Ray Peat – Right Again

I’ve written on here a number of times that carbohydrates of all types have been causing my tongue to swell and my throat to be sore.  Of course, that would be weird as I’ve eaten carbohydrates my whole life (to greater or lesser degrees) without this problem.  It was the strangest thing though – every time I ate carbs I would get these symptoms within an hour.  It made going low carb again very easy – the alternative was serious discomfort that would last hours or even the rest of the day.  Well, I figured out what was going on.

I mentioned last time that I thought I was probably having a bad reaction to the blood pressure medication I started 2 1/2 months ago – Losartan. But I couldn’t figure out why the reaction (the tongue and throat thing) only happened when I ate carbs.  Then at some point I remembered Ray Peat saying that sugar lowers stress hormones.  For example:

In monkeys living in the wild, when their diet is mainly fruit, their cortisol is low, and it rises when they eat a diet with less sugar (Behie, et al., 2010). Sucrose consumption lowers ACTH, the main pituitary stress hormone (Klement, et al., 2009; Ulrich-Lai, et al., 2007), and stress promotes increased sugar and fat consumption (Pecoraro, et al., 2004). If animals’ adrenal glands are removed, so that they lack the adrenal steroids, they choose to consume more sucrose (Laugero, et al., 2001).

and this

If protein is eaten without carbohydrate, it will stimulate insulin secretion, lowering blood sugar and activating the stress response, leading to the secretion of adrenalin, cortisol, growth hormone, prolactin, and other hormones. The adrenalin will mobilize glycogen from the liver, and (along with other hormones) will mobilize fatty acids, mainly from fat cells. Cortisol will activate the conversion of protein to amino acids, and then to fat and sugar, for use as energy.

So in my efforts to stop eating sugar – and really all dense sources of carbohydrate – in order to get my gut bloating and blood sugar under control, what probably happened is stress hormones increased – cortisol, likely – which has masked the symptoms caused by my blood pressure medication.

This is important so I’m going to say it again.

I think taking carbs out of my diet caused an increase in stress hormones, which in turn removed the pain and inflammation caused by my allergy to my blood pressure medication.  Then as soon as I ate anything with any form of sugar in it – fructose, glucose, sucrose – stress hormones would lower and I’d be in pain.

The brilliant folks on my Ray Peat Facebook page talk about this phenomenon sometimes.  New people join the group and complain that they can’t eat sugar because it causes them to have various kinds of pain.  The coaching they receive is usually that the sugar isn’t causing the pain – the sugar is reducing the stress hormones that are masking the pain.  So when sugar is consumed….pain is the result.

Since I realized this a week or so ago I’ve been experimenting with it.  I stopped taking the medication last weekend.  Over the course of the week I’ve eating carbs every day to see if the symptoms (the tongue and throat stuff) get better or stay the same.  Each day the symptoms are less severe than the day before.  Yesterday, 7 days after getting off the Losartan, there was no tongue swelling at all, and just a little bit of throat pain and a little cough left.  The sugar/carbs weren’t the allergy.  It was the med.

So where do we stand now?

I’m continuing with the mostly-low-carb diet for now, as I wait for test results and further instructions from Amelia.  Even without the allergy symptoms my blood sugar is very high (fasting around 155 these days), but that may be related somewhat to high stress hormones.  I notice my blood sugar was lower when my tongue was swollen.  Tongue swollen = the result of lowered stress hormones = lower fasting blood sugar.  It’s all very complicated.

On the plus side I have gotten some test results back.  No parasites, no yeast overgrowth, no obvious and serious gut issues. There’s really no substitute for testing.

I’m Tired of Feeling Like This

I think I’m having an allergic reaction to my new blood pressure med.  For whatever reason it was fine for 2 months, and now it’s not fine anymore.  Same stabby throat pain and cough as when I was stealing my husband’s Lisinopril.  The one I’m taking now – Losartan – is in the same basic drug class, but some people tolerate it better than Lisinopril.  I guess I’m not one of those people.

So maybe the tongue swelling has nothing to do with food – maybe it’s just the meds.  I can’t seem to find much info on the web connecting tongue swelling/soreness with anything else I’m dealing with…plus Newtopaleo (who actually isn’t new to paleo at all) said in a comment yesterday that maybe I’m having a reaction to my blood pressure medication…plus it’s the same symptoms as last time I had a reaction to an ACE inhibitor…So I’m quitting the med.  I guess I should contact my doc and make sure it’s ok to do that.  She’ll want to start some other stupid med.  I’ve now tried 4 or 5 of them.

I’ve lost a few pounds since I started low-carbing it again.  Maybe I can just shrink away the hypertension.  I managed to develop high BP when I gained 20 pounds in 5 minutes two years ago…maybe losing it will make it go away.

Still off the sugar/starches completely. Gut is happy at least.

The ringing in my left ear drowns out the din of my life.

Wanna feel better.


Thought it would be FUN to make a list of my current gut symptoms.  I’m hoping to revisit this list in the near future having resolved some or all of them.

1. Ringing and itching in the ears.  This is new, and may actually be related to a cold I have right now.  I’ve been on a sickness roller coaster for the last few weeks – probably consecutive cold viruses secondary to having a kid in preschool.  I went home early from work last Friday because my head filled up with fluid and I developed a wicked itching in my ears, which morphed into the worse ear ache ever.  I’ve never had any of this happen before – itching in the ears, earaches – all new to me.  Since then I’ve had ear itching a bunch of times and near-constant ringing in my left ear.

2.  Throat itching/ tongue swelling and soreness.  These happen together and it’s a little hard to predict.  Yesterday I ate some fancy cheese made with garlic and dill and I had the itching/tongue swelling thing for a couple hours.  Today I ate a different kind of cheese and no itching/swelling.  Tonight I went back to the fancy cheese from yesterday and again with the symptoms.  I no longer have the original packaging or I’d look to see what weird ingredient is in there.  I’m wondering if I’m just becoming sensitive to everything.  Stupid leaky gut.

3. Gut Bloating – comes and goes a little now but much improved since I stopped eating sugars.

4. Abdominal discomfort – I’ve written on here about my “enlarged spleen”.  I’m not sure that’s what it is, but it seems to get MUCH worse when I have been eating carbohydrates, and I suspect lots of endotoxin is being produced and clogging up my liver.  Anyway, I still have it.  I would be very worried about it if it didn’t come and go.  I will say it’s worse now than ever, and has just abated over the last 2 days since I completely stopped with the sugar.

Ok, that’s all.


Livin La Vida

Well, I’ve managed to gradually reduce the carbohydrates in my diet over the last couple of weeks, and today – finally – I was able to make it a day with no simple sugars or starches.  My blood sugar feels stable most of the time, and when it’s not I eat more fat or a few baby carrots and it evens out.  Good ol’ low carb.

The Nourish Balance Thrive folks I’m working with now don’t recommend just any old low-carb diet – they recommend a nutrient-dense paleo diet.  I’m working toward that. I’m having a little trouble incorporating all these veggies into my diet again.  Spinach, broccoli, green beans are all good.  I really need things I can bring to work, leave in my office, and eat on my not-long lunch break without a fridge or microwave. I don’t know if eating an unappetizing half-frozen salad in the front seat of my car counts.  hahahahahahahaha. Ok, seriously, that’s what I do.  I hope my new functional medicine practitioner, Amelia isn’t reading this.  She wants me to make eating a relaxed, stress-free experience.

Some interesting symptoms lately: ALL sugars and starches (even juice and fruit) make my tongue swell and become sore – as if my tongue has been lifting weights or something.  The effect lasts for 3-4 hours and then gradually goes away.  It’s the oddest thing.  That’s in addition to the usual bloating and fatigue I live with whenever I consume such items.  Another discovery – I’ve been drinking lots of bone broth, and that really helps make food more tolerable.  The effect doesn’t last long-term, but it’s noticeable.  There’s less tongue-issues and bloating when I’ve had bone broth in the last 12 hours or so.

Oh let’s face it.  I’m probably completely broken.

I’m in the process of getting my testing done.  I would never have imagined stool testing to be such an…..experience.  I’ll spare you the graphic details, but let’s just say, there was slicing and dicing required.  And mixing.  Not pretty, people….not pretty at all.  But it’s done and on the back of several UPS/FedEx trucks now.  Hope to have answers in a few weeks.

Things can stop sucking now. Seriously. No, I’m serious.

Holy crap I really just want to complain right now.  I know what’s going on.  My brain is being poisoned.  I’m trying so hard to eat a low carb diet and I honestly don’t think I’ve made it through an entire day without eating a whole bunch of something wrong, out of a desperate desire to feel better.  I feel tired and irritable, depressed, angry, all that crap people feel when they try to give up living on carbohydrates. I can be FULL of wonderful things – eggs, vegetables, bone broth, whatever – and I feel like my blood sugar is low and I want to eat more.  I check my blood sugar and it’s not low.  It’s never low.

So today I made it all day.  Then ate a bunch of chocolate chips at about 7PM.  I’m on a ridiculous roller coaster.  I want to be one of those happy paleo people that never get hungry.  Forget to eat.  I was one of them once upon a time.

I miss Ray Peat.  I can’t go back right now though.  I need to clear up whatever ridiculousness is going on in my gut.  The orange juice and dairy were fueling it.

My husband told me he wants me to start taking antidepressants and antianxiety medicine.  I told him no! – I’m finally getting the testing done that I’ve wanted to do and I’ve got a practitioner to help me by designing a treatment plan based on the results!  All this time spent self-medicating because I couldn’t afford this very thing!  And now I can afford it!  I promised him that if I’m not doing significantly better by July of this year I’d revisit the topic.  At that point I won’t know what else to do.  Getting elaborate testing and working with a functional medicine practitioner are really the best ideas I have. If this doesn’t work maybe I should just give up.  Go on Metformin.  And Wellbutrin.  And Klonopin.  Give up.

I’m feeling desperate.  And depressed.  My relationships are suffering.  I feel terrible.

I got my testing stuff in the mail yesterday.  Will get this stuff back to them as soon as I can.  Probably Monday.  I need answers.

Beginnings and Endings

My time for writing has become very limited.  I apologize to anyone who has emailed me for not responding quickly.  I’m fatigued and not feeling well, and most hours of of my day are spoken for.  I work full time and then play Mommy for 4-5 hours every night.  At that point I’m usually ready for bed.  The only time I have for myself is [ok, seriously?  As I was typing this my daughter woke up, came out of her room, and climbed onto my lap.  Apparently the only time I have for myself is never!].

So we’ll have to get to the point.  No time for dilly dally.

Bye bye Ray Peat.  My high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low energy and low libido are just not that into you anymore. Thanks for the progesterone and the anti-PUFA information.  I’ll take that with me.  My body doesn’t handle all these carbohydrates well, and it’s about time I faced that.  I’m dealing with constant bloating and fatigue whenever I eat any dense source of carbohydrate now.  I can’t say that eating a Peat-inspired plan caused this, but it didn’t prevent it or fix it.  I suspect Peat is right about a lot of things, but I don’t think he addresses gut health adequately.  No carrot salad is going to clear this up (I’ve tried it).

I’ve moved on to something else. I’ve found a functional medicine practitioner to work with (or rather, she found me).  I’ve started working with Amelia Luker through Nourish Balance Thrive.  She’s an RN who studied the Kalish Method, which is apparently a respected functional medicine approach.  I’ve already had my initial consultation with Amelia and my nutrition coaching session with Julie Kelly, and testing supplies are on the way.  They routinely do the testing I’ve wanted to do for a while, but money got in the way, as well as my inexperience with interpreting results.  I have the money now, and these guys seem to be good at the second part.

So far I’ve been very impressed with the Nourish Balance Thrive team.  They’re professional and tech savvy, they seem very personable and competent in their areas of expertise, and everyone’s on time.  When they say they’ll call me at noon, they call me at noon.

Anyway, I’m back to a low-carb nutrient dense diet, avoiding everything that bothers me, which is most carbs.  In the meantime I’ll be getting tested with an Adrenal Stress Profile, an Organic Acids Urine Test (to test for nutrient deficiencies), and stool problems.  Amelia and Julie will help me develop a diet and supplement protocol based on the results.  So far I feel good low carbing again.  Blood sugar swings have lessened considerably.  I’m not constantly needing to eat.  Appetite is dropping.

I’ll report as things go on.

Unrelated but interesting.  My daughter suddenly decided she doesn’t want to drink milk anymore.  So she’s been off milk for a week.  Suddenly the constipation she’s had since she started drinking milk a year ago is gone.  Amazing.  She’s eating cheese with no problem, which suggests to me that it’s the lactose in the milk (as opposed to the casein) that’s the problem for her.  I ordered some Lactase drops in case she wants milk again.  I’m reluctant to discontinue dairy completely because a) she loves cheese, and b) it’s got lots of calcium, and I don’t think I can get her to eat enough dark leafy greens to make up for it.  So this is the plan for now.  The Peat folks always like to say try different kinds of milk till you find one that works for you – Well, we’ve tried many different kinds and never found one that didn’t constipate her.  Conventional, organic, grass fed, lactose-free, goats milk.  We don’t have access to raw milk and I’m not sure I’d give that to her anyway.  I guess it’s weird that lactose-free milk didn’t seem to make a difference.  Anyway, we never found an acceptable milk and she never developed the appropriate enzymes to deal with drinking milk (if that is, indeed, the problem).  Probably because there’s a gut issue that’s unaddressed.

I’m rambling now. Time to go be Mommy.