The Starch Solution – Day 10

I’ve been feeling overall really good.  Eating this way – low fat starch, fruit, and veggies – is way easier than I expected, and I actually love what I get to eat. I don’t even miss the fat at this point.  I did eat at someone’s house yesterday and brought a dish – a 3-bean salad – so I’d definitely have something there I could eat. I’m pretty determined to stick to this.  I have a ton of energy and my husband tells me my mood is better.

This is the second time I’ve been on a low-fat diet to kick my blood sugar’s ass.  I did this last year – it wasn’t a plant-based diet at that time, and I was eating a lot of dry chicken breast, white rice, and fruit.  I felt a lot hungrier then than i do now. I probably could have added more starches then but I wasn’t in the habit of thinking that way.  It would be an interesting experiment – eating a low fat vegan diet and then adding in lean meat to see the effect on health markers.  Who knows…maybe I’ll even do that.

My fasting blood sugar has dropped to under 120 every day.  Post-prandial blood sugar is still over 200 sometimes – higher when I eat bread or tortillas, and lower when I eat simple whole grains or legumes.  Weight is down a couple pounds, and I’m not counting anything – calories, grams – nothing.  I eat until I’m satisfied.

I did take a step backward one day this week after I ate a banana.  I have a history of not tolerating bananas well – maybe because of the histamine in bananas? – and I was hoping that had passed since the last time I had one a year ago.  Nope, still made me feel terrible – angry and tired, like my brain was inflamed.  No more bananas.  It took about 36 hours after eating it before I felt good again.

Daily Snapshot

I suppose it’s necessary to have a where-the-hell-am-I-now post, for the sake of comparison.  Oh and by the way, I’ve decided to curse a lot more in 2018.  Hope that doesn’t offend, but it if it does, too fucking bad.

Current weight: 210.8

Current fasting blood sugar: 164

2-hr postprandial blood sugar – don’t know, I just woke up.

Blood pressure: 141/90, heartbeats per minute: 82

What I’m eating:  Low fat, lowish carb, generally low-histamine, not counting calories and eating to satiety.  The lowish carb is not to induce a state of ketosis – it’s to keep my blood sugar under fucking 300.  I would like to increase carbs as my blood sugar drops over time.  Example: For breakfast I just ate 2 eggs fried in chicken broth (no additional fat), a bunch of random veggies (onions, garlic, brussels sprouts, mushrooms), a couple tablespoons of kidney beans.  For lunch I’ll probably have something similar, but maybe chicken breast instead of eggs.  I’ll be keeping fat around 30-40 grams a day on average, but not planning on counting anything at this point.

Exercise: Walking on a treadmill or eliptical during my lunch break, yoga in the AM for 10-15 minutes.

That’s it for now.  Gotta do yoga.  Learn to de-stress.

Happy 2018

Things have gotten worse for my health.  For that reason, I’m going to re-commit to this bloggy.  I’ve missed writing but was embarrassed to come back and talk about what has been going on.  But what the hell – here I am.

I’m now a big fat diabetic.  I stopped testing my blood sugar for a while because I just couldn’t deal with myself.  I was being avoidant.  Well, I’m done with that.  My glucose is solidly in the diabetic stratosphere, and I have trouble bringing it down now.  About a week ago I tested it a couple hours after a high-carbohydrate meal and it was about 350.  Yes, 350.  (For those unfamiliar with blood sugar ranges, that’s big fat diabetic territory.  A normal fasting blood sugar is under 100, ideally under 90.  Normal for 2 hours post-postprandial – after a meal – is under 140.)  I tested again an hour later (so 3 hours after eating).  It was still over 300.  An hour later it was about 270.  I got on a treadmill to bring that shit down as fast as possible.  Wasn’t wearing the right shoes.  Fuck my shoes.  Wasn’t wearing the right bra.  Fuck my bra.

I better watch it or the google bots are going to classify this as a porn site.

35 minutes on the treadmill, tested again and it was under 200…and it dropped to under 150 over the next couple hours.

This shit scared the hell outa me.  I’m now one of those diabetics that is going to need insulin.  Or dialysis.  Or a prosthetic foot.

I have since committed to a different diet – one that has successfully brought my blood sugar down in the past.  Your average low-fat diet.  Nothing special.  No one to pay for their secrets.  No brand name.  Just stop eating so much damn dietary fat.  I test fasting glucose and postprandial glucose and typically make graphs out of the fasting numbers for simplicity.  I look forward to this graph in a couple months… My fasting glucose is was nearly 200 a few days ago, and since then has started to drop.

I should probably track what I eat but I don’t know if I have the energy for that.

I’ve also started doing yoga and walking.  I plan on working up to running.

This isn’t a New Years thing – the timing is purely coincidental.

My doctor increased my blood pressure medication at the end of December because it had climbed higher – over 180/95, while taking 2 medications to control it.  He also added a blood sugar medication but because I’m a shitty patient I decided not to take it and instead try to control blood sugar with lifestyle.

I’m going to blog daily about this so stay tuned if you’re interested in what I’m eating, how I’m exercising, and whether I still have both feet.

Side note…the law of attraction might be a thing…but ignoring health problems doesn’t make them go away.  It just doesn’t.

I won’t lie, it’s hard for me to put this out there.  I feel like a loser and a failure right now.  I’m sure someone is laughing at me and I’ll probably get a mean email from someone telling me I suck.  I accept that.  I’m putting this out into the world, not because I need it for accountability.  Believe me, I’ll never again need external motivation to work toward better health.  I’m hoping that I can help someone else in the same place as me.  I know it’s hard to know who to believe…so I’m going to take you on this journey with me.  And I’m going to be honest so you know you’re not alone.

New Plan 3.0

I’ve been eating starches for almost 2 week now, and they make me feel like taking a nap. Every time.  Some of the common reasons folks get tired in the middle of the day are sleep deprivation, lowering of stress hormones, and food intolerance.  Hm…There’s no way I’m this sleep deprived.  There’s no way my stress hormones are super-high and the starches are lowering them, thus revealing my “true fatigue” (cuz if that were the case, sugar would have made me sleepy too). There’s no way I’m intolerant of every kind of starch…is there?  Is it possible white potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, and gluten free bread/pasta are all making me tired because my body is completely intolerant to all of those foods?  No.

I don’t know why this is happening, but it sucks.  I can handle about 1/4 cup of potatoes with a meal before I get too tired to function.  And even then I don’t have much energy.

So my conclusion – for now – is that I won’t find the solution to these problems in my diet…because EVERYTHING (with the exception of maybe milk and dill pickles) seems to be killing me or killing my enjoyment of life.  Or both.

So here’s my new plan:

I’m going to focus instead on exercise.  The last time I got in the habit of bicycling every day my blood sugar improved dramatically, dropping to within normal ranges within a week. I stopped because it got cold outside and because I was afraid my slowing pulse meant my thyroid wasn’t happy.  Things are more dire now….because now I have diabetes, for realz. Uncontrolled diabetes.  A couple days ago my fasting blood sugar was 155 – not an all time personal record or anything, but too flippin high.  When I first started eating starches my fasting blood sugar dropped to between 110 and 120 for a few days (don’t know why) – now it’s above 130 every day.

Yesterday I started biking.  I biked today too, and will tomorrow.  And the next day.

So what to eat?  For now, mostly Peat-friendly foods, without much of a plan. Someone on Facebook linked to this interesting study about saturated fats causing greater insulin resistance than monounsaturated fats.  They found that among people who ate less fat than the median (I think it’s less than 37% of calories, but I’m not sure and don’t have the full-text of the study), monounsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil) promoted insulin sensitivity, while saturated fats caused greater insulin resistance.  Can’t say I’ve ever heard that before.  I do eat about 40% of my calories in the form of saturated fats right now, so it may be a good idea to try substituting some olive oil, and reduce fat overall.  So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to be crazy about it, but I’ll stop adding fat when its not necessary, and swap out some of the saturated fat for a while.  Olive oil has more PUFA than either butter or coconut oil, but that’s just going to have to be ok.  For now.

I predict my fasting blood sugar will be in the 90s within 2 weeks.

My resistant starch + probiotics experiment continues.  I’m so scared to up my potato starch intake because of the extreme GI distress it caused me before.  But I must.  Maybe tomorrow.

If my blood sugar isn’t under control within 1 month, I’m going to see a doctor and get medication.  I feel like my time to noodle around has run out.

I’m so tired from eating starches – even just 1/2 cup of potatoes or rice – 15g of carbohydrate – that I find myself avoiding them.  Low carb is no good for my thyroid.  High sugar no good for my triglycerides.  Out of time, out of ideas.  If exercise and olive oil don’t fix this very soon I’ll have to give in.

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.

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 7

Fasting blood sugar this morning: 125.  Heading in the right direction.

Hot flashes – almost gone.  Had 1 early this morning, and one about 5 minutes ago.  I completely skipped the niacinamide today in order for my body to stop doing whatever weird thing it was doing. I was feeling achy yesterday and today, as well as fatigued and a little irritable earlier today – around 7:00PM all of that stuff went away.  I’m wondering if the problem may not have been the niacinamide itself but some extra ingredient in the tablet. I did go ahead and buy pure niacinamide powder and received that in the mail yesterday…but over the past week I’ve been taking these tablets because I already had them. The ingredient list on the bottle states that it also contains “cellulose, stearic acid, silica, and magnesium stearate.”  I’m suspicious because niacinamide has a very short half-life, like it can be measured in minutes (about 45).  250mg was not a particularly big dose, even 3x a day.  I just don’t think the niacinamide itself would have continued to be problematic all the way into today.  Oh well…I’ll be increasing slowly to see if the hot flashes and other symptoms return. Starting tomorrow I’ll be using pure niacinamide powder – no weird ingredients.

Macros and nutrition today:

crononutrients

I really felt like I needed more fat today, so I did have a little more than I’m shooting for these days.  Fat was 27% of calories.  Calcium to phosphorus ratio wasn’t awesome today – I was about 600mg of calcium short of a 1:1 ratio.  Carb to protein ratio was not quite 2:1 – I was short about 30g of carbohydrate.  I could probably just go drink some juice…but that’s getting silly.

Liver for dinner tonight.  I have to say, soaking liver in milk makes it so much better.  I got out of the habit of doing that for a while and liver was starting to really bother me – the smell, the taste, plus sometimes I’d feel nauseated after eating it.  Then a few weeks ago I started soaking it in milk for a few hours while it thawed in the refrigerator, and then rinsing the liver before cooking it.  No more icky smell and the taste is milder.  Today I actually ate it raw.  Just easier that way sometimes.  Washed it down with a cold glass of milk.

Till tomorrow.

Update: I woke up at 12:30AM hungry, so I added 1/2 cup of orange juice and 1oz cheese to the above totals. It might make sense for me to post these the following day, to ensure all food consumed is accounted for.  But really….by the next day I don’t want to think about what I ate yesterday.