I Think I Broke My Gut

I get tired of hearing me whine, so I can completely understand if you don’t want to hear it either.  I feel I must write this post though, because I’ve so often sung the praises of raw garlic over the past 2-3 months, and I need to balance it with a big fat dose of truth.  So if you’re tired of hearing me whine, I understand.  Go over to Free The Animal.  He makes me look like Pollyanna.

Anyway….so where was I?

Oh yeah, garlic.

The garlic felt like a godsend at first, and erased all traces of diet-related depression.  Prior to my Great Garlic Experiment I was depressed whenever I ate something containing starch – potatoes, potato starch, rice, even cocoa powder (which contains a gram of starch per tablespoon).  I figured it had to be a gut problem – maybe a gut microbe problem – and was impressed by hearing stories of raw garlic having antibiotic properties.  Maybe it was just what I needed!  I paired it with probiotics and prebiotics in order to replace the bad bugs with good ones.  And indeed the results were great.  Depression gone for 2 months.

So I added starches back into my diet, having become tired of the restrictiveness of getting all carbs from various forms of sugar.  Well the gut bugs (I guess) grew back, and while I didn’t become depressed I wasn’t feeling happy anymore and I was gaining weight.  So I turned back to the garlic to kill them off again.  At first I’d have a clove of garlic a day or every two days.  Didn’t seem to make a difference. Heartburn started creeping in, no matter what I ate. I quit the probiotics and prebiotics – maybe they were causing Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

Then I made things really bad by eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables – I was trying to lose weight and manage my blood sugar in a conventional manner.  Well all intestinal hell broke lose then, probably due to the fiber irritating my digestive tract and causing an increase in endotoxin and serotonin.  I became depressed again for the first time in over 2 months.  I quit eating fibrous foods and cranked up the garlic, you know – to kill the evil bugs and reduce endotoxin.  That’s when hearburn became really bad – like, 12 hours a day or more, and stopped responding to baking soda and antacids.  I guess the garlic was making it worse.  So a few days ago I quit the garlic.

Yesterday I thought, “Ok, so if something about the garlic was causing the heartburn, then the probiotics might be ok to take!”  So I took some probiotics and a half teaspoon of inulin powder (prebiotic).  Gas pains all day.  No heartburn though!  But pain all day and all night. I didn’t used to have problems digesting inulin, but I do now.

So I think I’m done with all of this nonsense.  Garlic was a decent short term fix, but there’s something about it that causes problems (heartburn) with longer-term use.  I’m not sure exactly what causes the heartburn – I’ve heard that it can be related to inflammation of the valve between the esophagus and the stomach, so it doesn’t close fully – thus, when stomach acid is secreted in response to food, some can back up into the esophagus causing heartburn.  I do know that it’s gone now without the garlic. I think that garlic does have powerful antibiotic properties though – in fact, I think it killed off the gut bacteria that fed on the gas produced by inulin.

In all I’m back to recovering from this mess, but it appears the only things I digest well anymore are the foods that Ray Peat recommends.  Dairy, juice, meat, fat, eggs, sugar, and maybe some low-fiber fruit like watermelon, and some well-cooked vegetables.  It’s no longer a choice. I have to eat this stuff and nothing else or I’m in emotional and physical pain.

That’s ok, though.  I’m willing to do that.

Upswing

Ok, I’m feeling better again.  No more!  No more crazy anything!  I’m just going to accept that I’m fat and get about the business of feeling better.  Forever.  No more deviations from the plan. I’ve been eating a lot of garlic, trying to make the endotoxin die down.  I think I’ve managed to poke enough holes in my intestine now from various experiments (let alone my unhealthy pre-Peat life), and now I accept that I don’t EVER get to eat starches and I don’t EVER get to eat fibrous fruits and veggies.  For at least…oh, a year or so.  Then MAYBE once a week or once every 2 weeks I can have an apple or a serving of potatoes.  But now, NO.

I recovered my energy and my mood by eating non-fibrous whole fruit, juice, meat, and lots of dairy (all forms).  Not gonna fuck it up again.  NOT GONNA.  YOU HEAR ME ENDOTOXINS?  YOU SUCK.

On another note…

One of my favorite bloggers in the entire world, Ray Medina, has moved his website to here.  I was poking around his site and came across this excellent article called Ulcerative Colitis and Dietary PUFAs.  I don’t have UC so I would normally have skipped right by it, but for some reason I decided to read it.  He discusses a mouse experiment that really makes a great case for avoiding omega 3 fatty acids.  In fact, I’ve never really understand the Peatarian assertion that Omega 3s only APPEAR to be good for you by “suppressing the immune system.”  This article explains it really well.  In essence, if you eat a diet high in PUFA, adding some Omega 3s (or fish oil) will make your labs look better.  BUT YOU’RE ALSO MORE LIKELY TO DIE SOONER.  hahahaha.  Good stuff.

Go read it.  And then stop eating salmon.

The end.

Setback

Things were starting to improve.  For a few days there my mood was back to “fine” – a definite step up from depression but not quite at “happy”.  I have an idea….let’s use pictures to demonstrate.  None of these are me, by the way (thanks, Google images):

Depressed:

depressed

That’s where I was for about a week after eating tons of fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Then, for the last 3 days I was “Fine”, which to me feels like this:

ennui

Fine = Life is manageable…I’m up and out of the house, I’m able to work, but still life feels a little overwhelming and not much fun.

Then, last night I ate some raw carrots – probably 4 ounces of them.  More than usual, but I’m trying to kill this heartburn that has returned again.  And now I’m back to feeling depressed.  Even carrots are making me depressed now.  Too much fiber.  Yes, I know, eat them with fat, blah blah blah.  I’ve always eaten carrots plain and they never had a negative effect on my mood before this.

I hope one day to get back to happy:

serene

Again, this lovely person is not me.

My moods are costing me relationships.  People have lost patience with me.  I feel I must eat only the most easily digestible of the Peat-inspired foods for the rest of my life and maybe…MAYBE…I’ll be able to avoid pissing everyone off.

I wish I could escape me.

Recovery Mode

Yesterday I did the following, trying to recover from my foray into the world of high fiber:

  • Probiotics – If Candida is the problem, better bacteria might help.
  • Raw Garlic – If endotoxin is the problem, garlic will kill the bad bacteria causing it.
  • Peat-tastic diet – juice, cheese, eggs, meat, sugar, greens – pro-metabolic, easily digestible.
  • Red light – 2-3 hours, while working at my desk – To reduce stress
  • Niacinamide and aspirin – to reduce stress and intestinal inflammation
  • Vitamin E – to reduce effects of estrogen
  • Progesterone – to reduce effects of estrogen, decrease inflammation, and promote cellular repair

This morning things don’t seem quite so dark.

And now I’m reviewing this post from July, when things were going swimmingly, to consider things I might be missing.  Looks like it’s time for some pregnenolone, shellfish, and liver.  Other than that it looks like things are back on track.

I guess I’ll just stay here.  On track.

Nutritarian Fail

For 3 days I tried eating a ton of fruits and vegetables.  Some raw, some cooked, some lean meat added when I felt hungry.  No dairy.  No starches, except bananas. No juice. No added fats.

The good news: My heartburn went away and my digestion felt great – no bloating, no gas.  Makes me wonder if it was milk causing the bloating.

The bad news:  I’m back to being depressed, for the first time in about 2 months. Heart racing from lack of sugar, despite eating a quarter of a large watermelon, 6 ripe bananas, and 2 pounds of grapes in the last few days.  My heart rate has been dropping since I ate ice cream tonight.  A reminder that sugar (fruit) with no fat = bad blood sugar control…for me, at least. I feel angry and hate everyone again. High serotonin from all the fiber, I guess.  Also, I noticed my weird neurological tic came back again yesterday, just like it did last time I tried eating a primarily plant-based diet.  Maybe that’s how long it took for some nutrient to run out.  Who knows.

Goddamn it.  Ray Peat…right again.

Edited to add:  More bad stuff – I was hungry for all 3 days despite eating POUNDS of vegetables and fruit every day, and I none of it – except for the watermelon – was palatable for me.  These are not deal breakers.  At this point I’ll be hungry and hate eating if I can be healthy.  But not if I have to feel like this.  I’m really hurting today.

Goals, Updated

Hey, just for fun, let’s look at the goals I had back when I started this blog, and see if I’m making any progress.  Here they are, initially written on March 2012, updated May 2012 and today:

1. March 2012: “High fasting and post-prandial blood sugar (the post-prandial is only high when I eat carbs.  On my current diet only the fasting is high).”

  • 5/12 Update: Better – Still higher than it should be but better than when I started.
  • 9/14 Update: Worse – Higher than ever, but not yet diabetic.

2. March 2012: “Allergies (seasonal and pets)”

  • 5/12 Update: Better – I haven’t been using my Visine much, which I usually use year-round thanks to my furry friends.  Allergies certainly aren’t gone though.
  • 9/14 Update: Better – No allergies to report anymore, but I also don’t have cats anymore. So, hard to attribute this completely to diet/lifestyle – could just be less exposure to allergens.

3. March 2012: “Plantar fasciitis (pain in the soles of my feet when I first get out of bed or first stand after sitting for a while)”

  • 5/12 Update: Better – I don’t notice this much anymore.  When I do notice it it’s because I’m looking for it, and it’s minor.
  • 9/14 Update: Same – It’s still there but I only notice first thing in the AM, and it’s not too bad.

4. March 2012: “Excess body fat.  My current BMI is 31.9.  That puts me in the “obese” category.  I have always thought the BMI scale was full of shit, but it’s certainly true that I’m overweight.”

  • 5/12 Update: Same – Unchanged
  • 9/14 Update: Worse – BMI is now 36.

5. March 2012: “PMS, including some pretty severe mood swings.”

  • 5/12 Update: Better – Mood swings don’t last hours, they last minutes, and I can catch it in the middle of the mood swing (usually) and stop myself from doing damage.
  • 9/14 Update: Better – PMS pretty much gone since taking Progest E.

6. March 2012: “Low sex drive.”

  • 5/12 Update: Better – Slight improvement, but still not swinging from the chandelier.
  • 9/14 Update: Worse – Libido pretty much nonexistent.

7. March 2012: “High total cholesterol (for what this is worth, which probably isn’t much).  Last time I had it tested before I started taking Lipitor it was around 273.  Then I went on Lipitor.  I’m off now.  Stupid statins.  Stupid Big Pharma.  I think I’m having one of those PMS mood swings right now, by the way.  It’s a good day to complain about everything that’s wrong with me!”

  • 5/12 Update: Better – Last time I tested my total cholesterol was 222.
  • 9/14 Update: Worse – Cholesterol still high – around 270 when last tested.

8. March 2012: “Fatigue – before I started the Leptin Rx, this was my biggest complaint.  Turns out just eating the right diet fixed it, but I want to put it on here anyway so I don’t forget this is where I’m coming from.”

  • 5/12 Update: Better – I rarely feel like I don’t have energy to do the things I want to do anymore.
  • 9/14 Update: Same – Fatigue is mild now.  I wish I had more energy, but I’m not avoiding life. After low carb resulted in a serious crash, my energy has mostly come back over the past year.

9. March 2012: “Acne – not a whole lot, just enough to bug the crap out of me.”

  • 5/12 Update: Same – some acne these days, but still not much.
  • 9/14 Update: Same – Acne went away for about 6 months, but now it’s back.  I blame bad gut problems and possible problems with liver efficiently eliminating toxic crap.

10.  Heartburn, bloating – A new addition to the list as of 9/14.  I just ate a piece of cheese and it gave me heartburn.. There’s not much consistency in what causes me problems now – sometimes it’s vegetables, sometimes it’s milk.  My gut flora is confused, and now I’m wondering if I have a candida overgrowth.  I hate saying that because it sounds as silly and woo-ish as “toxins”.  But I think my escapades into the wonderful world of garlic may have killed off a lot of beneficial bacteria, which may have been keeping candida in check.  Who the hell knows.

Ok, so a few things are worse.  One thing is better.  A net FAIL, I’d say.  My experiments and biohacks are failing thus far.  Time for a change.  Will update with details after I know what they are.

Better

I stopped all supplements except for a few that I feel are important and which I’m pretty sure are not causing problems.  The ones I’m still taking:

  • Progesterone (Progest E)
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

The one’s I’ve stopped taking, for now:

  • Aspirin
  • Niacinamide
  • Magnesium Glycinate
  • L-Theanine
  • B vitamins (was recently experimenting with B1 and B2)
  • Thyroid (was recently experimenting with T3 and T3/T4)

Last night I slept 8 solid hours for the first time in a long time.  Also blood in stools is gone.

Still have heartburn at stupid times, like after eating anything at all…but I notice a couple of raw carrots stop it.

I have no idea what to eat anymore.  I’ve about given up on feeling happy.  I just don’t want to have a stroke or heart attack and be a burden to my family.  Seriously, these are the thoughts I have.

Bored with Myself

I haven’t been writing much because I’ve grown tiresome.

I’m still here.  But frustrated with how things are going.  Initially the garlic and probiotic thing seemed to be good.  And it was.  It fixed my depression.  However, now I have heartburn all the time – even if I don’t eat starches.  So something has gone wrong.  I’ve stopped taking the probiotics and only eat raw garlic now and then.  I don’t know what’s causing the problem so I’m stopping everything I’m not sure about.

I’m having some other problems too.  Blood where it shouldn’t be, for example.  Is it because of taking aspirin every day for a couple months?  Is it a hemorrhoid caused by some irritant in some supplement?  Who knows.  I’m stopping all supplements for a while, except progesterone.

I’m also not feeling happy anymore.  Again, this probably has something to do with gut health, but it’s all very mysterious.

I’m also the heaviest I’ve ever been, right now.  Since I started eating a Peat-inspired diet a year ago I’ve gained 8 pounds – not much in the big picture, but I’m now about 60 pounds overweight.  I hate it.  I’m preoccupied with it.  I feel old and fat.

I’m going to try to eat a low-fat diet and count calories. This will probably involve eating more vegetables (egad, the fiber!) and less sugar, in order to control my appetite. Exercise too.  I don’t mind exercise. I just don’t like wasting my time.

I’m sick of this struggle.  If I don’t write it’s just because there’s not much to say.  And usually because I’m not feeling great.  I’ve always been determined to tell the whole story – not just report on the good days – but sometimes it’s hard to face it.  Everyone has good advice, but I feel overwhelmed many days.