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Every morning, while the kettle heats the water for my coffee and my two-year-old slurps her Cheerios, I feed and strain my kefir grains. The grains—small, squishy clumps that resemble cauliflower florets—bubble away in a large glass jar in a corner of my kitchen, fermenting milk into a tangy, slightly carbonated, and incredibly creamy drink.
My partner's mother, Silvia, gave me kefir grains when my baby was born. Her family has been brewing their own kefir for years and she recommended it to improve the quality of my breast milk. At the time I was also getting monthly urinary tract infections and going days without a single bowel movement—basically a hormonal mess. Two years later I’ve continued to cultivate my grains and drink kefir daily because of the way it balances my gut flora, which in turn has played a major role in sustaining my overall physical and mental health.
Kefir is powerful because it contains numerous beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium lactis that’s strong enough to survive your digestive tract and nourish the gut’s microbiome. These beneficial bacteria aid in digestive regularity and can also ward off the bad bacteria that cause UTIs. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine, a huge portion of our immune system is located in the gut, where probiotics can potentially interact with the immune system in a number of ways, from influencing the creation of antibodies to signaling infection in other parts of the body.
Surprisingly, healing my gut helped me heal emotionally too. In the past decade a lot of research has been done on the connection between the gut and the brain—now referred to as the “gut-brain axis.” In a 2017 study published by the Texas Tech University School of Medicine, researchers linked gut inflammation to anxiety and depression. Healthy volunteers with no previous depressive symptoms were given either probiotics or antidepressants for thirty days—the probiotics group showed reduced levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and self-reported improved psychological effects to a similar degree as the participants who received Diazepam, a commonly used anti-anxiety medication. On a personal note, by drinking kefir every morning, I’ve experienced less intense ups and downs throughout the day.
Eager to try making your own kefir? Here is everything you need to know to get started:
2 glass jars (at least 1 quart each)
1 Plastic, nylon mesh, or stainless-steel strainer
1 Plastic or wooden spoon
2-3 cups fresh dairy milk (Just make sure the milk you choose is not ultra-pasteurized, because then it’s not a viable food source for kefir grains. If you’d like to try alt milk, read more about the process here.)
At least 2 tablespoons of kefir grains. You can order them online, or if you find a kefir stand at a farmers market, some sellers will give you the grains for free.
-Place 1 Tbsp kefir grains in a glass jar and fill with 1 cup fresh milk. The ratio of grains to milk should always be 1 tbsp to 1 cup, and can be increased if you’d like to make a bigger batch. Leave about an inch of room at the top to make room for carbonization and grain growth.
-Cover jar with something breathable, like a tightly woven cloth or coffee filter, and secure with a rubber band. The kefir grains don't need oxygen to survive but there are bacteria strains within milk and kefir grains that thrive in oxygen-rich environments, so airflow is key.
-Let the jar with the kefir grains and milk sit at room temperature for approximately 24 hours. If it’s hotter where you live, the fermentation process will probably be quicker, or slower if it's cold. You’ll know the kefir is done when the consistency has thickened, the milk tastes sour, and slight swirls of white and yellow start to appear in the mixture—this is the curds and whey just beginning to separate.
–Pour the mixture through a strainer, catching the liquid in a bowl, and use a wooden spoon to push the grains against the strainer and catch all the excess liquid. You’ll be left with just the grains in the strainer, which will look less like yogurt and more like cottage cheese.
-Pour the kefir from the bowl into another glass jar or bottle and cover with a lid. You can drink it immediately or keep it in the fridge for up to three weeks.
-Return the kefir grains from the strainer back into their jar and pour fresh milk over them again, then cover and repeat the whole process. Kefir grains will double in size every two weeks or so, so make sure to add more milk to maintain the 1:1 ratio. If you have too many grains, give some to a friend or mix them into a smoothie.
-Usually, the easiest thing to make myself for breakfast is a smoothie packed with greens, berries, and about a cup of kefir for a tangy kick. If I have extra time on Sundays, I meal prep overnight oats for the week, subbing the milk and yogurt with kefir. But if I’m short on time, I just use kefir as a substitute for yogurt in recipes like Rick Martinez’s caramelized plantain parfait.
Kefir is sort of an acquired taste and newbies will probably shy away from drinking it straight. But by now, I’ve grown to love it. Sometimes I mix in a bit of honey and drink it slowly, enjoying each zingy sip.
Food Innovation Group
ChalleNGe Academy graduate prepares for West Point journey – West Virginia MetroNews
MONTGOMERY, W.Va. – A West Virginia National Guard Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy graduate is the first graduate to earn an appointment to the U.S. Army’s Military Service Academy, West Point.
William Farkas, 17, of Preston County, said he was has made a lifelong dream a reality.
It’s been something I’ve been dreaming about since elementary school and something I’ve been set on doing since middle school,” Farkas said during a Friday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”
He said the training he received at the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy-South in Montgomery was key in developing the attitude and work ethic that enabled him to succeed. That level of focus was required to gain admission to one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
“Everybody was encouraging me there. Everybody wanted me to succeed,” Farkas said. “I kept testing on the ACT and I ended up scoring in the 30’s with my composite. I wouldn’t been able to do it without them.”
William Farkas becomes the first Mountaineer Challenge Academy graduate to receive an appointment to West Point. He talks about this next step in his life with @HoppyKercheval. WATCH: https://t.co/yCFQ3nDJuy pic.twitter.com/jJO0mae0Ap
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) January 21, 2022
Within a paramilitary structure, cadets are challenged to learn coping skills, how to lead as well as how to follow, citizenship and physical fitness. Farkas said the program is very demanding. He was awarded the Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Cadet Award and Adjutant General’s Award for Academic Excellence as well as the appointment to West Point.
“The first day was a shock and the first night was even more so a shock,” Farkas said. “I went to sleep and asked myself,,’Am I really doing this? Am I really sleeping on a cot in the gym on reception day?’”
Farkas is enjoying this success before the next chapter of West Point preparation begins.
“It was worth it,” Farkas said. “Despite the initial challenges it was worth it.”
The next stop for Farkas is one-station unit training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He is scheduled to report to West Point in June to begin his college career.
Copyright © 2022 West Virginia MetroNews Network.
Sick Day Management for Diabetes: How to Plan Ahead – Healthline
When you have diabetes, taking care of yourself during an illness has extra importance — even if the condition is as common as the flu or a urinary tract infection.
To avoid complications, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for how you’ll handle sick days, illnesses, and infections.
This article provides some expert guidance on:
When you have diabetes, an illness or infection can deliver a powerful one-two punch to your body. Here’s how.
One reason to plan ahead is because illness or infection can worsen diabetes symptoms.
Your body reacts to them the same way it reacts to stressful events. It produces a surge of hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol is often called the stress hormone.
When your body is flooded with cortisol, your blood sugar can spike for several reasons:
Both of these actions can mean that when your body is dealing with an illness or infection, you may experience a bump in your blood sugar levels.
If you have diabetes, you may have a higher risk of certain kinds of infection or illness.
If you do get sick, you may face a higher risk of hospitalization. For example,
That’s why it’s so important to work with your diabetes care team to plan ahead, so you’ll know how to handle an illness, injury, or infection if it happens. Your plan can give you some peace of mind now, and it may protect your health later on.
Advocates at the American Diabetes Association and the
Let’s tackle these questions one at a time.
To prepare yourself for the sick days you’re bound to face sooner or later, talk with your diabetes care team about testing, medications, and warning signs.
When you’re sick, your blood sugar may go up for several reasons:
To keep your blood sugar in your target range, keep eating and drinking as close to your usual routine as possible. That may be easier said than done, especially if you have symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If you’re having trouble eating and drinking, aim for:
If your blood sugar is too low, you may need to follow the 15-15 rule. That means you’ll need to consume 15 grams of carbs, then test your blood sugar 15 minutes afterward.
Talk with your healthcare team about whether hard candies or glucose tablets would work if you’re not able to keep down food or drink.
Keep a notepad nearby so you have an accurate record to share with your doctor. You don’t want to rely on your memory of the readings at a time when your recall could be clouded by lack of sleep or worsening symptoms.
You may also need to test your urine for ketones. Ketones are a sign that your insulin levels are low and your body is using fat for fuel.
Testing for ketones in your urine can tell you if you’re developing a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition is life threatening, so it’s important to know in advance how to detect these chemicals in your body.
The NIDDK recommends that you test ketones every 4 to 6 hours during an illness.
It’s also important to track your weight, body temperature, and blood pressure. These metrics are important clues that may tell you if:
It’s especially important for people with type 1 diabetes to test their blood glucose more often when they’re sick. Insulin levels can drop sharply as the body fights an illness or infection.
An illness can change how much insulin you need. Talk with your diabetes care team about when and how much to adjust your dosage of insulin and any other medications you take.
It’s important to keep taking insulin, especially long-acting insulin, on the schedule your doctor recommends. It’s also important to continue taking long-acting insulin even if you’re not eating.
Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications — especially those that treat cough, cold, and flu symptoms — contain sugar. Other types of medication can affect the way your diabetes medications work.
Your diabetes care team may be able to give you a list of medications to avoid when you’re feeling unwell with a common condition.
It’s a good idea to stock up on easy-to-prepare foods, sick-day drinks, medications, and diabetes care supplies so you have these items on hand for those days when you’re not feeling well. Here are some items to include in your sick-day kit:
Keep a ready supply of:
Your sick-day kit should also contain:
Make sure your kit is stocked with:
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor or someone on your diabetes care team right away:
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency: It can lead to coma or death. Get medical help immediately if you’re experiencing symptoms such as:
If your employer or insurer offers telehealth services, consider downloading the app or keeping contact information in your phone to make it easier to get advice if you’re not feeling well.
Diabetes can damage your immune system, according to
You can do this by:
Diabetes can make an ordinary illness more challenging — and feeling unwell can make it harder to manage your diabetes.
If you have diabetes, talk with your healthcare team to plan how you’ll respond to an illness or infection. Together, you can decide in advance how to manage your blood sugar when you’re feeling sick.
You can also stock up on food, beverages, testing supplies, and medication you might need.
A good sick-day plan includes information on which medications are safe to take, which to avoid, how best to test your blood sugar, and what steps to follow to keep diabetes or another health condition from sidelining you for longer than necessary.
Last medically reviewed on January 21, 2022
Newcastle single mum of three dies suddenly after eating snack with peanuts – Daily Mail
A single mother-of-three who was allergic to peanuts died suddenly after unknowingly eating a snack containing the allergen.
Hanna Scigala, 31, suffered a fatal anaphylactic attack after eating the snack at her home in Newcastle, on the NSW coast, on January 4.
Her condition spiralled quickly and she went into cardiac arrest, suffered brain swelling and was declared brain dead before passing away on January 7.
She leaves behind a 12-year-old, nine-year-old and three-year-old boy who will now be looked after by their grandparents.
A single mother-of-three who was allergic to peanuts died suddenly after unknowingly eating a snack containing the allergen
Hanna Scigala, 31, suffered a fatal anaphylactic attack after eating the snack at her home in Newcastle, on the NSW coast, on January 4
Her death has come as a complete shock to the family who say the single mother was always careful with the foods she ate.
Ms Scigala had been with her three children at home when she started to feel peckish and she reached for a snack. She had no idea it contained traces of peanuts.
The single mother immediately recognised the signs of an allergic reaction and rushed down the stairs and into the garage for the Epipen she kept in her car.
She administered the dose of adrenaline before calling an ambulance while her horrified nine-year-old son phoned family to come and help.
A neighbour managed to perform CPR until paramedics arrived and wheeled her into an ambulance.
Ms Scigala went into cardiac arrest on the way to hospital but paramedics were successfully able to treat her.
But her condition continued to deteriorate the following day with the single mother suffering from brain swelling before she was declared brain dead on January 6.
Her devastated sister Stephanie as ‘inspiring’ and ‘very fun to be around’.
She leaves behind a 12-year-old, nine-year-old and three-year-old who will now be looked after by their grandparents
‘As a mum, I think her favorite thing to do was to introduce the kids to new things so they could develop new interests,’ she said.
‘Whatever she could think of or saw that she thought they might like she’d get them involved. She’d put them before anyone else.’
Stephanie has launched a GoFundMe to raise money for her children. The campaign was set up to raise $7,000, but has already drawn in $29,792 in donations.
‘With their grandfather retired and grandmother working only part time, this go fund me has been made in hopes to help them be able to financially provide for their grandchildren,’ Stephanie wrote.
‘These funds will also go towards funeral arrangements and any other memorial type of function.’
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
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