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.

Starch Almost Killed Me Today

True story.  Today I was on the road for 5 hours, round trip.  Before making the return trip my family and I ate lunch at a Chinese buffet.  Not ideal health-wise, I know, but I made the best of it. I ate some seafood (shrimp, scallops in butter), a teeny tiny hot dog with bacon wrapped around it, some beef dish (avoiding the PUFA-laden sauce as much as possible), and 3 sections of a California roll.  They looked like this:

sushi

Only, 3 instead of 4.

I love sushi with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.  Not eating starches for several months there was tough for me in part because I love sushi so much, and sashimi just doesn’t do it for me.  But I digress.

I had 3 pieces of California roll.  Now, how much rice do you suppose is in 3 pieces?  Maybe a quarter cup?

After lunch I got in the car to drive the 2.5 hours back home, my little girl in the back seat. About 30 minutes in I was fighting to stay awake.  FIGHTING.  At one point I almost dozed off behind the wheel.  I haven’t done that for years, despite frequently driving long distances like this.  Gee….I wonder why I was so tired…I mean, I slept well last night, as I usually do…I had a couple hundred milligrams of caffeine in me this morning…so weird…Hm.  Oh yeah…THE RICE.  THE DAMN RICE MADE ME SO TIRED I ALMOST FELL ASLEEP BEHIND THE WHEEL.

I haven’t felt the need to take mid-day naps for months until I started eating starches.  Now, like clockwork, I eat something starchy and within 45 minutes or so, I’m exhausted.  My muscles feel weak, my eyelids heavy.  All I can say is, thank goodness for this song, which helped to wake me up again.  I had to turn it up really loud and car-dance to avoid further life-threatening sleepiness.  I hope my daughter didn’t listen to the lyrics.

So…starches aren’t working out for me.

Know what else isn’t working out?  Free-wheeling it with my diet and hoping it all falls into place.  My [lack of] health is past that point, I’m afraid.  The last few days my mood has been all over the place, my temper has been short, I’m tired, and my motivation to do things like play with my kid is very very low.

So new diet plan (4.0?):  Every. Single. Thing. I eat needs to be high in nutrient density.  No more doing the minimum necessary to get in all my nutrients so I don’t feel guilty eating the stuff I really want to eat (I’m looking at you, grilled cheese on gluten-free bread).  Now the ONLY things I’ll be eating will be high in nutrient density.  I’m going to assault my body with micronutrients so it doesn’t need as much food. If my inability to tolerate foods is killing me and/or making me want to kill others (stupid serotonin), I’ll just have to reduce the quantity of food.

I might even eat berries.

No more starches for a while, except maybe at night when I don’t need to be productive afterward…and when there are fewer hours left in the day for me to pick fights with jerks on Facebook.

Biking is going well though… Went for a ride at 6:30AM after a breakfast of 3 scrambled eggs and no carbohydrates.  Felt awesome.  Unfortunately, it was downhill from there.

There’s always tomorrow.

Peat vs PHD: A Comparison

Ok, I finished the Perfect Health Diet (PHD) book by Paul Jaminet and his wife, Shou-Ching Jaminet (I notice she doesn’t get much credit in PaleoLand, but she’s the co-author and also a Ph.D.). I was drawn to it in the first place because they advocate a moderately low-carbohydrate diet (just enough carb to meet the body’s needs, which they say is around 600 calories or 150g per day), and that a good chunk of those carbs should be starches, which I’ve recently started eating.

I thought it would be fun to compare the recommendations made by Ray Peat and those made in the PHD. First, let’s look at the similarities.  They both recommend a whole-food diet, liver once a week, shellfish once a week, and both caution to avoid PUFAs, grains (though both seem to make exceptions for rice), and legumes.  Peat says keep PUFAs low – real low – like 1-2% of your dietary calories low.  The PHD says under 4% is probably ok. Potatoes seem to be ok with both of them.  Both say that saturated fats are awesome – butter, coconut oil, and cream being fabulous in both camps. Both are fairly noncommittal about non-starchy vegetables: Peat says they’re ok if they’re well-cooked, but I get the distinct impression he finds them fairly optional, and the PHD says you can eat around a pound per day of non-starchy veggies, but there’s no firm guideline.  They say, “Eat vegetables to taste – they are nourishing and add flavor to meals – but don’t consider them a calorie source.” (PHD, KL 3217). Both recommend getting lots of your nutrients from liver, shellfish, eggs and bone broth.

Ok, that’s about where the similarities end.  The greatest areas of disagreement between Peat and the PHD are with regard to calcium/dairy/phosphorus, fructose/sugar, and Omega 3s.  Peat strongly recommends getting enough dietary calcium to maintain between a 1:1 and a 1:2 ratio of calcium to phosphorus, ideally closer to the former. His views on this topic are expressed well here:

A diet that provides enough calcium to limit activity of the parathyroid glands, and that is low in phosphate and polyunsaturated fats, with sugar rather than starch as the main carbohydrate, possibly supplemented by niacinamide and aspirin, should help to avoid some of the degenerative processes associated with high phosphate: fatigue, heart failure, movement discoordination, hypogonadism, infertility, vascular calcification, emphysema, cancer, osteoporosis, and atrophy of skin, skeletal muscle, intestine, thymus, and spleen (Ohnishi and Razzaque, 2010; Shiraki-Iida, et al., 2000; Kuro-o, et al., 1997; Osuka and Razzaque, 2012). The foods naturally highest in phosphate, relative to calcium, are cereals, legumes, meats, and fish. Many prepared foods contain added phosphate. Foods with a higher, safer ratio of calcium to phosphate are leaves, such as kale, turnip greens, and beet greens, and many fruits, milk, and cheese. Coffee, besides being a good source of magnesium, is probably helpful for lowering phosphate, by its antagonism to adenosine (Coulson, et al., 1991).

The PHD barely mentions phosphorus.  A search of the Kindle version of the book indicates it’s mentioned 7 times within the body of the text, each time as part of a list of nutrients (e.g., “magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus…”).  There’s no discussion at all about potential deleterious effects associated with high phosphorus intake.  It’s interesting because overall the PHD does a great job of describing deficiencies and toxicities of all of the main micronutrients.  They didn’t touch on this one though.  The calcium/phosphorus ratio recommended by Peat is one of the things I’d never heard before I began studying his work.  He says that calcium gets blamed for a lot of negative effects in the body when phosphorus is the real culprit.

The PHD talks about the effects of too much calcium, citing studies that indicate 600mg per day is adequate and maximizes bone health (PHD, KL 5175).  It goes on to say:

Calcium supplementation was a mistake.  The true culprits in osteoporosis are deficiencies of Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, and magnesium.

and…

Studies have found that supplemental calcium increases the incidence of strokes and heart attacks by over 30 percent and increases the overall risk of death by 9 percent. One analysis concluded, “Treating 1,000 people with calcium or calcium and vitamin D for five years would cause an additional six myocardial infarctions or strokes and prevent three fractures. (PHD, KL 5183)

It goes on to blame calcium for brain lesions, the promotion of biofilms, and hypercalcemia.  Apparently this study found that calcium balance occurs at an intake of 741mg/day – that’s the amount of calcium retained by the body each day. So that’s what the PHD recommends – about 700mg/day, in the form of bone broth, green leafy vegetables, maybe some dairy.  The PHD was kinda wishy washy on the dairy thing.  They didn’t give it a section in the book, which I find odd.  I mean, “Alcohol” had it’s own section. Lots of people eat dairy and to not really acknowledge it doesn’t make sense to me.  Plus in the beginning “Milk” is listed among the items to avoid, “…but DO eat fermented or fatty dairy products: butter, sour cream, ice cream, cheese, yogurt,” (PHD, KL 198).  I should avoid milk (and sugar!) but ice cream is ok?  Kinda loopy.

Ok, so Peat says we’re gonna die if we don’t get enough calcium, and PHD says we’re gonna die if we get too much.

Another big area of disagreement between these guys is with regard to fructose. The PHD says fructose is only bad in high doses or when eaten with PUFAs – but since most Americans eat a high-PUFA diet, it’s a big deal on a societal scale.

Fructose appears most problematic when study subjects are obese or overweight and when they are eating diets high in polyunsaturated fat.” (PHD, KL 3904)

The PHD goes on to say that fructose is toxic to the liver and causes metabolic syndrome, diabetes, endotoxemia, poor blood lipid profile, high uric acid (an aside: my uric acid went DOWN on a higher-fructose diet), gout, kidney disease, obesity, liver disease, cognitive impairment, and retinopathy.  Still though, they recommend up to 25g of fructose per day, and at most 10g per meal.  The dose makes the poison, apparently.  Keep your PUFAs low and a little is fine.

Peat says fructose has been wrongly maligned:

Many people lately have been told, as part of a campaign to explain the high incidence of fatty liver degeneration in the US, supposedly resulting from eating too much sugar, that fructose can be metabolized only by the liver. The liver does have the highest capacity for metabolizing fructose, but the other organs do metabolize it.

If fructose can by-pass the fatty acids’ inhibition of glucose metabolism, to be oxidized when glucose can’t, and if the metabolism of diabetes involves the oxidation of fatty acids instead of glucose, then we would expect there to be less than the normal amount of fructose in the serum of diabetics, although their defining trait is the presence of an increased amount of glucose. According to Osuagwu and Madumere (2008), that is the case. If a fructose deficiency exists in diabetes, then it is appropriate to supplement it in the diet.

And regarding the effect of fructose on obesity:

Starch and glucose efficiently stimulate insulin secretion, and that accelerates the disposition of glucose, activating its conversion to glycogen and fat, as well as its oxidation. Fructose inhibits the stimulation of insulin by glucose, so this means that eating ordinary sugar, sucrose (a disaccharide, consisting of glucose and fructose), in place of starch, will reduce the tendency to store fat. Eating “complex carbohydrates,” rather than sugars, is a reasonable way to promote obesity. Eating starch, by increasing insulin and lowering the blood sugar, stimulates the appetite, causing a person to eat more, so the effect on fat production becomes much larger than when equal amounts of sugar and starch are eaten. The obesity itself then becomes an additional physiological factor; the fat cells create something analogous to an inflammatory state. There isn’t anything wrong with a high carbohydrate diet, and even a high starch diet isn’t necessarily incompatible with good health, but when better foods are available they should be used instead of starches. For example, fruits have many advantages over grains, besides the difference between sugar and starch. (Emphasis his.)

I can say my own experience of eating sugar (mostly fructose/glucose in fruit juice and honey) did not result in fat production – my weight was stable the entire time I avoided starches. So score one for Peat. However, I was hungry all the time. And in the past week or two of eating starches it has NOT been the case for me that they stimulate my appetite. I can forget about eating now for the first time in months – what a relief.  Starches do make me sleepy though.

Speaking of which, I’m getting tired…time to wrap this up!

The last big area of disagreement seems to be regarding Omega 3 fatty acids – should we eat salmon and other fatty seafood or not?  Peat says NO, PHD says YES (once a week).  I’ll go into this in greater detail in another post. I have more reading to do on this topic.

My conclusions (for me): I think I’m going to keep eating dairy.  Peat makes a better case.  And I think I’ll avoid fructose – not because of what the Jaminets have to say, but because I don’t particularly like fruit and I don’t miss it at all…and because it did seem to mess up my lipid profile to a point that I’ve become concerned…but seriously, I’m pretty broken.  It probably doesn’t take much to tip those scales into the danger zone.  As for omega 3s – the jury is still out. So dairy is a YES, with phosphorus limited relative to calcium intake.  Fructose, for me, is a NO. But just cuz I don’t like it. You go ahead. Just keep your PUFAs low and you’ll probably be just fine.

RS + Probiotics – Day 3

I thought I’d give a quick update.

I started with a small little teaspoon of potato starch 2 days ago, combined with probiotics, once a day.  So far so good – no change in anything perceptible, which is a good thing considering the negative effects I’ve had in the past.  I think I’ll give it a few more days of this and then maybe try to increase, either to one teaspoon of RS 2x a day or one larger dose.  That’s when all hell broke loose last time though so I hesitate.  Maybe I won’t do that.  I’ve now talked myself out of it.  This is how I am.

I stopped eating *so much* sugar.  I still eat some – like, yesterday I ate half a bag of M&Ms and one of my daughter’s Rice Krispie bars (poor planning, eating found-in-the-car-food), and a couple of Hershey’s kisses throughout the day, plus a glass of OJ.  Other than that I’ve been eating like a “normal” person – little planning, eating what feels right.  Still not eating things like wheat, corn, legumes, PUFAs, or other things that just seem bad for me for one reason or another, but not obsessing over it.  It’s kind of a relief from the dietary micromanagement.

My fasting blood sugar the last 2 days as been 113 and 116.  Rarely in recent history is it that low.  I attribute it to not eating so much sugar.

Since I wrote my last post about my new RS + Probiotics experiment I’ve gotten a few emails/messages from some concerned readers.  What about the risk of SIBO?  Or the risk of increased lactic acid caused by certain strains of bacteria?  These are good questions.  I don’t know the answers.  I can say that after weighing my options, this seemed like the best one.  If I screw up my health further I’ll look back on this and know I was doing the best I could.

Interestingly, I’ve been eating some potatoes and rice and my mood has been fine the last few days.  I doubt the probiotics have had an effect yet, but I’m wondering if maybe certain starches like these are fine for me and more processed starches (g/f bread, g/f pasta) are the problem.  Not sure why that would be – I seem to be doing ok the last 4-5 days as long as I avoid those.  Not exactly smiling for no reason or anything….there’s some anxiety, but no depression.  I can live with it.

I’ve been reading about Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet.  First impressions from his website are that he’s a really decent person, willing to share his knowledge and really trying to help people. I know earnestness doesn’t fix diabetes, but it’s nice to spend time at his site….gives me the warm and fuzzies.  I’ll be reading more.  He seems to have one foot in the resistant starch camp, but is firmly in the pro-digestible starch camp along with intermittent fasting.  Some of his ideas seem to be summed up here, specifically with regard to weight loss:

I prefer to train people in proportions and amounts. Proportions — try in your mind dividing your plate until four equal quadrants containing (1) meat/fish/egg, (2) sugary starch like potato, (3) sugary in-ground vegetables (beet, carrot), fruits, berries, and (4) low-calorie vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, onions, celery, asparagus, kimchi, etc). Then flavor things with a sauce combining fat (eg butter, sour cream, coconut milk), acid (vinegar, pickle juice, etc). Use less fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Eat enough to avoid any significant hunger while fasting 16 hours per day.

He seems to generally favor a diet that is 30% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 55% fat.  More research is in order, on my part.

I’m getting my bike prepared for daily exercise (weather permitting). (<–Listening to you, Karin).  Hope to start as soon as it stops raining.  I do love my bike.

Experiment: Resistant Starch + Probiotics

It’s time for me to stop avoiding starches. I just can’t imagine a life of getting all of my carbohydrates from sugar (and my body has rejected that idea anyway). Today I started my second resistant starch (RS) experiment, this time combining it with highly-recommended probiotics:

The three probiotics I’ll be using:

Assuming all goes well I’ll be starting with 1 capsule a day, maybe attempting 2 a day, basically alternating brands to increase exposure to the various strains of bacteria they contain.

Yes, I know in the discussion following my previous RS experiment I referenced a study that suggested that potato starch (PS) could cause physiological problems with long-term use due to persorption of large starch particles clogging arterioles throughout the body.  But you know what else causes problems long term?  Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low HDL…all of which I already have for sure.  I’ve decided the possibility of trading a few of these current problems is worth the risk. Also, there are many forms of resistant starch – potato starch just happens to be dirt cheap, widely available, and very effective for many who try it.  I may start with that because I already have it, and then transition to something else, such as green bananas, banana flour, or plantain flour.  I’ve attempted to research the particle sizes of these other forms of RS, but there’s not a lot of (free) information out there.  At some point analysis becomes paralysis, and you just have to take a chance.  Of course, real food can also contain resistant starch – I’m supplementing to begin because the resistant starch in the PS is concentrated and I know what I’m getting.  I have damage to fix – no time to mess around!

I’ve hesitated to embark on another RS experiment, not just because of the persorption issue, but also because I felt really bad last time I tried it – headaches, severe gastrointestinal distress, depression, symptoms of high estrogen.  These symptoms cropped up when I attempted to eat more than 1 tsp of PS at a time. Folks in the know seem to think this is because my gut bacteria is not good.  I have had 2 rounds of antibiotics within the last 12 months, so this wouldn’t be surprising. I’m keeping the dose low at first and introducing the probiotics.  I’ll increase the quantity of RS over time.

Before starting this experiment, I arranged to have my gut biome analyzed through the American Gut Project as a pre-test baseline.  In 3-6 months I’ll get the results.  Then in a few months I’ll get a follow-up test done to see what changed. Wouldn’t it be interesting if my gut biome was stellar and I still felt like crap?  hahaha

I just took my first dose of Prescript Assist, combined with 1 teaspoon of potato starch. One itty-bitty teaspoon.  I hope my gut cooperates.

Stream of Consciousness

After eating starches for a few days – some potatoes one day, a cup of brown rice pasta another day, and some homemade gluten-free bread another day, I spent the last 4 or 5 days being depressed, irritable, and tired.  I turned off the starch spigot 2 days ago, and last night I finally started to feel better.  Still have a short fuse though.

My body is sick.

I started feeling sick around December 2012 (here’s a random post from around that time, but there are many like it), when I was in the midst of a very stressful time in my life and was trying to maintain my health on a low-carb diet.  I now realize that that was just stupid.  The human body needs carbohydrates for fuel – especially when it’s stressed, as stress devours nutrients.  Low carb folks don’t realize this, however, because they do fine – great, even – for 6 months or a year, they lose weight, it’s all very rewarding.  And then at some point it catches up.  They’re cold all the time, they stop sleeping well, they become tired and their bodies stop fighting infections well.  I lurk over at Jack Kruse’s site sometimes and of the 5 or 10 long term followers still hanging out in the forums there, most are having worsening health problems.  They refuse to question the good doctor though.  They believe him when he says it’s their “zip code” that’s the problem (all of the EMF, you know), and several of them are planning out of state moves – uprooting their kids, quitting their jobs.  Because Jack Kruse said to!  They’re ignoring all information to the contrary, blaming themselves for their health problems rather than blaming the TERRIBLE ADVICE THEY’RE GETTING.

EAT SOME CARBS, DAMMIT!

It’s easy to sit and judge from outside, but I know I’ve fallen into the same trap.  I’ve gotten caught up in what someone is saying and I stop listening to the messages my body is sending.  I followed the low-carb path out of habit long after it stopped feeling good.

I was feeling great on a Peat-inspired high-carbohydrate (high-sugar) diet for a few months.  I felt happy – free of depression and anxiety for the first time…ever.  It was great.  I thought anxious was my personality.  Nope.  It wasn’t.  I know that now because I’ve seen what it’s like to not have it.  The last time I felt that way was about 2 weeks ago.  I remember watching my daughter play and having that feeling – that great feeling of “there’s nothing wrong.”  Even my bad body image takes a break during these periods of time, which last only a few hours. I look back my diet log in Cronometer and around then I was eating a high sugar, moderately low-fat diet at the time, no starches.

Well, that’s great, except my diabetes is probably causing endothelial damage as we speak…and of course then there’s the rising triglycerides/cholesterol (read: impending heart disease).

I’m on a merry go round of silly dietary stuff. I’m pretty tired of tracking what I eat. It would be worth the effort if I was seeing some improvement, but…I’m not. I’m tired of looking around and seeing nothing I can eat that isn’t in some way making me more sick (except milk….hm….all-milk diet?).  I’m avoiding going to the doctor because I think what’s next for me is 2-3 prescription medications, none of which I want to take, because it feels like I’m giving up.  I broke my body (somehow) – I should be able to fix it!  I’m intelligent and determined!

But also tired of running into brick walls.

I’ve decided to start another resistant starch experiment.  I ordered – and received – the 3 probiotic products (scroll a bit to see the “Frequently Bought Together” section) recommended by RN over at Free The Animal.  I may use Dr. BG’s 7 step fix-your-gut protocol. I don’t know if I’ll be using potato starch or not.  Pros: It’s still in my kitchen cabinet and it’s easy and tasteless.  Cons: Possible organ failure related to long-term use.  I’m at the point now where I’m willing to roll the dice on this one.  Or, maybe I’ll find a resistant starch that has a smaller granule size, thus side-stepping the organ death thing.  Don’t know.  I’m not going to do anything though, until I get my gut critters analyzed.  A year ago I ordered a sample kit from the American Gut Project, out of curiosity.  Then I moved 3 times within about 6 months and never got around to using it.  Only problem is, now I can’t find the sample kit. Guess I have some house cleaning to do today.

What else…oh, the hot flashes stopped a couple days ago.  Don’t know why they started.  Don’t know why they stopped.

/stream of consciousness.

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.

Depressed (Updated)

Depressed today.  Ate starches several days this week.  I’ve been feeling dull the last few days, and today it’s full-on depressed. I’m sure it’s because of the starches…because this is what happens.  But you know what?  I’d really like to be able to eat a slice of home-cooked gluten free bread now and then without it having such a dramatic effect on my mood.  I’m tired of having to stick to such a restrictive diet in order to feel ok.

After reading this post over at Free The Animal, I’m asking myself if my current restrictive diet (basically just dairy, coconut oil, butter, meat, eggs, fruit, juice, seafood (1x a week), liver (1x a week), and sometimes chocolate) is really just symptom management.  I feel great when I’m able to stick to it for a string of consecutive days, but eating the same 9-or-so things is monotonous and isolating.  I don’t feel like I can eat at restaurants or sit down to meals with my family, because most often I’m having something weird like juice and cheese for dinner.

Again, though – I feel great when I can stick to this.  But as I’ve said before, a diet is only as good as your ability to stick with it long term.  I can’t stick to sweet drinks and cheese for the rest of my life.

So I’m wondering if my gut needs some serious help.  Why the hell can’t I eat regular foods and still feel ok (and by regular foods I don’t mean the Standard American Diet – I mean a daily serving of gluten-free bread, potatoes, or a salad).  I don’t want to get into the details of my bowel health or function, but things in that department are inconsistent, and depend greatly on eating raw carrots.  Miss a day or two of those and I’m not doing well.

I’m considering doing a Metametrix GI Effects test, to test for digestive system problems.  Unfortunately you need a doc to order it, and my insurance covers NOTHING unless I’ve had greater than $12,000 worth of illness in one year, so we’re looking at probably $600-700 dollars, between doctors visits and testing.

Hm….the tax man just took all my money.  Maybe I’ll just continue on, avoiding things that trigger symptoms.

Back to no starches.  Maybe I’ll feel better by Monday.

Update:

It occurs to me that I should really put some effort into learning how to cook with the few ingredients that make me feel awesome so I can learn to tolerate a restrictive diet.  I’ll share the recipes I come up with.

Sugar: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

I’m really struggling to eat Peat-ish and remain low fat.

I’ve given up starches because they were making me feel depressed.

I’ve given up eating lots of meat because it’s high in phosphorous.

I’ve given up alcohol because it made me depressed.

And now I’m reducing fat.

I’m trying to determine whether it’s all fat (not just PUFA) that blocks cells from using available glucose, keeping blood sugar high.  My blood sugar has come down over the past week of lower-fat eating, but I’ve also completely given up starches at the same time.  I’m trying to avoid changing more than one thing at a time, but the starches had to go.  They were really messing with my mood.  In the past when I gave up starches but kept fat intake (and sugar intake) high my fasting blood sugar would reduce from really high (140-150) down to the 120s, and that’s what it’s done again this week.  I’d like to continue my low-fat eating for a while and see if it improves further.

Now about that…You know what’s left when you give up starches, most meat, and fat?

Sugar. Currently 200-250g of it.  And maybe some vegetables, and some lean meat. Just a whole lotta sugary sweet stuff – fruit and fruit juice, milk, honey-sweetened coffee, marshmallows.  Anything to keep me from being hungry and also not add to the dietary fat total. If I have a couple ounces of cheese and 2 eggs per day I’ve about maxed out my allowed fat intake.

I don’t even really like sweet stuff.  I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, and now my diet is centered around it.  Day to day I’m feeling pretty good, but I fear this is unsustainable because I just don’t really like it.  I’m coming to dread my next sugary coffee/milk/orange juice.  I know low-fat cheese is an option, but even that has 4g of fat per ounce.   I’ve identified one brand that doesn’t have much in the way of unwanted fillers.

Anyway, my weight is down a pound this week…I guess that’s good, and I hope it continues.

I’ve been tracking what I eat on Cronometer.  I don’t know what my baseline (maintenance) number of calories of fat grams is – I haven’t tracked that – but considering how I feel when I restrict calories/fat, I suspect I was maintaining my current weight on 2500-3000 calories per day and over 95-100g fat. A few weeks ago I was trying very hard to lower overall calories without making an effort to reduce fat, and I was averaging 1807 calories and 83g of fat per day.  Hunger was (and still is) preventing me from going lower.  This past week I averaged 1966 calories per day and 58g fat per day, and it was a struggle for the above mentioned reasons. The totals for the last 2 days of the week skewed the average because I was starting to tire of all the sweet food. I think I’ll try to stay under 50g of fat per day – that would be challenging but maybe not unrealistic.

Otherwise, I’m meeting all of my micronutrient goals, and my phosphorous/calcium ratio is about 1:1.  It’s really just a matter of being bored with the taste of sweet.

Onward.

Day 3 Starch Free

I’ve gone three entire days without eating starches.  That’s a first…well, at least since giving up on low-carbing.  Discovering that a need for salt was behind my cravings for starch has completely liberated me from falling back on them and feeling lethargic and cranky for days afterward.  And on a side note…who knew salt played such an important role in metabolism efficiency?  Salt warms me up and makes me feel awesome.

Today I had so much energy I finished unpacking.  We moved 7 months ago, and my energy level has been so low that as of this morning we still had tubs of stuff in closets waiting to be unpacked.  Finally did it.  And then I kept cleaning.  I don’t even like cleaning, but I do like having a tidy house.  I cleaned for hours.  And played with my daughter all day.  And talked.  A lot. I’m not a big talker. It exhausts me. I was talking all day.

I want to be starch free for a month and then get some labs done – basics, probably, to evaluate how Peat-eating and progesterone are affecting me.  I’m hoping to see a drop in hs-CRP (previously over 15.0. Yes, really.).

My weight seems to have stabilized – 7 pounds higher than when I started following Ray Peat, but a pound lower than my highest weight.  Now that I’ve identified foods that make me feel good, and I’ve learned what I need to avoid I think I’m going to give calorie counting a shot again, starting tomorrow.  I guess for now I’ll shoot for 1700 calories a day – a moderate reduction.

Update: I just looked at my food records and it’s actually been 4 days starch free. Even better!