I created these muffins a year ago as a way to overcome my squeamishness about eating organ meat. Since then, Victorious Muffins have become an absolute staple at our house, because:
They freeze beautifully & reheat quickly (even from frozen) in the oven, making them a perfect AIP ‘fast food’;
They provide a regular dosage of organ meat without ever having to decide ‘today is the day I am going to prepare & eat a weeks worth of liver’ (because that day might never come);
They make me feel GREAT~! I specifically plan to have one for breakfast on days when I have to facilitate a challenging meeting or make an important presentation at work.
Over the past year we’ve tried all kinds:
Ground elk, venison, water buffalo & lamb;
Liver from ducks, lambs, cows, chickens & bison;
Wild boar bacon, pork belly & wild boar belly;
Various vegetable & herb combinations.
At the moment, Matthew is on an extreme gut-healing protocol that omits cured meats (no bacon~!) and allows very limited carbohydrates. Therefore, this version of the Victorious Offal Muffin recipe is the ‘Uncured Remix’. Unlike the original recipe, this remix is low-FODMAP & is also compliant with Matthew’s current protocol (as outlined by Aglaée Jacob in her book Digestive Health with Real Food).
Victorious Offal Muffins: the uncured remix (AIP & low-FODMAP)
Elaine Gottschall was a pioneer in nutritional healing.
She popularized the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, one of the first nutritional protocols Matthew and I tried when we began experimenting with nutritional healing back in 2009.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet healed Elaine’s child, Judy, who was suffering intensely from ‘untreatable’ ulcerative colitis as well as seizures and neurological problems in the late 1950s.
After Judy was healed completely through nutritional treatment, Elaine, housewife-turned-biohacker, started University to study biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology so she could continue to develop the Specific Carbohydrate Diet & share it with the world.
Inspired by her n=1 experiment with her own child, Elaine received her bachelors degree in 1973 at age 52. And promptly went to graduate school.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet has been seminal.
It contributed to the development of the Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, (another biohacking mum!), and Aglaée Jacob’s gut healing protocol, which is what finally gave Matthew some relief from his debilitating unexplained nausea.
The eerie part is that those of us who are pursuing nutritional healing in 2015 are still experiencing the same reaction from medical practitioners that Elaine did in 1960: nutritional therapies were dismissed & ridiculed then, as now.
But now have the internet (which means we have each other).
In 2015, we can participate in an international community of people committed to hacking their own health.
The internet has enabled us to share information with each other. Therefore we can learn & adapt much more quickly than if we were all working alone.
The internet has enabled us to apply a ‘hive mind’ to healing (Check out the comments on my recent post Dietary treatment for SIBO for an example).
Not only has the internet enabled us to learn more rapidly, it has created crucial networks of support.
Anyone with a chronic and debilitating health condition knows how isolating that experience can be, particularly in the face of minimal encouragement for taking a nutritional approach from friends, family and medical practitioners.
Now we have each other~.
Elaine Gottschall was alone.
But not entirely alone!
She had the full support of her husband Herb, and she found the elderly Dr Sidney Haas, who had co-written a book in 1951 called The Management of Celiac Disease. The book described a protocol he had developed that restricted complex carbohydrates and eliminated sugar, grains and starch.
The book had (of course) been widely ignored & then shelved.
Dr Haas dusted it off. Elaine & Judy gave the diet a try.
After just 48-hours, Judy’s seizures ended forever. 2 years later, Judy was healed. And Dr. Haas had died.
Elaine tells the story (it starts at the 53 second mark):
The following is also beautifully told, so I haven’t changed a word.
Elaine Gottschall harbored no lofty ambitions of changing the world. Back in the 1950s living with her husband Herb and two small daughters in suburban New jersey, she considered herself and average American housewife – “your typical ‘Leave it to Beaver’ mom,” as she reminisces today.
She thrived in her role as wife and mother, content to lead a quiet, “normal” family life in blissful obscurity.
Then calamity struck. Elaine and Herb’s four-year-old daughter Judy became dreadfully ill. Diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis, she suffered acute, chronic intestinal distress and bleeding that was unresponsive to standard medical therapy.
Despite Elaine’s frantic attempts to find something, anything, that Judy’s system could tolerate, no food would nourish her – instead it would rapidly pass right through, almost completely unabsorbed. Yet the doctor insisted that food had nothing whatsoever to do with her illness.
As the sickness and malnutrition took their toll, the little girl stopped growing, and her sleep was disturbed by frightening episodes of delirium. Frustrated by the failure of one medication after another to stem the relentless course of the disease, Judy’s doctor gave Elaine and Herb an ultimatum; either consent to surgery to remove their daughter’s colon and attach an external bag for the collection of waste, or watch her slip into further debilitation, even death.
Overcome with helplessness and despair, Elaine broke down sobbing. Incredibly, instead of attempting to comfort the anguished mother, the doctor pointed an accusing finger at her and exclaimed, “What are you crying about? You have done this to her!” That humiliating incident left lasting scars, but it was to become Elaine Gottschall’s defining moment.
Refusing to accept one doctor’s opinion, Elaine and Herb desperately inquired of specialist after specialist, hoping to find one who would offer a glimmer of hope and a different approach. Yet, no matter where they turned, they were handed the same ultimatum: if the standard arsenal of drugs cannot keep the symptoms under control, surgery is the only alternative. (It was also reiterated that – despite the fact that this disease primarily involved the very organs that digested and absorbed Judy’s food – the type of food she ate was irrelevant.)
Just when they had become almost resigned to their fate, a chance encounter between two friends led to Elaine being given the name of then -92- year old Sidney V. Haas, MD, in New York City.
Dr. Haas had developed his nutritional approach to intestinal healing over a long, illustrious career, and wrote a textbook, which could be found in nearly every medical library in the world. His colleagues, however – unschooled in nutrition and dismissive of its importance in maintaining health – had abandoned his work in pursuit of new versions of the same standard drugs and of increasingly complex surgical procedures.
Though Herb couldn’t bear to see Judy undergo even one more painful diagnostic procedure – and their doctor ridiculed Dr. Haas and his methods as outdated relics of another era – Elaine was determined to hear what the kindly old doctor had to say.
After carefully examining Judy, Dr. Haas asked Elaine simply: “What has this child been eating?”
No doctor had ever asked her that question before.
He then instructed Elaine in how to implement his simple nutritional approach.
Within ten days of starting the regimen, the child’s neurological problems diminished. Within a few months, her intestinal symptoms began to improve and she started growing again, making up for lost time. Within two years, she was symptom-free
By this time, Dr. Haas had passed away. Elaine feared that, unless someone acted to carry on his legacy, his simple but effective remedy for digestive maladies would die with him, depriving other patients of the chance to stop suffering needlessly and achieve true intestinal health. She visited a medical library and poured over journals, soon discovering that Dr. Haas’s approach was well supported by sound scientific evidence. At Herb’s urging that she “find out what is going on,” she entered the halls of academia and the research laboratory at the age of 47, and earned degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology.
As her years of research wore one, Elaine began to experience a gnawing sense of disillusionment – fueled in part by her fellow researchers, failure to share her interest in integrating all of the evidence for the effects of food on intestinal health and translating it into clinical practice.
She despaired of all her hard work ever being channeled into helping real people who were suffering – people whose doctors might never recommend Dr. Haas’s approach. Elaine came perilously close to giving up but Herb refused to let her quit. He convinced her that the only way to get Dr. Haas’s message out to those who needed it most would be to begin private consulting and eventually to self-publish a book and make it accessible to the lay reader…
This is part 2 of a 2-part post (but it can also be read alone). Find part 1 here.
Here’s the dramatic beginning:
After 16 months on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), we were back where we’d been at the worst of Matthew’s autoimmune crisis: he was almost completely incapacitated & unable to care for himself.
Despite that, the AIP is working.
All Matthew’s autoimmune symptoms are reversing, and he is still experiencing results that are consistent with my 12 month update, even though he’s just come through the winter & spring, which are his worst times of year.
Here’s a recap of that 12-month progress:
Even though he hasn’t experienced any improvements in autoimmune symptoms since December, the fact that he experienced only a slight increase in those symptoms during the winter is significant (& counts as improvement).
But the nausea, which started in October of 2013, has not responded to the AIP. Even a low-FODMAP AIP.
In fact, after an initial reprieve during the first months of removing FODMAPs, Matthew’s nausea got steadily worse. But that wasn’t easy to discern at first, due to the other symptomatic improvements Matthew was experiencing.
For fun, let’s look at it on a graph:
Decoupling the nausea from Matthew’s other symptoms & tracking it over time helped us conclude that his nausea is not autoimmune in origin. We know that healing from a complex (wicked) health condition is non-linear, so it took time before we felt confident about this hypothesis.
We now attribute the nausea to SIBO, which means it is likely a symptom of the same overall gut dysbiosis that contributed to his autoimmune crisis in the first place.
In other words, his nausea & autoimmune conditions are both symptoms of a common problem. As is his long-term issues with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
It’s all connected!
Now we’re getting somewhere…
Using the language of the scientific method, we’re treating the first 16 months of the AIP as one experiment: let’s call it experiment A (A for Autoimmune).
To complete this particular cycle of experiment A, I’m reporting our findings (this post is the report~).
Based on our findings, we’re going to continue with experiment A in the long term. And based on our new hypothesis, we’re also starting experiment B (B for Bowel). (I just totally made that up).
We’ve decided to give experiment B an 8 week trial. Then we’ll analyze, do research, and hypothesize again.
Experiment B: a New Protocol
As I mentioned in my last post, 5 weeks ago Matthew started a new protocol. It’s the most restrictive one yet.
Although the elimination phase of Agalee’s protocol makes a low-FODMAP AIP look like a 24/7 birthday party, Matthew’s nausea was so extreme when he started that he was hardly eating. So the new restrictions didn’t phase him.
As is Aglaée, who developed her protocol based on her own experience with SIBO. And Dr. Allison Siebecker, a leading SIBO expert, who has devoted her career to this work as a result of her own attempts to heal from this condition.
So, we’re in good company.
Aglaée‘s protocol is entirely adaptable to the AIP (the only thing you need to remove is green beans).
I highly recommend her book to anyone who needs radical gastrointestinal healing. Which, on reflection, might include most people.
But here’s an interesting question:
Why did a low-FODMAP AIP improve Matthew’s nausea at first, but lose it’s effectiveness over time?
16 of the 17 months Matthew has been on the AIP have been low-FODMAP (he’s technically still on a low-FODMAP version of the AIP, just an extremely restricted version of it).
At first, there was an improvement in his nausea without the FODMAPs (you can see that in my jolly graph, above). This initial progress was aligned with the other symptomatic improvements he was experiencing, so seemed to be linked.
But a low-FODMAP AIP, though better than a regular AIP for people (like Matthew) who have inappropriate bacteria in their small intestine, still nurtured those bacteria and helped them flourish in the long-run.
The low-FODMAP AIP made Matthew feel better at first because he was no longer eating foods that were inappropriately fermenting in his small intestine. But the bacteria that were loitering there were still being nurtured by many of the carbohydrates he was eating (Especially after his 1-year AIP-iversary, when he started investigating AIP baking).
“The FODMAP diet is not specifically designed for SIBO and therefore does not eliminate polysaccharide and disaccharide sources… Eliminating these poly- and disaccharides is essential in SIBO. In SIBO, well-absorbed carbohydrates, foods that usually go to feed the host, feed instead the increased small intestine bacteria, creating symptoms and fueling more bacterial growth. Any diet will need to be individualized by trial and error over time. Providing a food chart or particular diet prescription merely offers a place to start.”
As I mentioned in my last post, after just 9 days on this new protocol, Matthew’s nausea was reduced from a range of 7-10 to a range of 4-6. And stayed there.
What’s the difference between 7-10 and 4-6?
He can cook. For himself. And for me.
He can think.
He can plan.
He can exercise.
He can take an interest in life.
He has an improved relationship with food.
I am no longer chronically stressed. Worried about him, the future, and how I’m going to run our life by myself forever.
We have more sex.
We have more hope.
Hope is a dangerous thing. We know because we’ve had it before.
We’re trying not to have too much.
Especially because it seems as though there are circumstances in which SIBO can be untreatable, one of them being historic daily use of opiate painkillers. Something Matthew has done over the years in an attempt to manage the chronic pain associated with psoriatic arthritis.
Which is ironic, because it is quite possible that SIBO caused the intestinal permeability that led to the development of psoriatic arthritis that necessitated the daily use of the opiates.
But the nausea has not been responding. It’s been worsening. Slowly. For a year.
Until this April when he was hardly eating & was almost completely incapacitated.
We determined the nausea is NOT autoimmune & will require a different treatment. So we set out to hack that.
All the specialists, including his functional medicine doctor, have poked, prodded, tested and hypothesized & come up with nothing. Then shrugged & left us alone with a deteriorating, undiagnosed, unresponsive health issue that has caused Matthew to be unable to work since December 2013.
We’ve suspected Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) for a long time.
Despite the fact that Matthew’s Gastroenterologist says SIBO doesn’t exist.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO is a condition in which beneficial bacteria become displaced in the digestive tract.
They migrate from the colon, where they are supposed to be, into the small intestine. This results in fermentation of carbohydrates in a part of the gut where fermentation is not supposed to occur, causing gas, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn &/or nausea. Symptoms range from mild to debilitating.
SIBO causes primary symptoms, but it also contributes to intestinal permeability (‘leaky gut’) which is implicated in autoimmune & other chronic health conditions.
Treatment options include specific pharmaceutical antibiotics (such as Rifaximin), herbal antibiotics or a dietary protocol that makes a low-FODMAP AIP look like a cakewalk (at least at first).
Experts seem to disagree about whether it is possible to treat SIBO through diet alone.
As SIBO experts Allison Siebecker & Steven Sandberg-Lewis explain, “diet alone has proven successful for infants and children, but for adults one or more of the other three treatment options are often needed to reduce bacteria quickly, particularly in cases in which diet needs to be very restricted to obtain symptomatic relief.”
After combing thorough the research it remains unclear to me whether it is truly impossible to cure SIBO through diet, or if maintaining the required protocol for a sufficient length of time is considered too difficult, or too risky from a nutritional standpoint.
We have learned that Matthew’s diet definitely needs to be very restricted to obtain symptomatic relief, but nevertheless he is taking a dietary approach.
Partly because he tried to get a prescription for antibiotics to treat SIBO but was turned down by two different doctors, who cited their own ignorance about SIBO & the fact that he was in such rough shape. Neither was wiling to risk making him worse.
According to Angie Alt, it can be extremely challenging to get a prescription for antibiotics to treat SIBO here in Canada.
So, as of a month ago, Matthew is following the elimination diet outlined by Aglaée Jacob, in Digestive Health with Real Food. Lots of bone broth (no surprise there!), no caffeine & the only carbohydrates he is eating currently are carrots & spinach.
This is meant to be a short-term elimination diet, until symptoms have been ‘mostly absent’ for at least five consecutive days. According to Aglaée, this may take 3-4 weeks, but up to 8 weeks for particularly intransigent cases.
We were pretty confident that Matthew’s gut was the intransigent type, so from the beginning we figured he’d give it an 8 week trial.
He is now 5 weeks in.
At the beginning he was almost completely disabled. Unable to care for himself.
Not only was he suffering excessively, I was drowning in stress. We were back where we’d been at the worst of his autoimmune crisis: I was caring for him; keeping the household running, including all the food prep & cooking that is required on the AIP; keeping up with a demanding career (currently our only option for income); parenting; and worrying constantly about our future.
That was our baseline.
Within 9 days on this new protocol his nausea had reduced from a 7-10 (on a scale of 0-10, in which ‘0’ is no nausea and ’10’ is completely incapacitated) to a 4-6.
One month in, he is still in the 4-6 range. And as he says, the difference between a 4 and a 6 is “at 6, I’m just tending to my immediate needs whereas when I’m a 4, I can be more thoughtful and proactive about life. Over 6 and I can’t really take care of much”.
As Matthew’s spouse, I can vouch for that.
This post is part 1 of a 2-part series. Find part 2 here.
Scoop the coconut cream out of the cold tin of coconut milk into a medium-sized bowl with high sides. Reserve the remaining coconut water for another use.
Add the vanilla powder and whip the coconut cream until smooth.
Keep the blackberries in the freezer until this point.
In small batches, 6-8 at a time, drop the frozen blackberries into the coconut cream, and stir until each berry is covered in semi-frozen cream. Scoop each coconut-covered berry out and lay on a plate or a baking sheet.
Repeat until all the berries are covered.
Place the coconut-covered berries in the freezer. Freeze for one hour, until firm and transfer to a glass container with a lid.
Store in the freezer.
Note: If you are picking your own blackberries to freeze, the secret is to freeze them in a single layer on baking sheets first, then transfer to freezer bags or glass containers, to ensure that each berry is frozen separately.
If you permaculture your self now, you’ll need fewer interventions later.
Less medication, less remediation, less orthopedic footwear, less hospitalization.
So you can live more. With more health, energy & joy.
Permaculture is a sustainable approach to designing natural resource systems.
But permaculture principles can also be applied to biological systems (like humans) and social systems (like families and organizations).
Which is good, because I have an embarrassing and heretical admission to make. I hate gardening.
That may not seem like a big deal, but here on Vancouver Island, it verges on the sacrilegious.
But I love permaculture principles, so I apply them to non-gardening design projects.
Like my life.
Biohacking is design for sustainable self-healing. Therefore, permaculture principles apply.
Here are some ways:
Principle #1: Observe and Interact
By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
Biohacking is all about self-observation.
What brings you joy? Do more.
What does you harm? Do less.
Intentionally support the systems that are designed to heal you. So they can. Design your particular life for healing and optimization.
Principle #2: Catch and Store Energy
By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
Create resource stores, including nutrient dense food.
Make it a pattern: daily, weekly and seasonally. Wildcraft. Sleep. Batch Cook. Meditate. Be in the sun.
Prana is a resource: breathe.
Principle #3: Obtain a Yield
Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
What results are you experiencing?
Healing can take time to manifest. Track changes as they occur. It can be easy to forget how far you’ve come.
Adjust your strategies until the rewards are truly useful.
Principle #4: Apply Self-regulation and Accept Feedback
We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
Remove what does you harm, including foods that don’t hep you thrive, toxins, electromagnetic radiation & venomous relationships.
Principle #5: Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
Eat what grows in your yard.
Know your farmers.
Meet an animal you are going to consume.
Make sure your farmers know how deeply you appreciate all the work that goes into growing the food you eat.
Principle #6: Produce No Waste
By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
Consume all of the animal, including organs and bones.
Use all of the vegetable: compost.
Principle #7: Design from Patterns to Details
By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
Start with proven approaches, like the Autoimmune Protocol. Then, as you learn, customize. Maybe through reintroductions. Maybe by trying an allied protocol.
Create a patten of living that nourishes you by starting with broad strokes, then refining and evolving the particulars.
Principle #8: Integrate rather than Segregate
By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between them and they support each other.
Design your life so that everything supports your health.
If you aren’t experiencing health, your internal and external environments are arranged to produce that outcome.
There’s a thousand ways. Put yoga or a walk into your daily life. Plan for access to water throughout the day. Make sure nutrient dense food is readily available, maybe by instituting early morning food prep sessions.
Principle #9: Use Small and Slow Solutions
Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.
The whole world needs healing. There is no doubt.
But start with your gut.
Gut healing takes time, but all your other efforts will be supercharged when your gut is thriving.
Principle #10: Use and Value Diversity
Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
Eat a diverse variety of nutrient-dense foods, including the types and colours of vegetables recommended by Dr Terry Wahls.
Principle #11: Use Edges and Value the Marginal
The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
What’s your growing edge?
As you heal, your edges will evolve. You will become more yourself. More differentiated. More connected.
Thanks to the Autoimmune Protocol, I revere ordinary vegetables.
Even carrots, which previously seemed as though they didn’t require my positive regard.
I’ve found if I focus in on one vegetable, really contemplate it, including the ways I can incorporate it as food, I naturally develop a profound respect ~reverence~ for it that I didn’t have before.
That reverence changes my attitude toward the food I eat.
Why not worship food? Bless it. Devote ourselves to it.
Even a humble carrot.
I got into that kind of reverence with turnips recently.
A Bisque, traditionally, was made with seafood broth, and one could certainly use a seafood stock in this recipe. The original version also incorporated the ground mollusc shells as a thickener. And to add minerals.
I want to try that.
But this is not a bisque in that sense of the word.
This is a pureed soup. A delicious vehicle for Bone Broth.
Made with love. From carrots. And optionally garnished with spinach~lime coulis.