Prairie View

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Wrap Up--April 22, 2018

First, exciting family news:  Elliott Wade arrived on Thursday, April 19, born to Shane and Dorcas.  He is their fourth son, and our sixth grandson, and the eighth grandchild.  He resembles his older brothers in various ways. 


In a message from our daughter-in-law, she said this (I've abbreviated some names.):  L. [the granddaughter] had some plans for you that I thought you should know about. Tonight when she was praying at bedtime she said, "Dear God, help Grandpa and Grandma I [that's us!]. have a safe trip to BD. "

I responded by saying that I wouldn't have any trouble getting on board with my sweet granddaughter's plans.


Two-year-old Cedric sat with me in church this morning.  He's become quite a courteous little communicator.  Whenever he wanted to access something in his little "church bag," he asked first for permission--in whispers: "May I play [with the "quiet"  toys in the bag]? and May I have pretzels?" Whenever I suggested a slight delay (because of an impending transition in the service), he waited agreeably.


Next, an update on the garden:  We had very low (record-setting) overnight temperatures several times recently.  Once it was 19 degrees and a short while later it was 20 degrees.  The 20-degree night occurred on our average frost-free date--April 15.  The great news is that our laborious measures to save the garden plants apparently paid off.  From the "garden fabrics" wooden box in the shop we extracted old sheets, blankets, bedspreads, tablecloths, etc. and spread them over the rows and held the fabrics in place with long rebar and steel fence posts.  Whatever was covered looked good after we took off the covers.  I'm not ruling out the possibility of damage to some of the less hardy cole crops, but we'll have to wait to see whether the cauliflower and broccoli button up or bolt rather than develop full-sized heads.

All the planting in my garden was done on schedule according to the timing recommended by calculating from the average frost-free date, although it was slightly delayed by taking into account the recommendations for timing according to phenology.  According to the phenological stages of the common lilac, the time was right too.  We waited till after bud break to plant the earliest crops outdoors.  This spring season has just been very late and strange.

The food production class hopes to help plant a garden for one family whose difficulties with gardening over a hardpan layer have made raised beds seem like the best option.  They're constructing the beds in a circular pattern using cement staves from a dismantled silo on the premises of their old farmstead.  I really like this evidence of flexibility in using what is available and affordable.  Most of the seeds and plants will come from my supply. 

After a very dry fall and winter, we've have one wonderful soaking rain (2.7 inches here!) and another six-tenths of an inch in the past few days. 


I've finished another of Dr. Jason Fung's books recently.  This one was The Obesity Code.  I read The Complete Guide to Fasting before that.  Next up is The Diabetes Code.  Before that I had read (mostly) the book that Dr. Fung named as the book that started him on his journey of questioning the conventional wisdom of causes and treatments for metabolic disorders.  That book is Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes.  The Taubes book was published in 2008, and Dr. Fung's latest book was released earlier this month.

It's too early to call this a lifestyle change, but I'm pleased that I've been able to do one form of intermittent fasting for several weeks now.  Some of you will laugh at this pompous-sounding name for what is essentially skipping breakfast five days a week, with only one cup of coffee with cream in the morning.  My regular breakfast is going into my lunch basket instead, so I'm saving time in the morning on several fronts:  no time needed for eating breakfast, and no additional time for fixing a lunch.  I started this the second week in April, joining the regular monthly group event when Dr. Fung's office organizes a group fast.  In May, I may change up the routine a bit.  I'm committed to doing the next thing the Lord shows me to do, which is how I started skipping breakfast.  Till now I have believed what I've been told--that skipping meals--especially breakfast--is A VERY BAD IDEA.  Dr. Fung's research and writing have given me the confidence to begin ignoring this bad? advice.  Usually I hardly miss breakfast.

I'm taking my regular vitamins, but am skipping the regular morning dose of metformin.  I've done some monitoring of blood sugar, and no alarm bells are ringing on that front.  In general, I'm trying to limit carbs, but not necessarily on weekends, and not when I eat other people's cooking.  I  never "pig out" on sweets, but I am not in that habit anyway.  Sustainability is what I'm focusing on here in following this approach for now. 

Dr. Fung states categorically that obesity and diabetes are hormonal problems, with a genetic predisposition and lifestyle triggers combining to initiate a cascade of hormonal events that stars insulin excess as the main player resulting in obesity.  High stress levels are on par with poor dietary choices as triggers.  Diabetes and kidney failure are common downstream problems of obesity.  Since Dr. Fung is a nephrologist (kidney specialist), he became interested in addressing the "upstream" precursors of kidney failure. 

I like several things very much about the approach Dr. Fung recommends.  One, he recognizes that requiring the ingestion of more things (medications, special diet foods, etc.) is often not affordable for people, and keeping track of all the right things to do can be completely overwhelming.  Fasting addresses both of these concerns.  It's cheap and simple. 

Two, Dr. Fung recognizes that various eating traditions have worked well for people for many generations, and he is very slow to recommend forsaking them.  Instead of forsaking them, he recommends returning to them in several key areas:  Avoid constant snacking, and avoid refined, processed foods.  He believes that constant snacking keeps insulin levels high constantly, and that causes big problems because insulin levels should have a chance to fall multiple times each day.  Refining and processing of foods often strips them of many of their nutrients, alters the food in ways that interfere with our body's utilization of them, and sometimes introduces harmful additives to our diets.  I love feeling free to eat like my parents grew up eating--from the farm and garden mostly. 

Three, Dr. Fung is convinced of the benefit of eating fermented foods, and notes that most culinary traditions include fermented foods. He recommends several tablespoons of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, taken whenever carbohydrates are ingested, to help moderate the insulin response.  So simple and inexpensive.  Fermentation of grains occurs when people make sourdough bread, and this apparently results in a product that also moderates the insulin response.  From Judy, I got a sourdough starter, and have been making sourdough bread successfully in a routine that utilizes my bread machine, my multi-grain, mostly whole-meal bread recipe, and works very well with my work schedule. I've already written about making yogurt painlessly in my Instant Pot.  At least once a week, we eat several fermented foods that are part of the traditional breakfast food in Japan.  We love dill pickles and sauerkraut--fermented foods familiar to our European ancestors.  Fermented foods too fit seamlessly into our eating routines. 

Four, Dr. Fung's office crew regularly reminds every person fasting that if they begin to feel ill, they should stop the fast immediately.  I appreciate how this advice respects the wisdom and choices of patients. This respect for the patient permeates all of Dr. Fung's work.  This is a very different stance from what many obese patients have encountered from medical professionals who gave traditional dietary advice. Non-compliance was usually blamed for unsatisfactory results, even when patients took great pains to be compliant.  In other words, lack of success was always the patients' fault.  Dr. Fung realizes that the treatment protocol probably needs adjusting when a patient does not feel well or cannot experience improved health.  Finding a solution is a cooperative effort--not a top-down issuance of directives from Those Who Know Best.

Dr. Fung is apparently a skilled, caring medical professional, and I respect his expertise and appreciate his willingness to apply it to problems that others have not been addressing very helpfully.  I appreciate even more, however, how Hiromi is taking responsibility for providing good food for our household.  His shopping has changed a great deal since he's learned more about nutrition.  Most of all, I appreciate God's faithfulness in showing what makes sense for me for now.  I know that what He shows others may not be exactly like this, and what I do in the future may look a little different than this, but for now, I have all the help I need, and I'm very thankful.