Thursday, 30 June 2011

Window Box

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Last Night's Discovery: The Local Kimchi Man

After a failed attempt at creating sauerkraut, and my research on probiotics was leading me to believe that all "probiotic" labelled yoghurt is a trick to make us drink low fat sugar laced yoghurt containing man made bacteria strains that die as soon as they hit the acid in the stomach,  I was at a loss last night for a way to get my gut bacteria up to speed. Then I went out to check if they had any raw dairy type products in the overpriced organic supermarket that I live opposite and they had closed early as usual. It was a long shot anyway, whenever I go in that place I realise why I never go in there; it's a white elephant of expensive brown rice, pointlessly low concentrated servings of supplements I don't need, and silly macrobiotic diet stuff. I've only ever bought a can of coconut milk in there, and now I buy coconut cream for a quarter of their price online. So I went back across the road to grab a few baked sweet potatoes off the cart outside maruetsu and took a detour to see what actually goes on at the weird ginseng shop.

The Weird Ginseng Shop

Nobody is ever in there, it seems to sell only ginseng, how is this guy making any money?
Those are the thoughts that have always gone through my mind when walking past the weird ginseng shop on the way to the station. Beef stew was on a low heat upstairs so I had hours of time to kill before dinner - let's check out the produce that the weird ginseng man is peddling I thought to myself.

Got through the shop's broken door and was SHOCKED. The bottles containing ginseng in the window are only put there to keep people away! The inside of the shop is full of fridges at different temperatures containing cylinders full of rotting vegetables. Ginseng man was watching telly in the back room and came in to say hello. I know that all the "kimuchi" that the japanese supermarkets carry is just spicy cabbage so I asked the weird ginseng man if his wares were "発酵" (fermented) or what. I said "mate, is all this stuff hakkou or what like?" and he said "whay aye man, it's totally kosher. I've got fermented garlic, fermented, daikon, fermented squid, fermented potato, you name it lad, I've fermented it." I looked around and he's got some hot pot liquid in bags on the top shelf there, a tall fridge with fermented wares in circular plastic tubs already to go in case there's a rush (which there never is), the chest fridges full of stuff on the go, and a central display of different types of dried korean seaweed. Putting two an two together I reckon he might be one of those "hangul" fellas, but his face wasn't flat and box shaped, it looked more contoured like a japanese bloke.
He spoke the Emporer's pretty well, so the jury is still out on him. We had a bit chat about his affliction, I mean, who could be so obsessed with fermentation that they open up a whole shop dedicated to rotting vegetables? The guy is obviously addicted to rotten stuff. Then he talked me through the levels of spicyness of his rotten veg. The level starts with the 'only slightly hakkou' cucumbers, all the way up to the inedible 'tougarashi' kimchi. I darted for a regular container of kimchi in his tall fridge and he stopped me in my tracks. "Nah nah mate, I'll do you a fresh bowl straight from the cylinder" he gans. "That'll be a fiver". Not bad I thought so I handed over 5 sheets and he started off back to watch the telly. I couldn't believe the lack of sales ability in the ginseng man. Gullible foreigner comes in off the street, obviously fascinated by the wares being peddled, asking questions, picking up everything and that, he could have taken me to the cleaners. "Hang on mister ginseng sir, can I have some more" I piped up. And I took him for a couple of kimchi stuffed cucumbers at 100 yen a pop an all. Thought I'd start off down on the low end of the spice spectrum, with two of his least spicy offerings. With that I was out of the shop, and gave a sigh of relief that I had found a local probiotic dealer who will be able to grace my table every dinner time with all different kinds of bacteria from a plethora of different rotten vegetables.

Are these yoghurts the japanese
equivalent of the crap Activa and
Danone peddle in England? Or do they
have some kind of use? 
Now, rather than being fooled into throwing money straight down the drain by buying dairy products from Danone and Activa that have been stripped of healthy natural bacteria during the pasteurisation process, then are infused with laboratory created strains of bacteria that die on stomach acid contact, I will safely be able to transport good probiotic bacteria through my duodenum into my small and large intestine via the delicious vehicle of authentic, natural korean kimchi.

This one is so sweet, more like cramola
foam than yoghurt.

Thank you weird ginseng man, I will see you again tonight.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Here's a bunch of questions I'm asking myself about Prebiotics and Probiotics. Using this page to take notes as I find the answers around the net.


-Hippocrates,460-370 BC
(Pinched from Robb Wolf's blog post)

Q: What are these and why do people take them regularly? Surely once your gut flora is up to standard you don't need to keep supplementing to keep it that way. I can imagine taking this supplement after a long fast or illness involving diarrhoea or constipation, but why take it all the time?

Prebiotics are considered a 'functional food', typically carbohydrates (although not in all cases), that stimulate the growth or activity of good bacteria in the digestive system. 

Probiotics, like lactobacillus, are living organisms in the gut, they are the good bacteria that live in the gut and contribute to the process of digestion. These same bacteria are found naturally in certain foods like sauerkraut and yogurt.

Prebiotics stimulate growth of bacteria, probiotics are the bacteria.

Q: If they are both good for digestive system bacteria, then why are probiotics not allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?

Q: What Prebiotics and Probiotics does Robb Wolf supplement with, does he cycle them and why does he choose those particulare products?
A1: Now Foods Super Enzymes & Florasmart Probiotic (6 billion).

Q: Japanese conbini's sell "LG21 - Meiji Probiotic Yoghurt". Do these kinds of product make it to the intestine? Or is it all marketing and do any probiotic bacteria get killed by stomach acid before they can make it past the duodenum

Firstly LG21 is not Paleo and that sucks. 
Also LG21 stands for yogurt containing Lactobacillus gasseri OLL2716.
Japanese scientists have done lots of research into LG21 with rats and had lots of favourable results ranging from prevention of gut ulcers to prevention of gut lesions. But who are these scientists working for? Meiji?

Q: When to take probiotics?

If you are increasing your intestinal bacterium or balancing then the dosing times needs to be when your GI tract is empty. Ie first thing in the morning or at bed time. Taking them with a volume of water and when the stomach environment has less acid ensures the probiotics pass through the stomach, the digesitive juices prone 3 feet of small intestine. After all your looking to colonize the rest of the small intestine and large bowel, that remaining 30 ft of intestine, the less acid environment you create for those capsules, the better the chances the flora will eventually take hold. Its accepted that about 10 percent of the amt of probiotics taken at any given time will make it into the intestine. The survivors are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, the strains are killed off by the acid environment. AGAIN The more neutral environment the better the odds that more strains make it.
This especially true 

1- if you have undergone a strong course of antibiotics for pseudo-membranous colitis or C diff infection.
2- Had a prolonged case of traveller's diarrhoea or actually developed dysentery.
3-Under treatment for H pylori and looking to add a layer of protection to the existing healthy intestinal flora.
Your looking to get as much flora deep as possible as quickly as possible.

If you taking them For Digestion :
Ideally you need to take them an hour before meals. As the soon as the brain thinks of foods, see food, smells food the stomach starts the production of acids, and the stomach begins to churn itself in preparation for the expected incoming meal. The constant acid production over time leads to gastritis and gastric reflux disease. That acid of course over time reduces flora in the stomach itself. Using pro biotics is thought to help balance the colonies. Most researchers are saying that this maybe incorrect as the duration studies were showing that once the dosing stopped, the colonizers stopped.

Digestive enzymes:
If you taking them to return digestive function AFTER a course of proton pump inhibitors or extended usage of H2 blockers like pepcid.
Then you need to take them close to your meal time / more like at the start of your meal or during your meal, this includes snacks. The idea is to have the enzymes work the next hour ( basical what it takes for a meal to be cleared from the stomach and pass onwards.) involved in the multiple stages of food breakdown. Eventually the need for them dwindles as natural enzyemes return to a more optimal level as stomach environment matures again. This can take up to two years for those that had a train wreck of stomach problems.

I think i recall Robb Wolf is a believer that the north american diet is more alkaline based. And overtime the base causes a push to neutral environment in the the gi tract. Thus leading to poor absorption of food nutrients.

2- taking them for candida control or something else other than digestion improvement. Then I think the frequency will be less according to what your taking to achieve.

A lot of the probiotic research comes out of the uk, looking at the use of probiotics to counter the increasing numbers mrsa colonized intestines due to extended / multiple exposure to antibiotics. The us researchers are leading towards its place for crohn's/ colitis/ Irritable bowel management since these groups are subjected to long courses of antibiotics and steroids.

Digestive enzymes seem to have the place in the alternative medicine pathway. Supposedly increased digestion can cure alot of things.

Overall, they are not overall type of supplement, they do a specific thing for specific problem. With that in mind, take them according to what you're trying to achieve.

Q: What foods help like probiotics?
A: Some kind of fermented food is important. Kombucha is a really strong one. Eat small amounts of kimchee as a condiment daily. There's also Biolacto fermented veggies and other options. Kefirs and other recipes in the Body Ecology book that Dr. G keeps raving about.

There are many relatively Paleo-friendly probiotic/cultured foods. These can range from kimchee to sauerkraut to cultured veggies to kombucha.

Key thing on all of them is that they are not pasteurized, or that they are cultured after pasteurization, and that there is not too much salt in them (salt inhibits bacterial growth).

Some store-bought sauerkraut is pasteurized. Which means they heat it really high to get rid of the bacteria (the bacteria you actually want). Raw Sauerkraut is unpasteurized sauerkraut.

Japanese "kimuchi" is not fermented, only korean "kimchi" is prepared using fermentation and contains probiotics.

here's a good probiotics link on

link to a web page explaining types of bacteria

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Spaghetti Bolognaise - Paleo Style

Paleo bolognaise
Shirataki noodles

Shirataki noodles are cheap, can be bought anywhere in Japan, are made from konyaku, have no calories and taste of nothing. Seems like a waste of time putting these into my body.

I like eating Paleo for what it is, not to try and copy existing Neolithic dishes. Shirataki bolognaise was an interesting experiment, but can't compete with a roast lamb, mint sauce and baked sweet potatoes.

Friday, 24 June 2011

digesting fructose and lactose

fructose is poison and lactose is tough for the digestive system
as Caucasians we're lucky cos we have developed lactase persistence meaning we continue to produce the lactase enzyme that cuts up lactose into absorbable monosaccharides after puberty at up to 95% pre-pubescent levels (depending on the person of course).

African and Asian genetic background people produce much less lactase than we do into adulthood and have more gut probs when taking in lactose. It's interesting that Native American Indians are 100% lactose intolerant. They can't take their booze like the Japs either.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Avocado, Olive Oil, Balsamic

this picture is stolen,
will have to upload my own pic :-o

Great rest day snack to make the day a bit more fat biased:
Avocado, Olive Oil, Balsamic vinegar
Avocados have more carbs and fiber than you think.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Eating Raw Beef

They were out of roast beef in the supermarket at lunchtime today and I really wanted some BEEF. Recently been reading a few blogs about these people who only eat raw food and swear by it. They individually all say that among a whole host of other reasons to eat all your food raw, one is that you have the physique of an Adonis without ever working out. I find that very hard to believe.

I was in a pinch and though "f*ck it, let's try eating some raw stuff". Japanese supermarkets package everything so nice and have lots of high grade beef already cut very thinly ready to sukiyaki. I wasn't about to chew into a raw steak like. So I got some good quality meat and a baked sweet potato in for lunch. The woman at the checkout gave me a funny look when I asked for chopsticks with my raw meat, but apart from that it was a tasty experience. The meat was a bit marbley so the cold fat was a bit weird, with a bit of salt though I liked it. There was one moment where I remembered the woman in the film "Food Inc." who's son had died from E-Coli from eating a beefburger and she had since spent the rest of her life fighting for higher standards of meat in the U.S. Japanese meat is a higher standard than the U.S. though, and apart from those people dying last month from eating harami served up wrongly as yukke in a korean restaurant in Toyama last month, nobody in Japan dies from eating raw stuff.

It's 3 hours since I had lunch and I feel fine so I think when the deli counter is out of roast beef again I'll be switching to raw.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Is it Possible To Eat Too Much Coconut?

You get all you can, give nothing back!

The coconut water is not that high in calories, about 50 calories for a cup. The meat is loaded though.
Another young coconut delivery
arrives in the Drea household
Last night I used a can of coconut cream, some baby scallops, braised grass fed beef and a ton of veggies and made a creamy stew.
Easy to eat loads of it and must have been well over 1,200 calories. Got the leftovers in my bento with 3 avocados on the side.
The only reason to cap daily consumption of coconuts would be if your calorie intake was going off the chart and you start putting on weight.

Normal consumption of coconut products is said to burn fat though.
I think in Robb Wolf's book he explains about the thermogenic properties of food, 1 calorie of carbohydrate takes 0.1 calories to process, 1 calorie of fat takes 0.3 calories to process and 1 calorie of protein takes 0.4 calories to process etc. I don't remember the numbers but one of the reasons for taking a lot of your calories from protein is because it protein takes more energy to use, thereby increasing metabolism and makes your body run "hotter" burning more calories as you watch DVDs after dinner.
they sell mega tins of the watered down
chaokoh coconut milk in Nissin WD
The medium chain fatty acids in coconuts mean that coconuts are unique and are the only source of fat that is actually MORE thermogenic than the best of the best protein.
Get a chunk of your daily calories from coconuts and your body is going to be more of a calorie processing machine.
Another great affect of coconut's processing power is their knock on affect to process other long chain fatty acids.
If coconuts are taking care of some of your long chain fatty acids then its much better than using fish oil to just counter balance them.
better to reduce the omega6 problem rather than balance it out with omega3 right? much more efficient!


My friend told me that there has been a disease in Thailand and half of the young coconut crop has failed. Thailand supplied 50% of the world coconut market. Sure enough, Thai Food Market where I got my last batch of coconuts from has upped their price from 3,000 2 weeks ago to 4,000 for 6 young coconuts.

Their delivery is 750 yen so it works out at 4,750 now for 6. That's a big jump in price. They still do free delivery for orders over 10,000. I was going to order in 12 young coconuts and the rest on cans of coconut cream. But they only sell coconut milk! So I was going to go back to the first place I ordered from: Mekon Foods:
They sell at 600 yen per "nut" and have a much quicker delivery than Thai Food Market, plus free shipping over 5250円. AND they sell coconut cream at 180 per can! 6 young coconuts and 10 tins of cream puts you into free delivery territory, and is a great coconut packed parcel! I just ordered that today.

My order at

Or, another one I haven;t tried yet is "Ai Thailand". They do them at 550円 each with 500円 delivery in the Kanto area:

Is Ouzo Paleo?

To make ouzo you get almost pure alcohol from yeast, then bring it down to 40% by adding star anise, coriander, cloves, and cinnamon depending on the brand.

"Traditionally, quality Ouzo is distilled (at least two times and often three) in copper stills containing pure ethyl alcohol derived from pomace, and anise. Other flavorings, such as cloves, coriander or cinnamon, may also be added. (The composition of flavoring ingredients are often closely-guarded company secrets and serve to distinguish one Ouzo from another.) "

Pomace is the remains of grapes.
Ouzo sounds like it's as paleo as tequila :-)

Friday, 3 June 2011


Hematology - what does it all mean?

Got my yearly health check results back this morning, it's all Greek to me. Time to do some research on the meanings of some of these acronyms and see if I fit inside the Japanese scales for "healthy".

If I fall outside of the recommended ranges I won't be panicking, last year I was told that I have "Metabolic Syndrome" and I should try eating more low-fat foods and exercising once or twice a week. I was eating smart, crossfitting 3 times a week and marathon training at the time and felt great.

ul stands for "per microlitre".
g/dl stands for "grams per decilitre.

WBC - 3300~9099/ul
I am 6100/ul - right in the middle of normal
White blood cells, also called leukocytes, defend the body against infection. They form in the bone marrow and consist of several different types and sub-types. On average, a healthy adult has between 4,000 and 11,000 white cells per cubic millimeter or microliter of blood. A high WBC count often means that an infection is present in the body, while a low number can mean that a specific disease or drug has impaired the bone marrow's ability to produce new cells. Most people with HIV have WBC counts at the low normal end of the range.

RBC - 430~570 for men, 380~500 for women x10^4/ul
I am 424x10^4/ul - just under normal
Red blood cells, also called erythrocytes, are responsible for delivering oxygen throughout the body. There are between 3.6 to 6.1 million red blood cells in a single cubic millimeter of blood. Anemia, a condition generally defined as a decreased number of red blood cells, can be caused by certain anti-HIV drugs or be a sign of an underlying illness. Women of child-bearing age may also experience anemia as a result of blood loss from their menstrual periods. One of the most common physical symptoms of anemia is fatigue.

Hb - 13.5~17.5g/dl for men, 11.5~15.0g/dl for women
I am 12.9g/dl - just under normal
Hemoglobin is a protein normally found within the RBCs that carries oxygen throughout the body. Normal hemoglobin levels range from 12 to 16 grams per deciliter of blood (g/dL). Healthcare providers usually keep track of the hematocrit and hemoglobin rather than the RBC count itself.

Ht - 39.7~52.4% for men, 34.8~45.0% for women
I am 41.7% - lower end of normal
Hematocrit measures the percentage of blood volume that is occupied by RBCs. Generally speaking, red blood cells should make up 40 to 52 percent of the total blood volume in men and 35 to 46 percent in women.

(I think the below is my WBC broken down into sub-categories.)
So my WBC is 6100/ul.
60.1% of that is 3.6661x10^9/L for Neutro-Seg
So, in a normal blood test about 60 % (or a little under two-thirds) of the white blood cells should be neutrophils. Lymphocytes should make up just under 30 % (or a little under one third).  The other white blood cells (monocytes, eosinophils and basophils) make up the rest. In total it should add up to 100 %.
Neutro-Pro - 1.5 to 7.5x10^9/L
I am 60.1% for N-seg + Seg meaning 3.6661x10^9/L and in the middle
Neutrophils (also called polymorphonuclear leukocytes, PMNs, or poly's for short) are WBCs that fight most bacterial infections. If the neutrophil count becomes too low, there is an increased risk of bacterial infections.

Eos - <0.41x10^9/L
I am 2.0% meaning 122x10^6 or 0.122x10^9/L
Eosinophils are involved in fighting certain parasitic infections and are sometimes elevated due to allergic reactions.
Bas - <0.11x10^9/L
The function of basophils is not well understood.
I am 0.3% meaning 18.3x10^6 or 0.0183x10^9/L
Lym - 1.0 to 4.0x10^9/L
Lymphocytes are the key WBCs involved in immune responses
I am 30.2% meaning 1,842.2x10^6 or 1.8422x10^9/L
Mon - 0.20 to 0.80x10^9/L
Monocytes play important roles in fighting certain types of infections by maturing into macrophages that can ingest bacteria and cellular debris.
I am 7.4% meaning 451.4x10^6 or 0.4514x10^9/L

Blood Platelets - 14.0~34.0x10^4/ul
Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are elements in the blood that are necessary for blood to clot. A normal platelet count is between 150,000 to 440,000 per cubic millimeter of blood.
I am 25.5x10^4  - in the middle of normal

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Paleo Spaghetti

Kelp Noodles

Kelp Noodles are a sea vegetable in the form of an easy to eat raw noodle.
Made of only kelp (a sea vegetable), sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water, Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in carbohydrates and calories.

Their noodle form and neutral taste allow for a variety of uses including salads, stir-fries, hot broths, and casseroles, while their healthful content provides a rich source of trace minerals including iodine. Their unique texture completes the package, making Kelp Noodles a one-of-a-kind healthful and tasty alternative to pasta and rice noodles. Best of all, no cooking is required. Just rinse and add the noodles to any dish and they are ready to eat!

A good source of iodine

Q: Where can I get it?
A: Overpriced if you buy on amazon

Q: Is Sodium Alginate cool?
A: It's a fairly common food additive....used to thicken foods without adding much caloric load

10 calories per 50 grams....comes in a 300 gram bag. Looks like it's 100% fiber (all soluble).
Q: Is this the same as Konjac (Shirataki) noodles?
A: No

A Kelp Noodle Company: Sea Tangle

Devil's Tongue Plant
Shirataki Noodles
Shirataki noodles in a Japanese hot pot

Not sure if you can get Kelp noodles in Japan, but you can get Shirataki (しらたき).
They're made from Konyaku which is made from the "Devil's Tongue" plant.
jelly konyaku with bits in
Jappers bang 'em in sukiyaki. I've always steered clear of them and filled up on the meat and veg but they seem to be Paleo.
Rice Vermicelli
Not to be confused with Harusame that get banged into Shabu-Shabu or Rice Vermicelli in chinese take-aways. Rice Vermicelli is made from rice so obviously that's out, you can get harusame that is made from potato starch, but most I've seen are made from mung bean starch which off the menu.
The black bits in konyaku are hijiki seaweed, so the hard tasteless jelly stuff found in oden is cool too. But what about the dashi it floats in? That's got soy sauce in it.

Q: Where can I get it?
Spaghetti Marrow
A: Any supermarket/conbini in Japan.

Spaghetti Marrow (or Squash if you're a yank)

"Kinshi Uri Somen"

It's called "kinshi uri" (錦糸瓜) in Japanese.
Or the noodles are called "kinshi uri soumen"

Q: Where can I get it?
A: You can buy it online here and here.

Q: When are they in season?
A: June to August, harvest info in Japanese here (thanks Ben)

Gluten free, Lactose free, Egg Free Spaghetti

Maize Starch (68%), Potato Starch, Soya flour, Rice Starch and Emulsifier E471

Made from corn. Not Paleo.

Potatoes in Japan

At Maruetsu, the sweet potato cart
awaits my arrival
I love the way Japanese supermarkets have different kinds of potatoes baking on hot stones outside. Also van's crying out "Ya-ki-mo---" going around the neighbourhood selling hot baked sweet potatoes.
If you're lucky the prices of
the sweet potatoes are halved
"close to midnight"
sweet potatoes on the cart
sweet potatoes safely in the basket

My local supermarket does the purple sweet potato "satsumaimo" and the kagoshima "annouimo" on it's baking cart. Potatoes are baking from 5pm to midnight.

Satsumaimo (薩摩芋)
The classic, took 4 potatoes chopped up and in 4-lock tupperware to Tohoku when doing volunteer work. Lasted me all the way through a weekend of hard labour. Packed with good carbs.

Annoimo (安納芋)
I'd been dodging this one on the bake stand going for sweet potatoes because I thought it was just a baked potato. What a treat I was missing! These things really hold their heat and you can scold your mouth when you bite into them. The outer skin is tough and makes it like a rice ball. The inside is super sweet like a dessert. My colleague says I should try them semi-frozen cos they're like ice-cream. 安納芋 doesn't show up in a dictionary because they are rare and only native to Kagoshima. I'll keep eating them on training days.

Heikiri Hoshiimo (平切りほしいも)

They sell these dried sweet potatoes in the "sweets" section of the supermarket. I had been looking for them in the "tsukemono" section until I noticed some for half price in a bargain bin. I asked the bint at the checkout and she told me where to get them in future. Since then I keep them around for post workout extra carbs. Each pack is the same price as a whole sweet potato at 180円 and packs in 293kcal! 4.5g of たんぱく質 (protein), 0.6g of "脂質" (fat), 64.5g of "糖質" or saccharine, but it doesn't say how much "炭水化物" (carbs)!! Are they confusing saccharine with carbs? Or am I confusing saccharine with carbs?

White Potato

I don't eat these but don't have a grudge on them or anything.
Would probably eat them if I lived in the UK and couldn't get sweet potatoes like here in Japan.
In fact I'd be more inclined to eat something with only one ingredient like a white potato than something containing "natural preservatives", "natural colouring", or "natural stabilisers".