Friends In Health

I changed the name and url of the blog to Friends In Health.  The old link/url will still work for a while.  “Against the Grain” and “” were both based on low-carb ideology, and I don’t think I’ll ever be low-carb again, knowing what I know now. Also, I wouldn’t be where I am now – with a generally positive mood and a fasting blood sugar of 86 without the help of others on the same journey.  If you’ve commented on this blog or shared yourself in an effort to help others in a health-oriented Facebook group or forum, I’m talking about you.  Thank you.

In my last post I mentioned that I now love appreciate my hot flashes because I’ve realized they’re the canary in the coal mine, letting me know when something is biologically amiss.  At first I thought they pointed just to histamine release triggered by diet, but I realized yesterday that it’s much more than that.  In fact, now that I’m paying attention to it, I realize that hot flashes are – for me – a signal of stress.  Could be emotional stress, dietary stress, GI system stress.  All of these cause a stress response in the body, which then causes a hot flash for me.

A comment yesterday got me thinking about this – Trebbie said the following in response to my post about eating watermelon:

When I eat watermelon without protein it lowers my blood sugar very fast. I then get a reaction that is like a hot flash. It is actually a histamine response to low blood sugar.

That could very well be why I had hot flashes after eating watermelon.  The hot flashes didn’t come about right away, but rather after about 45 minutes or so – about the amount of time it would take for my blood sugar to rise and fall after eating fruit with no protein or fat to slow the absorption of the sugar.

Another theory from N2P about the watermelon-induced hot flashes:

The watermelon rind has [Nitric Oxide]….
NO can cause hot flashes on its own. Cortisol is another one. I guess they feel different.

One way to test would be to have watermelon with protein and fat rather than alone.  Maybe I’ll do that today.

Then last night the family went out for Chinese food.  I tried to stick to something healthy and ordered steamed broccoli and chicken.  When the dish was served the broccoli was basically still raw – steamed just enough to warm it up a little.  I ate about a cup of it anyway and felt pretty bad the rest of the night.  I’ve had that response before after eating too many raw fiberous vegetables, so I’m pretty sure that was the problem.  The point of all this though is that while I was in the midst of the gut pain I was having almost non-stop hot flashes.  The ambient temperature was 73 degrees F – cool by my normal standards, and no one else thought it was hot – but I was sweating and uncomfortable for about 2 hours.  A massive hot flash!  While my gut was stressed!  I was laying there holding my abdomen and thinking, “I’m really appreciating this insight about stress and all…now please make it stop!”

I’m not sure the biochemistry behind all this, but it seems to involves Mast Cells – white blood cells that carry histamine and other inflammatory compounds as part of the immune system.  Mast cell degranulation (breaking open) is complicated and it seems different stimuli can result in different substances being released.  It’s something I’ll probably need to spend some time studying in order to speak intelligently about it.  What I have learned is that for me, hot flashes are an indication of bodily stress.  I also know that I have some control over this.  Eating easily digestible foods, combining foods to avoid sudden blood sugar drops, and managing psychological stress are all strategies that seem to work.

(Ray Peat – right again!)


10 thoughts on “Friends In Health


    Histamine, serotonin and estrogen have all ganged up on me in the past. I don’t always understand which one comes first, but an excess of one can definitely trigger a cascade of the others. RP is right about that for sure.

    Raw or undercooked broccoli (and cauliflower) are some of the worst for triggering gut pain, bloating and wicked LPS poisoning in me, via gut irritation. Baby bok choy and lectins from black beans, which I love dearly, will do it too. Dammit.

    While I have made tremendous progress (I can now eat tiny baby creamer potatoes), it has taken a long time to figure out how all of the variables are related. Lectins do seem to be key.

    I began experimenting with probiotics and like you I found some single strains to be quite helpful…

    Many say autoimmune conditions begin in the gut. Personally, I have a burned out thyroid from decades of undiagnosed Hashimoto’s and I have a very long history of gut issues.

    Do you feel perhaps some part of your LS is related to gut flora imbalance (or lectin sensitivity), triggering an immune response?

    You’ve made WONDERFUL PROGRESS Lanie!!!

    And you ought to be very very proud of yourself, big hugs all around….xoxo.

  2. Meme – Hm…lectins, you say. I did have a bad experience with black beans a few weeks ago. Decided to try to cut back on meat so ate black beans and rice a couple times in one day. Felt bad, bloated, and weight was up 2 pounds the next day. I wasn’t sure what went wrong, because I’ve had other kinds of beans without a problem. This shit is too complicated!!!

    Thanks for the kind words – Thank goodness for progress. I’m not sure at this pint about LS being related to gut flora imbalance, lectin sensitivity, or some 3rd issue I don’t know about. I think my gut is better but not all better – still some anxiety, which feels biological.

    Meme, wasn’t it you who went on a low fat diet/higher carb diet and found your blood sugar to improve and stay improved? Has it stayed improved since then?

  3. I went on a low carb (eventually ketogenic) diet for close to three years. Initially I lost a TON of weight (nearly 80 pounds) and all of my shitty health markers drastically improved. I truly believed a high fat diet was the panacea for all mankind…until it stopped working. No matter how much I restricted I could not control my blood sugar. I ended up fully diabetic despite eating NO grains, NO sugar of any kind, NO potatoes, NO legumes etc. NONE at all and I was gaining weight while having insanely debilitating gut issues.

    I was forced to change things up, so yes, I did the complete opposite. A high carb VERY low fat diet, cycled for several weeks at a time (with short breaks) over the course of 6 months. That was back in 2014 and yes all of my improvements have remained. I’m no longer diabetic and I can eat carbohydrates with no issues. I’ve upped my fat intake since the diet of 2014, but I eat no where near the level of fat I was eating in 2011-2013.

    I keeps close tabs on my PUFA intake. I track everything on Cron-O because I’m terrible at guessing and I like to know how much nutrients I’m getting. I believe getting enough key minerals/vitamins/fiber is crucial, especially given my history of poor digestion. My theory is I am weight/blood sugar stable with NO cravings because I make certain that ALL of my nutrients are covered and I continue to avoid foods that are poisonous to me (wheat, commercial cow dairy/beef and legumes).

    I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all diet, so food sensitivity is unique to each person and probably has a lot to do with individual gut flora and genetic predisposition. I just got my 23andme DNA testing done and ran it through Joe Cohen’s SelfDecode, FASCINATING STUFF!!!

    Have you tried this stuff? I think I might experiment….

  4. No, I haven’t tried the new panacea, but it looks good! How about you try it and let me know. I pretty much follow in your footsteps as a rule, anyway. I really need to use Crono every day. I get so damn lazy when it comes to that. I could say I’m too busy, but really…not. What do your macros look like these days?

  5. I first used Cron-O back in 2014 to measure every single thing I did. Since I was embarking on a totally new way of eating and I was such complete carb-o-phobe I really needed to “see” what the hell was going on with me every step of the way. My brain function was so poor that I couldn’t remember if I had taken supps or my thyroid meds or even how much protein I’d eaten. I used the free version for my 2014 experiment and I really enjoyed the much-needed feedback. It helped me to get a clue.

    Later I invested in the paid membership gold version so I could see more details, the lack of distracting advertising was a welcome bonus. I have entered so many foods, recipes and supplements over the years that it has become much less cumbersome. I’m on auto-pilot now.

    TRUE CONFESSION: Recently I went on a road trip that lasted from November to the beginning of April and I had let my Cron-O membership expire. I tracked absolutely nothing during that 5 month trip. It was a good test to see how I manage on my own. I had my kitchen with me because I was traveling in an RV, but I did end up eating in restaurants more than usual and I prolly drank more booze too since it was over the holidays and far too many bags of Jackson’s Honest Purple Heirloom potato chips….cuz hell, no one is tracking.

    By the time I got home my clothes were uncomfortably tight and I felt less than ideal, I had definitely gained some fat. But since I wasn’t tracking anything on my trip, I don’t really know precisely where I failed. Too many calories in general, I guess…and a whole lotta sitting on driving days didn’t help either.

    Because I have a decades long personal history with morbid obesity and I still don’t seem to have a clue when it comes to eating a balanced diet on my Ownsome, I’ve since purchased a lifetime membership to Cron-O and will use it as necessary (read forever). I also downloaded the app to my phone which makes recording food intake a piece of cake (NO, not cake, I don’t eat cake).

    Over the last 8-10 weeks I’ve taken the pounds back off and am back to my normal weight. However, this little five month foray made it very clear which direction I naturally head when left to my own devices. When not tracking I have tendency to UNDER eat for fear of eating too much and then I get too hungry and overcompensate, wind up eating too much at the end of the day or in bed at night. Not a good pattern.

    Even though it definitely seems obsessive, Cron-O helps keep me sane and grounded in reality when it comes to food/fiber/vits/mins/activity/calories. In the end, it’s actually less of pain in the ass for me because it removes the crazy-making guesswork of whether I had enough protein, carbs or fat, the worry of did I eat enough or too much and the fretting over the details of micronutrients.

    And here is where I’d like to place a screenshot from my Nutrition Report during the last 8 weeks of eating to show my macros, but alas, it isn’t working….so I’ll type them:
    Apr 25, 2017 to Jun 19, 2017


    Not low fat, not low carb and not super low calorie, just right for fat loss….(at least for me) cuz the extra weight that I packed on during my trip came off effortlessly with NO hunger, NO cravings.

    I guess I like SEEING what works (or what doesn’t)….Cron-O and a food scale remove my self delusion.

    You’re younger than me and not nearly as mental, so your mileage will certainly vary.

  6. Ohmygod I’m convinced. I’m gonna Cron-O every day. I know that seems like a big committment to make but I do the exact same thing as you – I undereat for fear of overeating and then overeat to compensate cuz I’m starving! And by the way, I’m every bit as mental. Thanks for sharing. ❤

  7. I did it. I upgraded to Gold Cron-O. It’s so pretty now! And those mineral balance things are so cool! I’m surprised they don’t advertise those more. I would have upgraded sooner.

  8. YAY! Can you get the app on your phone too? Every tool helps and it definitely gets less cumbersome over time, especially as you add customized foods, supplements and recipes.

    I personally aim for at least 30 grams of protein per meal, that’s a minimum or else I’ll get too hungry too soon. Fill in with lotsa veggies and some healthy fat for more satiation and steady blood sugar regulation. I visualize a thumb sized amount if out eating in public and weigh everything meticulously on a scale when at home. Fresh fruit for dessert….or dark chocolate (cuz magnesium and anti-oxidants), but I don’t eat it every single day.

    I got a fitbit one month ago because I had a feeling that my sleep was not great. I wear this thing at night and it tells me how many hours of sleep (light,deep and REM) I’m getting. It also counts my steps and gives me credit for activity, all synced up with Cron-O….all pertinent info is in one place at a glance. You can keep track of blood glucose, weight, blood pressure and EVERYTHING on Cron-O, even mood.

    Slow and Steady wins for a lifetime….xoxo

  9. Cool that fitbit syncs with Cron-O. Yes, I’m learning that little changes over time add up to big changes. That’s been revolutionary for me. I always thought if I couldn’t commit to some massive change I shouldn’t bother to do anything. But in the last few months – little changes over time is my focus. Thanks for all the tips! I realize I’ve gotten really sloppy and then I’m wondering why I don’t feel as good and why my weight loss stalled!

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