Recent Wins and Fails

Hm….It seems it’s been a week since I’ve written anything!

Time for an update post.  This will be disjointed and possibly rambling.  I just haven’t been struck by the literary genius lately.

  • Depression is still gone.  Yay for garlic!  If I wouldn’t have been screwing around with starches (a la the Perfect Health Diet and the Resistant Starch craze) I wouldn’t have needed it. But I did. So I did.
  • I’ve eliminated starches again…not because I have to but because I want to.  It’s time for me to get serious!  I can’t be dilly dallying around any more!  Ray Peat says starches aren’t optimal food, so I’m done with them for a while. Plus someone on the internet told me he fixed his high triglycerides by eliminating starches…and I believe everything I read on the internet.  So I’m in!
  • I’ve increased my magnesium supplementation from 200mg/day to 600mg/day in the last few days.  My blood pressure has dropped 10 points.  I’m going to keep increasing and see if it improves further.  I figure I’ll get up to 1g a day, and if things aren’t better I’ll drop back to where I am now.  Blood pressure today was 138/88.  Yesterday it was 132/76.  Crazy low for me!  I took it 3 times to make sure it was right.  By the way, I stopped taking my blood pressure medication 5 days ago.  I’m done with it.
  • Still taking niacinamide and aspirin 3 times a day.  I find it very relaxing.  My pulse dropped into the 70s from the 80s when I started that.  I attribute that to reduced stress hormones (thanks, niacinamide).
  • I’ve had some real culinary FAILS lately.  I tried making liver pate using beef liver.  So awful.  I tried making pancakes out of 1 banana and 2 eggs…cuz I saw it on the internet. It tasted like a flat hot banana.
  • A culinary WIN today.  This video:

I never liked fruit much (and perhaps this contributed to my current state of poor health).  But through sheer will and determination I’ve found a few items I can tolerate.  Watermelon is one of them.  I actually really like it.  OJ also….excellent.  Grapes can be good too.  The rest of them…ok in a smoothie, and that’s about it.

  • Another culinary WIN, learned today.  I figured out how to eat liver without gagging.  For a while there I was eating it raw.  Sounds gross, but actually much easier for me than chewing it cooked. It was the perfect way to avoid both the taste and the texture of liver. Then I learned that there are some pathogens (e. coli, for example) that can survive being frozen, so I stopped eating it raw.  The last couple of weeks I’ve just choked it down.  But today I decided to eat it with pickles.  Crunchy, strong-tasting Vlassic dill pickles.  Every bite of liver has a pickle companion.  Like this:

pickle

The pickle completely kicks the liver’s ass!  The crunch and sharp pickle taste overpowers the liver’s ick!  I’m not afraid of you anymore, Liver!

Hm….what else…I guess that’s about it.  No starches, yes fruit and honey.  Yes magnesium.  Yes pickles and liver.  I guess that about covers it.

Till next time!

My Boy’s Wicked Smart

Research I’ve done in the last 24 hours as well as a couple more emails exchanged with Dr. Peat have resulted in me completely understanding everything Peat does.  It kind of crashed over my head like a big wave today.  I want to write it all down so I don’t forget it, but my head is swimming so I’m pretty sure it would just be in bits and pieces anyway.

One thing I love about Ray Peat is that he’s just so…smart.  I mean, if his IQ was an animal it would be a whale.  If it was an international conflict, it would be the Middle East.  If it was a baby it’s mother would have had gestational diabetes.  He’s like this:

 

“My boy’s wicked smaaht.”

Anyway, what I like is how when you write to Peat, you tell him why your writing, of course, maybe give a little context.  And he’s no fool – he knows that he can’t just go ahead and give medical advice over the internet – the liability would be too great, plus he doesn’t really know much about the person on the other end, so doing so would be irresponsible.  So what does he do?  First of all, he completely ignores the question you ask, because inevitably, unless you’ve been at this a LONG TIME, you’re probably asking the wrong question.  Instead, he tells you what you need to hear.  And he’s REALLY GOOD at determining what it is you need to hear from these few sentences of context you’ve given him.  But HOW he tells you is pretty brilliant too.  He doesn’t just say, “You should really take some aspirin.”  No, he states what he knows about physiology (as it pertains to your issue) and then cites a bunch of research that tells you what he thinks you should do, without overtly saying it in so many words.  In other words you have to do your own work and draw your own conclusions, but he makes it clear what direction he thinks you should look.

Brilliant.

Anyway, what I’m looking at now is reducing cortisol.  Here’s what Ray said to me in an email today.

Free unsaturated fatty acids turn on the stress hormones, and cortisol blocks oxidation of sugar and turns it into fatty acids and triglycerides. Keeping cortisol and stress low is the main thing. Keeping a high ratio of calcium to phosphate helps to oppose the stress metabolism.

And he listed a bunch of research on high cortisol causing metabolic problems, and on the use of niacinamide for reducing triglycerides.

Ray Medina would say that my gut health – specifically reducing gut leakiness – is key for reducing cortisol.  Peat seems to be leaning toward PUFAs causing high cortisol.  In any case, mine is high, and I’m going to do everything I can to lower it.  More red light, more sugar, more sleep, better macronutrient balance at meals.

Today I ate 4 meals, and each had protein/fat/carbohydrates.  In most cases the carbs were fruit or OJ – at dinner I had some rice.  I also took niacinamide and aspirin, 100mg of each, 3 times throughout the day.  Lastly I took a couple mcg of T3 at 2 different times today.  I felt really good all day – good energy, good mood, good blood sugar control.  I even felt really happy for a while there.

This way of eating and supplementing feels right and I’m going to continue it.

Seeking Euphoria

I wrote to Ray Peat tonight.  I’ve hesitated bothering him with my health problems, but who knows – maybe he likes to be bothered.  I took a chance.

What’s been on my mind is that I felt really good earlier this year when I was eating fruit/juice/sugar throughout the day, as well as following the other Peat-recommendations. I knew what it was like to feel happy for the first time in my life…or at least since I was a little kid.  I’ve seen Peat quoted as saying,

The production of euphoria has been mentioned as a side effect, but I think euphoria is simply an indication of a good physiological state.

At the time a few months ago I didn’t think of it in those terms….I just knew that’s what happiness felt like.  No depression.  No anxiety.  No body image insecurity.  No negative self talk.  I would be driving in my car, and just be enjoying the day.  It was great.

Well, I got freaked out by my labs at the end of April, including triglycerides over 500, and cholesterol over 300, certainly related to consuming sugar.  I started looking for alternatives.  I tried the Perfect Health Diet, I’ve tried eating only protein/fat/vegetables/dairy, I’ve recently added starches back in my diet…my labs have improved and I feel fine I guess…but I still don’t have that HAPPY feeling.  So I wrote to Peat tonight to tell him about my problem with triglycerides and cholesterol, because I’m motivated to eat fruit/juice/sugar again – I think that’s what made the difference last Spring.  Thankfully, he wrote back already.  Here’s his answer:

High cholesterol compensates for low thyroid, keeping your pregnenolone, progesterone, and DHEA up. Sugar allows you to dispose of free fatty acids by turning them into triglycerides for storage. Free fatty acids activate stress hormones, which in turn cause the synthesis of fatty acids, even from the breakdown of amino acids, derived from protein by the action of cortisol. When cholesterol is that high, it’s almost always because of low thyroid activity, and stored PUFA are probably the commonest cause of that. I think free fatty acids, and their degree of unsaturation, would be the most meaningful blood lipids to test, but it’s easier to test for cholesterol and triglycerides.

Sounds like I’m an unsaturated mess.  I think what he’s saying is that I’ve probably got so much stored unsaturated fat from years of eating CRAP, and when these free fatty acids  are released they activate stress hormones, which then causes more fatty acids to be released in a vicious cycle.  Sugar stops this cycle by increasing triglycerides.  So the fact that trigs are high is a sign there’s something wrong – my body is literally swimming in PUFAs – but the trigs are high because they’re trying to protect me from them.  The happy feeling then might be the lowering of stress hormones.  Of course, thyroid function is also impaired by the sea of PUFAs inside me, which doesn’t help.

So I definitely had some intestinal dysbiosis, causing inflammation which was probably increasing cortisol…also due to a CRAP diet for so many years – I mean, how many decades did I eat pasta 328 times a week?? – and all of my stored PUFAs are also causing stress hormones to be released…that’s a lot of stress hormones.

Maybe how I feel right now – this sort of neutral, unemotional, functional-but-not-particularly-happy feeling I’ve had for the last 2 weeks – is how it feels when depression is gone but stress hormones are still high.  It’s better than depression…but I want the HAPPY back.  I guess I’m getting greedy.

I’m going to give niacinamide and aspirin another go.  Last time I tried them I got discouraged because the day I started taking them I started also having hot flashes.  Completely unrelated, I now realize.  Given what Peat says about FFAs causing my high triglycerides, it makes sense to use them.

If what Peat says is true, I’m likely to have FUBAR labs for the next 4 years or so, as long as it takes to detoxify all the stored PUFA in my body, while maintaining a low PUFA diet. I should probably stop trying to treat lab results, and just trust the process a little.  I’m not going to go crazy with sugar.  Just enough, to start…maybe I’ll try to focus on having distinct meals that are well balanced with protein/fat/carb, rather than winging it and grazing all day, chasing my blood sugar through ups and downs.  After a couple weeks of niacinamide/aspirin I may try to supplement thyroid hormone again.

Train Wreck

Fasting blood sugar this morning: 143.  Not awesome.

Weight steady for 6 days straight at exactly 207.5.

Still having hot flashes.  Is it possible it’s completely unrelated to the niacinamide/aspirin regimen I just started?  How could that be when the hot flashes started right after I started taking these supplements 3x a day?  Well, to be accurate they started 3 days after I started taking them, exactly when I increased the niacinamide to 250mg 3x/day from 100mg 3x/day.  They’re annoying now.  I can’t seem to correlate them to anything.  They happen in the middle of the night, right before eating, right after eating protein, right after eating sugar, an hour after eating sugar…If this was a stress response related to not enough sugar I think it would be prevented by eating it, right?

I’m starting to feel discouraged.

I started the niacinamide to address my ridiculously high triglyceride level.  However, various sources around the web say that niacin (NOT the non-flushing niacinamide) is more effective for this.  And apparently both niacin and niacinamide can cause higher blood sugar in diabetics (yup, got that too).  I feel like I’m completely fucked!  I mean, I’m trying to fix one thing and it’s making the other thing worse…and I’m not even sure it can possibly help the first thing, plus weird hot flashes.  WTF IS GOING ON WITH ME?

I haven’t even told you the best part yet.  For the last few months I’ve been feeling a sort of pressure under my left ribcage.  It had recently been turning into discomfort, and a little bit of pain throughout my upper torso. Research on the web suggested in might be an enlarged spleen, which can signal that other organs (like the liver) are having some kind of problem. That’s why I got labs done a couple weeks ago, including a complete blood count (CBC) – to look for elevated liver enzymes or other indicators that some organ might be struggling or fighting an infection or something.  After seeing those triglyceride numbers I was motivated to stop with the starches (again) and started eating a low fat diet – because hell, I’ve tried everything else, right?  (Well, and also because Ray Peat suggested it might be a key to lowering my blood sugar.)  Well, since I’ve been eating lower fat the pressure under my ribcage has gotten better – it’s not gone, but I’d say 75% improved, and the pain is gone.

I consulted Dr. Google again today, and it turns out high triglycerides can cause inflammation of the pancreas.  Definitely when trigs are SUPER high, like over 1000 mg/dL, but who knows – maybe when lower but still high (like me)?  Symptoms of pancreatitis: pain/pressure in upper abdomen, radiating to the back, as well as other things like nausea (which I didn’t have).  Holy crap – so now my pancreas is about to explode?  Recovery from mild pancreatitis involves a low-fat diet (maybe that’s why mine is helping?) and medication to reduce triglycerides.  Oh, and stop eating sugar and fat.

I’ve decided to get another fasting lipid panel done tomorrow, to see if I’m on the right track.  Our local health department will do it for $20, and you get the results right away….so I’ll be following up on this tomorrow.  If things are NOT even a tiny bit improved after abstaining from starches, eating lower fat, and taking niacinamide and aspirin 3x a day, I’ll be seriously reconsidering the path I’m on.  I FEEL better with a Ray Peat inspired diet, but if my labs continue to suck I’m going to have to change directions.

Here’s my diet breakdown today:

crono

Carb/Protein ratio and Calcium/phosphorus ratios were short of ideal today, and fat was a little too high.

And did I mention it really pisses me off that niacinamide raises blood sugar!?

Crap.

High Carb Low Fat – Day 8

Fasting blood sugar this morning: 117.  Nice to be below 120 again.  I’m not sure why but I have assigned 120 some sort of significance in my mind…I guess I was “prediabetic” for years and my blood sugars fluctuated between 100 and 120 – so when my fasting blood sugar is under 120 now it feels like I undid some damage.  I’m sure this is magical thinking.

Weight has been stable for the last 5 days at exactly 207.5.  I don’t know why, but since I started following the recommendations of Ray Peat my weight is exactly the same every day unless I eat starches…no ups and downs because of fluid retention.  Maybe it’s because I eat gobs of salt now and my body feels no need to retain water anymore.

Thermoregulation is still off.  Not as many hot flashes today, but still having them.  I wonder if it’s completely unrelated to niacinamide.  Maybe I’m in menopause!  All of a sudden!

Here are my macros today:

crono

Too much protein, but I just felt like eating meat today.  So I did…but it messed up my carb:protein ratio.  Fat % was good today at 21%, calcium-phosphorus ratio was shy of 1:1 by about 200mg calcium.  Overall, pretty good day.

So now, to avoid unwanted additives, I’m using bulk aspirin powder and niacinamide powder 3x a day.  I’m not sure how other people do this without feeling burdened by it…I mean, do they bring their little milligram scale to work with them and measure out their teeny tiny quantities of bulk supplements on their lunch break?  Definitely not as convenient as tablets.  Well, I came up with my own method so I only have to measure and dose once, first thing in the morning, and I can pair it with other nutritious food.  First, I get coffee brewing.  While I’m doing that I get out my little milligram scale and 3 pint-sized jars.  My coffee maker makes 24 ounces of coffee (it’s little). (Note: I make weak coffee so in my nutritional breakdown, above, I only record 12 ounces, even though I drink 24 ounces of coffee). 

Ok, so I get a bowl out.  I pour all 24 oz of coffee into the bowl, and add 3 tablespoons of honey and a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the coffee, and stir until dissolved.  Then I fill each of the jars half way with the coffee mixture. Then I measure out my aspirin and niacinamide and add them to each of the 3 jars, as well as a drop of Vitamin K2.  So now each jar contains 8oz of coffee, 1T honey, 1/6 t. salt, 100mg aspirin powder, 100mg niacinamide powder and 1mg K2.  Then I fill each jar up with skim milk.  Finally I put lids on each jar and shake them up.  Done!  Then I drink one in the morning, one at noon, and one around dinner time.  I do shake them again before drinking because the supplements don’t dissolve fully. They taste like sweet-salty coffee flavored milk.  It’s really good if you like sweet/salty combination foods.

So that’s my solution to the pain-in-the-ass bulk supplement situation!  I’m going to be bummed if it turns out I shouldn’t be pairing aspirin or niacinamide with coffee or milk for some reason.  I’d get over it though, so definitely tell me if that’s the case.

Plan of Attack

I’m very much back on track now…inspired by my last set of not-so-hot labs.

My short term goals are as follows:

Maintain a higher-carb, lower-fat diet in order to reverse my type 2 diabetes and reverse my abysmal lipid panel.  Rationale:

  • Lower fat to address high blood sugar (<20% of total calories, or in the neighborhood of 40-50g/day).  My dabbling in low-fat eating in the past month or two suggests that Ray Peat may be on to something when he talks about the Randle Cycle.  He says glucose oxidation is impaired by a high fat diet and/or fatty acids in the blood stream.
  • Higher carb in order to reduce stress hormones (namely, cortisol) (>250g carbohydrate) – Nearly all in the form of simple sugars – no starches, as those make me depressed, with the goal of eating at least a 2:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio.
  • High calcium intake (nonfat dairy, most likely), low phosphate intake (less meat).  I’m going to shoot for a 1:1 calcium:phosphate ratio.
  • I’m not going to make any effort to restrict calories.  That’s stressful and no fun.

Change my supplement routine to include the following:

  • Aspirin 100mg 3x/day
  • Niacinamide 100mg 3x/day
  • Vitamin K2 1mg 3x/day
  • Cynoplus (T3/T4 combo) increased from 1/4 tab daily to 1/4 tab 2x a day.  I may increase further in a few weeks, but that’s it for now.

The aspirin reduces inflammation.  Niacinamide inhibits the release of free fatty acids into the blood, and vitamin k2 ensures that blood clots normally despite the aspirin, and that calcium goes into the bones rather than the soft tissues.  Cynomel provides thyroid hormone that I don’t seem to be making enough of (evidence: total cholesterol of almost 300).  I’ll continue to take Vit D (5000 IU), Vitamin A (2500 IU), and Magnesium Glycinate.

Knowing that I have a tendency toward poor planning and then eating whatever’s available, I’m going to create some accountability for myself with this blog.  I’m going to post a screenshot of what I enter into Cronometer every day.  Here’s today:

Crono1

This will make it difficult for me to rationalize eating things that don’t support my goals.  Also it’ll force me to take a critical look at what I’m eating each day so I can learn from it and do better.  Today, still too much meat…instead of chicken breast I should have had more dairy or something with gelatin in it.  At the time I just wanted to stop feeling hungry – a big dose of meat does that well.  Time to learn new strategies.

Macro % today:

  • Protein: 30.9%
  • Carbs: 50.4%
  • Fat: 18.6%

More to report tomorrow.