When I decided to give the shirred eggs a go after reading the following Spark article:
I never imagined that it would launch me into a deeper understanding of my body's tolerances/intolerances for dairy.
Dairy has been a dicey proposition for me since birth. My mother was unable to nurse. There were attempts to feed me with cow's milk and soy milk which were so detrimental that they darn near killed me.
It would be goat milk that saved my life.
Over the years I observed that not only the type of milk (cow, goat, soy); but, the form (whole, low fat, non fat, skim, condensed) also appeared to impact whether or not my body would tolerate them.
Then, I began to notice that the region from which the dairy was sourced, the manner in which the animals were raised (organic, conventional, large agribusiness, small farms, grain fed, grass fed, etc.), and how the milk was processed (raw, pasteurized, homogenized, non-homogenized) also appeared to have some bearing on my body's ability to tolerate it.
There are so many factors at play! It is not easy to tease this stuff out and it takes keen observation and patience, patience, patience.
The easy thing to do would simply be to eliminate all dairy entirely. However, I've experienced so many food intolerances to so many different classes of food that I simply cannot continue eliminating entire classes of foods.
Otherwise, what am I going to eat to sustain my life and well-being? Seriously!
So, inadvertently, through my exploration of shirred eggs I've come to some apparent realizations about my body's ability to tolerate or not tolerate certain forms of dairy.
There are a couple of factors that appear to be of primary importance: protein and enzymes.
My body appears to have difficulty digesting and assimilating certain proteins. And the presence of certain enzymes also appears to impact my body's ability to assimilate and process certain foods.
How have I come to this realization?
Well, it is clearly evident that the breed of cow and the animal from which the milk is derived impacts my body's ability to tolerate it.
Why does this matter?
Different cow breeds have a different protein profile in their milk. Since my body appears to be challenged by certain proteins, the protein content and composition of the milk matters. I have learned that cow breeds with a greater concentration of casein a2 in their milk means I can tolerate those products. Since goats and sheep milk are naturally casein a2 dominant, I have no issues with goat and sheep milk or products derived from them.
So, dairy products from goat and sheep milk have been fine. It's the cow's milk that's been dicey and soy … for whatever reason … gives my body incredible grief. I have not learned enough about soy. I suspect the intolerance is related to its protein composition, growing environment, and processing.
A recent exploration has involved raw cow's milk. There is controversy regarding the safety of raw milk. However, I am at a point where I feel so bad and the health professionals appear to be at a loss to assist me that I'm willing to try just about anything.
The product recently sampled was sourced from a local dairy that grazes their animals all year. Their herd is composed of cattle with both casein a1 and casein a2 dominant proteins. I knew that I was taking a risk sampling this product for a number of reasons. 1. The risk involved with consuming raw milk. 2. The presence of casein a1 protein in the milk … which I KNOW is an issue for me.
So, why did I do it?
Well, I am a scientist at heart. And, in my experiment of one, I wanted to see if, perhaps, the presence of live enzymes in raw milk would leave the casein a1 milk digestible. And, it appears that it does. I have experienced no apparent repercussions from ingesting the raw milk products sampled. I have sampled both raw whole milk and raw cheddar.
This particular farm also produces raw heavy cream and raw kefir. I suspect that I will eventually sample those products as well. But, it probably won't be soon. I've learned that I need to leave time between sampling explorations because sometimes challenges do not make themselves immediately apparent. As I said, earlier … it is not easy to tease this stuff out.
Recently, I took a quick look at my average daily caloric consumption for the year and checked it against an online calorie calculator. Based upon my age, gender, height, activity level and nutritional consumption I ought to weigh 185 lbs.. The average of the scale weights for the year is 116.8 lbs. That is a huge difference!
Something is wrong! I am not looking at such a huge disparity simply because of the possibility that my metabolism runs high. Could I have a rogue metabolism? Yes. But, it seems clear to me that my body is severely challenged in its ability to extract the nutrients and energy from the nutritional intake provided.
So, I feel like I may have inadvertently bumbled upon some missing puzzle pieces.
My focus is on survival. The struggle and depth of fatigue is running that deep. I know that I likely have another 4 - 6 fairly stressful weeks ahead of me. Then, I have pulled myself away from work for the spring semester. I am not on medical leave. My doctors seem to think I am fine and apparently think my experience is psychosomatic; although, they have not said it. There have been no suggestions for further exploration to seek understanding of my experience. I was left with "Let me know if you have any further questions." Yeah. Okay.
Perhaps, I expect too much of them. If they simply do not possess the know how to assist, how can I expect that of them? They may not possess the skill, knowledge, and capability to assist me.
So, when the dust settles and I can muster the energy to address my situation, I will be seeking assistance from physicians outside the medical insurer presently providing care armed with a newfound sense of understanding.
The more puzzle pieces I can gather to assist the better. Perhaps, we will eventually get to the heart of the matter.