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.

T3 and Iodine Research

This week I began having heart palpitations and stabbing headaches.  I checked around the web to see if these were common side effects when one is supplementing with T3 (Liothyronine).  Anecdotally, numerous people in various groups and forums report anxiousness, heart palpitations, anxiety attacks…but many people say it’s transitory.

I also checked my Medscape App (which, incidentally, was recommended to me by a pharmacist friend of mine for learning about the effects of various medications).  Medscape says that for hypothyroidism an initial dose of 25mcg per day is typical, and can be raised by 25mcg each week if necessary to 75mcg/day. I was taking 25mcg a day, so I wasn’t on a terribly high dose.  Under “Adverse Effects” the following are listed as occurring in less than 1% of users: insomnia, nervousness, tremor, cramps, diarrhea, and changes in menstrual cycle.  In the “Frequency Not Defined” (in other words, we don’t know how many people have this experience) the following adverse side effects are listed: arrhythmias, headache, sweating.  I guess I’d fall into the frequency not defined column.

Anyway, I stopped taking it.  I tapered down over a 3 day period from 25mcg –> 18 –> 6 –> 0.  I was feeling unwell even on 6mcg.  I’ve felt better in the 3 days since I stopped taking it.

I am starting to think I’ve been a little too carefree in my approach to putting foreign substances in my body.

Another case in point:  Yesterday I was perusing Facebook.  I’m a member of several health-oriented Facebook groups, including one devoted to Iodine Supplementation and one based on the work of Ray Peat.  In the Ray Peat group yesterday a very thoughtful commenter asked the following:

Since milk contains such large amounts of iodine what is the advantage of a hypothyroid person drinking 2 quarts daily? It seems this would be quite an overdose of iodine…… I understand its use for the minerals, but never questioned the iodine content until now…

Hm…this post suggests that Ray Peat is not in favor of iodine supplementation.  A little research on this suggests that indeed this is the case.  Apparently in an interview, Dr. Peat stated the following in response to the question,Is iodine supplementation safe and, if not, is there a safe amount of supplemental iodine?”

“A dosage of 150 mcg (micrograms, not milligrams, e.g., ug not mg) is a safe amount of iodine. There are excellent references describing the effect of a moderate iodine excess (even below a milligram per day) on the thyroid. An iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism (rare now), but so can an excess. Iodine deficiency is an unusual cause of hypothyroidism, except in a few places, like the mountains of Mexico and China, and the Andes.

Most goiters now are from estrogen-like effects, but they used to be from iodine deficiency. Chronic excess iodine tends to cause thyroiditis, regardless of the gland’s size. The amounts used by Abraham and Flechas are much larger than this — very toxic doses, enough to cause severe thyroid problems.”

Well, that’s interesting.  I have not done an exhaustive review of the available research on iodine or anything, but I had never heard anyone say anything like this, whereas there are many testimonials online as to the benefits of iodine supplementation, and many people in my iodine group on facebook have been helped immensely by it.

So this spurred more research.  I ended up spending hours researching iodine and it’s effects – positive and negative – when used in high doses (which for my purposes are >1mg – basically far more than is required to avoid goiter).  I came across a number of peer reviewed articles that suggest there is significant risk in supplementing with Iodine, including risk of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease): here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Well, score one for Ray Peat.

In case I haven’t been clear, SUPPLEMENTING WITH IODINE CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

I got on my iodine Facebook page and asked if anyone knew of peer reviewed research refuting or contradicting the results of these studies.  They got mad at me and shamed me until I left.  I guess that’s why you never hear the other side of the story.

Anyway, won’t be supplementing with iodine anytime soon.  I’m sure it’s helped many, many people, but that doesn’t mean it’s without risk.  Great risk, in some cases.  This is the downside of medicating oneself based on researching anecdotes from the internet or following someone’s protocol just because he or she has an M.D.

Question Everything.  And always do your own research.

There are other changes too in my world.  I’ll talk about those tomorrow.

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.

Leptin Rx: Week 3, Day 6

I am really excited that today is the first day of the Paleo Summit.  It’s a series of online presentations – 2 presenters per day for 8 days. It really inspires me that Sean Croxton would put this together and make it available to everyone for FREE.  Love that.

My sister has recently had a health scare.  On Friday she had half of her thyroid removed. They think it’s probably not cancer – more likely Hashimoto’s Disease.  What little I’ve read about this suggests it could be related to eating according to the US FOOD PYRAMID.  You know, all those…um…healthy whole grains??  Next time I see my family (probably next month) I plan on bombarding them with scientific literature about what’s REALLY healthy.  Screw you, USDA.

Oh..and me…?  I’m doing fine.  Just staying the course for now.  6-8 weeks is no quick fix, let me tell you. But I suppose it is quick compared to the years it took to damage my metabolism.  And hell…what else am I going to do?  Eating this way still isn’t exactly easy…but  I have energy all day long to work and play with my daughter.  I still get socially exhausted (introvert that I am) after talking to people all day, but I have the physical stamina to keep going and going.  That’s pretty cool.