Friday, May 4, 2007

Why Bother?

Is it worth all of the effort? The work-arounds. The substitutions. The prepping. The planning. The budgeting. The economizing to make it all come together? This became a very heated topic of discussion for me--and the other poster to the thread--a while back.

A study, which I'm sure will cut a wide swathe across gf/cf circles, splashed down on an email list. It appears that a very small study of the intestinal healing in a handful of autistic children over two years showed dietary interventions to have no impact on digestive integrity and developmental outcomes. None.

The mom posting about this said she was struggling with these results. All of that effort for nothing? Why bother?

So I thought about why I bother and why it matters what I do.

It matters. It matters because it is about more than just getting from Point A with leaky gut syndrome to Point B with intestinal integrity. There is a life filled with days, experiences, and memories that are weighed in the balance. If making life as positive and successful as possible is a valid reason for medicating a child's behavior, then managing the diet toward the same end is at least as valid.

It's worth it. It's worth it to see a child, who complained about all manner of sensory input, now throw on his clothes without a whimper and manage his day with less and less scaffolding as times goes by. It's worth it to do less and less micromanaging and see a child able to complete tasks from start to finish without redirection, tasks that six months ago were impossible to surmount alone. It's worth it to watch a toddler blossom into doing all of the things that intuitively feel "right," and not be left wondering what's developmentally wrong or what's missing.

An argument could be made that all of this would have happened regardless of our choices and changes, but these advancements are too precious to me to have left to chance. And no one in our sphere can deny that any time there's an exposure to a food on The List that we have heart-breaking, soul-scalding reactions. That alone makes it worth the effort. I'll do any amount of work and make any amount of sacrifice to keep that from happening. Even if we get to Point B and find all of the other folk who chose differently waiting for us to catch up, losing just one of these episodes would make it worth it.

But fundamentally, I think it does make a difference what and how we eat, irrespective of food sensitivities. When first the issue of intestinal hyper permeability came up on my radar, I started rifling our library shelves on the subject. In addition to Food Allergies and Food Intolerances by Jonathan Brostoff and Intestinal Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski, I found Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. At first, I was daunted by the ubiquitous whey in all of her ferments--a rather nontraditional and, in my experience, often unsatisfactory solution--but what I did take away from the book was a resolution to get as basic and fundamental in our eating habits as was possible. In addition to live probiotics, another gut-healer caught my attention: bone broth.

It's amazingly cheap, since we already buy whole chickens anyway. Just save up all of the bones, carcasses, giblets and freeze until ready to use. It's almost like free food. Think of it as recycling. See? It even has a PC gravitas.

I did try it the prescribed way: slow cooker, longlonglonglong simmer, until the bones smooshed. The resulting broth was Okay. It was burned. And I could make barely enough for the kids to have a half a cup a day. Which was just as well considering the effort it required to svengali them into drinking just that meager half cup.

The Glutenator first broached the subject of pressure cookers. On the NT-style list, this was met with the sound of acolytes ducking for cover from the lightening bolts. It seems that Sally just doesn't approve of pressure cookers. No explanation or citations why. Just waves vaguely in their direction and says, "They're dangerous."

Nonsense. Only if you have a mouse in your basement.

The Glutenator pointed out that pressure cookers provide for optimal mineral and gelatin extraction while preserving flavor. Guess what? She was right. Now we have a steady flow of delicious jiggly broth. Bug asks for it on cold winter days to thaw fingers and tummies after sledding.

Bone Broth

The recipe is simple, just everything else worthwhile. The proportions can be tailored to the individual need. I have a 22 qt. capacity pressure cooker that I fill three quarters up with bones, giblets, veggie scraps, and 2-3 ounces of dried seaweed. Cover with water. Place the lid and control at 15 pounds and let it cook until the control has rocked for an hour to an hour and a half. I use a long handled colander to scoop out the bones and large pieces. Then I pour the broth into a large canning bath through a cheesecloth. I dump all of the bones back in, cover with water, and do it all over again. This yields about three to four gallons of broth. A batch this size is sufficiently salted with about three tablespoons of Real Salt. Finally, I pour into quart jars and refrigerate. This lasts us about two weeks. And since the bones are soft enough to compost easily, we're able to take the recycling full circle.

Why bother? Maybe I'm old enough now to know on a gut level that there is a long run and the effort we pour forth now pays off then. And two years is a sliver of a child's life, at once too short and too long. Too short to measure what the long haul will eventually show and too long to roller coaster through, hoping for the magic day when everyone pulls up even.


purple_kangaroo said...

I struggle with that question, too. But a calm, happy, social, learning child instead of a whiny, antisocial, miserable, regresing child is worth it, even if that's the only long-term result.

What kind of seaweed do you use in your broth?

Loztnausten said...

I agree, PK!

I use Main Coast Sea Vegetables brand of Kombu. It comes in a 2 oz. bag and I toss the whole thing in. The final soup broth doesn't have any kind of seaweed tang to it, which makes it an easy addition.


Anonymous said...

I read with interest your info on Autism. Having raised an autistic child, I put him on the Feingold diet when he was young. The improvements were astonishing! Even his pediatrician couldn't believe the difference, and he suddenly was able to concentrate in school and progress socially.

Loztnausten said...

Amazing, isn't it? I'm so glad that we can do things that make a difference!

Anonymous said...

You should check into the book Gut And Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I didn't see it on your list, but I'm sure it would fall right in line with your connection of diet and autism. Dr. C-McB is a neurologist and nutritionist who healed her son's severe autism through dietary intervention, detoxification through juicing and therapeutic-level probiotics. Her book is available only a couple of places right now. One is The other is on the Grain & Salt Society's website. Dr. C-McB was a featured speaker at the Weston A. Price conference in November and next year she will have a day-long seminar about her findings. She has a nutrition counseling center in the UK where she treats children and adults with autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and more. Fascinating stuff!

Anonymous said...

It's the revolution, my friend.

Yes, the time is worth it.

If your heart is walking around outside of you, shouldn't you take extra good are of it?

Go figure.


Becky @ BoysRuleMyLife said...

I found your blog via discussingnt; you commented on my question regarding my son that is anaphylactic to dairy.

I loved this post. Although I don't have an autistic child, I do have a different *special need*. Taking care of our children is certainly worth all of the effort! In fact, this *special need* has been such a blessing to our family because it has put us on the right track to better nutrition!

I have always wondered how people can have bone broth every day... I've been making mine in the slow cooker and it just doesn't make enough for more than a day like you said. :(

Regarding the pressure cooker, I think the reason against it is that it can bring food above it's boiling temperature? I remember reading something about this at the beginning of the recipe section in NT. I think it was under "Kitchen Tips" or something. ANYWAY... :) (At least with the pressure cooker it sounds like you are getting the broth you need!)

So glad to meet you. Thanks for the comments on the yahoo group. I look forward to reading more of your blog... if you don't mind. :)

Loztnausten said...

Becky! Thanks for visiting!

I've given the pressure cooker issue thought over a great while and I've put it in the category of compromises. It might not be optimally cooked broth, but it has been effecting the healing that my family has needed.

And so I continue to make broth... :)

Menueys said...

Wow - stumbled here. I can't believe you have a 22qt pressure cooker! How many carcasses does it take to make a gelatinous broth w/ that capacity? Thanks for your post!

Loztnausten said...

Glad you tripped over me! ;) I don't dedicate chickens to broth as some people do. My broth is largely scavanged bones from other meals. But when I'm cutting up chickens to parcel them out...I'd spitball that the pot will hold almost twelve chicken's worth of backs, wings, and giblets, plus some breastbones thrown in from my split breast order. I'll also toss in the stray bones from previous dishes. This will generally yield four gallons of jello-wiggler quality broth.

Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Great idea, now I really want a pressure cooker! RE the CFGF diet being ineffective. Yeah right I would like those people to spend a few days with my child before she has a diet infraction and then after and see if they say that again.

Loztnausten said...

Indeed! The closer people are to our family, the more they are of our mind on what we do!