Hello again! BEDROK has been itching to interview more family members, and this time, we wanted to speak with someone that may have a bit of a different perspective – with that being said, we got the opportunity to interview Michael Larsen, father and proponent of fermented foods!
Michael Larsen: “Hi! It’s nice to speak with you as well – I’m excited to be here!”
BEDROK: “Great! Well, let’s jump right in then…tell us a little about you and your family.”
ML: “I can do that! (laughter) I’m a father to twin daughters. Tula, one of my daughters, was diagnosed with PDD-NOS [Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified – This is one of the three Autism Spectrum disorders) just before her third birthday. My wife, Holly, and I recovered Tula from this diagnosis through a focus on gut health; more specifically gut microbiome health. We utilized diet and fermented foods and are strong proponents of using fermented foods as a source of probiotics. We went on to found a company that makes fermented foods and beverages.”
BEDROK: “Wow! That’s fantastic about Tula – we love that she no longer suffers from PDD-NOS. What company was it that you founded?”
ML: “We founded a company that makes dairy free probiotic drinks from coconut.”
BEDROK: “That is phenomenal! Many come to the Body Ecology Diet/BEDROK for specific health concerns. Would you share what led you to the Body Ecology Diet? When did you first decide that your health, and your family’s, was important?
ML: “We had visited a few different doctors with Tula. One finally turned us onto the BED and we committed to it in earnest. Our thinking was, let’s try if for few months and see if it helps. We were seeing positive results much sooner than that, so we never went back to our old way of eating. GFCF was a first step, and that helped some. But when we began using coconut kefir, which was a big leap forward for Tula. We had had her tested for health gut bacteria (the results of which indicated she had none of) and yeast (which tested off the charts). The die off she experienced was significant, but afterward, she got so much better. She no longer exhibits any of the behaviors that earned her the diagnosis and she’s been “mainstreamed” into regular schooling ever since kindergarten. She is academically and socially on pace with her peers. In many ways, she is ahead of her peers.”
BEDROK: “That in unbelievable. And absolutely inspiring. So then, I guess our next question is – How has Body Ecology helped you reach the health goals you were seeking for yourself and your family?”
ML: “Funny, I didn’t set out to do this for myself. It was all about Tula. But the changes I’ve experienced in my own life are profound. Before adopting the BED, I was 40 lbs overweight, depressed and anxious. Since changing to the BED, I’ve lost 40 lbs and my outlook on each day full of hope. I’m more calm and content. Before, I thought I just had a stressful job. Now, I’m much better able to cope with the stresses of my life, and more is demanded of me today than ever before. I also found that I had a “brain fog” lifted that I didn’t even know was there, until it was gone. I find I’m able to work faster, more efficiently, and with less stress, than I did before the BED!”
BEDROK: “We LOVE hearing this! We have to know, what is one thing you learned that you wish you had known when first starting the Body Ecology Diet?”
ML: “I’ll give you two actually. First, I wish I would have known that my daughter’s tastes in foods would change as she progressed with the BED. In the beginning, she just wanted the same sugars and carbs she had always craved (the yeast foods). After a couple months on the diet, she began to like the taste of vegetables and leafy greens. Our kids are more malleable than we think, in regards to their diets.
Second, that sugar is highly addictive. I didn’t realize that the yeasts in the gut acts as a parasite of sorts that actually give off chemical messages that control our cravings. My addiction to sugar was very strong and, like any addiction, it took months for the cravings to dissipate. Fermented foods helped squelch the cravings when I had them, but as my gut microbiome healed, the cravings became lessened over time. It is much easier to say “no” now.”
BEDROK: “These are both so true, and really profound. So many don’t understand the damage that sugar can cause, and it’s absolutely true that your taste buds will change! What do you think people might really want to know when it comes to learning to be healthy?”
ML: “I can’t speak for others, but I wanted to know that my child’s nutritional needs were being met as we eliminated all the familiar foods that we were raised to believe are healthy. Of course, my ignorance about what was healthy (can I blame my parents and society here?) meant I was deluded in my understanding of what healthy foods really are. That fact is, the BED was filled with truly healthy foods, packed with nutrition and my concerns were unfounded.”
BEDROK: “Thank you so much for saying that – what you’ve just said is what SO many of our parents and families have questions on. We never want to create any type of false hope, but we do know that what most perceive as “healthy” isn’t always the truth. Do you have a favorite tip or two to share with our readers?”
ML: “One, consume fermented foods just before bed. At this time of day it has been a couple/few hours since our last meal and our stomachs are at a low acid state. Then, we go to bed and don’t eat for another 7-8 hours. I believe this gives the probiotics a better change to propagate and thrive in our GI tract.
Two, understand that high glycemic carbs like flours, rice, potato starch, tapioca starch, corn, and of course wheat flour, are all metabolized in the body as glucose – a sugar. To eat a gluten free slice of bread or a bowl of rice is the same to our bodies as eating sugars. It will feed pathogenic yeasts in the gut. However, we need carbs for energy. Switch to low glycemic carbs like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, etc.
Finally, if you take a pill form probiotic, take with this fermented foods. The food matrix that supports the healthy bacteria in the fermented food (or beverage) will also support the probiotics in the pill and give them a “leg up.””
BEDROK: “Those are all such great tips! We only have a couple more questions for you. How can families stick to eating a healthy lifestyle? What are their potential biggest challenges?”
ML: “I think one of the biggest challenges for many is a denial of the addiction to sugars and learning to recognize the myriad of sugars that are hidden in foods. The food manufacturing industry has literally hundreds of different names for sugars. Learn them and avoid them.
Avoid the high glycemic carbs, or strictly limit them. We need far fewer carbs each day than we are raised to believe.
If you don’t cook, start learning to. Only through cooking our own foods do we learn about what goes into our foods and begin to understand what is healthy and what is not. Take control of your food. Don’t put it 100% in the hands of food manufacturers and restaurateurs who’s mission each day is to profit. Nothing wrong with making a profit, but understand that if we eat from this sources every day, there are consequences.
I also think there is a lot of social pressure put on families that are trying to make positive changes. One must be strong and seek out other who are making similar changes. One feels they are alone at first – we are not. All around us people are eating healthier and we just need to find people who support what we are doing.”
BEDROK: “We absolutely agree! Michael, you’ve really gone above and beyond here in answering our questions – we are so appreciative of all the wonderful information that you’ve shared with us, and we know our readers will enjoy learning more about the lifestyle that you’ve led and what you’ve done for your family!”
ML: “Well, thank you for interviewing me – it’s been a pleasure!”