Q & A: May 15, 2011

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.

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.

UPDATE: YIKES! I am now VERY behind in answering questions. The past few weeks have been crazy!

For this reason, I am going to do double duty and I will answer more questions than usual in this post, and in the coming weeks.  I may even post a couple more Q & A posts over these next few weeks so I can catch up a bit.

Due to the increased questions, my answers will be shorter. (In other words, I’ll try not to run my mouth and just get to the point!)

Submit Your Question

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

Emails about link exchanges or requests to promote products will be deleted!

If you have an URGENT question that you can’t wait to get answered, please post it on my Facebook page.  I tend to get on Facebook pretty much daily.  I can’t promise to answer all the questions on Facebook, but I try!  (Note: Do NOT email me on Facebook — I can’t get through my email on there!)

1. Question:  Amino Acids for Quitting Coffee?

My husband and I recently read your post on quitting coffee.  My husband has been trying to quite coffee for awhile now and he’s not been very successful (he’s been drinking it since middle school).

On a seemingly different topic, we recently purchased coconut butter, which he says makes him feel totally amazing — “kind of like my cup of coffee in the morning.”

Putting those two things together, we have concluded that he probably could quit coffee if he found the correct combo of aminos.  Could you either suggest the aminos you used OR give us a place where we could find a list of aminos that might help him?



The amino acid that helped me quit coffee was DLPA. Tyrosine also works great for many people, but it made me too jittery.

Here’s the post on how I did it: How to Quit Coffee.

I really recommend reading The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, since not all amino acids work the same for everyone. You can take the quiz in the book, and you can learn about all the different amino acids and how and why they work.

2. Question:  Ceviche and Parasites?

I have some questions about making ceviche — specifically with salmon. Does the ceviche process kill parasites in the fish? Does the fish need to be frozen for a certain number of days/at a certain temperature in order to be safe? I noticed you say in your ceviche video to leave the fish in the citrus for just one hour, does this go for salmon too?  Lastly, do you have any ideas for what you could use the leftover liquid for?

Thanks so much for all the hard work!


The citrus does not kill cook the fish the way you do when you heat it. It is recommended that you freeze fish for several days before eating it raw.

Freezing fish to -20ºC [-4ºF] or below for 7 days or -35ºC [-31ºF] or below for 15 hours will kill the parasites. Source

There should not be any leftover liquid. You serve it with the liquid intact.

And yes, you can use different kinds of fish in ceviche, and an hour is sufficient for marinating.

3. Question:  Los Angeles Dentist?

Hello, you mentioned you have a dentist in Los Angeles? I used to go to a holistic dentist in LA but lost track of them. I want to go to someone who
isn’t into lots of drilling and root canals!

Thank you,
Alyssa Hamilton


I recommend Dr. Raymond Silkman. He is my dentist and he is also a WAPF member.

4. Question:  Raw Milk in Los Angeles?

I followed your advice and picked up 2 dozen eggs from the Santa Monica farmer’s market. They’re great! Nobody was selling milk there though. Where do you get raw milk for $7/gallon in Los Angeles?

UCLA Undergrad


Here is a post I wrote: Where to Buy Raw Milk Cheaper in Los Angeles

5. Question:  Help with Sourdough?

I posted a question under your sourdough bread post, but just realized that I should have submitted it here!

I followed the recipe exactly except for using whole wheat flour in place of the spelt because I didn’t have any. My bread turned out delicious but very flat. The dough was incredibly wet and runny, which forced me to add quite a bit of white flour to it when trying to fold it three times… it was actually running off the sides of the cutting board, so folding was pretty impossible.

My questions are: how can I avoid such a wet dough? What do your ounces/oz mean in your recipe? I was confused if you meant fl. oz. for the liquids and weight for the flours or also measuring flours in a glass measuring cup?

Definitely on a quest for finding a great sourdough recipe that I can consistently make, so your input is much appreciated!

Thank you,


I recommend in my recipe to start with all white flour, that way you can successfully make a good loaf. Then you can try adding more spelt or whole wheat until you get a good whole grain loaf. Whole grain loaves are denser and heavier than white flour loaves.

Also, I haven’t tried making the sourdough with whole wheat — only spelt.

As far as ounces (oz), I weighed everything on my digital scale. If you try with a digital scale, I think you will find that the recipe works. Again, start the first time with white flour though — so you can have a success. Then you can try whole grain.

6. Question:  Kombucha for Babies?

My question is when can a baby drink kombucha? I have an 11-month-old, my 2 and 4-year-old love it.

Now my 11-month-old seems to want some. We get ours from our farmer. If I can give it to her, how much do you think is okay?



I don’t have a definitive answer for this. When my daughter was that age, I used to give her a little kombucha (maybe 2 ounces) diluted with filtered water. I also know that my former Russian nanny said it’s common to start giving babies kombucha around that age.

7. Question:  Headaches and Leaky Gut?

Hello!  I just heard about you a few days ago.  I’m still a little bit amazed.

Our story… my 11 yo son had his first headache when he was 5 years old.  He would get them occasionally through the years; we would give him ibuprofen and it would go away.  We noted it because our other kids never knew what a headache was until they were older.

Jump to today… beginning in January of 2011, our beautiful 11 yo started getting a headache daily, we started looking for help… MRI, neurologist, allergist, eyedologist, herbal, chiropractor/accupuncture… everyone had the cure but NO ONE could take the headache away and it was increasing everyday.

Finally, I called our local health food store and the famous Jan said why don’t you try a hypoglycemic diet… we put him on proteins (meats), veggies, few fruits, and within 2 days his headache was gone!!!!!

Since then we have found out he has a “leaky gut” and probably allergic to eggs and sensitive to gluten.  He is scared because almost every food we try to add in gets a mild headache… he thinks he will not be able to eat anything anymore.  We have him on a strong probiotic.  You are one of the few
people who have said food can have something to do with pains in the body OTHER THAN gastroinstentinal problems.

If I mention to people I think his headaches are associated with food most don’t believe me and have another suggestion to try.  Our son doesn’t have GI problems just headaches.  Did you have typical food allergy symptoms as well?  …GI problems?  Am I nuts to think this could be food related?  Or am I nuts to think it’s not food related?

Thank you for making your journey public.



If he has food allergies, he has GI problems. I would put him on the GAPS Diet. This diet can actually reverse food allergies, but it does take time.

For more information, Gut and Psychology Syndrome
by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

8. Question:  GAPS and Traveling + Acne?

Hi Ann Marie,

I have a couple questions for you.  My family and I travel non-stop all year round and live in about 4-5 houses per year, not including hotels.  This takes place every year.  We are a healthy family (eat traditional foods and about 80% organic) but have acquired some symptoms over the past year that need attention.

For one, my husband, daughter and I have all tested sensitive to gluten so we have eliminated it from our diet with no problem.  I have (muscle) tested as being sensitive to dairy which I am not fond of at all.  For someone to tell me I cannot eat butter and raw cheese is terrible!! 😉  I know my gut is somewhat compromised from the stress of traveling and eating out when necessary.  My daughter suffers from allergies as well.  I want to try the GAPS diet but I don’t know if its possible with how much we travel.  Is this something that we have to be on 100%??

Let me remind you that when I give my daughter a treat, its fruit or an organic piece of chocolate.  She doesn’t know what McDonalds is and she is four. 😉  I just wanted your opinion on how we can heal our gut as a family with so much inconsistency.

My other question is that since I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet, I have a major case of acne.  At first I thought this was a detox reaction but it has been going on for a month.  I typically have one or two pimples before I start my period if any at all so this is devastating for me.  Do you think that my body is needing the fats that I have taken away??  I am thinking about adding the butter and cheese back in and seeing what happens.  I don’t mind staying off the gluten at all.

Any opinions are greatly appreciated!!

I met you at the WAPF conference in November and it was very nice to speak with you. Thank you for all of your wise words!!
~Erin Romero


Hi, Erin,

If my family members had food allergies, I would absolutely get them on the GAPS diet. Yes, it is possible to do the GAPS diet when traveling, but maybe you won’t be able to stick to it as strictly as other people do. For example, you may need to find a way to purchase organic chicken stock if you don’t have the ability to cook (for example, in a hotel).

Regarding the acne, are you taking a probiotic? It does sound like a healing crisis (or “die-off” reaction) to me.

9. Question:  Doctor in Los Angeles?

Do you know of a doctor who can do some blood work/general check ups on me in the L area that is a member of the Weston Price Foundation? I
know you said that there is a dentist who is but I’m looking to get some blood work/mineral hair tests done. Thanks


We see Dr. Lauren Feder. She is a primary care physician (MD), homeopath, and pediatrician.

10. Question:  Help with Allergies?

Hi Ann Marie!

I read your story on Nourishing Days and thought “that sounds just like me!” I don’t have arthritis, but I am 21 and I’m always saying I feel like a 90-year-old woman! I’m always tired, I sneeze all day every day, and I have all the regular sinus/allergy problems.

I read about you reversing your allergies through your diet, and I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about what you did. I’ve read about the GAPS diet. Did you follow that? I’m already avoiding wheat, eggs and dairy, but now I’m thinking I may need to eliminate all grains to try to heal my gut. I’ve tried a little bit of lacto-fermentation, but I haven’t ever been consistent with it. I’m ready and willing to try almost anything! 🙂

Thank you!


Hi, Abigail,

I did not follow the GAPS diet when I reversed my food allergies, but that’s only because it didn’t exist back then (circa 1995). If I were to do it again today, I would do GAPS.

What I did was very similar — I went off all grains, starches, dairy, eggs, fruit, and sweeteners. I only ate meat, fish, and non-starchy vegetables. I did this for 30 days and saw an almost (about 90%) complete reduction in my symptoms. After that I began to slowly introduce new foods, one by one. I found that I did not react to dairy but I did react to gluten and anything sweet. So I ate grains but not gluten, and avoided sugar and all sweets for 2 years.  I also took very strong (therapeutic grade) probiotics.

I think I probably would have healed much faster if I had followed GAPS, which is why I say that is what I would do now.

11. Question:  White Flour in Sourdough Starter?

Hi there! Love your blog.

After an awful junk-food hiatus, I’m getting back to a real food diet. I used to be a very committed sourdough bread baker, and I’m trying to back into that. I need to grow a new starter, which requires LOTS of flour to create and maintain.

Although I will be making my bread out of stone-ground whole-grain flours, is it ok to use unbleached/unbromated white flour for the starter? That’s what I have on hand, and it’s also significantly less expensive. I hate the thought of essentially throwing away a cup of expensive whole grain flour every day.

My bread recipe slow-rises for 18 hrs, so I only use 1/4 C starter for each loaf of bread.

Your thoughts?



I think it is OK to do this.

If you are regularly baking bread, though, why not just buy whole wheat and sprout and mill it yourself? That is the most economical and nutritious way to go.

13. Question:  The Vegetarian Myth?

Hi Ann Marie,
First off, thank you so much for reviewing and recommending The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Kieth. I’m about halfway done and it is really solidifying a lot of the “adult” knowledge that I’ve been getting from other sources.

However, I’m also becoming confused about things that I thought I knew (grain is bad for cows) because I was unable to answer some of my husband’s
questions when I was telling him about cows’ digestive systems (ruminants) vs. human digestive systems (carnivores).

Our questions are:

1. Corn is an annual grass, so why is corn so bad for cows if cows eat grass?
2. Aren’t all grains just the kernel of a grass?
3. What part of annual grasses (soy, corn, wheat) can’t the cow digest, and why?
4. Kieth says grain acidifies the cow’s stomach, but how and why?
5. I know human stomachs can’t digest cellulose that is in most plant material. But we eat vegetables, which are plants. Do some plants just have
more cellulose?
6. Does wheat have cellulose in it? If not, why is it hard for humans to digest? Is there something else in it that humans can’t break down?

I hope you can answer at least some of these burning questions 🙂 Thanks!

Allison and Tedy
Ventura, CA


Hi, Allison and Tedy.

The best way to answer your questions is to refer you to an excerpt of a Terry Gross (Fresh Air) interview I found with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma:

GROSS: OK. Before we get to the pharmaceuticals, let’s talk a little bit about corn some more. How does the corn affect the cow’s digestive system, a digestive system that was really made for grass?
Mr. POLLAN: Yeah. You know, this was a bit of a revelation to me because this phrase corn-fed beef has been around so long that we just take it for granted that this is some kind of old-fashioned virtue. But it’s neither that old or that virtuous, as it turns out. These animals, in nature or, you know, when grazing, encounter very, very little grain. I mean, grain is essentially the seed of grasses. So when the bluestem that they’re eating and the Western wheat grass they’re eating flowers and puts on seed, they get a little bit of grain, but very, very little. And now suddenly they’re given this incredibly rich diet. As one of the feedlot managers put it to me, it’s like feeding them Snickers bars all day long. It’s a very rich food, although they don’t appear to like it quite as much as Snickers bars. But it wreaks havoc on a digestive system that has evolved to do something quite miraculous, which is digest grass.
You know, that, for me, is the underlying insanity of this system. We have this animal, a ruminant–there’s a class of animals; it includes cows, but also sheep and deer and several others–that has this unique ability to digest grass. We can’t do it. If you consume grass you will not be able to digest it. So they can take this sort of substandard land that can only grow grass because it’s too dry or too hilly or the soil is too thin, and because they have this digestive organ, this rumen, which is essentially a 45-gallon fermentation tank in which a resident population of bacteria goes to work on the grass and turns it into protein, they can make good use of this incredibly common solar-generated food source. So we’ve taken the solar system–you know, ’cause the grass is fed on sunlight and water. It’s this miracle of photosynthesis, which is, when you think about it, the only free lunch in nature. And so they take this free lunch and can make very high-quality food out of it. But rather than use that system, we move to another kind of system, which is feeding them corn.
Now corn, you might argue, well, that’s a solar system to because, you know, the corn grows, is a kind of grass, and it grows out in the sun. But, in fact, to get the kind of harvest of corn we get and the surpluses, you have to apply vast quantities of fertilizer, which is a fossil fuel. It’s ammonium nitrate. And we began doing this after World War II. It made corn grow incredibly well. We get 130 bushels of corn off an acre where a hundred years ago we got 20. And all of that fertilizer is made from oil. And, in fact, it takes 1.2 gallons of oil to grow a bushel of corn. So I realized I was looking at a different kind of system. We had gone from a solar system to a fossil fuel system. And this strikes me as a kind of crazy thing.
GROSS: Let’s get back to the cow’s stomach.
Mr. POLLAN: Yeah.
GROSS: So the cow now is eating corn instead of eating grass. Its stomach is made for digesting grass and turning it into protein. How does the cow’s digestive system handle corn?
Mr. POLLAN: Well, very poorly. It’ll go kablooey if it’s not done very gradually. And I talked to people who said that most cows, most beef cattle getting a heavy diet of corn–and again, they can tolerate some of it, but when you crank it up to 70, 80, 90 percent grain, their stomachs go haywire. They suffer from a range of different phenomenon, one of which is bloat.
You know, the rumen, this organ, is always producing copious amounts of gas, and these are expelled during rumination, you know, when the animal kind of chews its cud. It regurgitates this bolus of grass and in the process releases all this greenhouse gas, essentially methane and things because when you’re digesting grass much gas is produced. But when they’re eating corn, this layer of slime forms over the mass in the rumen, and it doesn’t allow the gas to escape. So what happens is the rumen begins to expand like a balloon until it’s pressing up against the lungs of the animal. And if nothing is done to release the pressure of that gas, the animal suffocates. It can’t breathe anymore. So what do they do? Well, if it gets to that point, they force a hose down the esophagus of the animal, and that releases the gas, and they very quickly put them back on hay for a little while.
So that’s one of the things that can go wrong. Well, perhaps the most dramatic. But a whole other range of problems are created because the corn acidifies the rumen. The rumen has basically a neutral pH when it’s healthy and getting grass, and that’s very significant for a lot of reasons. But you feed it corn and it gets a lot more acidic. And the rumen can’t deal with acids, and what happens is the acids gradually eat away at the wall of the rumen, creating little lesions or ulcers through which bacteria can pass. And the bacteria get into the bloodstream and travel down to the liver, which collects all such impurities, and infects the liver. And that is why more than 13 percent of the animals slaughtered in this country are found to have abscessed livers that have to be thrown away and is a sign of disease.
But this low-level sickness, acidosis or even subacute acidosis, as they call it, afflicts many, many–probably the majority–of feedlot calves, and it leaves them vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases. Their immune systems are compromised. So they get this, you know, horrifying list of feedlot diseases. You know, we have these diseases of civilization, you know, heart disease and such things. Well, they have their own diseases of civilization: feedlot polio, abscessed livers, rumenitis, all these kinds of things that cows in nature simply don’t get.
GROSS: Is this where the antibiotics come in?
Mr. POLLAN: Yeah. The only way you can keep a cow alive getting this much corn would be with antibiotics. And they get large quantities of antibiotics with their feed every day. They get rumensin, which is technically an ionophore. It’s a kind of antibiotic that helps with the bloat and the acidosis. And then they get tylosin, which is in the erythromycin family. And that antibiotic cuts down on the incidence of liver disease, and without that, they would all have liver disease probably.

I hope that helps to answer your questions. If you want to read the full transcript of the Fresh Air interview, please click here.

You might also want to read Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. I learned a lot reading that book; I think you will enjoy it.

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 in the comments below.

Got a Question?

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