Canning Tip

Any jar with a pop up lid can be used for home canning. Here you see the pears I just canned using a variety of jars – mostly Trader Joe’s Pasta sauce. These lids can be used over and over and are more reliable and easier to work with compared to traditional canning jars with the two part lids. Apple juice can be easily preserved in old glass juice bottles. Those usually always have a pop up on the lid.

My Method:

I put the clean dry jars in the oven at 275 F for 20-30 minutes and take them out one at a time and fill them with the boiling hot fruit. The utensils, funnel, etc I use have been boiled for 5-10 minutes in water.

I add the boiling hot fruit slices or applesauce, pear sauce, chutney to the jars with a canning funnel and then use a rag dipped in the boiling water to clean off the rim. Using sterilized tongs I take a lid out of the boiling water and screw it on.

The pop ups on the top will all be up while the jar is hot, but you will hear them popping down as the jars cool. When they are cool, you can press on the pop up button and it should be in the down position with no movement. If they didn’t seal and the pop up is up, it means the lid wasn’t screwed on tight enough. The contents are still good, just put it in the fridge and use it up.

If the pop up comes up during storage it means some bacteria is growing and producing gas. The gas pressure forces the button up. These you want to discard. I’ve never had that happen. Items high in fruit sugar tend to preserve easily.

Happy Harvest!

30 Days of Ketogenic Diet

I completed 30 days on a ketogenic diet today.  I was tempted to keep going, since I was unable to stay in optimal ketosis (above 1mmol/l), even after gaining some insight about how to do it, as I posted earlier.

These are my numbers for the entire period.  I averaged 37g net carbs for the entire four weeks (first graph) and 25g net carbs in the last two weeks (second graph).
keto1 keto2As I mentioned before, my body seemed to be resistant to making/utilizing ketones.  It is remarkedly efficient at using protein to make glucose.  I had thought that if I stayed under 100g net carbs plus protein I would be fine, but after analyzing my data I found that, for me, optimal ketosis is achieved when I keep the protein and carbs under 80g.  In the end this was just to much effort.

Another deciding factor in stopping the diet was an interesting affect on my heart that I noticed during the 30 days.  My family history includes high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, both of which I have declined to do.  However, my heart does have a tendency to have an irregular heartbeat.

After about a week I started having persistent irregular (and annoying) heart beats.  At first I attributed this to increased consumption of fish. High levels of mercury can lead to irregularities in heart beat, and fish are known to be contaminated with mercury.  I have had a problem with my heart once before when I suddenly started eating more fish.  However, in this instance, I stopped the fish, started eating more cilantro (which chelates mercury) and did not notice any improvement.

As it turns out irregularities in heart rhythm are associated with ketogenic diets.  Many people find electrolyte supplementation to be useful.  Electrolytes did not help me.

The hormone that stimulates the body to make more glucose from protein and the by-products of fat metabolism is adrenaline.  It would make sense that adrenaline is elevated during times where carbohydrate intake is limited.  And adrenaline would indeed make the heart more reactive.  I had thought that eventually the body would become used to using ketones as fuel (keto-adaptation) and then adrenaline would be reduced.  I did not reach the point where that occurred.

Other symptoms I experienced that indicated my adrenaline was pumped up, were an increase in heart rate and orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure when going from lying down to standing.  It is experienced as a head rush or dizziness.  I was having this occur frequently during the ketogenic diet, however I do not remember when exactly it started and suspect it predated the diet.

The increase in heart rate occurred more dramatically.  About a month before I started the ketogenic diet I purchased a heart monitor.  My typical afternoon resting heart rate was about 61-63 bpm.  Last week, it clocked in at 73 bpm. Today it was 67 bpm.  I decided to test the resting rate, since about two days after reaching the optimal ketosis (around the two week mark) my heart rate jumped up about 10 bpm during my usual rowing session.  I thought perhaps I was exerting more effort or the meter was wrong, but after the jump it remained high during subsequent sessions and I validated the heart rate with a second meter.

Elevated heart rate is associated with decreased health.  So I decided the ketogenic diet might not be best suited to my body.  I am curious to see what happens after a week of higher carbohydrates…


Getting into ketosis

I thought getting into ketosis would be a snap.  You burn fat; you make ketones; your body eats the ketones.  Simple.  Or so I thought when I started the ketogenic diet.  I explained earlier how I started a ketogenic diet on a whim and then after nine days decided it wasn’t for me.

As I started to transition off the diet, I was left wondering if I’d even made it to ketosis.  To answer that question, I decided to order a ketone meter, go back on the diet for a day or two and see if I was ketotic.

Saturday morning I took my first fasting measurement.  It was 0.2 mmol/L.  This would be a typical level for a non-ketotic state.  Since Friday I ate 132g of net carbs this was expected.  However, since I had been eating low carbs for a week, I figured if I dropped down to 20 grams carbs I would test ketotic (>0.5) in the morning.

Wrong again.  Saturday was a strenuous day on the farm and despite eating only 19g carbs I was only 0.3 Sunday morning.  I was shocked!  I was so surprised I tested it twice.  “So much for that doctorate in physiology,” I thought.

After some thought, I decided my body was really good making sugar out of what was available and was resistant to producing ketones.  This is when I started paying more attention to the protein I was eating.  Proteins as well as carbohydrates can be easily converted into sugar.  Indeed even glycerol, the backbone of fats, is used to make sugar.

On Tuesday (morning of day 4) I hit a ketone level of 0.5, the minimum required to claim a successful ketotic diet.  I ran out of blood test strips that day (This was only supposed to take a couple days, so I only ordered 10.), but was able to continue monitoring using urinary strips.  I estimate I fluctuated around 0.5 the next couple days and when I was able to test my blood again on Friday it was only 0.4.  So not a solid ketosis yet.

I went online looking for more information and learned that not only was it not simple to induce ketogenesis, it also took at least three weeks to become keto-adapted.  Geez, I though just getting into ketosis would be enough, but apparently the body doesn’t use the ketones efficiently until later.

It took me a week from when I restarted the diet to reach a solid ketosis.  During that time, I continued to focus on lowering my protein to about 60 grams/day and keeping my net carbs around 24 grams.  My ketone levels on day eight were 0.6, day nine: 1.1, and day ten: 0.9.nutrition

Keto-adaptation is my next target.

Luckily, there is a way to measure keto-adaptation.  Once the body becomes efficient at using ketones as fuel, the urinary excretion will decrease and may completely disappear.  It is recommended that one give a ketogenic diet at least one month, since this is the typical length it takes to adapt.