Food Poisoning? Probiotics to the Rescue.

How many of you heard recently about the amazing Woodrat, who can devour a wide variety of toxic plants? That’s interesting on its own, but then consider this: if you transplant Woodrat poop to other rodents, even its unrelated brethren can suddenly eat the same toxic stuff.

s_plains_woodrat_21717

So it seems clear enough: the healthy bacteria found in Woodrat guts are the reason for this animal’s uncanny ability.

That brings to mind an analogy: all those toxic things I used to be able to gobble up — restaurant food, ancient leftovers, just about any foodtruck fare — before I was prescribed a bunch of nasty antibiotics, including Cipro and Levaquin, a class of drugs the FDA has since slapped with “black-box” warnings.

Indeed, ever since my gut flora was blasted to smithereens, I’ve had trouble eating anything but the most well-prepared food. Since it’s impossible to always be careful and cook our own meals, a helpful remedy I learned was to start shoveling down probiotics at the first sign of a problem.

VSL#3 is suitable, due to a wider range of flora. It’s also effective for ulcerative colitis. Another popular brand is a mix of soil-based organisms, Prescript Assist. A third option: Miyarisan Tablets, a Japanese probiotic that contains c. butyricum, which generates its own antifungal, anti-inflammatory butyrate, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) helpful in IBD. Given the lack of butyrate in guts of people with metaboilc issues, c. butyricum may be able to do even more for us.

Back to our restaurant experience gone-awry, or those leftovers that should have been tossed, the theory behind high dose probiotics is they can often overwhelm pathogenic microbes. True enough, I’ve had it work wonders, but in an acute situation of tainted food, it’s not uncommon for me to gulp down 5X the normal dose of VSL#3 and maybe even re-dose a few hours later.

Since it’s not clear how the body will deal with large doses of soil-based bacteria, I am sparing with Prescript Assist and only take VSL #3, or other brands such as Life Start, which is a single strain (bifido infantis) probiotic, and another multi-strain product, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care, in larger quantities. Keep in mind Renew Life is enteric coated, which means it’s designed to dissolve in the lower GI tract. Therefore, it’s best to open the capsule before dosing, if you need it to work right away.

I’ve also taken peppermint oil (which i just read is a powerful antifungal), oregano oil, and colloidal silver, when I needed quick relief. These can certainly work well against bad bacteria, but they also degrade the good bugs, so whenever possible I try to avoid herbals and antimicrobials. In the case of SIBO, some upper gut sterilization can be helpful. This is one reason peppermint is recommended for IBS.

An additional approach that may help with a toxic gut is activated charcoal. People who have overdosed on medications are often given this in hospitals, and it can work to mop up a lot of organic toxins quickly. Just be aware it will bind with everything, including whatever medicinal supplements you take with it.

So this is the strategy that’s worked for me. What about your own gut? If you find you’re getting GI issues after eating pretty often, and you never used to have that problem, think back to how many courses of antibiotics you may have had in your lifetime, or — since we get our gut flora from our mothers — how many your Mom may have had, too. You may be developing a condition called dysbiosis, which simply means damaged gut flora. Problems often arise from too few bacteria rather than too many.

What are the potential consequences? About 10 years ago I got sick from restaurant food and landed in the ER several hours later with a 104F temp. They gave me (very ironically) IV Levaquin antibiotics to stop the infection. Take that, Woodrat.

Bushytailed_Woodrat

Major problems followed, including POTS (a type of neuropathy), food intolerances, SIBO, plus major brain fog, anxiety, tinnitus and insomnia. For those unfamiliar with the term, I’d been “Floxed” by fluoroquinolones, which I later learned are actually chemotherapy agents, not just antibiotics. Anyone who pops Cipro or Levaquin for minor infections, be very careful.

Had I known of this “probiotic rescue” at the time, I could have been overwhelming the bacteria in my upper gut right away, long before I began to develop a fever. Alternatively, I could have been drinking colloidal silver and taking oregano oil, or peppermint oil. Even turmeric and raw garlic have fairly potent antibacterial qualities.

NOTE: food poisoning can be serious, so by all means seek medical attention if you feel really sick after a meal. All the measures I’ve mentioned can be tried while you’re preparing for a trip to urgent care, so I hope you’ll be waltzing out of the waiting room early, rather than spending the night. 😉

sunrise

What about longer term solutions for GI health? Probiotics are expensive, which makes sustained use impractical for many of us, and how effective are they at colonizing the gut? Results vary, but many probiotics are barely “waking up” by the time they leave our bodies. How about asking our easy-going friend with the iron-stomach to do a poop-swap? Yes, FMT, as it’s called, is the ultimate flora fix, but restrictions on its use have created quite a few hurdles.

For most of us, the best answer may be simple, age-old wisdom: eat more cultured foods. They have trillions of healthy bacteria, compared to the billions in expensive probiotics, and that flora is awake and ready to go to work the moment you consume it!

You can learn how to make your own Kefir and Sauerkraut HERE.

 

If you enjoy this blog, you can support my work by buying things you need via this Amazon portal HERE, or by purchasing any product linked in articles. It costs you nothing extra, and helps me continue writing. Thanks very much!

Advertisements

Highest Praise for Black Garlic

Just this evening on Facebook I got some wonderful feedback from a poster in the “Cooking for Lymies” discussion group about their first experience with black garlic, which you can learn to make here.

Seeing the post as I did will have the most profound impact:

Black Garlic is Good

 

Lyme disease is a debilitating condition, so it’s wonderful to hear this enthusiastic response, a testimony to the incredible medicinal powers of this tasty, easy-to-make delicacy. Please keep your comments coming, and I’ll keep sharing them with readers. 🙂

A New Twist on Black Garlic

I’ve been an avid maker of black garlic for a while now, and just last week I decided to try a new approach. It’s simple: rather than aging it for 2 weeks in my rice cooker (on the “keep warm” setting) I pulled one bulb out of my batch at 1 week, and let it sit on my counter to dry a little.

black_garlic_1wk

Recently, I opened a clove and tasted it. Shockingly, there was a much sweeter flavor, and just a hint of the odor one might expect with raw garlic. As you can see from the photo, its color is a deep black, no different from what we’d see at 2 weeks.

The texture is also very similar to my two-week roasts, although this one-week version does seem a little more firm, and perhaps not as wet, which is fine with me.

There’s reason to think this “quick recipe” has the solid health benefits of a longer aging process, since it’s about the S-Allylcysteine, but less aging will boost the antimicrobial, antifungal power of allicin, which creates a slightly different profile of medicinal effects.

So there you have it. For those who like tinkering with perfection, give this a try. 🙂

Black Garlic: Healthy & Delicious

Like most fermented foods, aged black garlic is much higher in certain antioxidants than its raw counterpart. It’s one of the most studied foods, in recent years, due to its ability to lower cholesterol, and guard against a wide range of inflammatory diseases, including cancers of various kinds, and complications of diabetes. Studies also suggest a neuroprotective role, and a mechanism for blocking kidney damage. Historically, it was developed in Korea and used to treat a wide range of ailments, including arthritis.

How does it rate for fighting fungal and bacterial infection? According to this article, black garlic may actually aid in absorption of allicin, the antimicrobial compound found in both black garlic and crushed raw garlic, via  a compound called S-allylcysteine. Fellow health-nerds can read about the incredible details here. Given that synergy between S-allylcysteine and allicin, i often take black and raw combined for anti-candida potency. i have SIBO, and eating a bulb a day doesn’t cause me any GI distress, in fact, I think it’s helping heal my gut.

For people who love the health effects of garlic but don’t like the odor on their breath, you’re in luck, because no matter how much black garlic you eat, your breath will not be affected.

Purchasing black garlic online is extremely expensive, while making your own is very affordable. It takes about two weeks to slow-roast in a rice cooker on the lowest “keep warm” setting. My Sanyo model ECJ-D100S stays like that until turned off. Continuous operation is important. Here’s a long thread devoted to that very feature. It seems the Aroma ARC-2000A will do this, as will the West Bend 84905 Slow Cooker, and both are affordable. So is this Proctor Silex. For higher budgets there’s the Instant Pot DUO60. Even though it’s a low temperature, be safe and check yours regularly during the extended cooking time.

So let’s repeat the entire recipe: put your raw garlic into the cooker, close the lid, and two weeks later it’s ready. Amazing to think you can buy a brand new rice cooker for the price of 1.5 lbs of store-bought black garlic, and make your own for mere pennies of electricity per batch. I use a recipe I found posted to a forum, as a Korean grandmother’s method.

The only modifications I made were putting the finished batch into a colander on my kitchen counter, rather than hanging it in a cloth bag for a week before use, and I’ve added four days to the aging period, for a total of two weeks. I find it’s ready to eat right away, without drying. The process is more of an aging than fermentation, but the results are the same, in terms of unlocking so many nutrients and making them bioavailable. It’s caramelized. Yum.

Note the clear difference in color between the black and raw garlic.

Note the Color Difference Between Black and Raw Garlic

How does it taste? It’s a wonderful combination of sweet and savory, like a deep, dried cherry or tamarind flavor, and each clove pops out of its skin easily, soft and squishy, so peeling is never a problem. When I give it to my friends who come over to the house, it’s not uncommon to see them devouring 1/2 a bulb at a time. I’ve done it myself, and especially for medicinal reasons, I’ve even eaten entire bulbs at once. The effect can be very energizing, and you can see from the studies linked above, it has a wide range of health benefits.

Those who have trouble with raw garlic may be pleasantly surprised, as I was, at how easily black garlic can be digested, but if you have IBS or IBD, the best approach is to go slow, as you would with any new food, and see how you do. Often times ramping up portions of new foods, over time, can create a tolerance, whereas doing too much too soon can create problems.

Those of you who are omnivores, try some on a rib eye steak, or a pork roast. Put it on after your meats are done, as it doesn’t require cooking. Everyone, whether they are paleo or vegetarian, can enjoy it in stir fries and added to mashed potatoes or rice dishes. Another great feature of this superfood is that it keeps for months, right out in the open — no need to refrigerate or store in a dark place.

Have you tried black garlic already? Please share your medicinal uses, aging tips, and favorite cookers with us in the comments section. Also, many thanks to everyone at the crossroads for cultured foods and beverages: Wild Fermentation, on Facebook, for their amazing help in sourcing the perfect black garlic maker. Updates to follow, such as this new recipe.  🙂

If you enjoy this blog, you can support my work by buying things you need via this Amazon portal HERE, or by purchasing any product linked in articles. It costs you nothing extra, and helps me continue writing. Thanks very much!