Anti-inflammatory Porridge

kale smoothie
The original smoothie with kale

It started as a smoothie. I have often made a smoothie that includes some healthy nutrients. At the same time, I try to keep within the bounds of a low-carb diet

One of the factors in integrative health is the immune system.  Along with nourishment, breathing, mental training, and movement. These 5 vectors are all interlinked. Working with these areas and “connecting the dots”  is the key to good health.

What is our immune system? The system in our body that fights disease and foreign bodies. It consists of the lymphatic system. Part of the function of this system is to transport white blood cells to and from the lymph nodes. In this way, it helps rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.

What is inflammation? It is the body’s response to harmful stimuli from foreign organisms. This is a biological reaction to the work of the white blood cells, sent by the lymphatic system.

Is inflammation bad? Not at all, when it is acute. It tells you to stop injuring yourself further – by movement, for example, in a joint injury. In other words, acute inflammation is a good thing. The body repairs itself this way.

So when is it bad? When in becomes chronic, or systemic. Many factors cause systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation can lead to major health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. We do not want systemic inflammation. We want to avoid it.

What has food got to do with it? Certain kinds of food cause systemic inflammation. Not in everyone. Some people have a genetic predisposal to react to some foods. For example, foods from the nightshade family – potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes and sweet peppers. Hardly surprising when deadly nightshade (belladonna) is a poison. At a cellular level, the toxins present act as an irritant, thus causing inflammation.

Luckily, there are many foods that are anti-inflammatory. They reduce inflammation.

I recently saw a list of 24 foods that are anti-inflammatory. There are more than this number.  I noticed that several of them were in my smoothie. So I tried to expand my smoothie to include more. Only my smoothie became a porridge. On account of chia seeds, I suspect.

I will explain my porridge.

The base is buttermilk. Nothing too anti-inflammatory here. 250 ml. Organic. To this, I add a little fruit. Not too much so as not to kick me out of ketosis. As I have this for breakfast, or “break fast”, I drink a bullet-proof coffee before. I add a small piece banana, just 20g. A good source of potassium and soluble fibre – good for the gut. You can substitute this with cauliflower for less sugar. Red seedless grapes. 20g.  They contain anthocyanins and resveratrol.

Blueberries. 30g. Blueberries are sometimes called a superfood because of the antioxidants and vitamins. Pomegranates, 30g. Contain phytochemicals

So that was the fruits. Now the seeds. I mix seeds together, adding 40g in total to the porridge. Chia seeds (16g) are the reason it becomes a porridge. They undergo a dramatic expansion when put in liquids. Lots of omega-3 fats. Not as bioavailable as those from oily fish, but still. Important in reducing the inflammation related to heart disease. Flax seeds (8g) for similar benefits to chia. Hemp seeds (8g), anti-inflammatory due to gamma linolenic acid. Sesame seeds (8g) contains sesamol. Also, these seeds contain lots of minerals.

seed mix
Seed mix – chia, flax, sesame and hemp

 

Then we add the spices. Ginger (10g) is the one you are most familiar with. Contains gingerols. powerful stuff. Turmeric is also touted as a superfood. The active ingredient here is curcumin. Be careful handling this (as a root). It stains everything! Do not get it on white plastic appliances! I also add a fair amount of cumin, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Almost like a curry!

Sometimes I will cut a sprig of kale from the garden.  Kale is available the whole winter. 

That is 11 of the list of 24. I don’t think I want to add fish or olive oil! I take 5ml of cod liver oil on the side to get DHA and EPA plus vitamin D. Garlic would be useful. It tends to screw your social life.

All this can be a little bitter, so I add some vanilla flavoured stevia drops.

Then I use the hand blender and after I have liquefied everything, I leave it for a while. This lets the chia seeds bloat.

Yes, there are other things I could add. You can vary the recipe a bit. Apple peel and cherries might be a tasty addition.

What does it do? For me, it eliminates joint pain. I used to have to wake up every hour to roll over at night. This was due to pain in my back and my hips. I do not do this anymore. I get a good night’s sleep.

I know that by eating or drinking this concoction, I am reducing inflammation. I am including other factors that reduce chronic inflammation. I am following the integrative health protocol. This is the key to good health. A life without pain. This is important when you are over 60. No – this is vital when you are over 60. It is the difference between living and existing.

The Road to a Low-Carb Diet

I digress. I have said that the breathing was key, but in learning of the Ketogenic diet I expressed a concern that I had “high” cholesterol. Lots of material came my way and the message very clear that there is no such thing as “high” cholesterol. So I could go on a Ketogenic diet if I desired. Why would I want to do that? It’s complicated – but if you want a medical paper as a refernce as to why it is beneficial and how it contradicts previous thinking, see “Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Misunderstood “Villains” of Human Metabolism“. This type of paper becomes a recurring theme, and opened my eyes to the fact that the medical profession may be parrotting what they learnt years ago instead of looking at new research OR the evidence is detrimental to the drug producers’ sales figures. Probably a combination of the two.

I will get back to the Ketogenic diet thing later.

Anyway,  after reading The Physicians Guide to the Cholesterol Myth (link to the PDF download) , I started to get upset, because it contradicted something I had been told by doctors. I realised that I had possibly been taken in by the medical industry.

Have you ever been tested for cholesterol in a chemist’s? A couple of years ago, I was buying something in the chemist’s, when I was asked if I wanted a free cholesterol test. “OK”, I said. A prick on the thumb and then: “Oh!, your cholesterol is terribly high – I advise that you go to see your GP”. It was 7.1. I duly went along to the doctor’s after having a full blood test at a lab.

It was 6.2, but apparently I had too much LDL and too little HDL, plus my Triglycerides were high. I was offered statins, a treatment that reduces cholesterol. Luckily, I had heard about this drug and its side effects. Such as lowering testosterone. You don’t really need that at 60! Well, my odds were 20:1 of having a heart attack in the next 20 years. I am not a big betting man, but I thought those odds were acceptable. If I had a horse come in at  20:1 I would be a very happy and lucky man.

I was advised not to eat fats, especially eggs, butter and other dairy products.

If you take the time to read the report and follow the references to medical research, you would learn that this advice is crap! Now, I had been advised since the age of thirty or so that I would get gall stones unless I cut down on eating fats and also, eating fats was a factor in getting reflux and an acid stomach. Therefore, I have always cut the fat off the steak, had no butter on bread and eaten no eggs.

But now I was going to change that. In mid June 2015, I started eating fats, mainly by putting olive and flax oil on salads, fish, meat and eggs. However, I stopped eating bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. That is, all starchy or grain-based carbohydrates. I still ate porridge oats for breakfast but in smaller amounts. I also vowed to avoid “free” sugar if at all possible. Up until the end of July 2015 (about 6 weeks) , this is what has transpired:

  • I have lost 6 kilos (about a stone) (87.8 kg. down to 81.8 kg.)
  • I have not had to have one single Pantoprazole or other indigestion tablet, because I have not had indigestion! (for the first time as an adult)
  • I have slept better (probably because of improved breathing)
  • I no longer suffer from athlete’s foot
  • I am never hungry – I do not feel the need to eat between meals

So what is going on? Is it just me or is this the same for everybody?

I might add that my Body Mass Index (BMI) was 27.4, which put me in the “overweight” class. It is now 25.5, which is slightly overweight. My Body Fat Index (BFI) has fallen correspondingly, to about 21. This is still over what is recommened (20), so I have 2 kilos to go.

This experience has caused me to put a question mark against the medical profession’s wisdom and the medical/drug/food industry’s motives. If eating a fatty diet has no connection with high cholesterol and avoiding carbs leads to weight loss, then why do we get medicated with statins and insulin to deal with heart problems and diabetes type 2?

We will go deeper into this.