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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

KOMBUCHA!

This post will probably have nothing to do with my composing. I'm just so excited that I finally procured a Kombucha culture that I wanted to write about it. It's now sitting in about a gallon of tea in a sanitized glass jar with spigot that I got from someone on freecylce up in Inwood. And I'm sitting here all worried that I didn't cool the tea enough before pouring it in or that I made a mistake in pouring the tea over the culture and maybe I should have instead placed the culture in the tea as most people say to do.

All that aside, I think this'll be a great little project. Especially considering the $4.50 price tag on most bottles of store bought Kombucha. For those of you who nothing about Kombucha click here to save time in me explaining why I drink it. Some of you know I was diagnosed with Celiac disease back in January and that I've probably mentioned too much about my stomach problems here. It, Kombucha, certainly makes me feel a lot better whenever I've had the chance to drink it consistently for a week. In fact, it's one of the few things (probiotics in pill form are another) that have actually helped me stave off symptoms.

Which brings me to my next point. Those symptoms (I'm not going into detail but they were different from whatever symptoms prompted the diagnosis) actually arrived shortly after my endoscopy, after which my doctor pronounced that I had Celiac disease. The back story is that I went in, rather hapless, for a physical exam in December and then, when they ask you all your medical history and problems etc, I mentioned, rather offhandedly, that I was diagnosed with IBS some five years ago in NC. First mistake. Even though I told him those symptoms were now reduced to a degree where they were totally manageable and only stress related, my doc suggest I get tested for Celiac disease. I went along, thinking, "Fine, what the heck. I have insurance." The results from my blood test came back showing a vitamin deficiency (D. It's winter time in NYC of course I have a vitamin D deficiency, who wouldn't?), and the presence of certain antibodies associated with an auto immune response. So, I consented to have an endoscopy. The doctor took a biopsy and it appeared that I have damage to the lining of my intestine consistent with Celiac disease. But I still couldn't believe it.

I embraced the diagnosis rather well at first, but I soon realized that, for some reason, I was simply experiencing the five stages of grief, backwards. Yes, grief. Think for a second about how many effing things contain wheat and get back to me. It's some serious psychological torture. I was angry, defiant and depressed within weeks.

Especially since, upon going gluten-free, I started to feel worse. Now, I don't know if it was a bi-product of going gluten-free, or simply stress related to a change in my diet, or even just carelessness post-operation (I drank coffee and red wine in the week immediately following my procedure, something I rarely do because of the risk of symptoms, and developed some pretty awful, reoccurring heartburn and acid reflux symptoms). Either way, what would follow was months of speculation and research on my part and not a bit of help from my doctors at Murray Hill Medical Group.

I know that most people, I've talked to with Celiac complain of symptoms immediately following ingestion of wheat. Now, interestingly enough, I don't get that...at all. The main things that I've determined cause my symptoms are alcohol in large quantities, caffeine or coffee in large quantities or on an empty stomach, eating too fast, stressing out, not getting enough sleep, etc. In fact, the first time I had a beer (with significantly lower alcohol content than wine) after the gluten-free diet started, the next day? I felt fine. Not exactly 100% but certainly better than I'd thought I would feel.

Now, I did a little research and talked to a nutritionist. I read and she said that I could have Celiac and not exhibit symptoms but it would still be doing damage to my system. An invisible culprit that doesn't directly give you symptoms but could be causing damage that could be leading to the symptoms you have when you do other things. I thought, "well that's a bum rap!" (Does anybody say that anymore?) If I'm being told that not eating wheat will make my symptoms go away, and it doesn't, but that I should still not eat it because it's causing damage to my system, that just really sucks.

Plus, I had been off of gluten for so long, I thought I'd be seeing a change. But, no. The only things that have made me feel marginally better have been moderating my alcohol, i.e. cutting back for days to weeks at a time, taking probiotic pills for my gut and drinking Kombucha.

But I still had all these questions and was trying to look at this all logically. Because I really didn't think I had it after all that time. My favorite question and the one that really just made me decide this was stupid: What about eating a little bit? I read somewhere that it takes only a molecule of the gluten protein to trigger the auto immune response. The million dollar question in that case, "Why bother?" Stomach cancer risk, maybe it'll get worse and I'll be less able to absorb nutrients, whatever else. But the point is, I'm supposed to deprive myself of the foods I enjoy (when I already seek out good quality organic and healthy versions of those foods) and expect to feel better but meanwhile, I'm psychologically damaged for having to constantly explain to people that I can't eat this or drink that, and then what'll (supposedly) happen to me if I do. All those pizza days at work and free cake, all those times hanging out in a bar having to drink cheap carbonated cider or red wine, which turned out was worse and actually did generate symptoms.

No thanks. I'm tired of it. I had my symptoms under control, and as for a risk of stomach cancer, I simply don't (and can't) believe that cancer (in this case stomach cancer) happens to people who eat healthy whole organic foods and moderate their vices. As for not absorbing nutrients as well, how do the doctors explain the fact that D (a vitamin, well, hormone, that it turns out tons of people are deficient in) was the only deficiency. I seem to be doing just fine with everything else.

Incidentally, in the ever growing gluten conspiracy theory of mine, this is the biggest indicator that these quacks were looking for Celiac. Do I have another possible idea? Yes, I have a friend who has a Candida infection and exhibits similar symptoms to me and wouldn't you know it? Not a lot of western doctors really have much to say on this topic. I asked, I got tested for a bacterial infection in my gut but he said nothing came back in the lab results.

So I'm going to say screw all of this crap, officially, take care of my gut, drink Kombucha (and often cited aid in healing Candida infections) and eat and drink my favorite things. I'm tired of explaining, I'm tired of imposing, and I'm tired of worrying. Worrying, as a matter of fact, is probably the worst thing for my stomach.

That having been said, if any of you who know me see me eating gluten, please don't lecture me. I'll be just fine.

Glad that's out now. I'll be updating occasionally on what the Kombucha is doing.

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