Kill Phase

After writing my last post I started reading and following the Gut Health Protocol by John Herron.  The author has a Facebook group and willingly gives guidance to the confused and sickly masses.  An all-around decent and altruistic guy.

So, a summary of my gut-struggles thus far.  Interestingly, a gut problem was the last thing I suspected over the years, since I don’t have much in the way of GI distress.  After finally connecting my awful mood swings to eating certain things (fiber and starch) I tested for SIBO (it was negative). Stool testing, however, indicated there is an overgrowth of a bacteria called Citrobacter Braakii.  What I know is that whenever I eat starch or fiber – with few exceptions – I become depressed, tired, unable to pay attention, irritable, and basically a giant pain in the ass to live with. I’ve learned that gram-negative bacteria  (Citrobacter Braakii is one) put out lipopolysaccharides (aka “LPS”, aka “endotoxin”) when they grow.  This bacteria seems to feed on fiber and starch, and the only way I’ve been able to avoid this debilitating depression is to completely avoid fiber and starch.  This leaves out many fruits, vegetables, and all starches – and it’s much worse when those starches are the low-glycemic variety, such as brown rice, lentils, and beans.

So why is this a problem?  Can’t I just avoid starches and call it a day?  Well, sure…and I have for the last 2-3 years.  However, in that time I’ve developed type-2 diabetes and gained about 20 pounds (now about 50 pounds overweight), and I have high levels of persistent hunger despite eating over 2000 calories a day.  When I eat simple carbohydrates (non-starches) my triglycerides shoot up to 500 and I gain weight rapidly.  I’m unable to lose weight, even following a LCHF diet with 98% dilligence for months at a time. I suppose I could get over the vanity aspect of being obese if my health was improving, but it’s not.  I’m taking 2 Big Pharma medications to control high blood pressure, and I’m going against doctor’s recommendations by not taking the others she has prescribed (statins and Metformin). My labs indicate that I have a high level of chronic inflammation, despite diet changes. None of this is getting better.

I’d like to be able to eat low-glycemic carbohydrates that will keep me full and satisfied between meals, so I can follow a lower-calorie diet.  I’m also tired of getting depressed and irritable – because despite being pretty damn vigilant, it’s really hard to avoid all starches and fiber all the time(Side note: I’ve actually had to put a “yelling jar” in my house to ameliorate the psychological damage I do to my kid by yelling at her.  Every time I yell I put a dollar in the jar that she and her dad can spend together.  She takes great joy in this.)  I’m also concerned about my prognosis.  Type-2 Diabetes, LPS toxicity, and my genetic profile (APOE4 gene) likely adds up to Alzheimer’s Disease in my future.  I’m fairly sure the inflammation that is being caused by the LPS put out by this pathogen is responsible for a lot of my health problems (check out that C-Reactive Protein…not good.)

My Great Garlic Experiment (thanks to Ray Medina) a couple years ago gave me temporary freedom from the beast – the depression – the pathogen.  I felt much better but stopped using garlic when I started getting bloated all the time.  (I now realize I probably let yeast overgrow by not using probiotics at the right time or in the right amount.)  A couple weeks ago I started using raw garlic again along with some other antimicrobials and antifungals recommended in the Gut Health Protocol.  I’m currently in the kill phase and feeling pretty great.

John Herron recommends fermented foods starting day 1, including during the kill phase.  I’ve been eating (and starting to crave) unpasturized sauerkraut and kefir, and have also been taking soil-based probiotics – several hours apart from antimicrobials – twice per day.  Lots of good coming in and lots of killing of the bad.  In my next post I’ll detail exactly what supplements I’m using. My goal is to fix my gut problem – that means killing off The Beast, improving the integrity of the intestinal wall, adding probiotics and fermented foods, and eating LCHF (for now).  I’m taking a lot of supplements right now, but it feels like the right thing to do.  The kill phase will be another couple of weeks or so….maybe longer.

My Boy’s Wicked Smart

Research I’ve done in the last 24 hours as well as a couple more emails exchanged with Dr. Peat have resulted in me completely understanding everything Peat does.  It kind of crashed over my head like a big wave today.  I want to write it all down so I don’t forget it, but my head is swimming so I’m pretty sure it would just be in bits and pieces anyway.

One thing I love about Ray Peat is that he’s just so…smart.  I mean, if his IQ was an animal it would be a whale.  If it was an international conflict, it would be the Middle East.  If it was a baby it’s mother would have had gestational diabetes.  He’s like this:

 

“My boy’s wicked smaaht.”

Anyway, what I like is how when you write to Peat, you tell him why your writing, of course, maybe give a little context.  And he’s no fool – he knows that he can’t just go ahead and give medical advice over the internet – the liability would be too great, plus he doesn’t really know much about the person on the other end, so doing so would be irresponsible.  So what does he do?  First of all, he completely ignores the question you ask, because inevitably, unless you’ve been at this a LONG TIME, you’re probably asking the wrong question.  Instead, he tells you what you need to hear.  And he’s REALLY GOOD at determining what it is you need to hear from these few sentences of context you’ve given him.  But HOW he tells you is pretty brilliant too.  He doesn’t just say, “You should really take some aspirin.”  No, he states what he knows about physiology (as it pertains to your issue) and then cites a bunch of research that tells you what he thinks you should do, without overtly saying it in so many words.  In other words you have to do your own work and draw your own conclusions, but he makes it clear what direction he thinks you should look.

Brilliant.

Anyway, what I’m looking at now is reducing cortisol.  Here’s what Ray said to me in an email today.

Free unsaturated fatty acids turn on the stress hormones, and cortisol blocks oxidation of sugar and turns it into fatty acids and triglycerides. Keeping cortisol and stress low is the main thing. Keeping a high ratio of calcium to phosphate helps to oppose the stress metabolism.

And he listed a bunch of research on high cortisol causing metabolic problems, and on the use of niacinamide for reducing triglycerides.

Ray Medina would say that my gut health – specifically reducing gut leakiness – is key for reducing cortisol.  Peat seems to be leaning toward PUFAs causing high cortisol.  In any case, mine is high, and I’m going to do everything I can to lower it.  More red light, more sugar, more sleep, better macronutrient balance at meals.

Today I ate 4 meals, and each had protein/fat/carbohydrates.  In most cases the carbs were fruit or OJ – at dinner I had some rice.  I also took niacinamide and aspirin, 100mg of each, 3 times throughout the day.  Lastly I took a couple mcg of T3 at 2 different times today.  I felt really good all day – good energy, good mood, good blood sugar control.  I even felt really happy for a while there.

This way of eating and supplementing feels right and I’m going to continue it.

Cortisol, Inflammation, and New Garlic

I started with a new brand of organic garlic a few days ago.  It’s like the experiment is starting over again!  Another round of swollen, tender lymph nodes, some minor GI issues, and re-enlargement of my spleen (or whatever).  Ray Medina has mentioned somewhere in his blog that different brands of garlic resulted in different bodily responses for him.  Targeting different bacteria?  More/less effective?  I’m just gonna go with it.  Currently doing the garlic only twice a day.  Mostly because it’s not such a big deal anymore and I tend to forget sometimes.  Yesterday I actually craved garlic.  Weird huh?  I chopped it up and put it all over something I ate.  Raw.  Maybe my new happy bugs are hungry and are looking for the prebiotic inulin in the garlic.  Quite a bacterial fantasy life I have now.

I’ve been reading a lot over at Ray Medina’s site.  He’s really got my situation nailed with his Inflammatory-Cortisol Ballet series.  I’ve only read it once (so far), but it’s like he’s talking about me.  It makes a lot of sense – gut dysbiosis leads to inflammation (um….hs-CRP of over 8?), and the body produces cortisol to cope with the inflammation.  I do have the classic metabolic syndrome/high cortisol body.  A nurse I knew once used to call it the “diabetic body shape”.  Fat accumulation around the waist, skinny arms and legs.  Anyway, because the inflammation is chronic, the high cortisol becomes chronic, which leads to a crap-ton of symptoms, many of which I have, including weight gain, obesity, high insulin level, insulin resistance and diabetes, high blood pressure…basically all the metabolic syndrome stuff.

I think it’s interesting that while Ray Peat and Ray Medina don’t agree about everything, they agree about a lot of things that no one else seems to say, mainly that chronically high stress hormones are behind the most common chronic ailments.  They disagree somewhat about how to treat this – Peat says to eat enough sugar and protein, get enough light, and eat a thyroid-friendly diet.  Medina says to eradicate gut pathogens, take probiotics, and eat a gut-friendly diet.  I don’t see why I can’t do both!

Still feeling very emotionally stable no matter what I eat, since starting the Great Garlic Experiment.  Depression seems to be gone.  My husband says he’ll believe it’s gone if a month passes without seeing it.  It’s been only a week and a half.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 7

I should update on my abdominal issue – the one for which I’ve scheduled an ultrasound for the end of the month.  I put it off till then, hoping the Great Garlic Experiment might cause a shift of some kind making it unnecessary.

This issue has been going on for months.  Back in April I ordered labs because I was worried this pressure up against my left ribcage might mean my spleen was enlarged, which can indicate liver problems, leukemia, lymphoma, and other problems.  My labs were fine though.

Then I became concerned my pancreas was having problems – after all, my blood sugar has been high and my triglycerides were over 500.  I convinced myself that my symptoms were an early sign of pancreatitis.

Not long after that I became convinced I had pancreatic cancer, and tested myself for CA 19-9 – a blood marker that can indicate the presence of tumors and/or cancer.  I did not have an elevation of CA 19-9.  Probably no cancer.  Relieved.

But still…what’s with this THING in my abdomen?

This week there has been a huge improvement.  I didn’t feel it at all today, until I lay down on my back for about a half hour – after a while I could feel it a little bit.  A week ago, lying on my back was so uncomfortable that I just didn’t do it.  Now I can do it easily, and the internal pressure is 95% improved.  It’s almost gone.

I think I actually do/did have an enlarged spleen.  I’m not sure what the relationship of the spleen is to the bacteria in my gut.  The pressure got greater on day 2 of the Great Garlic Experiment when the rest of my lymphatic system seemed to be swollen and tender, and it’s almost disappeared since then.  Maybe my liver was just overburdened by endotoxin, and now things are flowing more smoothly.  Anyway, I’ll be canceling that ultrasound.

I think I’ll continue the garlic for a couple more days – maybe twice a day – until I can’t feel the pressure anymore.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 6

Today was much like yesterday.  Good energy, good mood.  The scale was up a couple pounds.  Apparently just because I CAN now eat unlimited starches (with butter all over them, of course) doesn’t mean I SHOULD.

And on that note, I wonder if this wouldn’t be a good time to start counting calories (and possibly fat grams) toward the end of losing weight. Now that I have the option of eating starches – once in a while, at least – my available repertoire of low-fat and low-calorie meals has expanded so I don’t think deprivation and monotony will be a factor.  Plus, starchy foods keep me satisfied much longer than simple sugars or fruits, both of which make me hungry within an hour, despite eating calorie-dense foods.  Worth a try anyway.

I’m feeling very grateful right now to Ray Medina for his innovative garlic cure for gut dysbiosis, and to Ray Peat for everything else that has helped me to feel better over the past year.  I doubt either of them will read this, but I’m yelling it loudly from my little corner of the web.  Thank you Ray and Ray for your generous and tireless work and willingness to share it all with the world for free.

And thanks so much to those who take the time to comment on here.  Without you, I wouldn’t have found the Rays and I’d still be fumbling around in the dark.  I’m very grateful for you.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 5

I still don’t stink.  I don’t think I’m going to.

I felt great today – lots of energy, good mood.  It wasn’t quite euphoric but I had a lot of energy.  I could see the light at the end of the tunnel of fatigue today.

Gas and bloating is gone, or at least unnoticeable.  Digestive processes otherwise unchanged.

Today I ate starches at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  No fatigue or sleepiness after eating, and no depression.  And I felt satisfied after eating – none of this need to graze all day long, as has been the norm for me for the last 8-9 months, since I started eating carbs.  Again today I had 100mg of caffeine, though largely out of habit – I didn’t feel like I needed it.

And that pressure up under my left ribcage?  My enlarged spleen?  Almost gone.  I can now lie on my back without feeling the need to roll onto my side because of the discomfort. I do feel it a bit when I’ve just eaten and my stomach is full of food, but it’s much less noticeable.  I guess my lymphatic system isn’t quite so taxed now for some reason.  Maybe I killed off the bad stuff already and now it’s smooth sailing.

Bottom line so far – mood is better, fatigue is gone, appetite dropping (today at least), and my ability to tolerate starches seems to be good.

I’m probably pushing my luck with all the starches, but I’m finding this fascinating and want to know what my body can do now!

I’m going to continue with the garlic 3x a day for 2 more days, and then once a day…maybe forever, along with a probiotic.  I can’t see a downside right now.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 4

Eating the garlic is getting easier.  I’ve learned to chew with my back molars – it keeps the sting of the garlic away from the parts of my tongue that are most sensitive.

I still don’t stink. My daughter did say to me tonight, “Your breath smells like I want to eat it,”  but I had literally just finished my garlic for the night.  So still, it’s not coming out of my pores or anything.  I must be a super garlic metabolizer!

Nothing out of the ordinary regarding digestion.  Maybe a little more bloating/gas.

Oh, here’s something interesting.  I’ve been eating starches every day since last Friday.  On Friday I had 2 pieces of bread (regular, glutenous bread).  I was on the road for work and didn’t pack enough food for the day, so I had a roast beef sub from Subway (no mayo, so at least really low in the PUFA department). I fully expected this to make me depressed, but it didn’t.  Sometimes it takes a couple days of consecutive starch eating to feel the effects, so I was happy about that.  The next day I didn’t eat much in the way of starch, but I think I had something.  Then each of the last 3 days I’ve had a couple servings of g/f bread and/or rice.  And no depression.  NO DEPRESSION.

In fact, I’ve been feeling fatigued and today around 6PM the fatigue sort of lifted and I started feeling more energetic.  I mean, like doing things I don’t even have to do.  It’s not often I feel that way.  The first 3 days of the Great Garlic Experiment I slept a lot.  Not all day or anything, but an extra hour or two each night, plus I took at least one short nap each day.  Today – no nap, plus I’m still up at 11:20PM.  Not much in the way of caffeine today – just 100mg in tablet form around 10:00AM.  No coffee or tea.  So there’s been a shift in my energy level.

My regimen each day is now as follows:

  • AM (before breakfast) – 1 probiotic and 1/2 teaspoon inulin powder dissolved in water
  • AM (after breakfast) – 2 large (or 3 small) cloves of organic domestic garlic, crushed and soaked in water for 15-20 minutes, drinking the water and chewing the cloves
  • PM (after lunch) – 2 large (or 3 small) cloves of garlic (prepared the same way)
  • PM (after dinner) – 2 large (or 3 small) cloves of garlic (prepared the same way)

Something seems to be working so I won’t mess with it.

Oh, and I went to 2 different fancy stores today looking for a different brand of organic garlic, since I fully expected to feel sicker than I do, which makes me wonder if the garlic I’m using was irradiated at some point.  One store had nothing organic, and the other store had the same brand I’m already using.  So it’s this or nuthin.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 3

Well, aside from actually eating garlic 3x a day, I feel completely normal today.

Mood is good – not over the top, but a solid “good”.

Body feels fine.

Still aware of what I’m now unscientifically calling my enlarged spleen.  But it seemed more enlarged yesterday.

I still don’t stink, according to my husband.  Not really much gas either, which I expected considering that garlic contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that should be feeding good bacteria in the colon.

Bathroom requirements and habits are unchanged.

I wonder if my “domestic organic” garlic is indeed what it says it is.  What if I have garlic that was surreptitiously irradiated?  Maybe I’ll find and try a new garlic for tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll up my probiotics to 2 tablets per day.

In any case, I’ll continue this for 7 days.

That is all.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 2

Didn’t sleep very well last night – I woke up repeatedly and had somewhat unpleasant dreams all night.  That’s unusual for me so I blame the garlic.  Yeah, you go, garlic!  Kick some microbiotic ass!

Today I feel like my immune system is definitely activated.  The lymph nodes in my neck are swollen and tender, and I feel run down.  Not depressed exactly, just not interested in doing anything or talking to anyone.  So far no one has told me I reek of garlic though.  Maybe that’s coming.

Had 1 big clove of garlic after breakfast, a couple more after lunch.  Before lunch I had one of Ray Medina’s own probiotics, which are manufactured using BioTract.  From his website’s FAQ page:

Bio-tract®is a unique patented tableting process developed by Nutraceutix. It ensures that the beneficial organisms contained in your tablet will survive the harsh acidic conditions of your stomach and populate your digestive tract. Sorry to say that most refrigerated probiotics on the market today cannot make this claim. Probiotics in enteric coated tablets do not, in their majority, survive stomach acid after ingestion. Estimates of up to 99% of organisms have been found to NOT survive transit through the stomach when packaged in enteric coated capsules. For that reason you’ll see manufacturers use huge colony forming unit (CFU) counts. The thought being that by packing more organisms in a capsule, the more likely some will survive the journey. Kind of like throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks. But why pay for something that you aren’t getting because it’s being killed off by your stomach acid? Bio-tract® ensures that the probiotics you just spent good money buying actually make it to the small and large intestine where they can actually do you some good.

Too bad he stopped making these – I got one of the last bottles.

Along with the probiotic I took 1/2 teaspoon of inulin powder as a prebiotic to feed the helpful bacteria.  The label says to take 1 full teaspoon but I wanted to test a smaller dose to see if there would be any negative effect.  So far so good.

I’m about to have my last garlicious clove of the day, crushed and soaked in water for 15 minutes, and then eaten and washed down with the garlic water.  Medina says there are benefits to chewing the garlic:

Personally, I chewed and swallowed the garlic bits, mainly because garlic fiber is also a prebiotic and feeds bifidobacteria when it reaches the colon. Anyone with gut issues needs to increase bifidobacterial colonies in the colon. I also found that it cleared up the last remaining bits of dental plaque I had left. Giving up gluten did a lot to rectify that problem, but chewing garlic cleared it up entirely.

Honestly, chewing the garlic is the hardest part.  I like the taste of garlic but chewing it creates an ick experience for me – it’s just too much garlic.  Still going to continue though, until I just can’t anymore.

Anyway, things seem to be going fine.  Digestive processes so far unchanged (they were already good).  Hoping the fatigue and lymphy achiness goes away soon.

Oh here’s an interesting thing – the pressure up against my left ribcage has gotten worse in the last day.  The spleen, which sits right there, is part of the body’s lymphatic system.  I’m guessing my spleen has become somewhat enlarged over the last several months, for some reason.  This apparently isn’t a disorder in itself, but can signal other bad things going on, such as cancer of the blood (leukemia, lymphoma), liver problems, or high cholesterol.  I’m not sure what role bad gut bacteria might be playing.  My recent labs don’t show obvious abnormalities with red or white blood cells, platelets or with liver enzymes.  If the garlic detox doesn’t reduce it over the next couple of weeks I’ll go through with my scheduled abdominal ultrasound at the end of the month.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 1

Family stuff this morning, got home around 4PM, and took my first dose of raw, organic garlic soon after.  So far, 8 hours later, I feel almost completely….

…the same.

I do, however, feel a little tiny itch deep in my left ear.  Candida dying off?  A long shot.  But maybe!  I also have a tiny sore-throat feeling, like I’m getting sick.  Herxheimer reaction?  Hm…hard to say at this point.

Ray Medina does not recommend taking doses of raw garlic before bed because digestive upset may ensue and then sleep would be disrupted.  Ergo, I’ll be continuing the GGE (great garlic experiment) tomorrow….one good dose after each meal.

I hope to feel ill by tomorrow night.

In other news, I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiments over the last 6 months using the principles recommended by Dr. Ray Peat.  So far they haven’t seemed to work very well for me, as far as bettering my health, and while I felt MUCH BETTER doing the things he generally recommends, my labs were still unacceptable.  A week or two ago I was close to just moving on, finding the nearest diabetic cookbook, and just curling up in the corner with some dry rice cakes.  It occurs to me now though, that perhaps it was a bit arrogant of me to think I could torture my body in many ways for many years, and expect Peat to fix me in a matter of months.  I broke my metabolism and my ability to effectively store glucose, via years and years of low-carb/yo-yo dieting.  OF COURSE my body is going to act shocked when I dump a bunch of sugar and salt all over it.  Perhaps I need to just ramp it up a bit.  Go a bit more slowly.

So that’s what I’m doing.  This blog might be really boring.  No more fireworks.  No more exploding pancreas.  No more triglycerides you can point to and think, “Whew….glad I’m not THAT BAD.”  It’ll just be me taking things slowly, gradually testing to see if my tolerance to different things has changed.  Maybe a boring graph here and there, hopefully showing very gradual but sustained progress.  Geez, I’m bored just writing this paragraph.

Then again, maybe the garlic thing will become exciting.  Stay tuned for the GGE – Day 2, coming up tomorrow.