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Now, i don’t want to jinx it or anything but i have not had a virus so far this year. Last year i had several and even in between them i felt less well than what i considered to be normal. Early this year i did start to take some new supplements as i had a closer look at my multi-vitamins and minerals and they were a bit short on things that seemed important to me. So i have been taking (sublingual) Zinc and more Vitamin C. Also i am taking Iron as although in the normal range my iron tests always seem to come out “a bit low” so i thought why not top it up to be more average and see if i feel better? My Ferritin was 17 and after an internet search that seems ok, but not high, so i thought it would be ok to take some iron for a while as a short-term booster. Also i have been taking Calcium and Magnesium tablets (50/50 ratio) and since December last year i have been taking B12 and also Vitamin D (which i read yesterday has been shown in a study to help with reducing the number of viruses caught by some school children but more research needs to be done to prove this, as usual – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article7061778.ece).

Have these things helped me or is it just luck that i have not caught anything yet? I do feel a bit different, i hesitate to say “better” as there are so many things going on in my body but i had this feeling of fighting something constantly last year and that feeling has gone. Yes, actually i do feel a little better.

On a vaguely related note i have stopped making Kefir. Actually i chucked it all out in a rebellious fit after new year sometime. Probably a waste but it was just so gross, i have always hated milky stuff and although i did enjoy it most days when i made it with soya milk, i had had enough. I don’t feel any different digestively or otherwise… It may have helped me. I cannot tell.

After going to my sister’s wedding and then having the “virus from hell” just over three weeks ago, i have been really struggling… (not that i wasn’t before you understand!) BUT i finally feel a bit better the last few days – back to a level that i can live with longer term – anything less than this is just not do-able. It may only last a few days but it is nice to feel that each day is a bit easier, not that i am actually doing much, but being is easier. It makes me realise how hard things have been when this feels so good! Just a few days ago i was feeling very different, and everything felt like a real struggle but i am enjoying the upturn while i can. So, despite continuing muscular pain and headaches, i am feeling quite positive.

Due to being otherwise engaged i was a bit late starting on my Just Four Quidactivities, but last week i managed to get my JustGiving pages set up and then email everyone i know to tell them about it. I optimistically set my target for the year as £250 for each of the two charities (as you have to set a target) but i did not think that i would make it in a month of Sundays…

Amazingly i have already exceeded my target for the Ramsay Research Fund and my ME Research UK page is starting to look at bit better after my Dad thought it needed cheering up and made a second donation! So far I have raised £450 in total and I am so chuffed and so grateful to everyone and their generosity. I really thought that a few people would give a tenner (which would have been great), but i have had some HUGE amounts given. I really means a lot and has cheered me up hugely to think that something so great can happen from a relatively small action on my part – all i did was ask! True, i cannot run a marathon so should not be expected to “do” anything like that and also i would not be comfortable asking again and again for money; but i am so surprised and encouraged that my small actions have created some money and potential positive change for the future for people with ME.

I would encourage anyone who has some family/social contacts but who doesn’t think that there is any point, to give it a go, you may be surprised who donates, as i have been. If they don’t, well it doesn’t matter – you gave it a go! I think it maybe makes some people feel good that they can do something useful/practical to demonstrate support for me and my situation when there is nothing much left to say, although maybe i am reading too much into it.

If it is energy issues preventing you, then feel free to base your justgiving pages on mine (see the links to them on the left of my blog) and i will send you a copy of the email i sent round to people too if that helps (just ask). Thinking what to say can be the most time and energy consuming part.

So anyway, it is nice to have good news!

More good news is that i have booked a few nights in Scarborough again to the same place i have been before. Last week i was thinking there was no point as i wouldn’t be able to leave the hotel, the travel would be a trauma etc etc but this week i feel that it is do-able and that i won’t have a good time if i don’t give it a chance. SO let’s hope this better feeling last until i go in a month’s time!

Last time i went i only left the hotel once for a cuppa on the harbour front, but i was only just starting to take Midodrine then and my POTS symptoms were a lot worse. Although i still feel bad when i stand for any length of time, i am not living in fear of imminent collapse as much these days and can stand and walk for longer (as long as i am generally feeling ok – some days or times of day there is just no point trying is there?). Also that was December and this will be July so i hope to be able to sit in the park, on the sea front etc and be outside a bit more in a gentle and relaxed manner without freezing myself half to death! So i am looking forward to a summer holiday. It may not seem exotic to others but it is as far as i can possibly venture these days, and it is MINE!

Other news is that i have ordered the urine test “for ME” (see previous post) and am stopping taking Kefir from now until it arrives as probiotics can apparently affect the results… so we shall see if i have ME ha ha ha.

Photo677I bought some Kefir “grains” a while ago (see them pictured above). With them you can make a kind of cultured milk which is full of healthy bacteria (like probiotics) and is meant to be very good for you. As i have been having a lot of trouble with my digestive system i thought i would give it a go when someone else with ME told me about it…

I would say it has been a bit of a bumpy ride, but that i am gradually finding a good relationship with my Kefir (well it is a living thing!).

The first problem is that it was quite cold weather when i first got my Kefir grains, and they were small. They need a warm place in the house to be able to “grow” in the milk (it takes a lot longer at cooler temps). An airing cupboard is recommended – we don’t have one. I think the Kefir was not fully active when it first arrived and that with the cool temps meant that nothing much seemed to happen.

Secondly i don’t actually like milk. Not the cow variety anyway. Kefir lives in dairy milk but i don’t like the taste and have long consumed soya milk instead. I eat cheese and used to eat yogurts (have not reintroduced them yet since my strict IBS diet as soya yogurts are so nice!) but hate warm yogurty smells. Milk Kefir is slightly soured/cultured milk and so not to my taste. I have been using soya milk to make it but it does involve keeping it fed in dairy milk every other batch to allow the grains to grow/stay alive as they cannot thrive in soya milk and would eventually die if only used with it. So i have been throwing a lot of cultured cow’s milk away which i don’t really like to do but even when holding my nose i cannot force it down! (I did try).

Good news is that with all that cow’s milk the grains have grown in size and are now happily producing me soya milk kefir on a regular basis. This tastes fine usually (not a lot different to soya milk but it goes thicker a bit like a soya yogurt or pudding – a bit like slime but it slides down!). I do have to be careful not to leave it too long as it can go fizzy which makes it less palatable, although from what i have read it is still fine to consume. The time this takes depends on the temperature, the size of the grain and the amount of milk so it is hard to judge.

I don’t know if it is having any positive effects on me; my IBS symptoms have certainly improved with my dietary changes and i have also been taking other probiotics so who knows. If what i have read online is to be believed Kefir is very good for us so i will carry on for a while and see what happens.

It is a bit of a hassle and i do end up throwing a lot away (both the cow’s milk and any that gets too fizzy etc) but i am also consuming quite a lot with no obvious negative effects. It does create some washing up too but i don’t usually have to do my own so that’s ok!

I am not sure i would recommend Kefir yet, as i feel i have a bit more experimentation to do to get reliably nice Kefir – i feel i must be missing something as i only like the flavour if it is not too fermented – as soon as it starts to separate (the soya milk – i have not let the dairy kefir get that far!) it tastes horrible to me… but i am carrying on for a while longer to see.

When i read about the new urine test for ME in the article in the Telegraph  and saw it partly seems to be related to gut bacteria & probiotics http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/5407749/ME-Proof-that-it-isnt-all-in-the-mind.html i thought well at least that backs up that Kefir is worth a try. I do not know if this is the “key” to ME as they are claiming, but it may be a factor – we shall see what further research and trials bring… here is what the ME Association say about it: http://www.meassociation.org.uk/content/view/875/161/ 

I have emailed the company to ask for a test, but have not heard back from them (expect they have run out by now!). I thought it may be interesting to know if those processes/problems were part of my illness and to “test the test” and see if it mirrors the severity of illness i think i have, with the result. Will let you know if i ever get my hands on one.

Kefir Info:

This website has A LOT of Kefir info: http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefir-faq.html#soymilk and is a little eccentric too! (kefir in space?)

http://crystalcultures.co.uk/live_cultures.htm describes Kefir:

Milk Kefir

Kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food that Regular use of Kefir can help relieve Most intestinal disorders, Easily digested and It cleanses the intestines Reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system it Provides beneficial bacteria and yeast Vitamins and minerals and complete proteins It contributes to a healthy immune system.
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition.

Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter Streptococcus species.
Beneficial yeasts :
Saccharomyces Kefir Torula Kefir
These eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body by forming a Controlling Agent That Toughens the intestines. The body Then becomes Better at resisting such pathogens as E. coli Salmonella and intestinal parasites. Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by digesting some the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity. Because the curd size of Kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, invalids and the elderly, as well as a remedy for digestive disorders.

Getting excited about next week now! I have been working hard preparing my blog for ME Awareness Day (/week/month) on 12th May and am really looking forward to reading what others will be writing. I may have to post a little early (spread the fun out, i say). I have been reading all the posts on the ME Awareness Blog about all the things people all over the world are getting involved in to mark the occasion and feeling the sense of collective action… I also contacted my local ME group who are organising tea parties to say i want to attend/help out at one (as i don’t think i can host one myself) and they said they will let me know if something suitable comes up – so maybe i will meet some new folk too!

My diet for my IBS is going well. Things have continued to be calm and free of drama, except for a blip last Friday, so a couple of days ago i ate some cheese, and today i introduced some wheat flour (pancakes!). So far so good, but don’t want to speak too soon. I know i cannot tolerate large quantities of bread, and pastry and things like pizza base often really upset me, also, oats seemed to cause 4 days of upset the other week… but i think if the pancakes don’t have a noticable reaction when i have been gluten free for some time, then maybe it’s not something i need to worry about too much and i can just carry on eating wheat/gluten in small amounts. I think the main reason things are so much better is the reduction of fibre, and not eating raw fruit & salads (which is also to the same end) but while i am on i thought i would try to find out if i was overly sensitive to likely culprits, I am hoping not!

I have also purchased some Kefir, which someone recommended to me. It is like growing your own yogurt culture, except it is meant to be even better for you than live yogurt or probiotic tablets… so will let you all know how that goes as well! Dr Sarah Myhill talks about it on her website.

I have not been feeling too great in general, i had three things i could have gone out to in the last week and could not go to any of them (not that i usually go to three things in a row!). I am finding the smallest things are really draining me, like when the cleaners came on wednesday and one was really stressed (someone had backed into her car that morning) and just five or ten minutes of listening to her tell me about it tipped me from feeling quite good, to feeling awful the rest of the day, despite going back to bed…

I have managed to raise my dose of Midodrine up to 5x 2.5mg day, where i was on 2x 2.5mg. It has not been too bad, and i am really pleased to have managed it this time, but i wonder if that is dragging me down a bit as my body adjusts… as always, who knows… maybe it’s all the blogs i have been working on – actually that makes sense 😉 let’s hope people read it!

I did manage to go to a local wood on May 3rd –  the bank holiday weekend –  and it was absolutely magic – bluebells, sunshine, birds singing – and it really was just what i needed – would like to go back as soon as i can as it was just lovely!

Here is a picture i took:
photo622

 

 

 

Ahhh – see how relaxing it looks! I wish i could live in there! A real “may day” spring feeling was had by all 🙂

ME/CFS Awareness

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