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


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.

One week down….and done.

Today is Day 7 of my plant based diet.  And I’m done with it.

I know that will come as a shock…me quitting an eating plan and all…feel free to flame me in the comments.  I don’t mind.  I have my reasons.

Here they are:

1.  The Forks Over Knives bubble has burst:

A thoughtful commenter brought my attention to a really excellent article: Denise Minger’s analysis of the science behind Forks Over Knives….the movie that got me interested in giving up animal-based protein in the first place. (Aside: Denise is such a great writer.  I wonder how long it took her to research and compose this article.) I won’t go into a ton of detail – you can read the article if you wanna – but I will say that a LOT of information was omitted from the movie, like the entire context of a lot of the studies that were presented as evidence that healthy living starts and ends with plants.  For example, the diets that folks were put on which led to great before/after stories were not just free of meat and dairy – they were free of all processed food and fat too. Confounding variables, anyone?  Also, massive conclusions about cause were drawn based on correlational data (and not very good correlational data at that).  The original science was good but the reporting on it was terrible and completely misleading.  It’s like a group of militant picket-waving PETA members got together and decided their slaughterhouse horror movies weren’t doing the trick so they better try a new angle – hey I know!  Let’s find some really good science on nutrition and get a couple of doctors [i.e., not scientists] to interpret it for us using their own personal bias!  We’ll just have to hold the camera steady.

Too bad, because it was an entertaining film.

2.  My tic has returned.

I know this is going to sound a little weird – I’ve never told the internet about my weird tic.  For years I have had this odd motor behavior, probably best described as a tic. It’s something I’m able to control enough that I don’t do it around other people in any obvious way, but basically it involves my wrists.  When the urge hits to engage in this tic, my wrists absolutely must be stretched or straightened out or shaken vigorously, or I can’t stop thinking about it.  It’s a little like OCD but just for this one very specific behavior.  It gets worse when I’m under stress – like, when I had that horrible job in California, it was all the time and my wrists became sore.  I haven’t noticed the tic at all for many months…until 2 days ago.  Nothing in my life has changed except my diet.  I don’t know for sure that I can blame the diet, but as soon as I felt that old familiar, obnoxious urge, I started wondering if there’s some amino acid or micronutrient that I’m not getting since I stopped with the meat/dairy.  I guess it could be a complete coincidence.  Having worked with people that have Tourette’s though, I can tell you for sure that tics have a basis in neurological processes and are affected by things that affect the brain and the neurotransmitters.  They’re not just weirdness or mental illness – there’s something going on biochemically.  It’ll be interesting to see if going back to eating meat/dairy makes it go away again.

3.  Doing no harm (to myself).

One thing I learned about eating a plant-based diet is that it’s REALLY hard to eat a balanced diet with enough protein and a good array of micronutrients.  I think it’s possible to research the food combinations that MUST be included and in what quantities and frequencies in order to have a nutritionally balanced diet and to avoid the many processed vegan foods out there that contain things that are downright dangerous, like soy and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

I like animals just fine, but am I going to be the first in line at the PETA rally?  No.  It’s just not a cause that happens to touch me emotionally.  One would need to be fully committed to this way of life in order to have it be healthy – and even then it’s questionable.  I’m just not that committed.

4. Heartburn

After eating starches I get heartburn.  Not always, but enough that there’s a definite correlation.  I haven’t had heartburn in so long because my starch consumption has been really low for about 2 years.  And it’s been back for…oh, about a week.

5.  Gut flora

I don’t really want all of my meat-lovin’ gut flora to go away and be replaced by exclusively plant-lovin’ flora, especially since I don’t feel committed to doing this for life.

6.  I don’t really like it.

Vegan food is probably satisfying – again, if you’re that gal researching, planning, shopping, and cooking and lovin’ every minute of it.  But otherwise I find myself eating potatoes for dinner.  An apple and an orange for breakfast.  It’s like side dish hell.  I know this is just my preference, and honestly of all the above reasons for abandoning ship, this is the least important.  I do believe it’s important though to like what you eat.  This is just meh.

So there you have it.

And now, I’m going to go eat some cheese.


Let’s Turn My Whole Life Into Data

CB last night was 50 deg F for 35 minutes.  It was just alright.  Certainly tolerable!

I’ve started a database (using Bento on the Mac) to track the following aspects of my world every day:

  • CT experience
  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep quality
  • Mood
  • Diet
  • Energy level
  • How many hours before hungry (AM and PM)
  • Fatigue
  • Diet Missteps (stuff I eat that I shouldn’t eat)

I’m trying to determine what makes some days good and some days bad.  Why am I not hungry at all one day but I am hungry the next day?  Why am I sometimes tired after lunch and sometimes not tired?  Why does CT suck some days and rock other days?  Anyway, I’ve just begun to collect data, so it’ll take some time to identify any patterns.

I’ve also started reading more about Leaky Gut Syndrome.  I don’t eat dairy or nightshades very often, but I do maybe once or twice a week.  I was researching on the web and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there.   Dr. K. would probably say I have leaky gut issues (hence the low HDL).  But I’m wondering if I’m undoing 5 or 6 days of eating “perfectly” by having cheese on a salad once or twice…or by having onions mixed up in a recipe once a week.  How strict do you have to be?  IT’S NOT EASY GIVING UP EVERYTHING THAT MAKES MEAT AND LETTUCE TASTE GOOD!!!

Whew…I’m not sure but I think I just had a tantrum.

Oh well…out of time.

Random Research Dissection

I’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the research that supposedly supports the use of statin medication.  I’m going to be as objective as I can.  Of course there’s a natural bias – I’d like to confirm that what I’m doing diet-wise is the right thing to do, and I do love a good conspiracy…but still, I’m going to strive for objectivity.

I just came across this article:

Blood cholesterol and vascular mortality by age, sex, and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of individual data from 61 prospective studies with 55 000 vascular deaths

This is a meta-analysis of 61 studies involving vascular mortality, all of which included baseline blood pressure and total cholesterol measurements.  In some of the studies, HDL cholesterol was also studied. I read this analysis with interest because the findings associated with the study did not seem to really support the author’s interpretation.  I should mention, I don’t have the full article, just the summary.

Here are some of the findings (with my comments):

“1 mmol/L lower total cholesterol was associated with about a half (hazard ratio 0·44 [95% CI 0·42—0·48]), a third (0·66 [0·65—0·68]), and a sixth (0·83 [0·81—0·85]) lower IHD (ischaemic heart disease) mortality in both sexes at ages 40—49, 50—69, and 70—89 years, respectively, throughout the main range of cholesterol in most developed countries, with no apparent threshold”

Ok, first I need to translate, for my own understanding.  So what exactly is 1 mmol/L?  My lab draws are always expressed in mg/dL.  I found an online converter that tells me that with regard to total cholesterol, 1 mmol/L is equivalent to 38.7mg/dL.  So with a total cholesterol level of 39 points lower, your chance of dying of IHD is cut in half if you’re in your 40s, it’s cut by a third if you’re in your 50s or 60s, and it’s cut by a sixth if you’re in your 70s and 80s.  Hm. Ok.  But 39 mg/dL lower than what?  It says “throughout the main range of cholesterol”…so I guess when you’re comparing two 45-year old people, the guy with total cholesterol that is 39 mg/dL lower than the other guy has 50% less chance of dying.  Got it.

“The proportional risk reduction decreased with increasing blood pressure, since the absolute effects of cholesterol and blood pressure were approximately additive.”

I hate when things get all double-negative-y.  So if the risk reduction is decreased, that means the risk is increased…right?  I’m not sure what “approximately additive” means…so I’m going to ignore the words that don’t make sense to me, and assume this means that your odds are worse if you have both high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

“Of various simple indices involving HDL cholesterol, the ratio total/HDL cholesterol was the strongest predictor of IHD mortality (40% more informative than non-HDL cholesterol and more than twice as informative as total cholesterol).”

So  the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol was the strongest predictor of IHD mortality.  More informative than non-HDL cholesterol…so LDL cholesterol then?  And much more informative than total cholesterol.  This suggests to me that having high HDL cholesterol (although they don’t specifically say high is better, here) is way more important than having low LDL cholesterol.  Hm…probably because they’re not looking at what KIND of LDL cholesterol they’re dealing with.

“Total cholesterol was weakly positively related to ischaemic and total stroke mortality in early middle age (40—59 years), but this finding could be largely or wholly accounted for by the association of cholesterol with blood pressure.”

So some of the people who had high cholesterol died of strokes.  We’re not sure if it’s because of the cholesterol or their blood pressure, or both.  *shrug*

“Moreover, a positive relation was seen only in middle age and only in those with below-average blood pressure; at older ages (70—89 years) and, particularly, for those with systolic blood pressure over about 145 mm Hg, total cholesterol was negatively related to haemorrhagic and total stroke mortality.”

Ok, I had to take a break here and find out what “ischaemic” and “haemorrhagic” mean.  Apparently “ischaemic” means there’s a blockage preventing blood flow, and “haemorrhagic” means a blood vessel bursts.  So there you go.  Now back to our dissection.

Hm…I don’t understand…a positive relation (I think they’re still referring to the positive relationship between high cholesterol and strokes, which was confounded by the blood pressure variable) was seen only in those with below-average blood pressure.  Huh? You’re slightly more likely to have a stroke if you have high cholesterol, but only if you have low blood pressure.  Well that’s just weird.

And if you’re over 70 and you have high blood pressure, then high total cholesterol means you are LESS likely to have a stroke.  Hm.

OK, that was fun…now let’s look at their interpretation of this information

“Total cholesterol was positively associated with IHD mortality in both middle and old age and at all blood pressure levels.The absence of an independent positive association of cholesterol with stroke mortality, especially at older ages or higher blood pressures, is unexplained, and invites further research. Nevertheless, there is conclusive evidence from randomised trials that statins substantially reduce not only coronary event rates but also total stroke rates in patients with a wide range of ages and blood pressures.”

My translation: When total cholesterol goes down, death by blocked artery goes down, regardless of blood pressure.  Stroke, however, does not appear related to total cholesterol.  We’re going to ignore our own analysis, however, and assert that statins do indeed prevent strokes.  So go get yourself some Lipitor!

I think it’s interesting that they neglected to mention in their “interpretation” that HDL is much more predictive of IHD than total cholesterol.  Maybe because statins don’t help HDL.

Makes me wonder who funded this study.

Blinding me with Science

I’m blown away by the amount of conflicting information out there. I mean, not just stupid American media contradicting itself, but scientists writing blogs contradicting each other. Apparently it’s common to just ignore science that doesn’t support your hypothesis and report the science that does. How messed up!

I am going to continue to add links to my sidebar, as there are many blogs and websites I want to spend time studying.  The latest and greatest I just discovered is called Whole Health Source, written by a neurobiologist.  I really like what he wrote in his sidebar profile:

My goal is to live well, and help others do the same. This blog is a free service to whoever wants to read it. It’s supported by generous reader donations. I have no ties to any company or special interest group.

I see myself sort of like this, but with less to offer. 🙂

Anyway, I’m currently working toward building a place on the web where answers can be found.  Hopefully the right ones.  I know that no one really knows the answers to these questions…if we did we’d probably all be healthy and fit.  But I’d like to get close and ultimately help others get to a place where they can heal themselves too.