New Plan 3.0

I’ve been eating starches for almost 2 week now, and they make me feel like taking a nap. Every time.  Some of the common reasons folks get tired in the middle of the day are sleep deprivation, lowering of stress hormones, and food intolerance.  Hm…There’s no way I’m this sleep deprived.  There’s no way my stress hormones are super-high and the starches are lowering them, thus revealing my “true fatigue” (cuz if that were the case, sugar would have made me sleepy too). There’s no way I’m intolerant of every kind of starch…is there?  Is it possible white potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, and gluten free bread/pasta are all making me tired because my body is completely intolerant to all of those foods?  No.

I don’t know why this is happening, but it sucks.  I can handle about 1/4 cup of potatoes with a meal before I get too tired to function.  And even then I don’t have much energy.

So my conclusion – for now – is that I won’t find the solution to these problems in my diet…because EVERYTHING (with the exception of maybe milk and dill pickles) seems to be killing me or killing my enjoyment of life.  Or both.

So here’s my new plan:

I’m going to focus instead on exercise.  The last time I got in the habit of bicycling every day my blood sugar improved dramatically, dropping to within normal ranges within a week. I stopped because it got cold outside and because I was afraid my slowing pulse meant my thyroid wasn’t happy.  Things are more dire now….because now I have diabetes, for realz. Uncontrolled diabetes.  A couple days ago my fasting blood sugar was 155 – not an all time personal record or anything, but too flippin high.  When I first started eating starches my fasting blood sugar dropped to between 110 and 120 for a few days (don’t know why) – now it’s above 130 every day.

Yesterday I started biking.  I biked today too, and will tomorrow.  And the next day.

So what to eat?  For now, mostly Peat-friendly foods, without much of a plan. Someone on Facebook linked to this interesting study about saturated fats causing greater insulin resistance than monounsaturated fats.  They found that among people who ate less fat than the median (I think it’s less than 37% of calories, but I’m not sure and don’t have the full-text of the study), monounsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil) promoted insulin sensitivity, while saturated fats caused greater insulin resistance.  Can’t say I’ve ever heard that before.  I do eat about 40% of my calories in the form of saturated fats right now, so it may be a good idea to try substituting some olive oil, and reduce fat overall.  So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to be crazy about it, but I’ll stop adding fat when its not necessary, and swap out some of the saturated fat for a while.  Olive oil has more PUFA than either butter or coconut oil, but that’s just going to have to be ok.  For now.

I predict my fasting blood sugar will be in the 90s within 2 weeks.

My resistant starch + probiotics experiment continues.  I’m so scared to up my potato starch intake because of the extreme GI distress it caused me before.  But I must.  Maybe tomorrow.

If my blood sugar isn’t under control within 1 month, I’m going to see a doctor and get medication.  I feel like my time to noodle around has run out.

I’m so tired from eating starches – even just 1/2 cup of potatoes or rice – 15g of carbohydrate – that I find myself avoiding them.  Low carb is no good for my thyroid.  High sugar no good for my triglycerides.  Out of time, out of ideas.  If exercise and olive oil don’t fix this very soon I’ll have to give in.

RS + Probiotics – Day 3

I thought I’d give a quick update.

I started with a small little teaspoon of potato starch 2 days ago, combined with probiotics, once a day.  So far so good – no change in anything perceptible, which is a good thing considering the negative effects I’ve had in the past.  I think I’ll give it a few more days of this and then maybe try to increase, either to one teaspoon of RS 2x a day or one larger dose.  That’s when all hell broke loose last time though so I hesitate.  Maybe I won’t do that.  I’ve now talked myself out of it.  This is how I am.

I stopped eating *so much* sugar.  I still eat some – like, yesterday I ate half a bag of M&Ms and one of my daughter’s Rice Krispie bars (poor planning, eating found-in-the-car-food), and a couple of Hershey’s kisses throughout the day, plus a glass of OJ.  Other than that I’ve been eating like a “normal” person – little planning, eating what feels right.  Still not eating things like wheat, corn, legumes, PUFAs, or other things that just seem bad for me for one reason or another, but not obsessing over it.  It’s kind of a relief from the dietary micromanagement.

My fasting blood sugar the last 2 days as been 113 and 116.  Rarely in recent history is it that low.  I attribute it to not eating so much sugar.

Since I wrote my last post about my new RS + Probiotics experiment I’ve gotten a few emails/messages from some concerned readers.  What about the risk of SIBO?  Or the risk of increased lactic acid caused by certain strains of bacteria?  These are good questions.  I don’t know the answers.  I can say that after weighing my options, this seemed like the best one.  If I screw up my health further I’ll look back on this and know I was doing the best I could.

Interestingly, I’ve been eating some potatoes and rice and my mood has been fine the last few days.  I doubt the probiotics have had an effect yet, but I’m wondering if maybe certain starches like these are fine for me and more processed starches (g/f bread, g/f pasta) are the problem.  Not sure why that would be – I seem to be doing ok the last 4-5 days as long as I avoid those.  Not exactly smiling for no reason or anything….there’s some anxiety, but no depression.  I can live with it.

I’ve been reading about Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet.  First impressions from his website are that he’s a really decent person, willing to share his knowledge and really trying to help people. I know earnestness doesn’t fix diabetes, but it’s nice to spend time at his site….gives me the warm and fuzzies.  I’ll be reading more.  He seems to have one foot in the resistant starch camp, but is firmly in the pro-digestible starch camp along with intermittent fasting.  Some of his ideas seem to be summed up here, specifically with regard to weight loss:

I prefer to train people in proportions and amounts. Proportions — try in your mind dividing your plate until four equal quadrants containing (1) meat/fish/egg, (2) sugary starch like potato, (3) sugary in-ground vegetables (beet, carrot), fruits, berries, and (4) low-calorie vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, onions, celery, asparagus, kimchi, etc). Then flavor things with a sauce combining fat (eg butter, sour cream, coconut milk), acid (vinegar, pickle juice, etc). Use less fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Eat enough to avoid any significant hunger while fasting 16 hours per day.

He seems to generally favor a diet that is 30% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 55% fat.  More research is in order, on my part.

I’m getting my bike prepared for daily exercise (weather permitting). (<–Listening to you, Karin).  Hope to start as soon as it stops raining.  I do love my bike.

Experiment: Resistant Starch + Probiotics

It’s time for me to stop avoiding starches. I just can’t imagine a life of getting all of my carbohydrates from sugar (and my body has rejected that idea anyway). Today I started my second resistant starch (RS) experiment, this time combining it with highly-recommended probiotics:

The three probiotics I’ll be using:

Assuming all goes well I’ll be starting with 1 capsule a day, maybe attempting 2 a day, basically alternating brands to increase exposure to the various strains of bacteria they contain.

Yes, I know in the discussion following my previous RS experiment I referenced a study that suggested that potato starch (PS) could cause physiological problems with long-term use due to persorption of large starch particles clogging arterioles throughout the body.  But you know what else causes problems long term?  Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low HDL…all of which I already have for sure.  I’ve decided the possibility of trading a few of these current problems is worth the risk. Also, there are many forms of resistant starch – potato starch just happens to be dirt cheap, widely available, and very effective for many who try it.  I may start with that because I already have it, and then transition to something else, such as green bananas, banana flour, or plantain flour.  I’ve attempted to research the particle sizes of these other forms of RS, but there’s not a lot of (free) information out there.  At some point analysis becomes paralysis, and you just have to take a chance.  Of course, real food can also contain resistant starch – I’m supplementing to begin because the resistant starch in the PS is concentrated and I know what I’m getting.  I have damage to fix – no time to mess around!

I’ve hesitated to embark on another RS experiment, not just because of the persorption issue, but also because I felt really bad last time I tried it – headaches, severe gastrointestinal distress, depression, symptoms of high estrogen.  These symptoms cropped up when I attempted to eat more than 1 tsp of PS at a time. Folks in the know seem to think this is because my gut bacteria is not good.  I have had 2 rounds of antibiotics within the last 12 months, so this wouldn’t be surprising. I’m keeping the dose low at first and introducing the probiotics.  I’ll increase the quantity of RS over time.

Before starting this experiment, I arranged to have my gut biome analyzed through the American Gut Project as a pre-test baseline.  In 3-6 months I’ll get the results.  Then in a few months I’ll get a follow-up test done to see what changed. Wouldn’t it be interesting if my gut biome was stellar and I still felt like crap?  hahaha

I just took my first dose of Prescript Assist, combined with 1 teaspoon of potato starch. One itty-bitty teaspoon.  I hope my gut cooperates.

Stream of Consciousness

After eating starches for a few days – some potatoes one day, a cup of brown rice pasta another day, and some homemade gluten-free bread another day, I spent the last 4 or 5 days being depressed, irritable, and tired.  I turned off the starch spigot 2 days ago, and last night I finally started to feel better.  Still have a short fuse though.

My body is sick.

I started feeling sick around December 2012 (here’s a random post from around that time, but there are many like it), when I was in the midst of a very stressful time in my life and was trying to maintain my health on a low-carb diet.  I now realize that that was just stupid.  The human body needs carbohydrates for fuel – especially when it’s stressed, as stress devours nutrients.  Low carb folks don’t realize this, however, because they do fine – great, even – for 6 months or a year, they lose weight, it’s all very rewarding.  And then at some point it catches up.  They’re cold all the time, they stop sleeping well, they become tired and their bodies stop fighting infections well.  I lurk over at Jack Kruse’s site sometimes and of the 5 or 10 long term followers still hanging out in the forums there, most are having worsening health problems.  They refuse to question the good doctor though.  They believe him when he says it’s their “zip code” that’s the problem (all of the EMF, you know), and several of them are planning out of state moves – uprooting their kids, quitting their jobs.  Because Jack Kruse said to!  They’re ignoring all information to the contrary, blaming themselves for their health problems rather than blaming the TERRIBLE ADVICE THEY’RE GETTING.

EAT SOME CARBS, DAMMIT!

It’s easy to sit and judge from outside, but I know I’ve fallen into the same trap.  I’ve gotten caught up in what someone is saying and I stop listening to the messages my body is sending.  I followed the low-carb path out of habit long after it stopped feeling good.

I was feeling great on a Peat-inspired high-carbohydrate (high-sugar) diet for a few months.  I felt happy – free of depression and anxiety for the first time…ever.  It was great.  I thought anxious was my personality.  Nope.  It wasn’t.  I know that now because I’ve seen what it’s like to not have it.  The last time I felt that way was about 2 weeks ago.  I remember watching my daughter play and having that feeling – that great feeling of “there’s nothing wrong.”  Even my bad body image takes a break during these periods of time, which last only a few hours. I look back my diet log in Cronometer and around then I was eating a high sugar, moderately low-fat diet at the time, no starches.

Well, that’s great, except my diabetes is probably causing endothelial damage as we speak…and of course then there’s the rising triglycerides/cholesterol (read: impending heart disease).

I’m on a merry go round of silly dietary stuff. I’m pretty tired of tracking what I eat. It would be worth the effort if I was seeing some improvement, but…I’m not. I’m tired of looking around and seeing nothing I can eat that isn’t in some way making me more sick (except milk….hm….all-milk diet?).  I’m avoiding going to the doctor because I think what’s next for me is 2-3 prescription medications, none of which I want to take, because it feels like I’m giving up.  I broke my body (somehow) – I should be able to fix it!  I’m intelligent and determined!

But also tired of running into brick walls.

I’ve decided to start another resistant starch experiment.  I ordered – and received – the 3 probiotic products (scroll a bit to see the “Frequently Bought Together” section) recommended by RN over at Free The Animal.  I may use Dr. BG’s 7 step fix-your-gut protocol. I don’t know if I’ll be using potato starch or not.  Pros: It’s still in my kitchen cabinet and it’s easy and tasteless.  Cons: Possible organ failure related to long-term use.  I’m at the point now where I’m willing to roll the dice on this one.  Or, maybe I’ll find a resistant starch that has a smaller granule size, thus side-stepping the organ death thing.  Don’t know.  I’m not going to do anything though, until I get my gut critters analyzed.  A year ago I ordered a sample kit from the American Gut Project, out of curiosity.  Then I moved 3 times within about 6 months and never got around to using it.  Only problem is, now I can’t find the sample kit. Guess I have some house cleaning to do today.

What else…oh, the hot flashes stopped a couple days ago.  Don’t know why they started.  Don’t know why they stopped.

/stream of consciousness.

Resistant Starch: Follow Up and Discussion

I think it’s time for a follow-up on the Resistant Starch (RS) experiment embarked upon by my husband and me.  We both started consuming Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch on December 23rd, 2013.  We are both considered “pre-diabetic” (although I’m definitely closer to crossing that line than he is).  Many people in the Paleosphere (which is now beginning to look more like a “starchosphere”) who have tried RS have reported improvements in their fasting and post-prandial blood sugar, as well as improved digestion, lowered inflammation, and fun dreams.  We wanted all these things too.

I’ll start with my husband’s experience.

He had no problems taking it.  As far as side effects go, he experienced a little more gas and softer stools (though digestion/elimination wasn’t much of a problem to begin with, reportedly).  He got in the habit of taking the potato starch with meals.  Every meal he’d take a heaping tablespoon or so, for combined total of about 4T of RS a day.  He continued to do this for 4 weeks.  Here is a graph of his fasting blood sugar throughout this period of time:

DXL

If you drew a trend line through those data points you’d see a flat line.  No change.  Now, proponents of RS say you should give it 6 weeks.  So he quit a bit early.  Why would he quit?  I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, let’s talk about my experience with RS.

On 12/23/13 I started small because I didn’t know what to expect – a teaspoon a day, then two, and then I got bold and tried a tablespoon.  BAD NEWS.  I had massive bloating and abdominal pain for 24 hours…and was in the bathroom a lot during that time.  Painful, burning, awful.  Ok, but I was committed to this experiment!  I went back to my previously well tolerated dose – 2 teaspoons a day (in 2 doses), and figured I’d work my way up more gradually.  Did that for a week or so, and then tried 2 teaspoons at one time – again, BAD NEWS.  So I started taking a fancy (read: expensive) probiotic along with 1 teaspoon of RS a day, hoping to cultivate some happy gut colonies that would “fix” whatever is wrong…because that’s what the potato starch people on the interwebs are recommending. Did that for a couple weeks. Then I stopped. Why did I stop?  Same reason my husband did. And again…I’ll get to that in a minute.

Now, here’s the cool thing about having a blog.  You have a written record of everything that’s going on…and even if things don’t make sense at the time, they often make sense in retrospect, and you can go back through your archives and try to put the pieces together.  On 12/26/13, 3 days after I started taking potato starch as a supplement, I wrote this post.  In it I wrote

I’ve shared myself honestly in this blog in the hopes of helping other people struggling to regain their health.  I doubt I’m helping anyone, because I have no answers.  I’m less healthy, heavier, more depressed, and less happy than I was 2 years ago when I started this blog.

That’s me – depressed.  I remember writing it and I felt terrible.  I had enough energy to mumble out a few lines on the blog, but I was a really dark cloud for a few days there.

I reviewed other posts I’d written around that time, and discovered that on 12/28/13 – 5 days after starting potato starch, I wrote this:

What I don’t understand is why the effects of estrogen have recently gotten so bad.  I’ve never had breast soreness within the first week of my cycle before, I’ve never had headaches associated with hormone changes before, and usually my depression is pre-menstrual, not mid- or post-menstrual.  Why is this happening now?

Hm….

I now realize it was the potato starch.  I didn’t put it together at the time – after all, why would potato starch cause me to feel like I was sideswiped by the estrogen train?

It wasn’t until I heard a podcast by Ray Peat, released a few days later on 1/1/14, that the pieces of the puzzle started coming together.  When asked about the nutritional value of eating potatoes he said the following:

Adding butter or cream slows the digestion so it isn’t such a powerful insulin stimulant, but it also reduces the chance of what’s called persorption of starch granules. [...] A potato starch granule happens to be very big. Other starches are more the size of a red blood cell, but a potato starch granule is several times fatter than that. But even these huge granules bigger than cells can get squeezed right through the wall of the intestine, enter the lymphatics and the blood system, so within 30 minutes after you eat starch without fat, you see the starch grains circulating through your blood, and if they’re big they’ll plug up your arterioles. Studies in mice showed that a high raw starch diet accelerated their aging. You can demonstrate areas of every organ that were being killed by plugging up the arteries.

Hm…we’ll that didn’t sound good.  Didn’t explain my recent symptoms, but it did clue me in that Peat didn’t think raw potato starch was a good idea.  That spurred some more research. I came across this article at Ray Peat’s website.  In it he states something similar to the quote above:

Volkheimer found that mice fed raw starch aged at an abnormally fast rate, and when he dissected the starch-fed mice, he found a multitude of starch-grain-blocked arterioles in every organ, each of which caused the death of the cells that depended on the blood supplied by that arteriole. It isn’t hard to see how this would affect the functions of organs such as the brain and heart, even without considering the immunological and other implications of the presence of foreign particles randomly distributed through the tissue.

Reading on in the same article:

The premenstrual estrogen-dominance usually leads progressively to higher prolactin and lower thyroid function. Estrogen is closely associated with endotoxinemia, and with histamine and nitric oxide formation, and with the whole range of inflammatory and “autoimmune” diseases. Anything that irritates the bowel, leading to increased endotoxin absorption, contributes to the same cluster of metabolic consequences.

Aha! Anything that irritates the bowel (resistant starch), leads to endotoxin absorption (headaches, feeling like crap) and estrogen-dominance including higher prolactin (sore breasts) and lower thyroid function (depressed mood, lack of energy).  Well, that makes sense. Obviously, not everyone reacts to RS this way.  My husband didn’t.  Dozens (hundreds?) of people commenting over at Free the Animal aren’t having problems (although a few are).  But for me this stuff felt bad in doses over 1 teaspoon.  That’s not why I stopped taking it though.  My husband and I stopped taking it because of the persorption issue.  Peat seems to think this is a significant reason to avoid starches, unless they’re well-cooked and served up with fat – essentially making them more digestible and definitely not “resistant”.

I can’t say Peat is completely alone in his assertion that RS has the potential to be dangerous…but he’s almost alone.  A Google search indicates very few people talking about the issue of persorption; most of the ones doing so are bloggers who follow Peat like Rob Turner and Andrew Kim. Now, it’s no secret I love me some Ray Peat, and the folks who follow his recommendations I’ve found to be invariably very intelligent and science-oriented.  But I trust no one….so I do my own research.  I did a search of pubmed for “persorption” – there’s not too much there, and a search for “persorption + starch” yielded even less, but a few studies stood out as relevant, including:

1. Persorption of raw starch: a cause of senile dementia? by BJ Freedman.  The full article is not available, and the abstract suggests this is a review, rather than an experiment.  So it’s someone’s opinion about research that has been published.  It seems the conclusion is that exposure to raw starch could result in the loss of many neurons, and long term this could mean dementia.  Honestly, I don’t typically put a lot of stock in theory pieces like this.  I’m sure he raises good points, but I want empirical science.

Here’s another:

2. Oral cornstarch therapy: is persorption harmless? by Gitzelmann and Spycher.  Another review.  “The possibility of late adverse reactions to persorbed starch should not be disregarded.”

Pretty much all the rest of the articles involved studies by G. Volkheimer, the scientist Peat refers to when he discusses the importance of starches being well cooked.  Here, Peat cites this article by Volkheimer: [Persorption of microparticles] (Original article in German).  The abstract states:

Since persorbed microparticles can embolise small vessels, this touches on microangiological problems, especially in the region of the CNS. The long-term deposit of embolising microparticles which consist of potential allergens or contaminants, or which are carriers of contaminants, is of immunological and environmental-technical importance.

Another of Volkheimer’s articles is available full text for free, and details his experiments:  Passage of particles through the wall of the gastrointestinal tract.  He describes how they dyed the potato starch (and other substances with relatively large particle size) with Lugol’s solution so they could watch where the particles moved around the body.  Apparently they moved all over the place including cerebral spinal fluid, the milk of lactating women, and the placenta of pregnant women. Toward the very end of the article, it says,

Enzymatic degradation of starch granules in the body fluids was demonstrated.

Well that sounds good, right?  The starch granules are degraded by enzymes.  And the graphs do show that in the case of each of the substances tested the quantity of particles found in the blood diminished over a fairly short period of time.  So no worries then?

It goes on to say:

Deposition of embolized starch granules and other persorbed particles in the lumen of the smallest vessels was observed in animals after long-term oral administration.  in pigs, dogs, chickens, and rats fed with particles, we found individual particles as microemboli in the lumen of the smallest vessels a long time later.

I had to look up “embolized.”  It means blocking a blood vessel.  So apparently they found that these large persorbed particles blocked small blood vessels, and did so for a “long time.”  If I took the time to read all of Volkheimer’s work maybe I’d know what he means by a “long time.”

In any case, I don’t know what long-term use of RS would do to my itty bitty blood vessels, or to the organs they’re attached to and I don’t really want to find out.  That’s why I stopped the potato starch, and recommended to my hubby that he stop too.  And he did.

I asked Richard Nikoley for his take on all this.  He and Tim “Tatertot” Steele have  been spearheading the RS movement, and are in the process of writing a book together on the subject. They responded to my inquiry quickly, and after researching my questions for a bit suggested that current research indicates that persorption is very common, occurring with particles much smaller than potato starch, and may have some beneficial effects:

It is possible that these particles have beneficial health effects not only in the intestinal lumen but directly in the blood stream and on the endothelial surface of vessels.

Hm…Ok, that could be. But this article doesn’t refute Volkheimer’s research that says the large starch particles clog up little blood vessels.  In any case, Richard suggested I research this and write it up on my blog.  So here it is.

Ray Peat has been right about many things for me, and I’m just getting started with him.  I have no reason at this point not to trust him.  So, I’m choosing to trust him and his interpretation of Volkheimer’s research, and I’m avoiding the raw potato starch.  In spite of this, I truly hope the conclusions drawn as a result of this research are wrong, and that RS is actually as healing as the many current anecdotes suggest it is.  But just in case, here’s a thought: Maybe RS combined with probiotics is a way to get your gut in good working order, after which its use should be discontinued, in order to avoid potential problems associated with long-term use.  It may be wise to think of it as an intervention, rather than as a way of life.

Something to think about.

Updated Labs and Gut Health

I didn’t get everything tested – just the basics, which is what I could afford right now.  Here they are, with the current results in RED.

3/27/2012 11/14/2012 9/6/2013 12/30/2013
Units Ref
Glucose 98 98 117 114 mg/dL 65-99
Hb A1C 6.4 <7.0
Uric Acid 5.9 5.2 5.4 5.4 mg/dL 2.5-7.1
BUN 19 25 18 18 mg/dL HIGH 6-24
Creatinine 0.69 0.73 0.57 0.6 mg/dL .57-1.00
eGFR 108 101 113 111 mg/dL >59
BUN/Creat Ratio 28 34 32 30 HIGH 9-23
Sodium 138 139 139 138 mmol/L 134-144
Potassium 3.8 3.8 4.5 4.1 mmol/L 3.5-5.2
Chloride 1.3 104 103 104 mmol/L 97-108
Calcium 9.3 9.2 9.4 9.2 mg/dL 8.7-10.2
CO2, Total 28 20 mmol/L 19-28
Phosphorus 3.6 4.1 4.0 3.4 mg/dL 2.5-4.5
Protein, Total 6.8 6.9 7.2 7.1 g/dL 6.0-8.5
Albumin 4.3 4.4 4.4 4.1 g/dL 3.5-5.5
Globulin, Total 2.5 2.5 2.8 3.0 g/dL 1.5-4.5
A/G Ratio 1.7 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.1-2.5
Bilirubin, Total 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 mg/dL 0.0-1.2
Alkaline Phosphatase, S 63 64 70 62 IU/L 25-150
LDH 142 137 137 143 IU/L 0-214
AST (SGOT) 20 14 12 15 IU/L 0-40
ALT (SGPT) 25 17 18 20 IU/L 0-32
GGT 14 14 27 20 IU/L 0-60
Iron 66 81 116 88 ug/dL 35-155
WBC 8.7 x10E3/uL 3.4-10.8
RBC 4.36 X10E6/uL 3.77-5.28
LIPIDS
Cholesterol, Total 222 297 270 274 mg/dL HIGH 100-199
Triglycerides 107 203 288 312 mg/dL HIGH 0-149
HDL Cholesterol 54 56 43 46 mg/dL >39
VLDL Cholesterol 41 58 mg/dL HIGH 5-40
LDL Cholesterol 147 200 169 166 mg/dL HIGH 0-99
T. Chol/HDL Ratio 4.1 5.3 6.3 6.0 HIGH 0.0-4.4
Estimated CHD Risk (Tot. Chol/HDL) 1.4 1.8 HIGH 0.0-1.0
OTHER
Vitamin D 34.2 67 (on 11/11/13) ng/mL 32-100
Insulin, Fasting 27.9 uIU/mL HIGH 2.6-24.9
hs-CRP 8.65 8.12 13.58 mg/L HIGH 0.00-3.00
THYROID 3/27/2012 11/14/2012 6/19/2013 12/30/2013 Units Ref.
TSH 1.7 4.01 1.55 2.92 uIU/mL 0.450-4.500
Thyroxine (T4) 4.1 8.9 7.4 6.9 ug/dL 4.5-12.0
T3 Uptake 32 25 27 24 % 24-39
Free Thyroxine Index 2.5 2.2 2.0 1.7 1.2-4.9
T4, Free (Direct) 1.04 0.97 ng/dL 0.82-1.77
Reverse T3 20.9 10.2 ng/dL 9.2-24.1
Triiodothyronine (T3) 126 120 ng/dL 71-180
Thyroid Peroxidase TPO Ab 10 8 IU/mL 0-34
Antithyroglobulin Ab <20 <20 IU/mL 0-40
Free T3 2.9 2.8 pg/mL 2.0-4.4

The first two columns (3/27/12 and 11/14/12) are when I was eating low carb with about 5% of my diet being carbohydrates for the first, and 10-15% for the second.  The third column (9/6/13) I was floundering around, trying on various diets/lifestyles.  At that time, about 20% of my diet was carbohydrate.  In November I started paying attention to Ray Peat and I increased my carbohydrate consumption to 40-50%, most in the form of simple sugars/fruit.  My blood sugars started soaring though, so a few weeks later I switched from simple sugars to starches and cut the quantity down to about 30%, while increasing protein.

So how am I doing?

Blood sugar – fasting glucose is high (but not over 126), HbA1C is not ideal, but is not in the diabetic range, and fasting insulin is high.  These factors suggest to me that I am more likely VERY insulin resistant, but not necessarily diabetic yet.  The fact that my body is still pumping out that much insulin is a good thing.  My pancreas isn’t dead yet.  I’m certainly very close to type 2 diabetes, if I’m not there yet…and I know I need to take this very seriously.

Thyroid – I was hoping eating carbs would help thyroid function.  However, if TSH is a reliable marker (and Ray Peat says it is) it looks like I did best with some carbs but not many.  Of course my triglycerides were happiest with none, but you can’t please everyone.

Lipids – OMG, I’m so about to die of a heart attack.  Triglycerides absolutely not going in the right direction…HDL was highest on low carb, LDL a bit better now than it was last winter but still not good.  I have been taking very small doses of T3 every day (6mcg), but that clearly isn’t enough to have an impact on cholesterol.  Will have to increase it.

Other – That CO2 number is terrible.  What happened there?

My ability to interpret labs is limited – please feel free to add your interpretation in the comments.

And in other news, I’ve decided my gut is completely torn up from 2 rounds of antibiotics this year, and that’s why I’m having trouble tolerating the potato starch.  I’ve decided I’m going to mix it with all kinds of junk and make it into BIONIC FIBER.  (<– Imagine I said really loud with an echo.)   I’m on day 3 of probiotics.  I’m going to fix my gut biome, dammit!  But most importantly, I have baseline data for my Resistant Starch Experiment.

Resistant Starch and Oranges

There’s been a lot of discussion about Resistant Starch (RS) in the Paleo world lately, most of which has taken place over at Free the Animal.  I haven’t read all of the posts, threads, and comments relating to this topic, but I’ve read enough to pique my interest.  RS is basically the isolated starch from potatoes and other foods that is resistant to digestion in the body – it behaves in the body like a fiber rather than a typical starch.

Many people seem to be having very good results with supplementing with RS (mostly, in the form of potato starch), and there is research backing the anecdotal results.  Most commonly, folks are lowering their fasting blood glucose and are increasing their body’s ability to tolerate other carbohydrates without causing a big spike in blood sugar.  Well, that sounds exactly like what I need, right?  Other benefits I’ve read about include lowering cholesterol and improving markers of thyroid function (specifically, increasing body temperature).  Additionally, when you eat it, it passes undigested (resistant!) into the large intestine where favorable bacteria have a field day and crowd out pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Lastly, it reportedly regulates bowel function – if you’re constipated it gets things moving.  If you’ve got loose stools (or even parasites, according to one report) it firms things up.  Last advantage – it’s dirt cheap (like $3 a pound) and widely available.  I got a bag at the store across the street.  The only negative side effect people seem to be posting is extra gas, but most folks indicate that resolves after a couple of weeks.

Well, my husband and I both decided to give RS a try.  He’s insulin resistant, and I’m certainly having blood sugar management problems of my own, so we’re most interested in finding a way to improve in this area.  Before starting we got a baseline of our body’s ability to tolerate carbohydrates.  About a week ago, first thing in the morning, we each ate an 11 oz. baked potato with nothing on it but salt.   Then every 15 minutes for the next 3 hours we took blood sugar readings.  Here are our baseline results:

Potato Baseline

Mine is in the blue – as you can see my blood sugar was over 200 for well over an hour, topping out at 255, and took a long time to recover.  Sorry, body, but that’s kind of diabetic.  David’s was better but still got fairly high (189 at the one hour mark), but he was back to normal after an hour or so.  So here’s our plan:  Start supplementing with potato starch, give it a month or 6 weeks (research seems to indicate it takes 4 weeks for your body to respond fully to supplementation), and then do the test again.

We also had lab testing done this week, including fasting insulin and the “Comprehensive Wellness Profile” offered by Direct Labs, my favorite place to order labs without a doctor censoring me.  I should have my results this week – I’ll post when I get them.  We’re going to get another set done in 6-8 weeks after supplementing with RS.  Additionally, we’re testing fasting blood sugar every day.

So let me tell you briefly, and with as little TMI as possible, about my own experience so far taking potato starch.  I decided to simply stir it into a quarter cup of water or so – some people mix it into yogurt or kefir to get extra gut-health benefit.  The recommended dose is 4 tablespoons a day.  Research indicates more is not better, and less than 1 Tbs has little or no value.  I started with a teaspoon a day, to see how my digestive system was going to respond. The teaspoon test went fine…increased it to 2, and then 3 teaspoons over the next two days.  All of that went well.  Then I decided to try a tablespoon.  Well, that didn’t go well.  It felt like there was a war in my intestines for about 24 hours (and perhaps there actually was).  It was painful and I was in the bathroom a lot the next day.  So I started again, smaller.  3 teaspoons a day.  Now I’m up to 4 doses a day of 1.25 teaspoons each.  No problems.  My husband has had no problems other than a little gas – and he’s already up to 4 tablespoons a day.   From my reading, my response is unusual – almost no one is reporting serious GI upset, but it was really bad for a day there.  I wonder if the more unhealthy your gut is to start, the more “cleaning house” needs to be done.  Maybe that distress meant I’ve gotten rid of some bad guys hanging out in my gut.

Anyway, this post is getting long.  Here are a couple really good links on Resistant Starch supplementation and benefits:

On another topic, I’ve again embraced Ray Peat’s dietary wisdom.  On a whim I decided to try eating whole oranges with protein, having had a hard time with hunger and blood sugar regulation when I drank juice.  The whole oranges keep me satisfied a little longer (I get hungry after 2 hours instead of 1), but I can tolerate that.  Also, my blood sugar is under 130 an hour later.  I’m not sure if it’s the resistant starch having an effect or if it’s eating the fiber of the orange that slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, but it any case I’m going to keep doing it.  I have so much more energy eating fruit than I do when I eat starchy foods or skip carbs altogether.  So I’m going to keep it up.  Also going to get some lights (like this with this) in the next day or two…cuz Ray Peat said to:

Light, especially the red light which penetrates easily into tissues, activates the formation of new cells as well as their differentiation. It affects energy production, increasing the formation of mitochondria, and the activity of the DNA methyltransferase enzymes. Red light accelerates wound healing, and improves the quality of the scar, reducing the amount of fibrosis. The daily cycling between darkness and light is probably an important factor in regulating the birth and differentiation of cells.

My many N=1 experiments are going to be very confounded: lights, reducing PUFAs, Resistant Starch, eating fruit sugar again, etc etc…all of it is going to leave me wondering what’s working and what isn’t.  Fortunately, my husband is ONLY changing one thing –  the addition of RS – so we’ll have a good idea of how well it works in a month or so.

Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!