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.

Results and Changes

Had a lipid panel done today, about 2 weeks after my last one.  Over the past week I did the following:

  • Aimed for a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio.  I found this difficult because I don’t particularly like sweet food, so I fell short some days.
  • Aimed for a 1:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, because Ray Peat says.
  • Ate no starchy foods, getting all of my carbohydrates from sugar (fruit, honey, juice, and white sugar)
  • Maintained a lower-fat diet (averaged 59g fat/day or about 24% of total calories, on average).
  • Took niacinamide and aspirin 3x a day
  • Doubled thyroid supplement (Cynoplus, a combination T3/T4) from a very small dose -1/4 tablet (7.5mcg T3 / 30mcg T4) to two 1/4 tablets per day.

The results of today’s lipid panel:

  • Total Cholesterol: 316 (first time ever above 300).  Shouldn’t increased thyroid supplement decrease cholesterol?
  • Triglycerides: 495 (a 3% improvement. I’m not impressed.)
  • HDL Cholesterol: 30 (lowest ever)
  • LDL Cholesterol: Couldn’t be computed because Trigs were so high (this was the case last time too).

So, not great.

Here’s a handy chart showing my lipid panels over the last 2 years, along with brief notes about my diet during that time:

lipid panels

So you don’t have to turn your monitor on it’s side, here are the notes that correspond with the different testing dates:

3/27/2012 – Low Carb/Leptin Reset

11/14/2012 – Low Carb + Stress (Moved to a new state, started a new and very stressful job, was doing the Wiley Protocol and supplementing estrogen + progesterone).

6/19/2013 – Low Carb, without following any particular plan.  When I ate carbs they were in the form of starches from potatoes and rice, some vegetables, no fruit.

12/30/13 – Ray Peat, low sugar – around a 1:2 carb:protein ratio.  I was fiddling around with eating fruit, juice, and sugar but I was scared by the effect it was having on my blood sugar.  It was about this time I realized I was diabetic and was afraid of eating more carbohydrates.

4/19/14 – Ray Peat, high sugar – 2:1 carb:protein ratio – I decided to jump in with both feet and start eating more carbohydrates. When this test was done I was eating high fat (90-120g/day), high sugar (over 200g/day, some of which were starches), moderate protein (about 110-120g/day).  Pressure under my left ribcage was making me concerned that something might be wrong.

5/2/14 – Ray Peat – high sugar (2:1 carb:protein), low fat (around 25% of calories), taking niacinamide/aspirin/increased thyroid to address scary lab results.

According to this, my body (well, at least my lipid panel) responds best to a low carbohydrate diet, with minimized environmental stress.  I can tell you I didn’t feel great eating low carb after a while – I felt tired all the time, irritable.  But maybe that was because I wasn’t getting enough nutrition – I wasn’t tracking my food back then – vitamins/minerals were pretty much off the radar for me. I wasn’t eating liver or taking progesterone then.

Of course, other things were worse then.  My BUN/Creatinine ratio for example, got worse the longer I was on low carb, and improved since then.

BUN

Maybe eating too much meat is stressful on the kidneys after all?

Let’s look at thyroid:

thyroid

Seems sort of unrelated to sugar intake, actually, and more related to environmental stress. When I had the labs drawn in 12/2013 I was experimenting with resistant starch.  I think that was stressful on my body – I know it was stressful on my emotional state. So that may account for the increase in TSH last December.  I know TSH isn’t the ideal measure for thyroid function, according to many people…but Peat seems to think it’s a decent gross measure, so good enough.

And of great importance to me is my blood sugar.  Let’s see the data:

blood sugar

This is a crazy graph, right?  There was definitely an increase in fasting blood sugar when I started following Peat and adding carbohydrates to my diet, but that’s to be expected.  Anyone can have “well managed diabetes” with a low carb diet.  I wanted to actually FIX my diabetes, so I was experimenting with adding carbs back in to see what it would take to do that.  From the graph it looks like the best things I did for my blood sugar were bicycle for 30 minutes a day and eat a low-fat diet.

Holy crap!  Just like my conventional doctor told me!  Exercise and eat a low fat diet!

hahaha

It does seem my current supplements are confounding things.  The graph shows that eating a low-fat high sugar diet results in lower fasting blood sugar…but not if I add niacinamide, aspirin, and increase thyroid.  Hm…interesting.  If I was a patient person, and if I really loved sweet food, I’d probably just eliminate the supplements I’m taking and go back to high-sugar/low fat for a while to see if that trend continues.

I’m neither patient nor in love with sugar.

And considering that I’m STILL having hot flashes – even while sitting right here, right now, I’m going to stop taking niacinamide, aspirin, and thyroid.  One of them is bothering me.  Later on I may try to add them in one at a time and see what I can tolerate.

So to sum up: It looks like the best thing for my lipids is low-carb.  The best thing for my BUN/Creatinine is low meat.  The best thing for my thyroid is low-stress.  The best thing for my blood sugar is low fat and bicycling 30min a day on flat terrain.  The best thing for my enjoyment of life – to not have to eat so much sugar.  I really don’t look forward to it.

So what kind of diet is low-carb, low-meat, low-fat, and lower-sugar?  Maybe one with dairy (mostly low-fat), some lean meat, lots of vegetables, some fruit (when I feel like it).  Plus avoid stress and get exercise.

I still love Ray Peat – he gave me progesterone, Vitamin E, red lights, liver, vitamin K, dairy, raw carrots, and taught me that estrogen, PUFAs and serotonin are bad guys.  I’m continuing on with much of what he has to say.  Just less sugar.  More vegetables.  More exercise.

I might as well retire the blog.  I have nothing original to say anymore.

So there it is.  That’s my new plan.

Updated Labs and Gut Health

I didn’t get everything tested – just the basics, which is what I could afford right now.  Here they are, with the current results in RED.

3/27/2012 11/14/2012 9/6/2013 12/30/2013
Units Ref
Glucose 98 98 117 114 mg/dL 65-99
Hb A1C 6.4 <7.0
Uric Acid 5.9 5.2 5.4 5.4 mg/dL 2.5-7.1
BUN 19 25 18 18 mg/dL HIGH 6-24
Creatinine 0.69 0.73 0.57 0.6 mg/dL .57-1.00
eGFR 108 101 113 111 mg/dL >59
BUN/Creat Ratio 28 34 32 30 HIGH 9-23
Sodium 138 139 139 138 mmol/L 134-144
Potassium 3.8 3.8 4.5 4.1 mmol/L 3.5-5.2
Chloride 1.3 104 103 104 mmol/L 97-108
Calcium 9.3 9.2 9.4 9.2 mg/dL 8.7-10.2
CO2, Total 28 20 mmol/L 19-28
Phosphorus 3.6 4.1 4.0 3.4 mg/dL 2.5-4.5
Protein, Total 6.8 6.9 7.2 7.1 g/dL 6.0-8.5
Albumin 4.3 4.4 4.4 4.1 g/dL 3.5-5.5
Globulin, Total 2.5 2.5 2.8 3.0 g/dL 1.5-4.5
A/G Ratio 1.7 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.1-2.5
Bilirubin, Total 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 mg/dL 0.0-1.2
Alkaline Phosphatase, S 63 64 70 62 IU/L 25-150
LDH 142 137 137 143 IU/L 0-214
AST (SGOT) 20 14 12 15 IU/L 0-40
ALT (SGPT) 25 17 18 20 IU/L 0-32
GGT 14 14 27 20 IU/L 0-60
Iron 66 81 116 88 ug/dL 35-155
WBC 8.7 x10E3/uL 3.4-10.8
RBC 4.36 X10E6/uL 3.77-5.28
LIPIDS
Cholesterol, Total 222 297 270 274 mg/dL HIGH 100-199
Triglycerides 107 203 288 312 mg/dL HIGH 0-149
HDL Cholesterol 54 56 43 46 mg/dL >39
VLDL Cholesterol 41 58 mg/dL HIGH 5-40
LDL Cholesterol 147 200 169 166 mg/dL HIGH 0-99
T. Chol/HDL Ratio 4.1 5.3 6.3 6.0 HIGH 0.0-4.4
Estimated CHD Risk (Tot. Chol/HDL) 1.4 1.8 HIGH 0.0-1.0
OTHER
Vitamin D 34.2 67 (on 11/11/13) ng/mL 32-100
Insulin, Fasting 27.9 uIU/mL HIGH 2.6-24.9
hs-CRP 8.65 8.12 13.58 mg/L HIGH 0.00-3.00
THYROID 3/27/2012 11/14/2012 6/19/2013 12/30/2013 Units Ref.
TSH 1.7 4.01 1.55 2.92 uIU/mL 0.450-4.500
Thyroxine (T4) 4.1 8.9 7.4 6.9 ug/dL 4.5-12.0
T3 Uptake 32 25 27 24 % 24-39
Free Thyroxine Index 2.5 2.2 2.0 1.7 1.2-4.9
T4, Free (Direct) 1.04 0.97 ng/dL 0.82-1.77
Reverse T3 20.9 10.2 ng/dL 9.2-24.1
Triiodothyronine (T3) 126 120 ng/dL 71-180
Thyroid Peroxidase TPO Ab 10 8 IU/mL 0-34
Antithyroglobulin Ab <20 <20 IU/mL 0-40
Free T3 2.9 2.8 pg/mL 2.0-4.4

The first two columns (3/27/12 and 11/14/12) are when I was eating low carb with about 5% of my diet being carbohydrates for the first, and 10-15% for the second.  The third column (9/6/13) I was floundering around, trying on various diets/lifestyles.  At that time, about 20% of my diet was carbohydrate.  In November I started paying attention to Ray Peat and I increased my carbohydrate consumption to 40-50%, most in the form of simple sugars/fruit.  My blood sugars started soaring though, so a few weeks later I switched from simple sugars to starches and cut the quantity down to about 30%, while increasing protein.

So how am I doing?

Blood sugar – fasting glucose is high (but not over 126), HbA1C is not ideal, but is not in the diabetic range, and fasting insulin is high.  These factors suggest to me that I am more likely VERY insulin resistant, but not necessarily diabetic yet.  The fact that my body is still pumping out that much insulin is a good thing.  My pancreas isn’t dead yet.  I’m certainly very close to type 2 diabetes, if I’m not there yet…and I know I need to take this very seriously.

Thyroid – I was hoping eating carbs would help thyroid function.  However, if TSH is a reliable marker (and Ray Peat says it is) it looks like I did best with some carbs but not many.  Of course my triglycerides were happiest with none, but you can’t please everyone.

Lipids – OMG, I’m so about to die of a heart attack.  Triglycerides absolutely not going in the right direction…HDL was highest on low carb, LDL a bit better now than it was last winter but still not good.  I have been taking very small doses of T3 every day (6mcg), but that clearly isn’t enough to have an impact on cholesterol.  Will have to increase it.

Other – That CO2 number is terrible.  What happened there?

My ability to interpret labs is limited – please feel free to add your interpretation in the comments.

And in other news, I’ve decided my gut is completely torn up from 2 rounds of antibiotics this year, and that’s why I’m having trouble tolerating the potato starch.  I’ve decided I’m going to mix it with all kinds of junk and make it into BIONIC FIBER.  (<– Imagine I said really loud with an echo.)   I’m on day 3 of probiotics.  I’m going to fix my gut biome, dammit!  But most importantly, I have baseline data for my Resistant Starch Experiment.

A Plant-Based Diet

About 6 days ago I wasn’t feeling so hot – physically or emotionally.  I was still frustrated by my most recent set of labs, in which I discovered a crazy-high hs-CRP, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol….basically everything has been going in the wrong direction for a really long time.  High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high BUN/Creatinine ratio… It’s all been a bit troubling.

For almost the last 2 years, I’ve been eating a lower-carb diet…sometimes very low.  I’ve been eating some form of meat or fish at least twice a day.  I’ve been off and on with dairy but I eat eggs almost every day.  The Paleo community says these are some of the staples of healthy living – meat, eggs, fat.  Many even advocate for a Ketogenic diet.  I did feel better when I started eating low-carb.  Not so sleepy.  More energy – not a ton, but more.

I got to thinking…If my labs have been going in the wrong direction, maybe it’s time to make a major change.  Try something else.  Something completely different.  Maybe the opposite of what I’ve been doing.

Last week I watched Forks Over Knives.  Usually movies promoting a plant-based diet are very emotional and difficult to watch, and involve footage of cows and chickens being tortured by the agriculture industry.  This one had none of that. It made a good and scientific case for giving up animal products for the benefit of your health.  It was very convincing.

Long story short…I am currently 5 days into a plant-based diet.  No meat of any kind, no dairy, no eggs.  I’m not calling it a “vegan” diet because this isn’t about veganism, per se, which has political undertones. It’s a 100% plant-based diet.  I’m giving myself 1 week to experiment with recipes and learn how to do this – and during this past week I’ve had some processed plant-based foods. Beginning Wednesday and for the next 4-5 weeks, it will be as close as I can possibly get to a whole-food plant based diet (food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives/preservatives or other artificial substances).  I’m also remaining gluten-free, which won’t be hard if I’m avoiding processed food.  Essentially, this is a high-carb, moderate-fat diet.  Lots of starches, fruits, and vegetables. Not much soy. Some folks with an M.D. after their name recommend a low-fat plant-based diet for health.  I’m not doing that.  My diet will continue to include coconut oil and olive oil.

At the end of the 4-5 weeks I’m going to get labs done – probably just a lipid panel to start, along with hs-CRP, to see if things are going in the right direction.  Depending on how that turns out I may do more labs. If things doesn’t improve I’ll know the meat isn’t to blame, and I’ll consider targeting something else.

Time for bed.  Sleeping well again since discontinuing the T3.  Updates tomorrow.

T3 – Day 10

I don’t feel good taking T3.  I’m debating whether or not to continue.

I haven’t been sleeping well – last night I was up from 2AM – 5:30AM.  I feel depressed and irritable…and not just because I’m tired.  I’ve been tired before and I don’t always feel like this.  I feel like nothing can make me smile.  I feel bad for the people living with me.

My motivation for everything is absent.  I don’t have the energy to care.

I know it takes time to adjust, but I can’t feel like this for weeks or months.

I’m considering a REALLY big-picture change.  But before I get into that, let’s look at the evidence.  A month into starting this blog, I wrote down the physical ailments that I was interested in fixing.  They are as follows, with current updates in Bold.

  1. High fasting and post-prandial blood sugar (the post-prandial is only high when I eat carbs.  On my current diet only the fasting is high). Still a problem.  Back then, my FBG was in the range of 115-120.  Now?  Same.
  2. Allergies (seasonal and pets)I don’t have so many problems with allergies but I think that’s because I no longer have cats.  They didn’t make the trip back from California.  I tolerated those allergies for 15 years.
  3. Plantar fasciitis (pain in the soles of my feet when I first get out of bed or first stand after sitting for a while) – This is much better but I think it’s the lack of exercise and the switch to high-quality shoes over the last year.
  4. Excess body fat.  My current BMI is 31.9.  That puts me in the “obese” category.  I have always thought the BMI scale was full of shit, but it’s certainly true that I’m overweight.  My BMI is now around 34.8.  Worse, obviously.
  5. PMS, including some pretty severe mood swings. – My period has gotten VERY inconsistent.  My last cycle was over 10 weeks long, meaning I missed a period or two.  I suppose there are various reasons for this, but my hormones were all very low before starting BHRT last summer.  Now that I’ve quit the BHRT I guess they’ve returned to their low, peri-menopausal level.  My moods have been ok in spite of this.  I’m not sure why.  At some point I’ll test again.
  6. Low sex drive. – Still.  Worse, actually.
  7. High total cholesterol Not better.  A bit worse.
  8. Fatigue My fatigue is largely gone.  I think my adrenals healed since I’ve been able to go to part time work over the last 6 months.  I don’t attribute this improvement to diet.  The improvement correlated with rest and reduction of emotional stress.  And maybe the reduction of exposure to allergens.
  9. AcneStill, but less frequently.  Correlates with my less-frequent periods.

So…almost 2 years on a moderate-high protein, high fat, animal-based diet has not helped much.  Lifestyle changes (specifically stress removal) have helped.

New ailments to target:

  1. High Blood Pressure – This started about 9 months ago, and correlates with my 10% weight gain last year.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen or what I’m going to do.  I’ll keep you apprised.

Ups and Downs – Updated

Feeling a little discouraged today.  Could it be moodiness related to quitting the DIM two days ago?  Perhaps.  Cuz I didn’t feel so hot emotionally yesterday either.  Started taking it again today.  Even if it is responsible for a few minor headaches (of which I’m not really convinced), if it helps me handle CT detox issues, it’s worth it.  I think it’s time for a good/bad segment.  It feels like it might be mostly bad today, so lets start with that.

The Bad

  • Yesterday’s CT wasn’t fun.  It was 35 minutes at 49 deg F.  Nothing I haven’t done before but it just felt cold and not much fun.  I don’t know why – I was well-rested and had eaten a decent dinner an hour before.  Oh well…maybe there’s no obvious reason I’m less cold-tolerant some days. I’ve been trying to stay in 40 minutes now, and didn’t want to stay in past 35.  Hopefully today will be better.
  • WordPress has been acting up on Firefox:  I tried to blog earlier and it wouldn’t let me type anything into my post.  Gave up twice.  Finally switched to Chrome.  Thank you for being cooperative, Chrome.
  • Had labs done today.  Our local hospital does monthly cholesterol screenings, including a fasting blood glucose check, all for $30.  Not a bad deal, and no silly statin-happy doctor involved. So David and I went to have ours checked.  He’s been following a Paleo diet but not the Leptin Rx or CT.  I’ve been doing the Leptin Rx + CT.  His labs improved.  Mine got worse.  I know it was prolly dumb for me to test now, considering I’m still experiencing detox symptoms related to CT.  I thought since my blood sugar has been improved lately, maybe other things have too.  Well, no.  So I was hoping for a psychological boost and didn’t get one.  The worst part is this: I tested my fasting blood sugar before I left home and it was 92.  Then at the lab, 45 minutes later, it was 105.  Huh?  So now I’m wondering if my glucometer or test strips are unreliable.  I may have to get another one to do a reliability check.  In any case, Labs…bad.  Plus I had to delay my BAB which didn’t make me happy.  My body has become very accustomed to eating right away upon waking.

So specifics…Here are the sad numbers:

3/14/12 3/28/12 6/12/2012
Cholesterol, Total 238 222 250
Triglycerides 112 107 131
LDL Cholesterol 165 147 180
HDL Cholesterol 52 54 44
So my HDL dropped 10 points?  Can detox do that?  I sort of expected the LDL to rise…but the Triglycerides?  I ate some carbs 2 or 3 weeks ago…but other than that, nothing but veggies, meat, fat, and some nuts…and a little dark chocolate here and there.  How did my HDL drop?  Is it because I’m not eating as much coconut oil as I was for a while there?

Anyway…

The Good

  • David is watching the little one right now, which means I can go take a CB.  Bye for now.

Update: CB tonight at 49 deg F for 35 minutes.  Easier getting in and most of the time felt pretty good.  Still didn’t feel like staying in past 35 minutes though, and it took me a long time to warm up.  Oh well.  Keep plugging away.  Some days make up for the other days.

Goals

CB #20 yesterday – 61 deg F to start, 63 at the end of 30 minutes.  I do really like when it’s colder than that…but it was still nice.  I really crave these now.  After the bath and putting the baby to bed I went to bed myself and slept for 9 hours.  It was delightful.

I’ve decided to create a list of health goals and post them in my sidebar.  Maybe I’ll have some time to do that today.

I also want to review my list of ailments that I posted about a couple months ago and see there’s been any subjective progress on them.  Here’s the list, with current updates:

  1. High fasting and post-prandial blood sugar (the post-prandial is only high when I eat carbs.  On my current diet only the fasting is high).  Update: Still higher than it should be but better than when I started.
  2. Allergies (seasonal and pets) – Update:I haven’t been using my Visine much, which I usually use year-round thanks to my furry friends.  Allergies certainly aren’t gone though.
  3. Plantar fasciitis (pain in the soles of my feet when I first get out of bed or first stand after sitting for a while) Update: I don’t notice this much anymore.  When I do notice it it’s because I’m looking for it, and it’s minor.
  4. Excess body fat.  My current BMI is 31.9.  That puts me in the “obese” category.  I have always thought the BMI scale was full of shit, but it’s certainly true that I’m overweight.  Update: Unchanged
  5. PMS, including some pretty severe mood swings. Update: Better.  Mood swings don’t last hours, they last minutes, and I can catch it in the middle of the mood swing (usually) and stop myself from doing damage.
  6. Low sex drive. Update: Slight improvement, but still not swinging from the chandelier.
  7. High total cholesterol (for what this is worth, which probably isn’t much).  Last time I had it tested before I started taking Lipitor it was around 273.  Then I went on Lipitor.  I’m off now.  Stupid statins.  Stupid Big Pharma.  I think I’m having one of those PMS mood swings right now, by the way.  It’s a good day to complain about everything that’s wrong with me! Update: Last time I tested my total cholesterol was 222 – better!
  8. Fatigue – before I started the Leptin Rx, this was my biggest complaint.  Turns out just eating the right diet fixed it, but I want to put it on here anyway so I don’t forget this is where I’m coming from. Update: Still way better.  I rarely feel like I don’t have energy to do the things I want to do anymore.
  9. Acne – not a whole lot, just enough to bug the crap out of me Update: some acne these days, but still not much.

Cheers for now.

Labs

So here are the lab results I’ve received so far:

Test Me Range
T3 Uptake 32 24-39
T4 7.9 4.5 – 12.0
Free T4 0.94 0.76 ‑ 1.46
Free Thyroxine Index 2.5 1.2 – 4.9
TSH 1.68 0.358 ‑ 3.74
Cortisol 12.8 2.3 – 19.4
TPO 8 0-34
Antithyroglobulin Ab <20 0-40
Glucose 98 65-99
Cholesterol, Total 222 100-199
Triglicerides 107 0-149
LDL Cholesterol 147 0-99
HDL Cholesterol 54 >39
Vitamin D 34.2 30-100
HS C-Reactive Protein 8.65 0-3.00

So I’m obviously no expert when it comes to interpreting this stuff, and I only have about 10 minutes before I have to go to work.  But here’s what I’ve surmised so far:

My thyroid appears to be functioning normally.  The TPO and Antithyroglobulin Ab test indicate that I test negative for Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune thyroid problems. Since my thyroid seems to be ok, I’m guessing it’s stress/adrenal fatigue/high cortisol causing the hypothyroid symptoms I have.  I’m still waiting for my hormone panel, including 4x/day cortisol testing.  Hopefully that will show up soon.

My total cholesterol has improved since it was last tested 2 weeks prior (no…I don’t plan on testing my cholesterol every 2 weeks…it just worked out that way!).  But seriously, it dropped from 238 to 222 in 14 days of eating meat and fat!  My LDL dropped from 165 to 147.  That’s an 11% drop in the “bad” cholesterol in 2 weeks!  HDL is up a bit too.

I love knowing the truth about saturated fat!

Ok, but that’s where the good news ends.

Vitamin D is on the very low end of normal, and that’s with supplementing about 3000 IU/day for the last month or so.  I’ll be upping it to 10K units.

And the worst news…my HS CRP – 8.65.  That’s some serious inflammation!  Anything over 3.00 is highly correlated with heart disease.  I guess I’m about to keel over from a coronary right now!  I wish I had a baseline from before I started the Leptin Rx…this might actually represent an improvement from where I started.  I know other markers of inflammation are coming down (blood sugar, cholesterol), so this may have been really out of control 2 months ago.  In any case, I need to get that number down.  I’ll be continuing to address possible leaky gut issues and increase Omega 3 and seafood.

Would like to stay here and talk about my blood all day.  Must go to work.

Labs and More. Much, Much More.

I’m excited to write today.  I’ve had an intellectual breakthrough of sorts…if not a physical one, yet.  Things are starting to fall into place.  But first, labs. I did get some lab results yesterday – the normal lipid profile tests that my doc orders before we have an appointment.  You know, the usual stuff that gets you put on statins in the first place?  Well, I found the results to be pretty interesting.  Take a look:

Total LDL HDL Trigs
2010 279 195 43 275
2012 238 165 52 112
Difference 41 30 9 163

I went off Lipitor when I started the Leptin Reset 5 weeks ago, so I’m comparing my current results (2012) with my baseline prior to medication (2010).  My LDL cholesterol has dropped 30 points, my HDL has increased 9, and my triglycerides have dropped 59% to 112.  I’ve become fairly convinced that LDL cholesterol isn’t bad in itself, but rather is a marker for inflammation or infection in the body.  Dr. Kruse says as much in his Hormones 101 post:

So anytime the body is stressed or inflamed, it up-regulates cholesterol production to make more lifesaving hormones. It requires T3 and vitamin A as cofactors to complete this step. Blocking cholesterol’s production will increase cellular stress. This is why biochemically to me no statin drugs have ever made any sense under any circumstance in medicine. Moreover, this is why there is a chronic association of cancer to low cholesterol levels in the literature. In times of infection or stress, LDL levels always need to rise to protect the cell.

The idea that we blame LDL cholesterol for the problems of our health makes as much sense to me as blaming the paramedics for a car accident because they happen to be there on the scene.  Like LDL, they are correlated with problems, not the cause of problems.  So artificially reducing them with statins is just wrong.  I’m glad I’m off the Lipitor.  By the way, when I was on Lipitor, my total cholesterol was under 200, so I’m confident these higher numbers are a pretty accurate reflection of what’s really going on.  What I’m taking from this is that improvements are happening, but I’m not there yet.

I was reading on Dr. K’s brand new forum last night (love it, by the way) and a lightbulb went on in my head.  I came to this success story written by Shijin13, who I recognized as a regular commenter on his blog.  She described her situation as having difficulty losing weight (like me), even gaining weight while following the Leptin Rx.  She went on to say this:

After reading Dr Kruse’s response on the Perfect Health blog, in Sep 2011, regarding increased LDL in some people on a paleo/primal diet, I realized the crazy cortisol I had, in combination with the high LDL I was dealing with pregnalone [sic] steal syndrome, and my brain had turned off my hypothalamus-pituary axis, essentially shutting down my thyroid to a maintenance level, which was making it difficult to lose weight. It also explained why my Thyroid panels (TSH and T4- were normal!) This became a vicious cycle. So I continued to make LDL, but the cortisol was shunting the pregnalone so I wasn’t turning the LDL into the appropriate sex-steroid hormones. This was my biggest AHHAAA moment in my quest for health. I then focused on fixing the cortisol through the use of adaptogens, I gave up my beloved coffee for decaf, and I stopped working out.

I read this and something about it clicked.  I read more about pregnenalone (which I had never heard of before Dr. Kruse) and Pregnenalone Steal Syndrome (also known as Chronic Stress Response).  Pregnenalone is a hormone that makes other hormones. Essentially, cortisol levels become chronically elevated by stress, and the cortisol steals all of the pregnenalone so that the other bodily processes get ripped off and can’t make the other important hormones.  This is the perfect example of how we’re not biologically adapted to our current environment.  Cortisol goes up when our bodies perceive stress, shutting down all these other processes so that you can survive the stress.  However, we live in an age where stress is chronic and these processes get shut down chronically.  Here are some sources of stress that lead to elevated cortisol, according to Dr. Kruse:

The causes of stress in humans are: psychological, traumatic, infectious, allergic, electromagnetic (EMF), xenobiotic and geopathic, as well as Leptin resistance and dysbiosis.

Another site give these as examples of stress that lead to higher cortisol production:

Anger – Fear, Pain, Trauma/Injury, Toxic Exposure, Radiation, Malabsorption, Maldigestion, Illness, Chemicals, Infection, Poor Diet, Allergies, Food Reactions, Mold

So chronic exposure to any of this stuff causes cortisol to steal pregnenalone and causes these other processes to get ripped off:

  • Energy production goes down
  • Utilization of Glucose goes down
  • Blood Sugar rises
  • Gluconeogenesis (production of new glucose) increases
  • Bone loss (Osteoporosis) increases
  • Fat accumulates around rump & waist
  • Protein breakdown increases
  • Salt & H2O Retention increases
  • Immune Activity changes — Secretory IgA goes down, Antigen Penetration increases, Circulating IgG increases, NK Cell Activity goes down, Interleukin goes down, T-Lymphocyte goes down due to impaired Thyroid Gland function which begins with impaired Adrenal Gland function.

…leading to the following clinical conditions (I’m putting in RED the ones I’m experiencing or commonly experience):

  • Chronic Viral Infections (EBV, CMV, Herpes I & II, etc.)
  • Increased Infections
  • Yeast Overgrowth – Candida Albicans
  • Allergies – Food, pollen, dust etc.
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches – all types
  • Autoimmune Diseases – MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
  • Cancer – all types
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Insomnia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hunger
  • PMS
  • Depression/Mental Disorders
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Digestive Problems
  • ADD/ADHD

I’ve just started researching this, so I haven’t yet found sources I know to be reputable discussing this.  I don’t even know for sure that Dr. Kruse is reputable (although I suspect he is).  I was reading his Hormones 101 post, and it made so much sense after learning about cortisol and it’s effect on the body when chronically elevated.  I’ll be reading it several more times.  I think he’s probably brilliant.

In any case, my next step is to start figuring out getting cortisol testing done.  It seems the best way to do this is salivary testing, and there are lots of sites that offer this.  Some say you need a doctor’s prescription, depending on which state you live in.  I’ll have to call one of them up and get the scoop.

I’ve long suspected that stress in my life is damaging my health but it wasn’t until now that I really understand how that happens.  My health started declining after I moved and got married 6-7 years ago.  I was doing things that were very scary for me, and my response was stress…and lots of it…for a long time.  I’m going to figure out how to turn this around. I hope my doctor wants to help.

Leptin Rx: Week 3, Day 5

The Good:

  • My sleep is regular and satisfying and I wake up refreshed these days.  I’m basically sleeping 10PM – 6AM.  Some days I have to get up an hour earlier and I make up for it the next night by going to bed earlier.
  • Meals are satisfying.  You would think eating meat and veggies would get old, but I’m usually ready to eat by the time a meal rolls around, so it always tastes good.

The Bad:

  • I was trying to work around an appointment last night and ate dinner too early.  Plus I didn’t eat enough.  So I had to eat more later in the evening.  I’ve been good about sticking to 3 meals and no snacks, and it was just poor planning that resulted in an extra small meal.  I didn’t eat things that were off plan…just the timing was off plan.  But Dr. K. says timing is the most important part.  Anyway, I’ll have to plan better.
  • I totally lied when I said I wasn’t going to weigh myself anymore.  Well, is it a lie if I meant it at the time but then didn’t follow through?  No, I think that’s not a lie…that’s cheating.  Whatever –  It’s bad!  Anyway, I have continued weighing myself.  I may as well give up though…the scale is stuck at 187 for now.

That brings me to another point.  How messed up is my metabolism that I can eat as few carbohydrates as I’m currently eating and not lose weight?  I’m eating less than 20 grams a day (making this a ketogenic diet) and I’ve been at/around 187 since 10 days ago.  I remind myself that the purpose of the Leptin Rx is not to lose weight – it’s to retrain my brain so that it becomes leptin sensitive again.  And once I’m leptin sensitive, weight loss will ostensibly be easy.  Well, this I’ve got to see!

I have become fascinated by coconut oil.  How is it that an oil can do all these marvelous things?  It’s touted as anti bacterial, anti viral, anti aging, great for energy, metabolism, weight loss…the list goes on.  So I did my own research.  Fortunately a lot of great peer-reviewed articles on this subject are aggregated at the Coconut Research Center. Here’s what some of the science says:

Regarding metabolic syndrome:

Experimental studies demonstrate that dietary MCFAs/MCTs suppress fat deposition through enhanced thermogenesis and fat oxidation in animal and human subjects. Additionally, several reports suggest that MCFAs/MCTs offer the therapeutic advantage of preserving insulin sensitivity in animal models and patients with type 2 diabetes.

Here’s another study that compared women (N=40) with “abdominal obesity” – half the women supplemented with soybean oil and half with coconut oil (30mL/day).  All women were instructed to eat a reduced calorie diet and walk 50 minutes a day.  At the end of the study both groups had lost weight, but only the group given coconut oil had increased HDL cholesterol and decreased waist circumference.  The soybean oil group had increased total cholesterol and decreased HDL cholesterol.  Their conclusion:

It appears that dietetic supplementation with coconut oil does not cause dyslipidemia and seems to promote a reduction in abdominal obesity.

So coconut oil does not result in poor lab work and it does reduce abdominal fat. Well that’s good.  Because that’s what I need.