How I got here:
Y’all, I’m a midwife and professional curandera who ran an organic produce co-op for many years that catered to the “food is medicine,” crowd, and boy did I get my learn on. Shout out to Central City Co-op!
Later, when working as a midwife with a patient population that was under-resourced, lived in a food desert, and had frankly been abandoned by the medical and nutrition establishment (another clear example of institutionalized racism) and frequently got the d!ck around with subpar care, I kept seeing these same set of problems.
- Gestational Diabetes or riding the line high blood sugars
- Undernourished/over caloried pregnant person and baby
- High Bp
- Constipation/diarrhea especially when taking additional iron, or prenatal vitamins which led to folks not taking their recommended prenatal vitamins
- Low energy/fatigue
- Acid reflux
- Hyper emetic/out of control morning sickness and nausea
- Babies born with erratic blood sugars
- Group B strep highly colonized in labial folds and perineum
- Mood swings like a mofo due to hypoglycemia
- Postpartum constipation
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Abdominal inflammation
- GBS positive
So how many problems can I minimize or mitigate with one solution?
Resetting gut health helps tremendously with most of the above list, and my teacher Ellen Heed says that healing in the pelvis and reproductive system will not happen until gut health is restored. She additionally says that a balanced microbiome promotes a healthy immune system. The pregnant person’s gut biome heavily influences their baby’s gut.
Then I heard a podcast, where Dr. Greger is interviewed, and that man is enthusiastic and comes across as slightly nutty but he for sure knows his subject matter. He was a pandemic specialist before he moved over to nutrition in around 2012, he also has a team of retired medical professionals that review all the studies that are published for new information and vet for credibility before he makes his videos or assimilates it into his knowledge base. (Dr. Greger, if you see this or part of your team, I think vocal coaching would be a good idea, it’s easier to accept veganism when delivered with dulcet tones.) He was extolling the virtues of his prebiotic porridge and sorghum. I had a major AHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAA moment.
Who is it for?
My pregnant people, I’m looking at you.
Who else? Anybody who chews. Anybody who struggles with optimal digestion, anyone with a bloated abdomen and skin that is wrecked cause their liver is at capacity.
For Babies and littles ~ This article suggests feeding babies grains during the complementary feeding time expands their palate which impacts their entire life.
This article says feed them liver instead.
I’m gonna say let’s do both, when baby gets molars, or whenever YOU THE PARENT decide it’s right for the baby. Adding some bone broth or soft poached egg yolk and a teaspoon of porridge sounds like THE BEST.
How does it work?
- Fiber grabs matter that is hanging out in the digestive tract, moves it on through. This is important because fermenting and putrefying former food (chime) create an environment for pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria while stressing the infrastructure of various tubes and chutes that create the digestive tract. Second, when the digestive tract is covered with goo, actual nutrition cannot be absorbed, so you may be eating it, but your body can’t utilize it.
- Prebiotics, better explained by this article, but in summary, prebiotics is the food for probiotics. The more you feed probiotics, the more they flourish and take over. Then pathogenic (disease-causing bacteria) can’t wreck shop because probiotics are beneficial (positive) bacteria. The good and the bad don’t get along, one dominates the other, and it really comes down to which bacteria you feed. What feeds pathogenic bacteria? Birthday cake and anything fun with sprinkles you might want to eat. What feeds probiotics? PREBIOTICS
- Some other magic I don’t understand. Read this article if you wanna lose your mind about gut flora and pregnancy and how this can impact your babies health for the way way way better. Seriously. Whoa. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2009/pdf/2009-v24n01-p031.pdf
How often shall I eat this?
How often do you nourish something that you want to flourish? Daily, every other day, never. It’s always up to you. My recommendation is to start with a daily tablespoon for two weeks, and then eat a half cup a few times a week after that. If you have a big shift in routine, double up and make sure you have a serving every day. This is a good time to notice the feedback your body gives you.
What happens if I want to eat more than a tablespoon? Is this just the minimum quantity for benefit?
Easing into diet shifts is always a good idea, this one especially because depending on how you’ve been eating in the past, this can cause a serious detox and create a whole host of symptoms as your body regulates. The idea is to provide nutrition for the probiotics that are already living in your gut, and slowly grow the numbers. You are welcome to also take additional probiotic supplements to facilitate the process. (The best ones you buy refrigerated)
What we don’t want to happen is for your body to freak out and respond poorly especially if you are preggers or postpartum. I’d also encourage the slow approach for elderly folks, people postmenopausal, and the over 50 crowd, (hey, that’s me!
Preggers Prebiotic Porridge Recipe AKA Fortifying Gruel**
His recipe is a 1:1:1:1 recipe of
- Barley (hulled, purple)
- Lentils (black or caviar preferred)
Slung into an Instant pot for 30 minutes pressure cooked. 1 cup to 2 cups water.
Rowan’s Updated Version, Gluten Free 2:1:1:1, ratio is an approximate Mix this up, store in a large glass jar.
- 2 Cups Oat Groats ( I order mine from Shiloh Farms), get two bags.
- 1 Cup Amaranth ( I order mine from Shiloh Farms)
- 1 Cup Sorghum (I order from Shiloh Farms)
- 1 Cup Black Beluga Lentils (I order mine from Rancho Gordo)
Don’t wanna bother being a kitchen alchemist? I hear ya. Order straight from Pat Greers Kitchen. It’s 8 whole dollars plus shipping.
Pre Soak Directions:
- 1 cup mix to 2.5 cups water. This will make 4 big servings, or last you a week plus a few days if you are doing the challenge (see below).
- Dried fruit ~ if you are adding (½ cup, one handful), like craisins, do this now.
- Chia seeds ~ If you are adding chia seeds (1 tablespoon), do this now.
- Sea Salt ~ a few twists of the grinder
- Cover and soak overnight or at least 8 hours.
Instant Pot pressure cooker:
- In AM, take peek, if it looks dry, be brave and add a cup of liquid, water or non-dairy milk, like soy or almond.
- Put on “porridge” setting, set for high pressure
- When the pressure has released, add your nuts, etc stir away.
- Soak for a couple of hours (like start your soaking mid afternoon so you can turn the slow cooker on when you go to bed) then cook overnight for 6 hours or more. Don’t be afraid to take a peek and add more liquid if needed.
- If it’s too dry stir in some nut milk before serving.
Sweet: ½ cup blueberries added, with ½ an apple chopped up, sprinkle your cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped nuts, ground flax seeds. Put with yogurt, use non-diary if you react to animal products or are vegan. Drizzle some local honey or agave.
Savory with an avocado, some sea salt, ground flax seeds, microgreens, yesterday’s leftover stir-fried veggies, steamed broccoli, kimchi, Zhoug seasoning, that type of thing. Use it up!
Give your body a trial, eat it 1 tablespoon a day until this batch is used up, see how you feel afterward. Report back!
After my third baby and first surgical birth, I had a lot of gut issues, including recurring, painful constipation. I tried more fluids, fiber, yogurt, exercise and laxatives, but nothing worked. My doctor had prescribed a daily laxative for at least a month, but I hated the thought of doing that to my body. Getting desperate for relief, I had decided to start that regimen when Rowan recommended prebiotic porridge. After a week, there was noticeable improvement, and after 2 weeks it was like gastrointestinal magic! I eat it everyday now and won’t go back! My kids won’t eat it, they call it Mommy’s birdseed. That’s right, it’s all mine. Robin P
Additional Tips: Think of compiling your daily breakfast bowl like a poke bowl or salad. Some of these, all of these, You. Do. You.
- Get a cute bowl or mug, I love anything with the word “love” or hearts, so that’s what’s all over mine. If you are heading out on the road, or want to take this with you to work for second breakfast (highly recommend) then get a little wide mouth half thermos, about the size that was in a Gen X kids lunchbox, and use that. Your future self will be so pleased with past self.
- Porridge (one tablespoon to one cup) cold or warm, you decide. Warm is nice with a scoop of Kerry Gold Butter or this addicting vegan option
- Yogurt (unsweetened if going the savory route)
- Fruit (blueberries/cut up apple/banana/avocado) or veggies/microgreens
- Spices (turmeric/cinnamon/nutmeg/black pepper)
- For my omnivores out there: Soft poached egg or a drizzle of bone broth! Get crunk with Bacon bits!
- Ground flax seeds
- Anything else you are trying to hide from yourself and eat anyway ex a scoop of collagen or maca root or a protein powder or whatever
- Fresh herbs like chives or mint or whatever goes with everything else you have going on in the bowl. From the unfresh herb dept, this savory Zhoug sauce from Trader Joe’s THE BEST. Buy extras, store in freezer.
- Twist of a grinder of fancy salt
- ADD A FAT!!! Healthy fats are what’s up.
What if I’m feeling lazy?
Low shenanigans option: eat a tablespoon cold and lonely right out of the container from the fridge in am.
Also from Shalan: Let them eat cake!
Porridge and mother Biome https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2471095/Forget-trendy-probiotic-drinks–just-eat-porridge.html
*If you use the daily dozen app you are gonna LOVE me cause you can knock like six to nine of these off your list in one bowl.
** On a side note, I had a partner in the way past who had a cutting disorder, and all sorts of body dysmorphia. It led to disordered eating, and I stumbled upon if I made them porridge in the am, their eating was steadier and healthier. Because I lived communally at the time, and we were all broke AF, I’d make a big batch of porridge for the household, but because I also HATED oatmeal or anything with consistency like that, I called it “fortifying gruel.”
Fortifying Gruel, pretty appetizing, yes? Yet I still had plenty of excited takers. So put that in your back pocket.
Lastly, why am I doing this? I don’t make any money off of this, so what’s in it for me? If one single melanated person who is on Medicaid doesn’t get the fuck around over borderline sugar readings, hypertension, has a healthier pregnancy/postpartum, and hopefully birth then it’s worth it. This black mortality and morbidity disparity is utter bullshit, and this is how I’m showing up, by providing tools that pregnant people can use to change their outcomes, for the better. Fingers fucking crossed. #preggerscanbechoosers #xmidwifex #beahelper