Let the Healing Begin

I quit my full-time job.  Friday was my last day.

As I lay in bed meditating the next morning I realized that the stress of my job had nothing to do with overwhelming responsibilities, or being busy, or the commute, or obnoxious coworkers…it was the social interaction.  It was having to talk to people all the time.  My whole life I’ve been fighting against the part of me that is quiet and doesn’t feel like talking much.  I’ve learned to look like an outgoing person when I need to – to make appropriate small talk and to be a good listener, to share just enough about myself but not too much.  I’m not a natural when it comes to unwritten social rules, so believe me when I say they took years to learn.

So now that I’m not working I can turn off the act.  I don’t have to be that person anymore – lighting up like a Christmas tree when someone walks into my office.  I should mention that I really love people.  However, my job was in Human Services.  I was constantly having to talk to people and often wade through socially uncertain waters.  But no more.

So many health conditions are related to stress.  What might happen when I’m only doing work I like and that feeds my soul and makes me proud of who I am?  I kind of can’t wait to see.  I’ll also be focusing on more meditation, more movement, more red light, more cooking and less compromising on food quality.  So I expect this to be the start of a very positive change.

Here’s something interesting.  I can eat anything now – well, I haven’t tested everything, but a whole lotta things.   The only thing is, I need to take 2 Culturelle probiotics per day.  If I take 2 a day I have no intolerances.  Isn’t that interesting?

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Diet and Career Updates

I quit the vegan thing.  For the moment.  I am not convinced yet that eating animal products is necessarily inflammatory, and I was having trouble with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, largely because I just don’t know how to do it and don’t have much time right now to learn.  It would involve learning to cook with ingredients I’m not that familiar with yet – which I don’t mind doing – but I’m lacking time.  I’m still eating mostly plants, but when I feel like having an egg or meat I eat it and don’t stress.   My blood sugar is up again, but I’m also now eating more fat so it’s hard to identify the cause.  I’m also having small amounts of dairy and don’t feel any different in comparison to my month off of it.

What DOES seem to make a difference is that I increased my Culturelle Probiotics to twice a day.  I don’t seem to be reacting to foods much at all when I do this.  Yesterday I had nightshades (potatoes, tomato sauce), meat, small amounts of dairy (cheese), wheat/gluten, and felt great all day.  And I continue to feel great today.  The only thing that I’ve really changed is that now I’m having Culturelle twice a day – I started this last week around the time I stopped vegan-ing.  So I’m leaning toward my health problems being largely driven by inflammation (with the mood swings related to brain inflammation) secondary to release of cytokines, perhaps due to high-histamine foods, which is (thankfully) modulated to some extent by Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (Culturelle).  Do I have evidence for this?  Like real evidence?  Science?  Not yet but I’m going to do some research.  Stay tuned.

I also quit my job.  Well, the main one.  I have several.  The one where I’m supposed to be there at a certain time, until a certain time and which supplies me with health insurance – that one I quit.  Well, gave notice.  And my stress level has dropped significantly.  I’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time – years.  But I’ve been afraid to leave the security of a “real job” with benefits.  We don’t have a lot of money saved, and my husband is currently unemployed, but I think staying in a job you don’t like can’t possibly be good for your health – even if it has good health insurance.  I do have some work I do from home which I’m hoping to grow, and I have other ideas for generating income from home, but this is very much a risk for me.  I’m betting on myself though.

Not Looking Good

I don’t think I’ll be able to continue eating this way.

It’s so restrictive and I’m struggling to get enough actual nutrition.  A lot of vegans rely on nightshades (potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes) and other high-histamine foods (e.g., bananas, and avocados) and they’re not too afraid of nut and seed oils.  They are also not restricting fats, as I am in order to reverse hyperglycemia (i.e. diabetes).  So I’m left with a lot of legumes that are giving me nonstop gas, dry salad leaves, and vitamin deficiencies.  I’ve started having fantasies about eating eggs, ferchrissakes.  And then there’s the wheat problem.  I think most vegans can eat carefully selected breads and tortillas – but I’m not doing well with wheat either.  When I eat it my mood takes a turn and I feel tired all day.  I stop losing weight and my hot flashes get worse.

I’d really like to get at the root of my own inflammation, but I don’t know if this is worth it.  It’s been nearly a month since I’ve eaten meat, dairy, or eggs and it’s been several days since I felt really good.  I feel like I’m relying on vitamin supplements, and my blood sugar is still too high after eating.

Maybe I’ll stay off dairy and add organ meats, seafood, and eggs back in.  I just don’t wanna anymore.

Starch Solution – Day 23

Blood sugar this morning was 102.   Weight 204.  Yesterday’s post-meal blood sugar was 225 – I had eaten a bunch of rice and corn with no fiber, fat, and not much protein, so that’s pretty much as bad as it gets, but still that’s too high.  I’m going to have to be more careful about food combinations to be sure there’s something in there blunting glucose.

I have an amazing and easy split pea soup recipe to share.  Get a 16oz bag of split peas.  Rinse them.  Throw them in the slow cooker on high for 10 hours with 8 cups of water, a Tbs of salt, some diced onions and garlic.  The end.  I use this split pea soup all the time – I’ll have it over rice or spinach, or with mushrooms – it makes everything taste better.

I’m going to get labs done at the 1 month mark to see if things are going in the right direction, so probably next Thursday.   I have really gained an appreciation for how easy it is to get your nutrition from meat and eggs.  This vegan stuff requires a whole new plan.  I’m such a whiner.

Nutrition Update

Here I am on Starch Solution, day 21, and I have some updates.

  • My blood sugar was 83 this morning.  The highest it got before this was 197, so that’s over a 110 mg/dL drop.
  • Blood pressure still a bit high, despite 2 medications.  I recall seeing on some documentary that the blood pressure gets high due to endothelial damage that interferes with nitrous oxide production, resulting in more rigid, inflexible veins.  Given that there’s tissue damage involved I would assume it’ll take longer to reverse this.  I hope it can be reversed because I’m tired of these meds.
  • It occurred to me that I’m putting myself at risk of gallstones by eating so little fat, so I bought some raw pumpkin seeds – a good source of nutrients, they say!  Ate a tablespoon of them yesterday morning and felt sick all day.  Mmmm…oxidized rancid polyunsaturated oils.  Excellent.  Threw the bag away and will not be trying that again.  Need to find a way to slightly increase fat intake – up to, say, 20g/day – without exposing myself to all the PUFA.  I guess coconut oil on vegetables or something.
  • Trying to get more potassium in the diet I bought a can of hearts of palm.  Tasted ok but my tongue swelled.  Done with those too.
  • Did I mention my fasting blood sugar was down to 83?  Weight is also down about 5 pounds.

 

Deficiencies

Here are screenshots from Cronometer detailing what I ate yesterday.  I made no effort to be perfect – this is very similar to what I’ve been eating recently.  Well actually the Toasted Cinnamon Squares were not an every-day thing…but they were really good so they might become an everyday thing.

diet1

diet2

diet3

So maybe I have a little work to do.  This probably explains my increase in canker sores.

If I add in my multivitamin and vitamin D capsule it looks like this:

nutr1

nutr2

Even with supplementation I’m lacking choline (used to get it from eggs), calcium (used to get it from dairy), chromium (don’t know where I used to get that), and potassium (have been low for a long time).

I know it’s ideal to not need supplementation, but I’m going to start with these nutrients as they seem to be the harder ones for me to get.  Fortunately Cronometer’s Oracle tells me where to find good sources of these nutrients:

Choline

chol

Uh oh…it’s all animal stuff.  Gonna have to do more research.

Calcium

cal

Hm…lots of dairy…fortified cereal and other stuff… Maybe just more spinach.

Chromium

Hm….that doesn’t seem to be an option for the Oracle.  I’m going to have to do further research on this one too.

Potassium

potass

Ok, well this gives me some ideas.  So many high-potassium foods are high in histamine (avocados, bananas) or are nightshades (tomatoes) so I’ve been having a hard time with this one.  Looks like I could be trying hearts of palm and bamboo shoots, among other things.

The Starch Solution – Day 17

A quick summary of recent events before I get to my current update.  I’ve been so pressed for time my writing has been very sporadic over the past few months.  I feel the need to fill in some of the blanks.

A year ago I managed to drop my blood sugar significantly by eating a low-fat diet.  At the time I wasn’t testing my post-prandial blood sugar though – only my fasting blood sugar.  As I look back on that now I wish I had done both because it left a window of doubt open for me as to whether a high-carb low fat diet could actually reverse the signs of Type-2 Diabetes.  Sure, my fasting blood sugars dropped into the 80s within about 6 weeks, and yes my HgA1C dropped from 6.4 to about 5.9, but there was still a SHADOW of a doubt.  How could virtually all of modern society be saying that sugar causes diabetes and I was finding that not to be true?  There was some serious cognitive dissonance going on.

My success last year was cut short by stress.  We moved to a new home –  a home that needed a lot of work – last June.  In the big picture of stressful life events this isn’t particularly high – it was a good move, after all – hopefully an improvement in life circumstances.  The details surrounding it made it stressful though, and it became all but impossible to stick with the incredibly restrictive diet I was eating at the time.  I was following Weight Watcher’s “points” system, which always left me feeling just a little hungry.  I think the life stress in addition to the stress of feeling borderline hungry was just too much.

I started eating like a “normal” person – eating grains, fat, whatever ended up in front of me at mealtime.  I didn’t go off the rails or anything – I wasn’t eating at fast food restaurants or binge eating – I just wasn’t restricting anymore.  My blood sugar and my weight crept up again until in January 2018 I was again at my high weight of 212 and my fasting blood sugars were nearing 200 mg/dL.  One day – for kicks – I tested my blood sugar in the middle of the day.  It was around 350 mg/dL.

Whoa – what the hell happened there?

I started exercising THAT DAY.  I exercised 5x a day for 2 weeks, 30 minutes each time on the treadmill with my heart rate at 70% of maximum.  My blood sugar remained unchanged, my weight wasn’t moving, and I wasn’t feeling any better.  Plus I was pressed for time, and that 45 minutes a day amounted to pretty much all of my discretionary free time each day.  I didn’t blog much during this period because I was just too busy.

I quit working out.  Sure I probably should have stuck with it but I needed that time for other things, and I wasn’t seeing ANY results.  I should have seen SOMETHING shift in 2 weeks.  At the time I was eating a diet low in both carbohydrates and fat.  It was incredibly hard to stick to and I was failing at that too.

I decided to go to a doctor.  To give up.  Go on statins, Metformin, whatever.  Sure I’d probably get Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s from the side effects, but at least the meds might help me live longer and avoid complications of diabetes for a little while.  The doc ran labs (here and here) and once I saw that BUN of 29 – a direct result (in my opinion) of my high-meat diet – I decided to make a change.  I had been sort of looking for a “sign” to tell me which direction I should commit to – low fat or low carb – and that was my sign. I was done straddling both sides of the fence.  I was afraid my blood sugar was going to skyrocket – I was still traumatized by seeing 350 on my meter – but what I was doing wasn’t working and have had repeated failures with low carb over the years.  That’s when I found Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution.

(BTW – The doctor did write me a prescription for a statin and for a pill to manage blood sugar.  I picked them up but haven’t taken them.)

Here’s my fasting blood sugar since I started the Starch Solution:

Fasting blood sugar

Well good news.  Carbohydrates don’t cause diabetes.

I’m still not sure what causes diabetes – I suspect it has to do with toxicity and/or damage caused by polyunsaturated fats – but I do know that carbohydrates themselves don’t make diabetes worse. Now – carbohydrates in the presence of fat – well, that’s a different story.  If I add fat to my diet I don’t get these results.  Ray Peat talks about the Randle Cycle, and I’ve referenced it in this blog before.  Here it is again:

The antagonism between fat and sugar that Randle described can involve the suppression of sugar oxidation when the concentration of fats in the bloodstream is increased by eating fatty food, or by releasing fats from the tissues by lipolysis, but it can also involve the suppression of fat oxidation by inhibiting the release of fatty acids from the tissues, when a sufficient amount of sugar is eaten.

Short version: Sugar and fat compete.  Choose one and go with it.

I think it’s important to add that I’m not feeding my child a low-fat diet or a particularly low sugar diet.  I mention that because I don’t necessarily think someone with a healthy metabolism has to choose – “all things in moderation” is the rule I follow with her.  BUT if you’re like me – and hundreds of millions of people are – and you have a deranged metabolism – choose one and go with it.

That being said, I found that low-carb eating caused my thyroid labs to get worse and caused my hair to fall out.  I don’t know if everyone has that experience, but I sure did.

Anyway, progress is currently being made!

What am I doing these days?  Still not exercising.  I promise to start again when I have more time.  I’m eating a low-fat high carbohydrate diet heavy on starch – lots of split pea soup, beans, rice, corn, spinach, kale, squashes, mixed stir-fry vegetables (no oil), apples.  I found I wasn’t losing much weight until I stopped eating bread and soy sauce – basically wheat products – so I’m currently on a vegan, low-fat, wheat-free, nightshade-free diet.  So no potatoes, peppers, or spicy foods.  I miss the nightshades far more than I miss meat, eggs, or fat – I love spicy food.  I just don’t feel good when I eat nightshades – I get achy and irritable, which for me means increased inflammation.  So yes, my diet is a little more limited than I’d like but over time as my systemic inflammation drops I hope to add some things back in.

I haven’t been tracking what I’m eating, but I promise I’m never hungry for long – that’s because I eat when I’m hungry.  No more walking the fine line between ok and hunger the way I did last year.  Starving = eat.  I eat at any time of day – even right before bed.  The downsides of this diet are clearly nutritional in nature.  I haven’t yet learned how to eat a diverse enough diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies and I’ve already been dealing with increased canker sores (B vitamin deficiency?) and muscle soreness, especially in my legs (potassium deficiency?).  I’ve doubled up on my multivitamin in the meantime, which makes canker sores disappear within hours.  My sleep is great.  I feel great every day.  I’ve had to stop supplementing the vitamin C and magnesium I’ve been taking for a long time because it increased stool softness too much.  Makes me realize how constipating it was to eat a lot of meat.

Till next time.  I hope to have a food/nutrition log to show you.