Sunday, December 29, 2013

Houston, we have lift-off

Thanks to a huge influx from Richard's Christmas wish the project goal is met and the funds are now released. I want to thank everyone that contributed and wish you all a very happy and successful new year.

In fact, today I ordered up the biome sample kits for us all. They take 2-3 weeks to arrive, which works well as we're out of town on an extended winter vacation visiting friends and family. We'll be returning home next week, so will have a few weeks on our usual home diet before gathering the "before" sample.

Next is determining what additional testing we can accomplish with the over-funding we've received. There's definitely enough for a BG meter and a fair amount of test strips. I'm a little curious how a "normal" non-diabetic person's BG cycles over the course of a day and in response to various meals. Other than that, I'm not really sure. If you have any suggestions please feel free to leave a comment. This is crowd-source science after all.

In any case, again to all the contributors, I thank you. Let's hope this is the first in a long series of interesting crowd-source science to come.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bifido bacteria

In the previous web links post I mentioned a new blogger, Mr. Heisenbug, as being the best for last.

He has written another post looking at RS and hypothesizing a few mechanisms by which RS may be promoting gut health via bifidogenicity.

The conclusion of his post is that we really need a comparison of RS + fermented dairy (a bifido source) with plain RS. Well gee, that reasonably closely describes my project! In fact, after reading his post, I've decided to remove a potential confounder by having 'Adult 1' completely abstain from fermented dairy during the course of the experiment.

It won't be perfect as Adult 1 is already a regular fermented dairy consumer, but the variety of yogurt does not appear to have bifido bacteria and studies show bifido relatively clears from the gut in just 2-4 days. I'm also inclined to separate the children into a bifido-yogurt group and a non-bifido-yogurt group. I need to think about that one some more, however, as the children were already testing psyllium as a supplement cofactor.

Now all I need to do is get this thing funded! (Hint. Hint. The wine country tours are still available. :) Those two would all but get us there.)

Finally, I suspect if you're reading this post you've already seen it, but Tatertot Tim, has a great guest post on Richard's blog also discussing bifido bacteria.

The dots, they are a connectin'. Now all we need to do is test them.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Food Journal: Wed, Dec 18

Adult 2 and Child 2 left town early for Christmas. This week the boy and I are living like bachelors, which is to say subsisting on left-overs as we work the fridge into shape to be left unattended for a couple weeks.

Child 1 - white beans, 2 eggs over easy, shot of sriracha sauce; yogurt & granola
Adult 1 - coffee & half-n-half

Child 1 - the hot lunch at school (S.A.D.)
Adult 1 - white beans, 2 eggs over easy, double-shot of sriracha sauce; yogurt & granola

Child 1 - beef-barley-cabbage-potato-carrot-kelp soup; on the side, a couple slices of fresh bakery french bread w/ butter; dried mango strips for dessert
Adult 1 - ditto

Evening snack:
Adult 1 - few squares of the 85% dark chocolate & milk

Web Links

I've been slammed with work items so updating the blog has been relegated to the bottom of my "to do" list. Fortunately, I haven't had much new to say. I'll go ahead and post a food journal for today after this one. As for this post, I wanted to share a few interesting links to people that have mentioned the project.

1) Richard Nikoley got the ball rolling first, both writing a post and making the first contribution at Indiegogo. Clearly a man that puts his money where his mouth is, of which I never had any doubt.

2) Dr. BG at Animal Pharm just published a great post as well. Lots of colors and pictures. My picture to be precise. :)

3) Jimmy Moore included a whole paragraph on the project in a post he wrote as a kind of introduction to RS for his readers.

4) Perhaps best for last, a new blogger Mr. Heisenbug has a whole blog connecting the dots on RS and gut biome. He doesn't mention the project, but he does have a couple interesting posts where he discusses TaterTot Tim's results. Definitely a must-read if microbiome is of interest to you.

Thanks Richard, Dr. BG, & Jimmy!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Alright, Indiegogo it is

The project was denied by Kickstarter. After further inquiry, I better understand what they mean when they say it must be a project. They want something tangible that the benefactors can, at least in theory, personally make use of. While a lab report is tangible, it's not tangible in the sense of having any direct relevance to the benefactors that would be donating to the project.

A kit for consumers to perform their own DIY gut biome sample, that's a tangible outcome. Me getting an analysis on my biome, not a tangible outcome. The value in "before" & "after" testing for anyone other than myself is informational only, and thus intangible.

OK, now I get that, but they should do a better job explaining themselves on the front end. I read their guidelines very closely and the pitch they put on their website doesn't make that clear distinction. It just says you should have a final output/concrete deliverable and the deliverable should fall within some obvious no-politics, no-woo, no-BATF limitations. Well, a lab report seems like an obvious output to me.

Anyway, I've picked up stakes and moved to Indiegogo. Hopefully I'll have it all done and a link to the project to share by tomorrow. Stay tuned. Done.

Food Journal: Thurs, Dec 12

Child 1 - 2 eggs scrambled, melted cheese on top; yogurt w/ granola
Child 2 - ditto
Adult 1 - coffee & half-n-half
Adult 2 - coffee & half-n-half

Child 1 - don't know
Child 2 - don't know
Adult 1 - yogurt w/ granola; 2 egg omelet w/ deli ham; 1 corn tortilla
Adult 2 - ditto

All - roasted pork loin; brown rice, cabbage, onion, etc; sliced up fresh pineapple on the side

Evening snack:
1 c Milk & 6 squares (~0.7oz) 85% dk chocolate

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Food Journal: Tuesday, Dec 10

Child 1 - 2 eggs scrambled, melted cheese on top; yogurt w/ granola
Child 2 - ditto
Adult 1 - coffee & half-n-half
Adult 2 - coffee & half-n-half

Child 1 - tortellini and pork-tomato sauce 
Child 2 - not sure -- play date at friend's house
Adult 1 - left-over turkey breast & bread stuffing (all gone now, stuffing not the turkey ;) )
Adult 2 - cheese quesadilla on small corn shells

All - meatloaf, broccoli (steamed), sweet potatoes (reheated w/ microwave from fridge)

Evening Snack:
Adult 1 - 2x3 in. slice of persimmon pudding w/ whip cream

Monday, December 9, 2013

Food Journal: Monday, Dec 9

Child 1 - 2 eggs scrambled, melted cheese on top
Child 2 - ditto
Adult 1 - coffee & half-n-half
Adult 2 - coffee & half-n-half

Child 1 - hot lunch at school: chicken & rice w/ pears 
Child 2 - cheese quesadilla on small corn shells, peanut butter on gluten-free crackers
Adult 1 - left-over beans & rice reheated in skillet w/ 2 eggs mixed in; served w/ corn tortilla
Adult 2 - ditto

All - Ground pork & pasta sauce (jar), over cheese tortellini (refrigerator case)

Experimental Methods (Proposed)

I submitted the project for approval at Kickstarter yesterday. They review all submissions before publishing them to make sure the projects fit within their terms of use. While waiting for that to approve I thought I would go ahead and share my intended methods.

Please feel free to comment if you have any recommendations for improvements that I can make. There's still time to make changes before the KS project goes live. Once it does go live I'll try not to make changes to the experimental methods unless there is a really strong and necessary reason for doing so.

Without further ado, here's the pertinent section from the Kickstarter project description.

Over the course of a 6 week study period I will maintain a food journal for each participant as well as daily supplementation of resistant starch in the form of Bob's Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch. Each participant will follow a unique supplementation regimen as described below:
a) adult 1 - 2 TBSP mixed in water and consumed on an empty stomach
b) adult 2 - 2 TBSP mixed in water and consumed on an empty stomach, split into two equal doses
c) child 1 - 1 TBSP potato starch plus 0.5 TBSP whole psyllium husk mixed into yogurt (to prevent complications from too much psyllium, will start with 0.5 TSP and slowly increase to the full dosage amount over first two weeks)
d) child 2 - 1 TBSP mixed into yogurt

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Food Journal: Sunday, Dec 8

Child 1 - 2 eggs over-easy, 2 sausage patties, small corn tortilla to sop up yolks; square of home-made persimmon pudding (about the size of a brownie) w/ whip cream on top
Child 2 - ditto
Adult 1 - ditto plus coffee & half-n-half
Adult 2 - ditto plus coffee & half-n-half
All - ~1 TSP fermented cod liver oil plus 6-12k IU Vit D drops.

Child 1 - take-out pizza and small slice of chocolate cake
Child 2 - pizza only, no cake
Adult 1 - none
Adult 2 - none

All - roasted turkey breast w/ braised potatoes and home-made stuffing (yes, they're Thanksgiving left-overs; and yes, this is like the third day without much in the way of leafy greens -- so embarrassing I never thought of this aspect when I decided to food journal)

Who is this guy?

I figure before folks decide to part with their hard-earned money for some random guy on 'teh interwebz' they are going to want to know a little bit about him and his motivation.

I've been following Richard Nikoley's blog about 4 years now. In fact, it will be four years exactly on New Years Eve. I know this because, like a lot of his readers, I discovered him from a post at Boing Boing about some crazy dude that never uses soap or shampoo. I'm convinced now that the Boing Boing editor posting the story deliberately did so as a bait-and-switch to get people turned on to an incredible, heterodox blogger. If Richard had been introduced as yet another great blogger one should check out, I'd not bothered clicking the link -- I need another blog to follow like I need another hole in the head. The irony is I don't keep up with Boing Boing anymore, but I'm still following along with Richard all these years later.

So. Richard introduced me to the paleosphere and from there I reckon things proceeded in the usual fashion. Probably the biggest difference between me and what seems to be the typical paleo convert is that I didn't come at it for a weight-loss or strength-gaining program, but just as guy with a strong interest in biology and health (in fact, I wanted to be an MD back in the day). I do share a deep skepticism of conventional wisdom and governmental recommendations for how we should live, eg. statins and the USDA food pyramid. So that was likely part the hook for me with Richard as well.

That said, I've never been dogmatic about paleo eating. The high fat, low carb, moderate protein style of diet was clearly doing a lot of good for a lot of people that were in some pretty dire straits, but I could never get into it 100%. Strict gluten/veg oil/starch free eating is too much effort. We're gluten/veg oil/sugar light instead. We try reasonably hard to avoid those things, but as an otherwise healthy family I see no need to strictly and forever swear off pancakes and birthday cake. It's also hard to believe beans and potatoes, apples and oranges are going to wreck our health, or, for that matter, a loaf of real sourdough bread once in a month or two. I appreciate this is not the case for everyone. And that's why I think my family and I make an interesting science project. It's because we're in good overall health. The help that resistant starch and stricter forms of paleo does for people with pathological conditions is already well established. I would like to know what resistant starch might do for regular healthy people.

Anyway, that's how I got here. A few other incidentals are that I live in Portland, Oregon. I don't go out of my way to exercise, but I do ride my bike more often than I drive. I'm presently working mostly from home on a startup I co-founded. We make K-8 educational apps. Before that, I bike-commuted about 300 miles a month to an office in the 'burbs. Nowadays my riding is closer to 50 miles a month. My wife and children bike to school, the grocery store, church, and friends' houses. I should say, as much as we like riding our bikes and sticking it to the OPECs, it's not our religion. If we're going across town with kids, or if we are in a time crunch, we drive -- about 300 miles a month, many months.

Hope that helps. Sorry if this was tl;dr.

Why a "science project" on Resistant Starch?

I've been following the resistant starch threads at Richard Nikoley's blog. Commenter TaterTot Tim had been supplementing his diet very heavily with 4TB/day of unmodified potato starch. He and another commenter, Marie, had done a considerable amount of personal testing and found resistant starch (RS) to work incredibly well on blunting blood glucose spikes. In fact, they showed they could eat a baked potato with practically no BG spike.

For diabetics this is about the biggest news since Eli Lilly discovered a way to mass-produce insulin. Really. It is that big. Bigger, actually, since RS frees people from insulin injections. I'm not diabetic, but recognize that millions of people are. Further, even for healthy people, BG spikes are not a good thing and we all do well to avoid them. (And, well, I do like an occasional bowl of honey-drizzled oatmeal or baked potato with sour cream or home-baked apple pie...) So this RS thing offered some intrigue.

Later TaterTot had his gut biome sampled and the results were stunning. Stunning, but not surprising. There's literature. His sample was the "best" the American Gut people had ever measured. TaterTot mentioned he wished he had a "before" sample to compare against. That gave me an idea...

I had been thinking of getting on the resistant starch train, but hadn't actually got around to it. In that regard, I could serve as a good "before" sample. With my wife and the older two of our three children onboard we could set up our own interesting dose-response experiment: we live and eat together, we are all healthy, we have roughly the same activity levels. What if each one of us supplemented with RS a little bit differently? What would the results be? Hmm... Hey, that sounds like a pretty cool science project!

Unfortunately, the cost is non-trivial. Doubly so since we're living off savings while the startup I co-founded gets built out. A gut biome is about $100/person and we'd need two: one "before" to serve as a baseline, and one "after" to compare the effect of each RS supplement regimen.

But... what about Kickstarter!?! $20 or so from 400 or so of Richard Nikoley's closest friends... It could happen. :)

Now, obviously for people to feel like donating $10, $20, or more -- you know who you are ;) -- to some random guy on 'teh interwebz' is a worthwhile endeavor, they'll need to know a little something about the random guy they're sending their money to. Hence this blog. It is to show my seriousness about the project, solicit input and recommendations, answer questions, record intermediate progress, and ultimately to share the results.

So, stay tuned for more. And if you haven't donated yet, please consider it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Food Journal: Sat, Dec 7

Allow us all to pause for the Day of Infamy. Thank you.

By the way, my grandfather served in the Pacific on a wood-hulled mine sweeper. I can't remember if he made it to Japan, but I'm pretty sure he docked once in mainland China. He's still with us, which is nice.

But I digress. Food journal. I'm going to try and hit a few days in a row so that people can get a feel for what's typical for us, though I must say this is two days in a row that's not really typical. It's not totally unusual, but it's kind of at the end our normal range. Also, unlike M-F, this breakfast is quite a bit different for all of us.

Again, there may have been a little snacking I missed, but this is the main parts.

Child 1 - 1 over-easy egg; 4 3-4" pancakes w/ real maple syrup; 2 strips bacon
Child 2 - ditto
Adult 1 - ditto plus coffee & half-n-half
Adult 2 - ditto plus coffee & half-n-half
All - ~1 TSP fermented cod liver oil plus 1 drop Thorne vitamin K2

No one ate lunch. Kids were pretty grumpy by dinner time, which we had an hour early. :)

All - split pea (AKA green lentils) & ham soup (onion, celery, carrot, parsely); age goat cheddar on the side, no crackers

Evening snack:
Adult 1 - 3 cookies (homemade -> butter & coconut oil, no trans fat or veg oils) & hot tea, herbal
Adult 2 - ditto

Food Journal: Friday, Dec 6

I won't attempt to do these everyday, or include the amounts every time, but I'll try to hit a few of these in a row early on to give a sense for what our diet looks like. Today was a fairly typical day for a day that I'd consider in the "light" range for us. It was "light" except for breakfast, which almost never varies on weekdays. These lighter days happen from time to time for no obvious reason, I reckon, other than being busy. Or you could say we made up for it with the cookies, since we don't typically do desserts. Today we did. Yin & Yang, perhaps.

Also, there may have been a little snacking I missed, but this has all the main parts.

Child 1 - 2 scrambled eggs w/ melted cheddar on top; 1/2 cup of plain yogurt w/ couple TBSP granola
Child 2 - ditto
Adult 1 - 2 c coffee w/ ~1/4 c Half-n-half between them
Adult 2 - 2 c coffee & half-n-half

Child 1 - not sure :)
Child 2 - small plate with hard salami, green olives, & pretzel sticks
Adult 1 - 1/2 c yogurt & granola; 5-10 triscuit crackers w/ spread from a cream cheese/chevre-cheese cheeseball; handful of pistachios
Adult 2 - small plate of hard salami, green olives, & pretzel sticks, handful of pistachio nuts

All - white beans & ham over white rice (about 2/3 of the rice was straight out of the cooker, other 1/3 was leftovers from the fridge and thrown into the cooker right after the new rice was finished, but before it had cooled any -- I have no idea what that means for RS); a couple homemade short-bread cookies for dessert

Before bed snack:
Adult 1 - about 6 squares of dark chocolate and a 1/2 c whole milk

A Resistant Starch science project

I'm creating a Kickstarter Indiegogo project to fund before and after testing for my family's gut biomes in response to daily ingestion of Resistant Starch. A science project if you will.

As science projects go, this is an expensive one. More expensive than I can financially swing all by myself, so I'm turning to the thousands of good people on the internet. If you share my curiosity about resistant starch and gut biome please consider a pledge for the Kickstarter project.

What I think makes this project interesting and worthy of seeking outside financial support is that four of us, two adults and two children, while eating mostly all the same food will each have a unique regimen for the resistant starch supplement. We'd like to answer if any methods of supplementing are vastly superior to others. Or conversely, if any small amount will do, that would be good to know as well. Also, we are all healthy and pretty much always have been. I know resistant starch has made a huge difference in a lot of people's lives that are suffering from various pathological conditions. However, for "normal" people (assume with me there is a normal), is resistant starch all that necessary or helpful?

As for the blog here, it will provide additional details about ourselves, our diet, our daily routines. It will also serve as the official publication site for the results of our gut biomes before and after supplementing daily with resistant starch. If the project funds on Kickstarter Indiegogo, this blog becomes the deliverable.

Please follow along. I hope it to be an interesting journey for everyone.

Thank you.