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.

Sodium and Hypertension

I’m particularly interested in Dr. Peat’s thoughts on high blood pressure.  Mine climbed to “high” over the last year, beginning when I was under a lot of stress in California.  I decided to review and paraphrase his article, “When energy fails: Edema, heart failure, hypertension, sarcopenia, etc.”  Here are my notes:

  • Things start to fall apart with health when the body has trouble renewing cells and tissues.  Muscles and bones shrink and get weaker, fat increases while muscle decreases, collagen replaces cells. When cells aren’t renewed and collagen is used to patch up tissues, there is inflammation.
  • We should think of metabolism as what is needed to sustain cell/tissue regeneration.  If this is diminished, generalized inflammation develops. Things that interfere with energy production: Too much iron/not enough copper, endotoxin, PUFA accumulation, not enough thyroid hormone, increased nitric oxide, serotonin, histamine.
  • Preeclampsia (Toxemia of pregnancy) = a state of generalized inflammation.  Research showed it was caused by malnutrition, and is cured by adequate protein, salt, and calcium. Doctors used to recommend reducing salt intake to cure/prevent it, but this actually caused it to happen more.
  • If pregnant woman’s blood volume doesn’t increase to match the needs of the baby (or if it decreases as in Preeclampsia), blood pressure will increase.  Increased blood pressure is compensating for smaller volume of blood.
  • Regular old “essential hypertension” (the kind I have) also = less blood volume. In both preeclampsia and essential hypertension there is increased aldosterone, which causes a retention of sodium and loss of potassium and ammonium.  Reducing salt intake causes more aldosterone to be produced, while increasing salt lowers aldosterone.  Aldosterone causes capillaries to become leaky, causing new ones to grow.  Increasing salt lowers aldosterone and reduces this leakiness. 
  • Sodium helps maintain blood volume, which tells the kidneys to stop increasing blood pressure and aldosterone.  It also prevents edema and maintains blood volume. When energy metabolism fails (in diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyper estrogenism, and starvation), the body loses sodium. Eating carbohydrate, adding thyroid hormone, insulin, or progesterone increases retention of sodium.  Fructose is the best to consume for this.
  • Low sodium = Increase in adrenaline. Studies show that if people salt their food to taste and stop with the low-salt diets adrenaline drops and they sleep better.  PMS symptoms also improve.
  • Increased estrogen = sodium loss.  After age 30 the body starts producing more aldosterone and cortisol and less sex hormones.  Progesterone helps normalize sodium in the body and protects against harmful effects of aldosterone, excess cortisol, estrogen, and adrogens.
  • Stress increases the need for energy.  When glucose isn’t available cortisol and free fatty acids (FFAs) are formed.  These interfere with body’s ability to use glucose.Mainstream medicine still thinks glucose (sugar) causes diabetes.  But research shows that glucose is used for energy production, lowers FFAs, and regenerates cells.  FFAs are the destructive ones.
  • Aspirin decreases the release of FFAs, lowers aldosterone, helps to lower blood pressure if taken in the evening, to prevent FFA  increases at night.  Aspirin also increases insulin sensitivity.
  • Low salt diet increases FFAs, leading to insulin resistance, atherosclerosis.
  • All organs are affected by loss of control over water in the body.  “High blood pressure is one of the adaptations that helps preserve or restore energy production.”
  • Lowering inflammation and FFAs and improving body’s ability to utilize glucose will lower blood pressure.  Lowering BP without improving energy production (like with drugs) causes other problems.

Takeaway message:  Eat salt.  Salt food to taste.  If you have high blood pressure, gradually add more salt and allow hormonal changes to normalize sodium levels so kidneys can stop signaling to increase blood pressure.

OK!  Working on that.  I eat a lot of salt now…at least it seems like a lot.  At least a teaspoon a day.  I should start measuring.  My bloating is gone (i.e., aldosterone production has dropped so less edema), but blood pressure remains high.  I’ll keep at it.