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Piecing the Puzzle Together

Saturday, December 08, 2018

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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon emoticon
    12 hours ago
    I admire the way you use science to improve your life. Hoping you feel much better soon. Fatigue is a bummer for sure.

    I appreciated your comment on my blog today. I have corrected the blog, though. The fluctuation range I cited for 2018 is correct starting in March 2018, not January. Hope to keep that fluctuation narrow for all of 2019, and ongoing!

    1 day ago

    Comment edited on: 12/9/2018 12:24:05 PM
    I suspect that your issues with soy milk are related to your difficulty tolerating other legumes. Isn't that one of the factors of the Plant Paradox?

    What makes me the happiest reading this (in addition to your scientific approach) is that you are still fighting whatever "this" is. There are some people who would have given up a long time ago. You keep trying new things and investigating possibilities to see what will work for you. You are such a fighter and incredibly strong, and I admire you tremendously.

    I wish you and your hubby a safe, happy, and healthy Winter Break. I hope answers are right around the corner for you! Big hugs always.
    1 day ago
    I'm so sorry that you continue to struggle on so many levels, but I'm so glad to hear that you will soon be able to just focus on yourself. I pray that things come into focus and that the puzzle is solved. My prayers are with you!
    2 days ago
    2 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2 days ago
    It takes time, persistence, and consistency... and good record keeping... to get to the bottom of these things, and you have the best motivation available: survival!

    I'm getting to that point (not survival, necessarily, but quality of life) with my little issues, which don't hold a candle to yours. I started a log to keep track of taking my meds, intake of artificial sweeteners (for purpose of limiting them and stepping off them, hopefully completely at some point), and of the bodily symptoms... just recording and measuring at this point. Which is where one has to start. And where I'd been unwilling to go. I use you as a role model for how to go about the experimentation, and yes, controlling what you change, introducing changes a bit at a time, not changing too many variables at once... essential to not muddy those scientific waters!

    Best wishes and prayers. emoticon
    2 days ago
  • DESIREE672
    I am very glad you are finding fascinating clues to follow up and which seem to be pointing you in a useful direction. The time off seems like a very good idea. I’m wondering if you simply know more about your condition than any doctors. I know caregivers who seem to be more expert about their spouses condition than the doctors they deal with. In just one field, if they are concentrated on learning about just one condition, it seems a possibility.

    Hoping for more good results from your exploration.
    2 days ago
    I'm sure that taking some time off will be very helpful. I know the last year I taught, my usual skin color was a pasty gray. Two weeks after going on extended sick leave, I went back to my school to talk to my boss. I was fairly sure that I was going to need to retire on a disability. Everyone commented on how much better I looked. Between the pain and the stress, my health really suffered. It took a whole year for my knee replacement to be rehabilitated because the damage was extreme and the muscles had atrophied badly. Once the pain level and stress decreased, my overall health improved! As for use of the dairy products I can't have any of them except for a small amount of hard cheese. I used to eat yogurt and Lactaid skim milk in smoothies. I was constantly coughing, had a runny nose and had sinus infections. I was tested for a milk allergy but it was negative. For some reason, milk products that come from animals turn me into a super mucus producer. Finally a pulmonary specialist told me no dairy except for occasional cheese in slight amounts. He also started me on NAC to reduce inflammation in the sinuses and the lungs. The clogged up noses stopped like magic and my asthma greatly improved. So, stay on top of it while you are away from teaching. You are worth all of the effort spent to find,out what is going on with your own body!
    2 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/8/2018 4:32:00 PM
  • GABY1948
    I am so glad that you get some time off and can investigate more about your body. As always, prayers come from John and I for the answers you need so badly!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2 days ago
    Part of me is happy to hear the doctors didn't find anything serious that would explain fatigue, that's kind of good news... but the other half is concerned about the unexplained fatigue. I hope you can get some substantial rest and regain your energy, Jeanne!
    2 days ago
  • RAMONA1954
    Wishing you the best in your journey. Your posts give me food for thought.
    2 days ago
    2 days ago
    I wish you all the best winding your way thru this. So frustrating! HUGS
    2 days ago
  • BJAEGER307
    I didn't know that there were farms that had raw milk anymore. How did you ever come across that? When I was a kid until early teens, I would help out summers at my Aunt and Uncle's dairy farm. They had Holstein cows, and I don't know the caseins they had, but they were grass fed, supplemented by hay and grain that was grown on the farm. I don't think or remember them doing anything to the cows other than milking. They had a vet but he didn't do anything either. Back then it wasn't like it is now in farming. I'm talking late 50's early 60's here. But to get back, that is the only time we would have raw milk, because that's how they got their milk from their own herd. Cream, and butter same way. None of in the family had any reactions that I know of and both of them lived to be in their late 80's before passing.

    So I agree with you in trying to find out how and why certain dairy products are the way that they are. I don't use much milk, as it's just not my thing anymore. I sure do hope you find out an answer to all of this.
    Take care Jeanne.
    2 days ago
    I am so glad that you are able to take some time off, soon . . . and that you will be able to focus on finding some more pieces of the puzzle and some more answers to the question.

    I love pecorino: made with sheep's milk!!
    2 days ago
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