

It made sense to me that I might be deficient in iodine because for years I almost never added salt to my food and I eat a lot of seafood only a few weeks a year.  So I am supplementing with iodine and the necessary companion supplements.  I currently take:
  • 2 drops Lugols 2% (increasing my iodine very slowly)
  • 2 Brazil nuts for selenium
  • 1000 mg. vitamin C in ascorbate form
  • 200 mg. Magnesium in Bis-Glycinate form
  • 100 mg. Riboflavin
  • 500 mg. Niacin (as inositol hexanicotinate)
  • 5000 IU vitamin D3
  • Ashwagandha (reduces the effect of stress on my blood glucose)
  • 1/2 teasp celtic or himalayan natural salt
and am adding
I'm particularly curious whether my LDL cholesterol will go down--apparently high cholesterol can result from low thyroid.  Last year I tried garlic and oat bran, and neither helped.  My HDL and Triglycerides are excellent so I don't take any medication.  But my LDL did go up when I briefly took Zoloft, which is known to reduce one of the thyroid hormones.

It was late last fall before I got to a dose of Metformin that I thought did anything for me, and my weight gain stopped at that point.  So I can't say one thing made the difference, but I am down two and a half pants sizes since the beginning of December, without limiting how much I eat.
I am beginning to realize that I do have more energy and feel better.  And it is lovely not to be hungry.

It is so nice to have those visible results because by conventional wisdom it is a strange way of eating.  My usual day goes something like this:
  • Breakfast: smoothie with one cup yogurt made from raw milk, 1 tblsp MCT oil, 2 local eggs (raw yolks, whites cooked in coconut oil), 1 banana, 1 kale leaf, and ice cubes
  • Lunch: salad with meat and cheese on it or leftovers
  • Dinner: meat and vegetables
  • Bedtime snack: currently local strawberries with cream or custard