Interstitial Cystitis -an autoimmune xxperience, I flare, pelvic floor tension, low back and hip pain – all engulf my body much more frequently than I’d like. Some days I am able to manage symptoms, but at other times they are terribly unbearable. Sensations to the […]
You see it in grocery stores and gas stations, you hear it floating around as a healthy.
It’s a fermented food option to help restore good gut microbes; it’s Kombucha.
My experience with making my own Kombucha:
I’ve spent the past year immersed in listening to Montreal Healthy Girl and Naturopath Brittany Auerbach on her youtube channel (link). She highly recommends fermented foods, water kefirs, homemade kombucha and the like for restoring gut balance. My own Functional Nutritionist from Zen Functional Wellness (link) has recommended fermented foods to me several times. My Mom’s had tremendous success brewing her own kombucha and adding it to her dietary routine. She believes it’s helping her heal her ulcerative colitis. Store purchased kombucha options frequently have additives, sugar and other ingredients I react too, like most of them are made with black tea.
Additionally I’m broke - which means I can’t afford every healer, test, fancy resolution I’d like. It also means tons of self education, reading, YouTube channel learning and internet research. Ideally I’d like to avoid antibiotics because of the damage they cause to the gut microbes and starting from scratch is never easy. I know from my last gut panel test, done through Rocky Mountain Natural Medicine (link) that I wasn’t nearly as high in bad guys, but was certainly lacking good guys needed to aid in the natural digestive flow. Additionally the test should high levels of gut inflammation which is further indication of celiacs. These could be reasons why I’m still experiencing IC like symptoms. My healers proceeded to tell me, try probiotics and fermented foods, get your gut inflammation down and treat your gluten allergy like extreme celiacs.
This is really solid advice, but how do I implement it? Having thought myself to be gluten free, with regular attempts to take allergen safe probiotics I decided it was time to try something new.
Before I had done my research, my Mom was beyond on board and excited for me. She sent me home almost immediately with 2 ½ gallon jugs filled with Green Tea Kombucha. I knew there was bacteria. What I didn’t realize was the brew consisted of something called a scoby. My mom called them her little friends which I thought was cute until it came time to play with my little friends. The child within panicked when I’d brought this concoction home. How do I touch it? What does it feel like? Is this really something I should try?
At first thought of making my own I was optimistic. My mother has had tremendous success by adding a daily kombucha tea to her diet.
That first night when I attempted to do a continuous brew transition, start a new batch while flavoring the current batch and sending the current batch into a second fermentation state for carbonation, I cried my eyes out. I panicked when it came time to do it. Did I wait to long to add the sugar? Should I have added it right after making the tea? Will it be okay if I didn’t add the sugar until later? Did I do enough sugar? Did I do too much? The negative self talk then kicked in. “This is stupid, you’re stupid, you ruin everything, you’ll never heal.”
I was scared of messing it up. I was scared of trying something new. I was also scared of making myself more sick.
My boyfriend attempted to offer solace and recommended I scrap it, saying “Don’t do something that makes you this uncomfortable.”
I am desperate for healing, but also up against a wall of my own inner ick and a belief I’m not competent enough to heal myself. I’m working on changing that so I decided to face my fears and try something new.
The following day, I pulled on my big girl pants for a second attempt, hush child, let the adult handle today’s tasks. Grabbed some tongs, woman’d the fuck up and I brewed my fucking kombucha tea. (See below for the continuous batch process I’ve been following).
The feeling of success was short lived as another obstacle appeared in my mind. To drink it. It’s bacteria, freaked me out for a couple reasons:
- A hesitation with the type of yeast because my food sensitivity testing said I was reacting to baker’s and brewer's yeast (but that’s not really what kombucha is and I know that now).
- I could see the little bits of yeast like bacteria floating around in the master brew.
This should be good for me, a phone call to Mom and she told me she drinks it all right up. Why am I always in my own damn way?
Maybe my imagination pictured them more lively and swimming around. You don’t see shit like that at all, maybe some stringy looking yeast, but nothing to be afraid of. Why is brewing and drinking your own so different than buying something at the store? Well the store bought brands generally flavor after the fact with sugar and other natural flavorings but in a way that’s strained out any visual bits so it’s more aesthetically appealing and sugar filled addicting.
When you’re making your own, you see the scoby. The Scoby is the live culture and it’s a good thing but it’s gross looking and weird for me to think about. You don’t have to but can touch it with super clean hands(not antibacterial soap, just hot water and vinegar clean). I couldn’t do that so grabbed the tongues.
I started drinking one bottle. They spent the night in the fridge. OMFG it’s not carbonated. Should it be? Is this bad? I turn to my mothers expertise and trusty youtube. This is when I find out there’s a 2nd fermentation process Mommykins skips because she doesn’t like the bubbles. Luckily several videos said either way is good I decide to take my friends out of the fridge and leave them on the counter overnight. We will see what happens.
After the first batch attempt, I learned that if you skip a second fermentation, the flavoring fermentation it’s not bubbly like store bought. However, if you flavor it and leave it out on your counter for 2-3 days it’ll start to produce bubbles.
Batch 2 was much smoother.
The second batch I attempted to leave out your air tight jars to make it fizzy. It’s drinkable either way, but carbonation is something I often miss so I’d love a fizzy drink option that won’t have negative side effects on my bladder.
A word of warning I’ve heard but not experiences is to be careful if with a second ferment and learn the process over time because the carbonation can cause glass bottles to explode, however frequent checking (every 24 hours for me) can keep pressure from building too much.
Another warning I learned was to be careful about the water and how jars are cleaned. So I’ve taken to cleaning all my kombucha supplies with apple cider vinegar and hot filtered water. I have an Auasana filtration system setup in my home.
I did it! I bottled the Kombucha, I got a new batch going, I’m letting it ferment in the pantry. I marked 1 week out from my calendar for a new batch and 3 days for the current batch in the 2nd fermentation process to go from counter to fridge. (I’ll be straining chunks out first.)
Batch 3 started to feel like routine, until I left it in each of the two fermentation stages for too long. Everything got a vinegar taste so I’ve scrapped that batch and started fresh. This entire process has been a learning experience. One that I’m grateful I took. I do believe I’ve had some positive changes in my IC symptoms. My body’s been spasming less, there’s been less uncomfortable pelvic swelling and pain. I’m not saying it’s a cure, but I do believe for me it was another, necessary step in my natural healing journey.
........(cont'd in Part 2)
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The struggle to maintain and lose weight is a struggle most women (and men) face throughout their lives. It’s a constant battle of the right food, correct amount of intake, right exercise, finding the exercise you prefer to do...The list is never-ending.
Here’s the truth- you have to do you. You have to do what feels good and right to you! Not anyone else! You need to do whatever it is that will make you feel good in your own skin.
Here’s the hard part- not letting society dictate what to do. We live in a world where skinny and lean is the expectation of what is sexy and healthy, and there is a constant pressure to live up to that impossible expectation.
We all have different body types and needs. What I do to stay in shape may not work for you, but parts of it might work for you. Take it or leave it.
This is a hard truth that I have had to try and face myself. I have tried several different programs and diets and none of them made me happy- working out and eating became a chore after just a few weeks of trying to stick to a diet and exercise routine. I couldn’t commit to one program for more than a month at time. No joke. I would lose interest and gain back any weight I may have lost right away. (I am here to tell you, after you have a kid your metabolism goes out the window.)
Finally I stopped and asked myself why do I want to be in shape? Why do I want to lose the weight? What is the point if I simply hate all the workouts I try? Was I supposed to hate the process? Everyone in the videos or posters or books seem so happy to be working out and being health, but I was so miserable that I didn’t want to do anything but eat right.
While eating right is 80% of process and I was feeling better about myself. I knew I was missing out on the endorphins from my runs and the burn of lifting weights. I had the drive deep down to do those things but not on a consistent enough basis to see any results from the sporadic workouts. Finally, I took a moment to just sit in the mess of thoughts about my workout habits and sorted through all of them. (Mindfulness works people! Try it)
Here’s what I came up with:
- I don’t do well with a prescribed workout regime or program. Probably because I don’t have the discipline to follow those fad quick fix plans- I need the advice and help from a person, in person.
- My eating habits need to fit my life. I have a picky husband and three year old. I can’t force quinoa and feta down their throats if they don’t like it, so I need to find meals that I can make healthy without having to make six different meals for three people.
- I am freaking busy! I don’t have time to work out twice a day five days a week. (That’s just extreme and I am not training for an Ironman or anything)
- I need downtime. I have to force myself to sit still and recharge or I hit a breaking point and I can’t function.
So what does my workout look like? Well I go to a bodypump class twice a week if I can wake up at the ass crack of dawn to make it in time at my local gym. Even if I am only able to make it once in a week I feel better knowing that I was able to fit a full body workout in. One or two days a week I try to go for a 3-4 mile run, and if I can’t do that I go for a really long walk with my pups in tow. They need and love to walk with me plus it gives me a reason to practice some mindfulness while I spend time with them. Do I always get four days of workouts in? No. I do strive for it though, but I don’t put myself down if I don’t get that workout in. I don’t let the unrealistic worldly expectations fee the guilt surrounding a missed workout. You have to stop thinking that way right!
I watch what I eat. I make sure I have three big-ish meals a day and 3 healthy snacks in between meals. The hardest part of a diet for me is giving up sweets. I hated not having something sweet after dinner or in between meals. Do I have ice cream every now and then? You bet your ass I do. I don’t starve myself (I have been there and I don’t need to go back) and I do indulge in the OCCASIONAL treat. I say occasional because I have been in the habit of saying, “Oh, I worked out today. I can have a cup of ice cream.” everyday I work out. Well as you can imagine, that was counter productive to my weight and body goals and would cause me to give up. So I treat myself with sweets that are healthier for me- homemade banana ice cream, oatmeal energy bites, breaking off a corner of dark chocolate. So I make sure it isn’t in the house so I am not tempted to just dive right in and eat all the junk. The beauty of it is I do the grocery shopping so I have the control over what goes into my fridge. I consult my husband on meals he thinks sound good and I put my own healthy twist on them. I have my daughter eat the same food as us to start to instill healthy eating habits for her.
Downtime is probably the most important part of my self discovery. I recently lost my grandma, but the month long process of waiting for her to go almost broke me. My anxiety levels were through the roof and I kept thinking I needed to get a workout in to relieve stress, but my body kept telling me no and forcing me to sleep. The anticipation of a phone call about my grandmother passing, my PhD workload, and maintaining the rest of my life was too much. I hadn’t stopped moving and thinking for almost a month straight until I finally hit my breaking point. I was on the verge of a panic attack and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I finally realized (even though everyone I talked to said it too) “L. you need to take a break. Just zone out for a minute and let your mind stop.” I may have to force myself to take some down time, but my body and mind are so much better for it. My downtime looks different everyday. One day I play tea party with my kid and allow myself to just be with her fully, another I write posts like this or work on my novel. Somedays I just sit still and watch a movie. (Ask my husband, that is very hard for me)
The fact of the matter is you gotta do you. You need to find what healthy habits you can and will enjoy attempting to incorporate into your life permanently to help boost you towards your goals and fuel your body’s needs. I encourage you to remember: It’s your body. You choose how to treat it and what fuels it.
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