Q & A: March 27, 2011

Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q & A! Every Sunday, I answer your questions. I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week.!

Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q & A! Every Sunday, I answer your questions.  I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week.

If I didn’t answer your question this week, please check back next week.

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If you have a question to submit, please email it to me at questions@cheeseslave.com.

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Question:  Kefir Grains vs. Water Kefir Grains?

How do you ferment juices with kefir grains and what is the difference between water kefir grains and dairy kefir grains?

— Sheree


To ferment fruit juice with kefir grains, it is best to use water kefir grains. You can convert dairy grains for use with juices, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Water kefir grains are not the same as kefir grains.  They are both bacterial cultures, but they are different kinds.  Kefir grains thrive on milk sugar (lactose) and water kefir grains feed on sugar.  Both types of “grains” (they are called grains but are not really grains like wheat or oats) eat the sugars and turn them into lactic acid.

According to Wikipedia:

Kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. This symbiotic matrix forms “grains” that resemble cauliflower. Many different bacteria and yeasts are found in the kefir grains, which are a complex and highly variable community of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts.

Water kefir grains are called tibicos.  According to Wikipedia:

Tibicos, also known as tibi, water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California Bees, and in older literature also known as Bébées, African bees, Ale nuts, Australian bees, Balm of Gilead, Beer seeds, Beer plant, Bees, Ginger Beer plant, Ginger bees, Japanese Beer seeds and Vinegar bees are a culture of bacteria and yeast held in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria. As with kefir grains, the microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide gas which carbonates the drink.
Tibicos are found around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. Typical tibicos have a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus  and Leuconostoc  bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida, Kloeckera and possibly others.

Question:  Drinking Kombucha While Nursing?

I’m nursing and have questions about detoxing. Is it safe for my baby? I’ve been drinking about 4 oz of kombucha in the evenings after her last feeding and I have fermented a few foods that I’m trying to eat some of. Is all this too much for her? I’d like to take some probiotics, too, but I’m not sure. She’s been fine so far. What are your thoughts?

— Kristi


Yes, drinking kombucha, eating fermented foods, and taking probiotics are safe while nursing.  In fact, it’s good for your baby to get more probiotics into her system.

You can consume as much fermented food as you like and it will only benefit your baby by making your breastmilk more probiotic (full of good bacteria).  When your baby drinks your breast milk, her gut will be populated with more good bacteria.

The only caveat is this:  If you have an imbalance of gut flora (meaning you have a lot of pathogenic bacteria in your gut and not enough good bacteria), when you introduce the good bacteria via fermented foods and probiotics, the good bacteria will start killing off the bad bacteria (that’s their job).  When this happens, the bad bacteria (pathogens) will die and be excreted.  If you can’t detoxify them fast enough through the feces or urine or perspiration, the pathogenic bacteria will go into your blood stream and yes, into your breast milk.

Of course, if you are already toxic, the pathogenic bacteria is already in your breast milk and in your baby’s gut, so it is better to add the probiotics than to do nothing.

But if you add too much probiotics all at once, you can experience “die-off” symptoms.  For example, you might feel fatigued, dizzy, or nauseous (you may even throw up or feel feverish — these are other ways the body attempts to detoxify), and you might get headaches and aches and pains.  You might also experience flu-like symptoms.  Your baby might also collicky, have trouble sleeping, etc.

It is easy to remedy this — just slow down on the probiotics and fermented foods.  If you have severe detox symptoms and want to get rid of them quickly, you can take activated charcoal. I always keep some in the cupboard. You can find it in the health food store.  Then just cut down on the fermented foods and slowly build up over time.

Question:  Cutting Down Sugar and Craving Salt?

For the past few months, I have been working to eliminate all forms of added sugar to my diet (including unrefined sugar, maple syrup, etc). I am severely overweight and have been lowish carb, traditional food, and no major allergens for half a decade now and am still really struggling to lose. I notice that when I am strictly off of sugars, I crave salt like nobody’s business. I salt my food to taste with Real or Celtic sea salt and add ConcenTrace trace minerals to my drinking water already, and don’t shy away from saturated fats to help move minerals into my cells. Why am I craving salt so badly?

— Tiffany


I’m not a doctor of course and I don’t know about your particular situation.  However, craving salt is one of the most common signs of adrenal exhaustion or adrenal fatigue.

You are wise to get off sugar, since sugar is a stimulant that stresses and taxes your adrenal glands.

When your adrenal glands are exhausted and not working properly, your thyroid also starts malfunctioning, because your thyroid works in concert with your adrenals.  We need a healthy, well-functioning thyroid gland in order to burn fat and lose weight, since the thyroid controls the metabolism (it’s like the thermostat for your body).

Dr. James Wilson, expert on adrenal fatigue recommends a protocol for healing your adrenals. It involves reducing stress, getting lots of sleep and rest and relaxation, taking supplements to support the adrenals (such as dessicated adrenal glands, maca, vitamin C, etc), getting off stimulants, and drinking water with natural sea salt added.

It might be a good idea to have your adrenals checked. You can find a naturopath to help you do this, or you can take a test at home. I have taken tests from Canary Club and found them very easy to use.

You can read more about how to recover from adrenal fatigue by visiting Dr. Wilson’s site: https://www.adrenalfatigue.org (You can also order his book, which is very good.)

Question:  Roasting Marrow Bones for Stock?

When I roast beef bones especially for stock, I go an hour at 300-350…when I want marrow & parsley salad, I go 20 minutes at 450. Can I make stock with those bones?

— Steve


Yes!  This is actually my favorite way to use marrow bones.  You can just throw marrow bones right into a stock pot and make broth out of them, but I prefer to roast them first and then spread the marrow on toast and eat with a parsley and caper salad.

Once you’ve eaten the marrow from the bones, you can just throw the bones in your stockpot and make your broth.

Got a Comment?

I don’t claim to have all the answers.  And I love hearing from you guys!  If you have feedback on any of the above questions and answers, please share your thoughts n the comments below.

Got a Question?

Please submit your questions to questions@cheeseslave.com. I’ll answer your questions every Sunday in the order I receive them.