Ye Olde Fashioned Root Beer

Tonight we made seven 32 oz. bottles of olde fashioned root beer from scratch. Literally, I used water, whey, and a mix of roots such as sassafras, sarsaparilla, and licorice root. We also used wild cherry, birch bark, in addition to other roots, barks, and herbs. The concoction comes from a great blog authored by Jenny McGruther, a cooking instructor specializing in real and traditional foods.

Anyway, the link to the recipe is here. She explains the history and how this wonderful concoction achieved popularity. My kids are not allowed to drink soda and that is about to change. After our experiment has fermented four days and chilled for two more we plan to pour it over homemade vanilla ice cream made from raw cream. I haven’t looked forward to a root beer float this much since my family frequented the local drive thru A&W in Mentone, California nearly 40 years ago.

Next on the list . . . ginger ale. If popular, these both will become new staples and tonics for what occasionally ails us.

I used whey from my curds to ferment the root beer and plan to try kefir grains next. I think we will try ginger bug for the fermenting agent in our ginger ale. Both of these concoctions should help in our long journey of optimizing our gut flora. Since some in my family are sensitive to grains and we all have received multiple doses of antibiotics, we cannot do enough to repair the damage done to our gut’s natural flora. Fortunately, we were all breast fed and have that advantage.

For new or expecting mothers: If you are interested in learning more about optimizing your children’s (and your health), I recommend this site by Chris Kressler. He is an excellent practitioner and a true inspiration for those practicing genuine preventive healthcare.

A Research Idea

I was doing my rounds reading some of the great blogs I follow and came across one topic I am really starting to appreciate, the importance of our gut physiology. 
My real love and curiosity is related to optimum physiological functioning arising from primary and secondary holistic preventive methodologies. This goes well beyond nursing and includes a variety of scientific disciplines and causeways. The connection to nursing is often opaque and unrefined, even though the relationship is stronger than we realize.
One clinical problem requiring greater understanding are the long-term implications antibiotics have on our immunity, metabolism, and disease progression. This is not generally considered, since antibiotic use is standard practice and routinely administered prophylactically and for nonemergent circumstances. I am not implying they should not be used. The salient point here is not their short-term benefit, rather their long-term implications.
This type of study would be observational in nature, reviewing decades of antibiotic administration and bowel disorder data. It could take on meta-analysis like characteristics. Factors affecting feasibility would not include cost since the study could follow current and past administration of an antibiotic use. The focus could be narrowed to ciprofloxacin since it is considered one of the most benign perturbative antibiotics (Dethlefsen, Huse, Relman & Sogin, 2008). Pooling available data would generally require just the researcher’s time.
Further narrowing the focus: identifying previously known perturbations antibiotics play on our gut flora may elucidate implications with gastrointestinal disorders such as celiac spree, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease. Feasibility of the implications applies to the type of practicing clinician. How preventive and holistic a practitioner may be may determine the research’s applicability. From an integrative or holistic perspective, this information can provide significant implications for treatment.
Other problems that may arise: confounding the extent antibiotics play a role when consideration other factors such as vaginal or cesarean birth (Bessi, et Al., 2010), underlying gastrointestinal disorders, chronic disease status, and functional or structural alterations. There may be other factors requiring further exploration. The goal with this type of inquiry is twofold: to reveal potential harm unnecessary use of antibiotics have on our health and to understand the importance healthy gut flora diversity contributes to our long-term health.
Dethlefsen, L., Huse, S., Relman, D., and Sogin, M. (2008). The pervasive effects of an antibiotic on the human gut microbiota, as revealed by deep 16S rRNA sequencing. PLoS Biology. 6(11): e280. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060280
Bessi, E., Biasucci, G., Morelli, L., Retetangos, C., Riboni, S., and Rubini, M. (2010). Mode of delivery affects the bacterial community in the newborn gut. [Abstract].  Early Human Development. Jul(86), Suppl. 1:13-15. Retrieved February 10, 2012 from