Friday, March 21, 2014

Operation Happy Guts

Oh look at that, another nearly-2 year hiatus from the blog, coinciding with the arrival of another offspring.  Funny how that happens.  Sorry, I just didn't have much to post about.  My life has been very busy, my diet has been somewhat dubious and not particularly exciting or noteworthy, and the blog has therefore languished in the depths of the internet.

The latest spawn is now one year old, though, and it's time to get my rear in gear and do something about my post-partum crap-fest. The basic problem seems to be that I have become incapable of making good decisions, moment-to-moment, about what to eat.  A large portion of my food intake happens because I am feeling tired/crappy/anxious/depressed/actually-happy-for-once and I require something to either ameliorate or enhance the mood hormones (oh hi sugar!!!), or because I am hungry and just grabbing whatever because I might have 15 minutes to eat and I don't want to spend 14 1/2 of those preparing stuff (oh hi crappy sandwich!!!).

Of course, there is a not-insignificant number of times when I eat crap because I can.  And that is what I feel I can maybe tackle now, if I can get my stress level dialed down a little and put my brain in a better nutritional space.  Since I haven't stopped reading about good nutrition and food-health links (just stopped DOING anything about what I read) I'm getting a clearer picture about what constitutes a human being (hint: you're more bacteria than you are human. What's *really* doing the thinking, hmmm?) and the evidence is starting to look good for the theory that at least part of one's brain chemistry is determined by one's gut residents.  Lots of back-and-forth between brain workings and gut workings... and mounting evidence that anxiety and depression, at least, if not lazy-assedness, can be mitigated by improving gut flora.  And while I don't think my gut flora are in dire straits, exactly, I don't think they're anywhere near as healthy as they could be.  Let's just say that evidence to the contrary is presented to me regularly and leave at that for now.  Some people overshare on their blogs, I think it's sufficient to say that my insides aren't coping well and leave it at that.

Thus I launch my new project - Operation Happy Guts - in hopes of reversing (or even just slowing) the spiral of poor nutrition leading to unhappy stress-thoughts leading to more poor nutrition.  This will no doubt be a lengthy process, because despite the fact that bacteria can produce a new generation every 20 minutes, there's like, a billion or so of the little buggers and I'm sure the bad ones aren't going to just pack up and go at the first hint of regular kimchee intake or something.  No, this is going to require systematic, habitual and gradual biological simultaneous warfare and habitat-building. 

I'm going to focus first on the habitat-building and do the warfare later - because habitat-building basically means I just have to eat extra stuff, whereas warfare involves withholding things from the buggies like sugar and refined starches, and I'm probably not there yet.  But I CAN give the good buggies more to work with so that they out-compete the less-compatible buggies and then hopefully the bad guys will stop sending quite so many "sugar is AWESOME!!!" messages to my poor, susceptible little brain.  (This is probably a vast, horrible oversimplification of the nature and scope of the signalling that happens between gut bacteria and neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain.  I am aware of this.  I am also not remotely qualified to try to explain it properly so I'm not even going to try.)  Also I have heard the idea that probiotics work not by filling your guts with good bacteria but by introducing some well-behaved bacteria who then teach the resident ones to smarten up.  (I'm sure this process goes the other way too, so I think you probably have to keep "teaching" them.)

First up:  kefir *every* morning, help the little dude finish off his Treehouse brand probiotics (no I wasn't the one shopping the day those got purchased), and have a dose of lacto-fermented veg with either lunch or dinner.   I will get the kefir on now for Sunday morning, and start a batch of grated carrots fermenting away with just salt and see how that goes.  (There are no good cabbages in the stores now for sauerkraut).  I was going to buy some nice "mild kimchee" in an attractive big jar from a hippy joint on Salt Spring (I'm not even kidding about that - they carry it at Niagara Grocery) but it was $21.99 and really? It's chopped up vegetables and salt and I can damn well do that.  Although I did rather covet the jar.  Maybe next week as a treat...

Over the next few months I will keep track of my adherence to Operation Happy Guts and my moods and food intake.  We'll see how it goes.

(With luck, Operation Happy Guts will coincide with Operation Get The Baby To Stay The Fuck Asleep and I won't be simultaneously battling sleep deprivation AND all the rest of the crap life deals out.  But even if the sleep deprivation continues, I think that improving the situation in The Interior will improve the situation overall.)