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.

Good Times

I’ll get to the resistant starch stuff…later.  That’s going to take a little research and a little discussion that I’m too tired to articulate right now.  But we’ll get there.

Today, just for a minute, I want to talk about how much better I feel now than I did 2 months ago.  Two people in my life this week commented to me that I’m not moody or depressed anymore.  One of those people has asked me for help with his mood problems. I gave him a Ray Peat-inspired shopping list and told him to buy some lights.

I few months ago when I started following Peat’s recommendations I never felt at peace.  I realize this now only because now I have stretches of time that I feel GREAT.  Like, peaceful and happy and content with my life exactly as it is.  A complete lack of anxiety or depression.  Back in November I started having these moments.  They were fleeting, but they were there.  Just in the last week or so those moments have been lasting longer – for hours sometimes!  I have no idea what is happening biochemically in me that causes that feeling, but it’s fabulous.

This week I got my period and had no PMS.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I had a mood swing that lasted all of 5 minutes which made me cry for no good reason.  That was it.  My PMS used to last days.  DAYS.  And now it’s over in 5 minutes.

Also, this week, my hunger stopped being so crazy.  I feel like a normal person again, and have for the last 5 or 6 days.  No crazy appetite.  WTH?

I’ve got the whole family on the Peat plan now.  I make Peat-friendly meals and we all eat them.  My daughter used to get rashes when she drank milk.  She would get them around her mouth and in random areas on her body.  She also used to have keratosis pilaris (KP) on her arms and cheeks. Turns out that milk doesn’t CAUSE these skin problems…milk causes an increase in nutrient metabolism, requiring more vitamin A.  The deficiency of vitamin A causes skin problems.  Now she gets plenty of vitamin A in her diet and no longer has rashes or KP.  Brilliant!  Thanks for making that clear, Dr. Peat.

Anyway Peat offers no quick fix, no express train to a lean body.  But if your goal is to be happy and to feel at peace, even while carrying those extra pounds, this (for me, anyway) is the way to do it.