Stress Hormone Overnight Test

Just a quick note – I ate some sugar along with protein and fat (and a glass of wine) last night before bed and this morning my fasting blood sugar was 108!  That’s the lowest it’s been in a long time.  Plus, this morning I felt hungry when I woke up, but I don’t feel hungry all morning long despite eating, as I typically do.  Amazing!

My Body Is A Science Experiment

…and this experiment is failing.

Today I measured my blood sugar…every hour, from 8AM till 7PM, and documented what I ate, so I could learn the effect that my new higher-carb diet is having on my endothelium.  Well, I learned.  And it isn’t good.

8:00AM – Fasting blood sugar today was 138 mg/dL.

It’s been on the rise, and these days it’s high whether or not I eat starches.  I got up twice in the middle of the night last night and had a snack, trying to avoid the Dawn Phenomenon (stress hormones causing a large release of glucose into the blood).  Didn’t work…but it was better than yesterday!  Yesterday’s fasting blood sugar was 147.  These are the highest fasting blood sugar readings I’ve ever recorded…and I’ve been recording them with some regularity for the last 20 months or so.

8:45 AM – Breakfast: 5 grapes, milk with honey mixed in, 8oz of orange juice.  About 10 minutes later I realized there wasn’t much protein or fat there and I had 2 eggs scrambled in coconut oil. Here’s the breakdown of my breakfast:

  • Calories: 536
  • Protein: 22g (18% of calories)
  • Carbohydrate: 76g (54% of calories)
  • Fat: 17g (29% of calories)

9:45 AM – 1 hour after eating

  • Blood sugar: 295

WHAT?!?!

Holy Schnikeys!  I’ve never seen a number like that on my meter.  That’s like…really fucking high!  I washed my hands – cuz maybe there was a drizzle of honey stuck on my finger or something – and then tested again…still fucking high.

  • I felt fine, a little low energy.
  • Temp and pulse were good – 98.7 and 87, respectively.

10:45 AM – 2 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 186

Ok, now this is where I started to get worried.  It’s one thing to clobber my body with a bunch of simple sugars and have my 1-hour post-prandial reading be high (…or really fucking high…) but the 2-hour reading shouldn’t be over 140, even by pretty conservative standards.

Uh…hm.  I guess maybe I’m diabetic?

Well, there are ways to determine this for sure.  What a doctor will typically do, given my fasting blood sugar reading and my post-prandial sugar levels, is order a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).  This involves the patient ingesting 60 grams of easily-digestible carbohydrates and then measuring blood sugar every hour for the next 3 hours.  I had this done when I was pregnant at 28 weeks (and I failed…hello gestational diabetes).  Well, I don’t need no stinking doctor…I can measure out 60 grams of carbs and see what my body does for the next 3 hours.  And I’m going to do this tomorrow.  So stay tuned.

Ok, back to my freak out.

OMG OMG OMG…diabetic?  Like for reals diabetic?  Without the “pre-” in front of it?

Anyway, on with my day.

At this point I was questioning everything.  Maybe Ray Peat is brilliant but doesn’t really know shit about impaired blood sugar management?

11:45 AM – 3 hours after breakfast

  • Blood sugar: 112 (whew…at least I’m prolly not gonna die TODAY.)
  • Temp: 98.8
  • Pulse: 86
  • Blood pressure: 141/89
  • Felt ok, no hunger, low energy

12:00 Noon – Ate lunch.  Decided to do another test.  My body didn’t like simple sugars much so how about complex carbs?  Ate a really big meal of the following:  7oz boiled potatoes, 3 T. butter, 3 T. sour cream, an egg, and some cheese.  The meal was 52% fat, 39% carbohydrate, and 9% protein.  And a lot of calories.

1:00 PM – 1 hour after eating

  • Blood sugar: 94

Wha?  What the hell is that?  I’m diabetic dammit!  Where’s my 3-figure blood sugar reading?  Are potatoes some kind of miracle food that lowers blood sugar?

  • Temp and pulse remained steady at 98.6 and 88.
  • Felt ok, no hunger, a little lethargic.

2:00 PM – 2 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 133.

My notes next to this reading in my notebook say, “Weird.”

I guess it’s not that weird though…the huge amount of fat I put on the potato slowed the absorption of the sugar into my system.  Didn’t hit at one hour, it hit at 2 hours.  But even that hit is pretty mild.

3:00 PM – 3 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 125
  • Temp/pulse: 98.6/88
  • Hunger – 0

4:00 PM – 4 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 113
  • Temp/pulse: 98.8/84
  • Hunger – 0

5:00 PM – 5 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 102
  • Temp/pulse: 98.8/85
  • Hunger – 1

So summary up to this point:  Eating simple sugars gives me the blood sugar of a diabetic.  Eating potatoes with lots of fat keeps me satiated for 5 hours and doesn’t have much impact on blood sugar.  Not what I would have expected!  And then….

5:45 PM – Ate dinner.  More potatoes (4 oz), 1 T coconut oil, 1 T sour cream, and an egg.  The meal was 61% fat, 11% protein, and 27% carbohydrate.

6:45 PM – 1 hour after eating

  • Blood sugar: 161

Huh…well, maybe I needed to really douse those potatoes in fat the way I did at lunch to suppress the rise in blood sugar?  Whatever.  So confusing.  No fun when your experiments aren’t replicated.

Didn’t get to check my blood sugar at the 2 hour mark because I was putting my little girl to bed, but I checked about a half hour later.  it was 125.

Overall summary:  Simple sugars make me diabetic.  Potatoes aren’t magical after all.  Fat is magical but only in extremely large quantities.  Interestingly, the potatoes and massive quantities of fat were so satisfying I ate about 500 calories less today than yesterday, with no hunger.

Going Forward:  It’s time to get serious about managing my blood sugar.  I’m going to do the homemade GTT tomorrow, just to get a baseline, and then after that I’m going to be limiting carbohydrates to about 15g per meal. I’ll also be exercising most days – probably a combination of light cardio (e.g., walking) and lifting weights.  I’ll continue eating Peat-friendly foods, and I’ll continue tracking my temps and pulses.  If they suffer or if I start feeling depressed most days I’ll think about adding T3.

On a side note: One thing is for sure….No matter what, I’m going to keep eating liver.  My skin looks amazing!  Love that Vitamin A.  Old acne scars have even disappeared.

Will report the results of my Glucose Tolerance Test.

Today I’m thankful to have the time, the means, and the intellect to be able to experiment like this and interpret the results.  I’m a very fortunate person indeed.

Tomorrow is my favorite holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Updates and Things Learned

Ok, a few updates first…

1.  Had Vitamin D testing done.  Back a couple years ago Jack Kruse told me that I’d know for sure if my daughter was going to have hormonal problems (like myself and my mother) by testing her vitamin D level to see if it was low.  So I bought an at-home test from zrtlab.com.  Didn’t realize I needed 12 friggen drops of blood though, and I could never bring myself to administer the test with her itty bitty finger.  So I finally decided to use it on myself.  My vitamin D level is currently 67, after about 5-6 months of supplementing 10,000 IU about 4 days a week.

2.  Acute health problems are better now.  Finally, after several consecutive colds, I’m almost all better.  It’s been over 3 weeks.  Its been difficult to evaluate all the Ray Peat inspired interventions when I’ve been feeling like crap for other reasons.

3.  High blood pressureAs I mentioned in previous posts, my blood pressure has been particularly troublesome lately.  It’s been going higher and higher – yesterday at one point it was 160/106.  Holy Schnikeys!  It has increased since following Ray Peat’s recommendations to add salt to everything, in an effort to cause a hormonal change that would result in lower BP.  Unfortunately, this has not been my experience. I think what’s going on is unrelated to the salt, however, and is instead related to consuming so much liquid.  Today I didn’t add salt to anything, and the first half of the day I didn’t drink a ton of milk/OJ/coffee – instead I ate cheese, and a little OJ, and no coffee.  Well, my BP was down to a more respectable 136/88 without medication this afternoon.  Then before dinner I drank 16oz of milk and had a small meal…and I was REALLY full.  Now my BP is up to 159/98.   I tried to add magnesium: oral supplements, magnesium oil, epsom salt baths….Sometimes BP was a little lower afterward, but usually it went even higher.  So my conclusion….I’m DONE with all of the following, until further notice:  adding salt to beverages, drinking meals, supplementing with magnesium.  I’ll continue to salt food to taste, but that’s it.

In other news, I’m still a little in love with Dr. Ray Peat.  I listened to 2 of his interviews yesterday (this one and this one) and the man is brilliant.

Some things I’ve learned are important (for me, anyway) when following Peat’s nutritional advice:

  • My meals must be balanced.  They have to include carbs, protein, and fat for best results.
  • For me, meals should be small – a couple ounces of protein/fat and 2-3 times as much sugar/carbs.
  • Meals must be frequent – like, every 2-3 hours.
  • For me, starches are out.  I don’t feel good when I eat them – my mood changes and my metabolism lowers.
  • It’s amazing what you can learn if you take your temperature and pulse before and after meals. (More info on this below.)
  • I’ve learned that regardless of what I eat before bed I make stress hormones the second half of the night.  Peat says that it can take some time for the liver to adjust and be able to store enough glycogen to sleep 8 hours without stress hormones kicking in.
  • I’ve noticed throughout my day that when the stress hormones are about to kick in I get slightly more irritable, I feel colder, and I stop wanting to talk to people.  What’s cool is since I’ve been eating sugar I am MUCH more interested in talking to people and playing for long periods of time with my little girl.

I took notes on Peat’s latest KMUD interview, which became available a few days ago.  It was a call-in show, but a lot of the content of the actual interview focused on Hashimoto’s, and later on the significance of temperature/pulse taking.  Disclaimer: These are not direct quotes from Ray Peat; this is me paraphrasing – and by definition that means it’s my interpretation of what RP said.  Also, I only listened once, so don’t quote me.

Here are the notes I took while listening.

Regarding Hashimoto’s:

  • Hashimoto (in Japan) became interested in this because people in Japan have a very iodine-rich diet which blocks the function of the thyroid gland, which causes an increase in TSH to overcome the blockage.  Rising TSH makes the gland work harder as the organism shows signs of decreasing thyroid function.
  • If part of the body is stressed, the immune system is called in.  What we call an autoimmune disorder is just the immune system trying to clean up a mess.
  • Measuring the “severity” of the disorder by how many antibodies are present is misguided.
  • What we really want is to get TSH down.  TSH itself causes many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, increasing inflammation.
  • T4 (Thyroxine) is the standard treatment for Hashis. This will suppress the TSH, though some people need T3 to suppress the pituitary.
  • Women have more thyroid disease than men – estrogen interferes with the liver’s ability to convert T4 to T3.  If liver isn’t converting effectively and you give them T4 to treat the hashi’s you’re going to exacerbate their hypothyroid state.
  • Therefore with women it’s likely to be better to treat with “complete hormone” (T4/T3 combo, I think he means.)

Re: Pulse/Temperature

  • Hypothyroid (which I’m going to call “hypoT”) people have low tissue metabolism – circulation to extremities can be relatively poor – therefore when taking temp also note how cold your extremities feel.   If your temp is at all low and your extremities feel cold, your metabolism is probably low.  Same if you can’t eat many calories without gaining weight.
  • Healthy people should evaporate about 2 quarts of fluid in a day.  HypoT people tend to retain water.
  • Pulse and temp of fingers/toes in a cool room are more sensitive indicators than temp alone.
  • An ideal measure of metabolic rate would be measuring O2 input and CO2 output.

Interpreting temperature/pulse:

  • High starting (basal) temperature and then temp falls after breakfast = Stress hormones overnight.  RP says he’s seen this in someone who alternated between depression and mania.  When manic, not sleeping much, her temp would fall (adrenaline).  RP suggested she take T3 to keep pulse/temp steadier throughout the day.  Within a few days she stabilized.
  • High temp and normal pulse rate = Cortisol could be high in order to get enough heat to the extremities.  If this happens, adrenaline is lower to allow heat to escape.  If temp falls after you eat, pulse will get slower still.
  • Low starting temp and it falls further after breakfast = stress hormones plus hypothyroidism.
  • Low starting temp that doesn’t change after eating = probably didn’t eat the right things.  If you get enough sugar, protein, nutrients, and if the thyroid is functioning at all the liver should start producing T3 and warm the body up.
  • Low pulse that rises after breakfast = “T3 is going up from eating some carbohydrate and increasing their general energy, their blood is circulating more.”  RP has seen this most often in women when higher estrogen is blocking thyroid.  They get cold when they get hungry.  When they eat they warm up, pulse increases.
  • High pulse that rises after breakfast = Too much protein, not enough carbs to balance it.  If you already have hypoglycemia, this makes it worse and causes a surge of adrenaline.  If you feel good when the pulse goes up, good things are happening in your body.  If it doesn’t feel good that’s from eating too much protein in relation to carbohydrate.
  • High pulse which is lower after breakfast = That’s the carbohydrate lowering the adrenaline.  Temp goes up, pulse goes down.  This is good.
  • If your temperature hasn’t stabilized by 10-11AM = In a hypothyroid person (especially woman with high estrogen and low progesterone) temp/pulse might both fall later in the morning, or adrenaline may kick in with fast pulse.
  • If temp doesn’t reach 98.6 or pulse never gets over 70 in the afternoon = probably not optimal, blood tests might show some problems – might have high TSH indicating that you’re driving endocrine system very hard.  When things are running smoothly endocrine system doesn’t have to work very hard, tissues do all the work.
  • RP says he’s worked with fat people who would wake up every hour/hour and a half.  RP got them to set alarms to wake themselves up before these wake time and eat carbs.  Within a week they were sleeping through the night and they began losing weight.  They were increasing their blood sugar.  The Dawn Phenomenon (high fasting blood sugar) is the stress hormones rising at night.
  • On average people have the greatest ability to resist stress, recuperate from injury if temp/pulse is a little above average.

Random questions from callers:

  • A caller asks about the effects of radiation re: Fukushima – Keep your metabolic rate up – this accelerates the repair process faster than the injury.  Stress creates signals from the injured cells that travel through the rest of your body.  Progesterone and thyroid are protective against radiation.  Magnesium is the element that is most closely involved in repairing radiation damage after thyroid is activated.
  • Caller asks if Valerian (for sleep) is habit forming – RP says it’s a safe thing to take but it can be habit forming.

Will update with blood pressure results while implementing my new plan.

Leptin Rx: Week 6, Day 4

I’ve been moving toward a much more Paleo-centric diet for my little girl lately.  About 2 weeks ago I bought her some bread and English muffins…and when those are gone, I don’t believe we’ll be buying more.  She’s pretty easy to convert, actually.  She likes most things we feed her.

A year ago her diet was much different (as was that of her parents).  She was eating Ritz and Goldfish crackers for snacks all the time.  Now I look at the labels on those things in the store and can’t believe I was feeding her trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, not to mention all kinds of mysterious additives and colorings.  Now she eats carrots, snow peas, and cheese for snacks, and takes a children’s DHA supplement.  I added that last part after watching this video about the effects of fish oil on a child’s brain.  Wish I would have started sooner. I’m also feeding her fish, but not often enough yet.

In preparation for my doctor’s appointment next week, I’ve been taking blood sugar readings before and after all meals.  I figure when my doc sees that high fasting level she’s going to freak and try to put me on Metformin or something, so I’m preparing my counterargument.  Here are my readings for yesterday:

  • Fasting: 113
  • 1 hour after breakfast: 122
  • 2 hours after breakfast: 102
  • 1 hour after lunch: 100
  • 2 hours after lunch: 96
  • Before dinner: 89
  • 1 hour after dinner: 91

Here’s 2 days ago:

  • Fasting: 119
  • 1 hour after breakfast: 117
  • 2 hours after breakfast: 111
  • Before Lunch: 113
  • 1 hour after lunch: 99
  • 2 hours after lunch: 91
  • Before Dinner: 79

Isn’t it interesting how it drops over the course of the day?  I’m eating very few carbs, so I’m not surprised the post-prandial readings are low, but it’s so odd to me that the fasting readings are the highest point of the day.  I believe it’s known as the Dawn Phenomenon.  I wonder how long it will take before it starts to come down to normal levels.  Like everything else…must wait and see.