Abuzz with Bumble Brew

We never thought that an unexpected run-in with an old friend at an art gallery would lead to us learning about another source of probiotics, but that’s precisely what happened around a year ago. While discussing various digestive woes such as reflux, our adventurous buddy told us about a special tea called Kombucha.

“Komubu—what??” I asked.

“Kombucha. Fermented tea,” our friend explained before going on about the high probiotic load of this new drink, and how healthy it could be. Later, our research told us more about this unusual concoction. Kombucha, also known as ‘mushroom tea’ is essentially black or green tea that has been fermented with the help of a special bacteria-yeast culture. Think Yakult, but made with tea.

Kombucha is said to have originated in Manchuria, and has been touted as having various health benefits such as boosting metabolism and aiding in digestion. At present, kombucha is still under scientific investigation as to its medical uses and benefits for those with illnesses and chronic conditions. It is loaded with B vitamins and probiotics that can be beneficial to healthy persons and those that need some help with digestion. Generally, properly prepared and stored kombucha is deemed safe for human consumption.

Knowing this, we set off on a search for a good source of kombucha, only to find out that there are as many kombucha recipes as there are brewers! Kombucha can vary in its taste and acidity depending on the type of tea being fermented, the temperatures in the area, and the sorts of sugars or sweeteners added (unsweetened kombucha is probably not something the human palate can withstand!). We were lucky to come across Bumble Brew JUN Kombucha, a kombucha drink that is not only energizing but delicious as well.

Unlike other kombucha brews which utilize black tea, Bumble Brew is fermented from green tea. It also is fermented with raw honey instead of sugar, and flavored with fresh fruit and herb infusions. The result is a kombucha that is less acidic tasting, lighter on the palate, and even refreshing. This is definitely something to consider during this especially hot finals week!

We had the opportunity to try several flavors of Bumble Brew. Our particular favorite is the apple-cinnamon flavor, owing to its slightly spicy yet refreshing taste, with just the right amount of sweetness to it.

However there’s a caveat. Since it’s made from green tea, those highly sensitive to caffeine might find it best be best to go easy on the product. However that aside, it is still a great and affordable source of probiotics and antioxidants, right here in the busy metropolis.

To find out more about Bumble Brew, visit their homepage on FB at Bumble Brew PH.

 

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The Great Brown Rice Switch

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Kat:

A meal cannot be said to be complete in many parts of the world without a heap of piping hot, soft white rice. In fact for many people, rice cannot be any other color but white. So when the idea of eating brown rice was first mentioned at home, for the sake of health benefits, I could not help but inwardly hope that this would only be a temporary state of affairs. After all, the idea was so alien, and literally not easy to swallow.

 

As it turned out, brown rice was not entirely unfamiliar. Brown rice is actually whole grain rice, which means that it is rice that has only its outer hull removed. Its color comes from the bran layer and cereal germ, which are also removed when milling white rice. In a sense brown rice is analogous to whole wheat bread, while white rice is akin to white bread.

 

One thing that takes some getting used to when it comes to brown rice is the taste. Unlike white rice, which has a soft and mild flavor, brown rice is nutty and occasionally with some earthy overtones. Brown rice also has a less polished consistency, which sometimes makes it difficult to partner with sauces and soupy dishes. In my experience, light cream sauces or curries go well on brown rice. Thick hearty stews such as sinigang, or rich gravies are also great with brown rice. Tomato-based stews have limited success on brown rice, while au gratin is a disaster!

 

Another challenge I face with brown rice is simply with cooking it. Unlike white rice, which is relatively easy to manage whether in a traditional pot or rice cooker, brown rice requires a little more care to get to the right consistency, owing to its more complex layers. It may also need more water to cook. This is one kind of rice that cannot simply be left to boil unattended. Nowadays I am able not only to boil brown rice, but to rejuvenate cooked brown rice by lightly frying in oil with garlic. This is a great way to take brown rice from dinner to breakfast.

 

What makes these trade-offs worthwhile? Compared to white rice, brown rice has higher amounts of rice, Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B3 (niacin), Vitamin B6, and micronutrients such as selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. Brown rice is also considered a complex carbohydrate, which means that it takes longer to digest and metabolize than simple carbohydrates found in white bread, white rice, and candies. This allows for better control of blood sugar, which is excellent for preventing unexpected spikes and crashes. Brown rice is also a great source of fiber, which helps keep things running smoothly in the digestive system.

 

It’s been around eight or so years since I’ve made the switch to brown rice, at least for meals at home. My body can definitely tell the difference on the days when I do not have brown rice; for one thing I get hungry more quickly in its absence. Of course having brown rice as a healthier substitute to white rice does not mean I can eat as much of it as I like. Even with this, moderation is necessary to stay in good health.

 

Lee:

And then in my case, it was a wake up call to be more health conscious. On a texture and taste standpoint, it isn’t as sweet as white rice and the texture is coarser in comparison. However, after plenty of times eating brown rice, it helped make my bowel movements feel regular during the times that I ate these. Admittedly, it takes a while to get used to, but once you’re used to it, it’s the type of rice you’d look for and it also helps set you up for other types such as red rice.

 

Featured image from: https://pixabay.com/en/brown-rice-risotto-mushrooms-699836/

Tong Keun So

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In our many months of writing down reviews here in the Team Glasses Food Blog, we finally had a chance to eat at a Korean restaurant. And all of this due to a last minute change of plans when my dad arrived from Davao, a day before his birthday.

To celebrate, we ended up at Remedios Circle in Malate and picked a place called Tong Keun So. For the frugal person my dad is, the signage displaying the PHP 990 for the Tong Keun So Hanmari (which consisted of rib finger, prime chuck eye roll, and brisket point) was enough to seal the deal.

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Tong Keun So Hanmari

The wooden tables and bright room, along with the lively crowd dining made for a perfectly casual and cozy place to dine in. Best of all, aside from the usual side dishes like kimchi, the servers were doing the grilling of the meat for us.

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Bulgogi-Jungol

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The Dips

Aside from the grilled meats and side dish staples like kimchi, we also had a medium-sized Bulgogi-Jungol (which is a beef stew with mushrooms and other assortments of vegetables), and Haemul-Gyeran Jien (an egg dish) came with the Hanmari. Accompanying the meat are some crisp lettuce, and three dips, which are a spiced red paste, a sweet soy sauce-onion combination, and a mix of salt, pepper, and sesame seeds.

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Haemul-Gyeran Jien

Even without the three dips, the grilled meat, rice, and lettuce wrapping these all together was amazing and simple. A word of caution, one has to remember to dab lightly when dipping the meat in the salt-pepper-sesame mix. I dabbed a little too much and it overpowered my tastebuds a bit.

The Haemul-Gyeran Jien we had for a side dish were light and fluffy, flavored subtly with vegetables. These made the perfect complement to our more strongly flavored main entrees.

Like with most Korean restaurants here in the Metro, the serving size per order is meant to be shared. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience sharing a meal with loved ones, just like what we had here.

 

 

 

 

Ambiance / Service: 4/5. The entire place has been inviting to dine in, no frills at all. The real star here was the attentive servers who took care of the preparation of our meals here, especially with the grill.

Food Score: 4/5. While simple in appearance and preparation, the dinner was quite hearty, filling, and satisfying without the guilty feeling one normally gets, because these weren’t oily at all.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. Even with the spicy chilli-based selections that’s a staple in Korean cuisine, there’s still enough choices to pick from with anyone dealing with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Some of the seasonings may not be amenable to more sensitive persons. However the more subtly flavored dishes may be given a bit of extra kick with one’s choice of condiment, which allows for persons to choose flavorings more suited to their conditions.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. Tong Keun So is a must-try, when craving for Korean food but without the worry of having too much about our own respective conditions, provided however that one’s meals here are experienced as a group.

Tong Keun So Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Turning the tables: Capsaicin for people with heartburn

 

 

For many of us dealing with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), spicy food is a thing of the past for most of us because it triggers the acid and burping. There are exceptions of course, which I’m grateful from an extra pinch of ground pepper to some wasabi paste, but nothing quite beats the heat chili peppers bring.

However, a 2016 study titled “Influence of capsaicin infusion on secondary peristalsis in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.” by Yi et. al., shows that repeated intake of capsaicin / chili peppers may help reverse the effect of heartburn, as far as people who have triggers with chili peppers are concerned.

According to the said study, people who ate a meal with chili peppers makes the symptoms flare up at the first instance, but repeated exposure to capsaicin may reverse the effects of heartburn. Yet despite these findings, there are still a number of people who complain that consuming chili in any form makes their reflux symptoms flare up. When it comes to GERD, there’s no really telling what sets one’s symptoms without a little carefully thought out trial-and-error.

 

Before one hits the pickled jalapeños, one has to keep in mind that mild chili peppers are the ones best suited for consumption for most people, with or without reflux. In fact some of the hottest peppers can even give chefs and cooks slight burns just from touch.. Tasting and handling aside, the best way to check a pepper’s heat level is with the Scoville Heat Scale. The higher a chili pepper is on the heat scale score, the hotter the pepper is.

 

 

 

Scoville Heat Units Chilli Pepper
1,569,300 – 2,200,000 Carolina Reaper Pepper (PuckerButt Pepper Company, Fort Mill, South Carolina).
350,000 – 577,000 Red Savina habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)
100,000 – 350,000 Habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)
100,000 – 225,000 Birds Eye pepper
50,000 – 100,000 Thai pepper (Capsicum annuum)
30,000 – 50,000 Cayenne pepper (Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum frutescens )
30,000 – 50,000 Tabasco pepper (Capsicum frutescens)
5,000 – 10,000 Chipotle, a Jalapeño pepper that has been smoked.
2,500 – 5,000 Jalapeño (Capsicum annuum)
100 – 500 Pepperoncini, pepper (also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers, and golden Greek peppers.
100 – 500 Pimento
0 Sweet Bell pepper

Unfortunately with heartburn, nothing is completely certain since different people have different reactions to their own set of personal triggers, so on one hand, there is hope that repeated attempts to eat chili peppers will increase resistance effects in the long run. On the other hand, it could also give one a pain in the neck after trying something out and the acid shoots up crazier than before.

Personally, I think it’s worth a shot at least once, not because YOLO, but the long term benefits helps one with heartburn live a step nearer to normalcy. Think of it as someone trying to adapt by increasing resistances to an allergy like seafood. But as a precaution, keep heartburn medication on hand in case it doesn’t pan out. Good luck and we hope this helps you out.

References:

http://www.refluxmd.com/turn-heat-turn-heartburn/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28018112

https://www.chilliworld.com/factfile/scoville-scale

 

The Good Bugs

Most of us grew up with an (acquired) aversion to bacteria and germs. We were always told that having these little entities in our guts would make us sick. However, not all bacteria cause stomach upsets; in fact, there are some kinds of bacteria which promote better digestion and health overall. These microorganisms are better known nowadays as probiotics. These special bacteria can resist the extremely acidic and enzyme-filled environment of the human gut, and thus can reside there for a relatively longer period of time.

So why eat or drink these kinds of bacteria? In recent years, probiotics have been studied for their beneficial effects in managing digestive problems such as gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and even irritable bowel syndrome. They are also helpful for children suffering from colic. They may be beneficial in managing allergies, atopic dermatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease; however, more studies are needed to show the effectiveness of probiotics for patients with these disorders. Probiotics may also have an antioxidant effect by reducing the ‘oxidative stress’ and damage caused by harmful bacteria in the gut.

Various strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are among the more well-known probiotics. These bacteria may be found in special preparations marketed for therapeutic purposes, but they are also found in some commercially available foods such as yogurt and some dairy preparations. Other foods containing beneficial bacteria include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha (fermented tea). Like all things, these foods and other probiotic preparations must be taken in moderation. In fact, probiotics are not recommended for some critically ill persons, or those with severely weakened immune systems.

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Kombucha tea (Source: statickflickr.com)

 

In our anecdotal experience, regularly taking probiotics in addition to making necessary dietary and lifestyle changes has been helpful in preventing attacks of GERD, or at least in limiting their severity. We’ve also realized that drinking probiotics help us recover more quickly from our relatively rare stomach upsets and food poisoning misadventures. We hope that as more research is done about probiotics, that we can better incorporate these into our recommendations for healthy eating.

 

Sources:

Connor, E. (2017). 6 Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet. Retrieved from: http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/probiotic-foods#kombucha6

 

Sanders, M. E, Guarner, F., Guerrant, R., Holt, P.R., Quigley, E.M., Sartor, R.B…Mayer. E.A. (2013). “An update on the use and investigation of probiotics in health and disease.” Gut, 62, 787-796. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-302504

 

Wang, Y., Wu, Y., Wang, Y., Xu, H., Mei, X., Yu, D….Li, W. (2017). “Antioxidant Properties of Probiotic Bacteria”. Nutrients, 9, 521. doi:10.3390/nu9050521

Heartburn: A change in lifestyle

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Photo by Christopher Dart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/darty53/8686152556/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Before working abroad in Doha, I already had the problem of acid reflux and normal remedies prescribed by the doctor worked out well for me. A bit of portion eating there and a less chili, no coffee, booze, or softdrinks for a period of time, and drink your medicine. After those two weeks, I’d feel better and be back to eating anything I liked without a care in the world. A matter of wash, rinse, and repeat. Easy peasy, I’m mostly healthy after all. I was unfortunately mistaken.

After the wear and tear of shifting schedules from my many tech support jobs, and the six day work week in Doha, perhaps my body finally called up to take its dues. A month or so after coming back to Manila, I began burping and having the taste of stomach acid line my mouth. Didn’t mind it much, drink some water or some milk, good to go. I only took notice when I kept regurgitating foam after a single bottle of beer, my walk home punctuated by spitting out the foam that came up from my throat.

The gastroenterologist pretty much confirmed my worst fears, I had heartburn a few months before I turned 28th. I bet you’d ask, “So what? Just drink medicine and go.” or “It’s not like (insert here disorder / disease / ailment), you have it much better.”

One would normally dismiss such thoughts, until Kat reminded me what an untreated and ignored gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) / heartburn can do to someone.

According to this article from cancer.org, one of the risk factors for having esophageal cancer or Barrett’s esophagus is GERD. While it does not happen to everyone with heartburn, I most certainly do not want to ever encounter them in my life if I can help it. After all, everything that we eat and drink goes through the esophagus, so it’s imperative that we take care of it, along with everything else in our body.

I can safely say that I’m a foodie, having both an interest in having a meal and making one, something I share with Kat. I didn’t want to give up on that and live in the spectre of being defined as another foodie who had to stop because he couldn’t each much anymore. And with a few changes here and there, I can say I’ve done rather well with a good deal of help from Kat and a couple of friends’ suggestions here and there, along with our Team Glasses Food Blog.

But there are times where heartburn catches up to me, no matter how I try to take care of myself. After the string of many food adventures, I had to get myself checked up again. As per my latest gastro check up, I was told that it’s a recurring thing, so I guess I’ll have to deal with this the best way I can.

On my part and your part, if you’re dealing with heartburn but still love eating great food, here are some things to remember:

  1. Follow your gastroenterologist’s advice and don’t cut corners. Maintaining your health matters more, no matter how the medicines costs initially.
  2. Remember your trigger foods and stay away from these or at the very least, do your best to put these on the side if possible. Also skip the alcohol, deep fried food, and tobacco—even if you don’t have GERD.
  3. Find what works for you, in terms of food portioning and the meals you can actually eat.

As what I’ve learned here while writing with Kat about our different food adventures here in Team Glasses Food Blog, life doesn’t really end if you’re living with medical conditions here and there. One can still find great food places in Metro Manila, without sacrificing your health. And this is the reason why we continue to write our foodie reviews, thoughts, and adventures. We really hope that we help you out in our own way.

Epilepsy Bite by Bite

When one thinks of diseases that necessitate food restrictions, among the first things that come to mind are food allergies, or ‘lifestyle diseases’ such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Not many people would immediately put ‘epilepsy’ at the top of the list, owing to the fact that it’s not always a readily apparent condition. Yet according to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people worldwide live with epilepsy, and each year 2.4 million more people are diagnosed with it.

What exactly is epilepsy? Actually the term ‘epilepsy’ refers to a whole range of diseases that manifest as recurrent seizures, oftentimes without other underlying causes or diseases. A seizure may be described as an abnormal electric impulse in one part of the brain. In a sense it can be likened to what happens to some gadgets when plugged in during a power surge. Fortunately the brain doesn’t burn or fizzle out the way gadgets do, but instead it triggers changes in a person’s behaviour ranging from brief lapses of attention that resemble daydreaming, or outright convulsions. The Filipino word ‘tirik´ sums up the experience of a seizure quite aptly.

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Credit to: 123RF

Since epilepsy is such a diverse disorder, there are no specific foods or ‘triggers’ that people living with epilepsy need to avoid. What may worsen a seizure for one person may have little to no effect on another. However some of the more common triggers include stress, sleep deprivation, and alcohol consumption. Other persons are triggered by sudden noises or the presence of flashing or strobe lights.

It has also been thought that caffeine, as well as food additives such as preservatives and artificial colourings, can be implicated in some seizures. One frequently blamed additive is the infamous MSG (monosodium glutamate), an often used flavouring in processed foods as well as some recipes. Other foods may not necessarily trigger seizures, but they may have unwanted interactions with the anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) that most people with epilepsy take in order to control their seizures. For instance, taking some fruit juices such as grapefruit may change the levels of an AED in a person’s blood, thus worsening side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness.

Considering all these possible dietary pitfalls, a ‘lifestyle change’ is often easier said than done. For yours truly this meant saying goodbye to a number of comfort foods from my student days. It was bye-bye to chips, instant noodles, fried luncheon meat and even some types of bacon. Instead of going to parties at bars or clubs, I had to content myself with more mellow cafes and coffeeshops. Then when it became apparent during my medical training that caffeine was not helping my condition either, I had to also give up coffee.

It was not easy. Suddenly it felt as if I could not eat anything I liked, much less be sociable in the company of other foodies. I could bring food from home, but what if I wanted other options or wanted to be with friends who were bent on eating anything they wanted? So what was next? Wide-eyed me, clutching a cup of hot chocolate, and wondering what on earth I could still munch on, without breaking my budget.

Fortunately I wasn’t exactly alone in this struggle. And so the Team Glasses Blog’s journey began with two foodies (one with Heartburn and me with Epilepsy) to help people with the same health conditions about making their own foodie trips in the Metro.