I am sitting at my computer this morning with a bad feeling in my stomach, a feeling that I have not felt since 2003.
I'm not going to tell my nutritional history in this blog - I've told it many times over the years. But briefly, it was GERD - indigestion - a burning feeling in my lower esophagus and upper stomach - that led me to the BTD. Within a week of starting this diet, I was off of all medication, and within 10 days I was pain free. I had hoped never to have that feeling again.
This morning's pain is my own fault. DD has always tended slightly to constipation. Now that she has a desk job, that tendency has gotten worse. So she and I did some brainstorming. She eats a very high fiber diet - lots of seeds and nuts that are a good protein source for Type As. She drinks lots of fluid and gets plenty of exercise.
We bought some bran, because that is what Dr. D recommends for constipation in A's, B's, and AB's. She was reluctant to take it because even though it is recommended in the protocols, it is avoid on the food lists. I bought her some psyllium, which isn't listed on the BTD or GTD food lists. She said it helped a little, but not much.
All of the brainstorming I was doing with DD got me to thinking about myself. I loved the way my lower digestive system worked when I ate 2 Tablespoons of bran every day. I thought about trying an experiment. DD sent me home with a container of bran and a container of psyllium. I added 1 Tablespoon of bran to my breakfast one day and 1 Tablespoon of psyllium the next.
The immediate impact was a marked improvement in my already good bowel health. With colon cancer in my family, plus having had a precancerous polyp removed, I was delighted. I alternated the two fibers for several weeks, with no ill effects. Three days ago, I felt just a twinge of indigestion. It must be the bran, I thought. So I set the bran aside and took psyllium two days in a row. Yesterday the indigestion was a little worse.
At this point I should have gone on the BTD website and done some research. I would have read that Dr. D does not recommend psyllium for Type Os. I would have read comments from lots of Type Os who tried psyllium anyway and regretted it. Instead I focused on the good effect psyllium was having in my colon, and added it to my breakfast again this morning. Within 30 minutes I knew I had made a mistake. This time the pain is not a twinge, it is uncomfortable and annoying.
The good news is that I know I will feel better as soon as the psyllium has passed through my stomach. I will focus on beneficial foods and ghee that will heal the inflammation. My only regret is that I've already tried rice bran, oat bran, and flax seed. They help, but there doesn't seem to be a fibrous food that does for Type Os what bran and psyllium do for other types.
Our neighbors tell us we got five inches of rain while we were gone. I believe them! The grass seized the opportunity and went to seed. We returned home to find thigh high grass. Our yard could have inspired the words "amber waves of grain".
Because we live in the country, we do not have a manicured suburban yard. We encourage native plants, and most of the year we let the yard, except for the area right around the house, go wild. But thigh high grass is too much. It invites snakes and rodents to take up residence; and that is not acceptable! So, I've been mowing an hour or two every afternoon. It's good exercise.
Yesterday I got double exercise. I met my exercise partner at the fitness room in the morning to lift weights. In the afternoon I mowed. This morning I feel fit and strong.
I had bought a bag of shredded cabbage for Cole Slaw before we left on our trip. When we returned, the cabbage was looking a little wilted. HH loves Cole Slaw almost any time, particularly with sandwiches or soup. So he was happy to be getting Cole Slaw every day. But I could see that the cabbage was going to go bad long before I could use it all.
I remembered wistfully a cooked cabbage recipe that I loved making before I started the BTD. At the time I was not a cabbage eater. I didn't like raw cabbage in Cole Slaw. I didn't like fermented sauerkraut. I didn't like watery cooked cabbage. I came across a recipe that said cook cabbage in a little milk and melted butter. I tried it and to me it tasted wonderful. Full disclosure - DD and HH who both prefer raw vegetables to cooked, did not share my enthusiasm. But I often fixed cabbage this way for myself when I was alone at lunch. I abandoned the recipe when I started the BTD because of the milk.
I was thinking about that recipe for cooked cabbage as I made Cole Slaw for HH. Then I thought of almond milk. I put some ghee in a skillet, added the last of the cabbage, added a little almond milk and began to cook. As the cabbage wilted, I added a few shredded carrots.
The result tasted every bit as good as I remember the original recipe tasting. I am happy to be enjoying cooked cabbage again. HH is happy because buying cabbage more often means more Cole Slaw for him.
As the old Simon and Garfunkel song said, "Gee but it's great to be back home."
Monday was the last sightseeing day of the trip. We drove to Hartford, Connecticut to see the Mark Twain home. I always associate him with small towns along the Mississippi River, where he grew up; but he did his writing from a beautiful home in Hartford. I think I am going to go back and reread some of his books, now that I know more about him as a man. His childhood years were the foundation for his books, but he experienced great sorrow as an adult.
One for the exhibits said that he lived double life: Sam Clemens the family man and Mark Twain the entertainer, author, and humorist. After he lost his family, he became Mark Twain full time with unkempt wild hair and white suits.
I had packed a lunch with leftover vegetables and chicken. Everyone else elected to go to Subway for lunch, so I was glad I had food with me. Though I can always do a salad at Subway, it is mostly iceberg lettuce, which is not particularly nutritious.
We stopped at a market on the way home and bought shrimp. I grilled onions and steamed shrimp. My sister cooked yellow squash, made a salad, and warmed up the leftover cod. She fixed baked potatoes for herself and our husbands. She worried about me not having enough to eat, but I reminded her that I had eaten two pieces of rice bread in the middle of the afternoon. I heaped my plate high with shrimp, squash, and onions. I was happy.
The next day we were up early to drive to the airport. Flight delays made it a 16.5 hour travel day. That's a lot better than driving, but we were tired when we walked in the door at 10 PM. I had my computer, so I spent most of the day with the laptop literally in my lap. I got a lot of work done, but it was way, way too much sitting. I wish I had gotten up once an hour and walked briskly around the terminal.
The laundry is done. I had a photo shoot Wednesday, so I'm busy editing pictures. Life is returning to routine...which is a good segue into the title of this blog. When I first started blogging in 2004, I had been on the BTD for almost a year. Everything was new. Every day was an adventure. I was blogging 2-4 times a week. In 2008 when my parents began their end of life health issues, I blogged less often. I was eating right, which gave me strength to cope with difficult days, but I didn't particularly want to share all the details of that time. I got out of the habit of thinking about blogging.
I have enjoyed taking you along on this vacation. I have enjoyed writing about daily decisions concerning food and exercise. After nine years on the BTD, the excitement has worn off, but perhaps it would be an encouragement to newbies to see that the BTD does become an easy way of life as you adapt to it.
Major news about one of my favorite molecules, l-fucose. In addition to being part of the antigenic structure of the H antigen found in blood group O, fucose is now garnering attention as an important component in learning. Although neurophysiology spends quite a bit of time looking at the neurosynaptic junction (the gap between two nerve cells, where nerve conduction occurs) most of the emphasis is on the neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) that can jump the gap.
However, what goes into holding the synapse together may be as important a factor in cognition and learning as what jumps across the synapse. And that appears to be lectin-like receptors on one side of the nerve synapse which bind to fucose as a ligand on the other.
In other words your nerves have a sweet tooth for fucose.
Reaction in the brain involving fucose skyrocket during periods of intense learning. And human milk is a very rich source of the sugar, with amounts far higher than all other species. The sugar content of human milk varies by ABO blood type and secretor status which makes me want to do a study looking at learning differences along blood group and secretor status in breast fed and bottle fed children.
The fucosyltransferase enzymes FUT1, FUT2 and FUT3 are very intimately involved in determining ABO, secretor and Lewis blood types and recent research has linked serum B12 levels (another important player in proper nerve function) to the FUT2 (secretor) gene.
Fucose and fucosylation have a big role in ontogeny (the origin and the development of an organism from the fertilized egg to its mature form) via it's role in the development of the Lewis X antigen (FUT9) which supports cell-to-cell-adhesion in embryos. Lewis X expression in the brain is in turn controlled by the PAX6 gene, which regulates many elements of nerve growth in addition to forming the architecture of the iris.
The link between PAX6 and Lewis X (FUT9) may explain why a recent study showed that at least some aspects of personality were determined by the genetics of iris formation. Close-up pictures were taken of the study participants' irises, and they also filled out a questionnaire about their personalities. The researchers looked at crypts (pits) and contraction furrows (lines curving around the outer edge of the iris), which are formed when pupils dilate. It was found that those with more crypts were likely to be tender, warm and trusting, while those with more furrows were more likely to be neurotic, impulsive and give in to cravings.
PAX6 is gene that helps regulate embryonic differentiation. PAX6 also has some interesting effects on adrenal and pancreatic function as well as norepinephrine expression in the gut via the enteric nervous system. Maybe there's a future in medicine for the iris after all.
Going forward, I predict that soon the best thing to use in kids who are learning-challenged will not be the usual suspects like Ritalin or SSRIs, but rather glycomic agents from the diet that enhance fucosylation. These drugs do enhance the function or persistence of neurotransmitters, but fucosylation enhancers seem to enhance the stability of the entire neural network. It makes no sense to up-regulate neurotransmitters if you haven't insured that the nerves are holding to each other in the first place.
Of course, most of the old blood typers know that Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosis) is a decent source of fucose.
Schizophrenia, gluten, and low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets
We report the unexpected resolution of longstanding schizophrenic symptoms after starting a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. After a review of the literature, possible reasons for this include the metabolic consequences from the elimination of gluten from the diet, and the modulation of the disease of schizophrenia at the cellular level.
Previously, Dohan (Acta Psych Scand 1966, 42(2):125-152) observed a decrease in hospital admissions for schizophrenia in countries that had limited bread consumption during World War II, which suggested a possible relationship between bread and schizophrenia. Early work with lectins clearly showed that the brains of schizophrenics bind lectins differently than the brain tissue of non-schizophrenics, which appears to make sense in that the carbohydrate content of schizophrenic brain tissue (in addition to dementia and a few other illnesses) revealed the existence of spherical deposits in the inner and middle molecular layers of the dentate gyrus in the hippocampal formation which contained fucose, galactose, N-acetyl galactosamine, N-acetyl glucosamine, sialic acid, mannose and chondroitin sulfate; many of these blood group active carbohydrates with known lectin binding affinities (link).
Over the years some of the most stirring letters I've received from book readers have centered around improvements in family members with schizophrenia. Almost all of these letters have been from or about blood type O schizophrenics, which may mean that the nutritional approach to schizophrenia might necessarily differ by foods and blood type. We are now only beginning to understand the effects of tissue glycosylation on the development and maintenance of brain neural networks.
Until I fell ill in February, it had been decades since I'd been in "patient" mode. Now, I have something of a complicated health picture and am dealing with the medical profession on my own behalf constantly.
What's changed over the years? Why do I, who used to work in Medicine in New York, find it such alien(ating) terrain?
There are those who say my native New York doctors and facilities are notoriously more professional and proficient than those here in California. Others say the whole profession has morphed into one in which patients must, much more than ever, concertedly advocate on their own behalves, doctors being less likely to automatically consider themselves accountable to actual patients, due to all the billing/regulatory intermediaries. Radiologists are more likely to rush-read images, and doctors to settle for mere reports without viewing actual films, etc.
I have been struggling with this, having lost the more aggressive insistence that came with the New York territory. I have always counseled the ill, including friends, to clearly assert themselves with medical professionals, and now I find myself in the position to discover how difficult that is to do when ailing. It is far easier said than done, so I'm humbled about it and smell a wildly fertile field in Patient Advocacy/Relations, for those of you seeking new careers.
I spent almost thirty adult years outside Medicine's crosshairs. Needing to avail myself of its services these days, I must mobilize great stores of energy, relearn old skills, learn new systems, and engage new techniques for navigating this terrain, said not-quite-Pollyanna.
Thanking God for the ol' B spirit, plasticity, resilience, equanimity, and cheer.
Internet troubles over the weekend kept me from blogging. I'm hearing on the news that the United Nations wants to take over the internet and tax me for each time I access a site. I would sure miss the unlimited access I now enjoy, but these two days proved that I can exist quite nicely without the internet.
Saturday we drove back into New Hampshire for a ride on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. We got up early and packed a picnic lunch anticipating getting close to the train station and finding a picnic area with a good view. Instead, there was a major accident on the Mass Turnpike. We spent all of our extra time sitting in traffic. We arrived at the train station with just enough time to sit on a railroad tie and eat our lunch before it was time to board.
The route was along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. Out one window we saw fall colors and luxurious vacation homes. Out the other window we saw the lake, sailboats, and charming islands. After the stressful car ride, the sounds and motion of the train were so relaxing. My sister remembered that the home where we grew up was about a half mile from a railroad track. She said she liked hearing train noises in the night and feeling that all was well.
For dinner my sister fixed pan grilled chicken with stir fry broccoli and carrots. It was a feast.
Sunday morning we went out for breakfast at IHop. One of their specials this month is two eggs with two mini sirloin steaks and hash browns. That sounded just right for a Type O. Everyone else had pancakes of one kind or another, but my meal was perfect.
We talked about all of the places we could go and things we could do, but in the end, everyone agreed that we needed a day of rest. After lunch we took a walk around the neighborhood where my sister lives. It was an interesting mixture of colonial era and very modern. In one block we would see a historical marker, in the next a state of the art swimming pool.
I caught up on work that I needed to do for my clients. Everyone else read and took naps. We went to the grocery store and bought cod fillets and scallops for dinner. She put a bread crumb and cheese topping on everyone's cod except mine. I found a garlic seasoning blend in her spice cabinet, which was delicious. We had potatoes (sweet for my sister and me, white for the two husbands) and salad.
Wow, can't believe how long it has been since I blogged. About the time we started moving into our own place. A happy time, nonetheless, stressful. Not as stressful as moving into a relative's basement two years ago, but despite getting rid of a ton of stuff then, we still have lots of stuff that needed moved again.
I still have boxes and boxes to unpack and pictures to hang. Now that my kids are back in school, and happy about to be there, I have a little more time to breath. The beginning of the school year was rocky, as my son still gets sick and tired very easily, but things are stabilizing and improving now. He still goes in for Neuro Modulation Therapy from time to time, and that has accomplished a couple more miracles this month. He used to have no energy to play after school, but now he just keeps playing all day long and is even starting to do chores. They go to a Montessori charter school, where there are really learning to take pride in their work, and that is carrying over to home. I'm so happy about all this that it almost brings me to tears to think about it. (I don't see a crying and smiling emoticon, or I'd put it in here).
My compliance hasn't been ideal through all these changes, but it was improved enough to maintain my June losses. Now I'm on fire again, and so is my new Traeger grill/smoker. It was getting hard to figure out what to make for dinner, especially in the protein department, but now it is fun again. I made a delicious London Broil last night (more like a big thick steak), I marinated it in olive oil and ume boshi plum vinegar and seasonings (ok, I'll admit, there was some A1 in there, which isn't ideal, but isn't as terrible as most sauces). I browned both sides, then turned down the heat to smoke (about 200 degrees F), and basted it with the marinade every so often. It took about 2 hours for a 1 1/4 pound cut. It still had some pinkness in the center, and wash quite tender. Even my youngest (an O) loved it, and it it so hard to get him to eat beef. I'll have to repeat that meal. I made salmon burgers for my As. I had more of the steak for breakfast today, with some baby portobello mushrooms and eggs. I've also cooked Alaskan salmon, shrimp, halibut, asparagus, summer squash, red peppers, and all-beef natural hot dogs. They were all better on the Traeger, although I haven't perfected their recipes yet, they still have some room for improvement before I describe them or post the recipes. The halibut was pretty good, but I rushed it and I think it would have benefited from a little more time on the smoke setting.
I was having a hard time figuring out what kind of grill to get, Gas grills don't always get the right flavor for me and the flare-ups are a problem, I don't know or want to know what is in charcoal (I know you can buy mesquite charcoal though) and I wanted something easy to light so I'd use it more often. Then I discovered Traegers with their all-natural-wood pellets...it's easy to light and use like gas, but gives a great flavor, with no chance for flare-ups because the flames don't touch the food (it has a fan to circulate the heat). I got the smallest one because it was about the same price as the gas grills I'd had my eyes on, and it's plenty big considering I don't have to move the food around on the grill to cook it right. (I'm not being paid or given anything by Traeger to write this in my blog, I'm just a normal customer).
I'm still doing SWAMI, even though I have yet to re-confirm my secretor status (blood and saliva tests didn't agree, so I'm going to re-do the saliva test). Oddly enough, my SWAMI doesn't change much whatever my secretor status or genotype. A few neutrals I don't care for much anyway will come and go, but I will re-confirm that and get it all finalized soon. So it's kind of a type O thing, with very little dairy, no sugar, and of course, no gluten. I've done BTD long enough that I know in my heart what foods are good for me individually, as long as I avoid the junk I will naturally gravitate toward those foods. I no longer have my heart set on being a certain type, I'm me no matter what type that is. All three genotype diets did good things for me, as did both the type O and O-nonsecretor diet. They all have delicious choices. I'm not going to get hung up on what I can't have, when so many things are good for me. I guess I've come to a certain acceptance of my own individuality, I remember really not wanting to be a gatherer or an explorer, hunter seemed fine, but a B type seemed best, and that was never gonna change. Now I'll just give my body the fuel it needs, and not care what others "get to" eat.
Since returning from a vacation last weekend, I'm happy to report that I've only had 3 bites of avoids in the last four days (usually a bit of something with sugar in it). On busy days, it is helpful just to have some veggie sticks in baggies for snacks. My biggest food challenge is to snack on healthy foods often enough that I don't get too hungry to prepare real foods for meals. Roasted pumpkin seeds are another great snack. Sometimes though, a glass of water is all I need.