Ray Peat has written a lot of articles outlining his views on physiology and nutrition. I’ve tried sitting and reading them but they require a certain amount of attention and concentration, especially if you’re not yet familiar with some of his ideas (like me). I find that I hit a sentence or two or three that I don’t understand and my mind starts wandering. I suppose it is a defense mechanism so my ego doesn’t have to feel so STOOPID.
I’m really more of an auditory learner, so podcasts are ideal for me. Fortunately he’s got a lot of those too, and I’ve listened to several. They’re time consuming but great for long drives in the car (as long as I’m alone….I’m pretty sure no one else in my life wants to hear Ray talking about cholesterol and pregnenolone for 90 minutes). Fortunately this awesome site has links to many (if not all) of the podcasts on which Ray Peat appears.
Still, I want to read the articles because he’s taken the time to organize them and provide citations that support his conclusions. I’ve decided that I’m going to read each article but rather than just trying to plow through them and feel STOOPID when my mind keeps wandering to my shopping list or whatever, I’m going to take notes on them. Just like in college. I kept myself focused on the endless readings by taking notes, paraphrasing, and putting things into my own words. That way when it comes time to review them or look something up I can reference my own notes, which I understand because I wrote them.
I read and paraphrased one today. I’m just randomly selecting from the list of articles on his site, according to what sounds interesting in the moment. Today’s article was called Progesterone, not estrogen, is the coronary protection factor of women. I’ll paraphrase what it says here (partly to share with other reading-challenged folk, but also to review the content again for myself.)
He starts with a bit of history – back in the 1940s research began demonstrating that estrogen was tied to excessive blood clotting, cancer, PMS and other problems, but this wasn’t widely accepted because people believed estrogen was protective – after all, fewer women died of heart attacks than men. A study was done in which men were given estrogen to see if they could have these protective benefits too, but they ended up having more (not less) heart attacks. Oops. The study was stopped early.
In the 40s it was also learned that the negative effects of estrogen were made worse by unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) in the system. Vitamin E, fortunately, was shown to protect against the negative effects of estrogen and also of unsaturated fats. Huzzah! Around this time the seed industry started promoting itself as having the healthy alternative to butter. However, science continued to find that vegetable oils caused more heart attacks and cancer.
Estrogen lowers cholesterol in the blood. (I can personally attest to this – when I was having fertility treatments and taking estrogen supplements my cholesterol numbers dropped 40 points. I had no idea why that happened. My doctor was so happy! I let her think I was following her “heart-healthy diet” recommendations.) This was important because people believed cholesterol caused heart disease. Also, the vein-dilating effect of estrogen was seen as a way to avoid high blood pressure.”Yay for estrogen!” they all said. Actually, the vein-dilating effect of estrogen causes blood clots, varicose veins, and other problems.
It was discovered that nitric oxide – a free radical – is associated with estrogen and increases as estrogen levels increase. Women ovulating breathe out much higher quantities of nitric oxide than women with lower levels of estrogen. Nitric oxide interacts with unsaturated fats to reduce oxygen, damage mitochondria, and cause edema. Basically, it causes aging.
Then he gets pretty science-y, which I don’t mind and which is understandable, but it would take me a long time to paraphrase it. Essentially, hypothyroidism causes a chain of physiological problems related to stress hormones being high. Estrogen in the system makes everything worse. Progesterone is antagonistic to these effects, however, which is why non-menopausal women don’t have many heart attacks. Progesterone decreases nitric oxide, decreases edema, strengthens the heart beat, relaxes the arteries.
Takeaway point: Progesterone is protective against vascular and heart disease.
I ordered some Progest-E today.
Reading this made me think back to my experiments with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. I gained weight, retained water (edema), developed high blood pressure, and became (more) hypothyroid during that 8 months. I thought it was because of the progesterone, but I don’t remember why I came to that conclusion – probably because of the edema which felt similar to being pregnant, which is a high-progesterone biological condition. After reading this I think it was the estrogen that was the problem. Since I quit the hormone protocol I no longer have massive violent mood swings. It wasn’t good for me. I’ll be interested to see the effects of supplementing with just progesterone.
By the way I felt awesome today. Tons of energy. Started the day with 16 oz of milk and 8 oz of orange juice. Did the same thing 4 hours later. Ate a typical lunch (chicken, more juice, more milk), a date bar for a snack, and had liver (with lots of ketchup) and grapes for dinner. Tried a bamboo shoot and hated it. Spit it out. Will stick with carrots.