My sleep sucks a few times a week. This is one of those nights.
I’ve been reading quite a bit about adrenal fatigue, and I’m starting to think that chronic stress – physiological, emotional, dietary – has gotten me to where I am now, in the throes of metabolic syndrome, no libido, tired. My cortisol testing over the past few years confirm this. My body shape – excess belly fat, skinny legs – also confirms this. I’m glad I learned all I did about my gut situation – it has taught me what I need to do to avoid falling into a pit of despair. However, nothing I’m doing is going to help until I get my adrenal situation under control.
I’ve learned throughout the last several years of experimentation that carbohydrates actually do lower stress hormones, as Ray Peat says. If you feel terrible when you eat carbs, chances are there are stress hormones covering up a problem that needs to be addressed. Low carb eating – over my adult life in general, but over the past year in particular – has caused additional stress on my body. I’m not sure if people vary in this way, of if they’re just not burned out yet. When I was in my 20s and 30s I could get away with low-carbing and multitasking and I still looked great. Are there old low-carbers who still have a lot of energy? How many years of calling on your adrenal glands for energy does it take before your blood sugar will no longer stabilize and you can’t go more than 2-3 hours without eating after a normal meal?
I’ve decided to phase out the hormones I’ve been supplementing. A little research (here’s an example) indicates that licorice root, which I’ve been taking since February, isn’t great to take if you have high blood pressure and shouldn’t be taken long term. My blood pressure has been not well controlled lately – averaging in the 140s over 90s, despite still taking 2 medications to treat it. DHEA, which I’ve also been taking for 10 months, can cause hair loss. I’m less concerned about this one because I’m taking a pretty low dose. The bottom line is I’m not having the effects I want from these things so it’s time to get off of them. Ray Peat says pregnenolone is safe, even in high doses and even long term. I’m inclined to believe him so that will be the last to go.
I recently read Alan Christianson’s book The Adrenal Reset Diet, after hearing him on a podcast. He recommends eating carbohydrates – specifically low-glycemic starches like beans and brown rice – in increasing quantities throughout the day, as well as using specific supplements, saying no/avoiding stress, and avoiding food intolerances in order to heal adrenal dysfunction. I like the theory behind it and I’m taking steps to implement his suggestions. He and Ray Peat are the only ones I’ve heard talk about how low-carb diets are stressful to the body, and of course this matches up with my own experience.
So my immediate priority – for now – is determining which supplements I can get rid of, avoiding stress, and learning to eat in a way that gives my body a break. For me that will mean avoiding the things my food intolerance test said were problems (basically eggs and dairy), accepting no additional projects or assignments at work (which I tend to do to keep things interesting), and eating some starchy carbohydrates at every meal. I’ll start doing yoga again too.